From its roots amid the Great Depression to its position as one of the world's safest banks today, OCBC Bank has revealed all in a new book to commemorate its 85-year history.
Wind Behind The Sails: The Story Of The People And Ethos Of OCBC offers fresh details and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the bank's milestones and mishaps, such as the winding up of its Australian venture in 2003 and the acquisition of Keppel TatLee Bank in 2001.
The book provides insights into the bank's early years and recounts the challenges it has navigated in more recent times and the strategic moves it has made to address new business and economic realities.
OCBC was formed in 1932 amid the Great Depression, when three of Singapore's largest Hokkien banks - the Chinese Commercial Bank, the Ho Hong Bank and the Oversea-Chinese Bank - decided to merge to weather the financial storm better.
In his foreword, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote: "The stories in this book are an honest appraisal of not only OCBC's successes but also how it transformed its failures into lessons and new opportunities."
Speaking at the launch yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted that the bank has shown its resilience over the decades in the face of volatility and crises that have affected the banking sector, and attained a solid reputation.
"This is because the bank is known to emphasise steady and sustainable growth, and to look after the interests of its depositors, customers and partners," he said.
"It also has a good reputation for fair dealing with its customers and valuing and treating its staff with respect."
OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang told the event that the bank takes a long-term view in all that it does: "We believe in establishing relationships that last years, decades and even generations. Because we invest in long-term relationships, because we work hard at building and preserving the trust of our customers, many of our customers have banked with us through the generations."
As part of the book launch, OCBC is hosting a public exhibition on the book in its branch at OCBC Centre starting yesterday till Nov 10.
Published by Straits Times Press, the book is not for sale but will be made available to OCBC staff and presented as a commemorative gift to selected customers.
Copies will be donated to public libraries and members of the public will be able to borrow these from the end of next month.