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Message From President

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Mr. Aruna Fernando

President
Association Of Professional Bankers
Sri Lanka

Acceptance Speech

Friday 24th July 2020
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Past Presidents of APB,
Newly Elected Council Members and Members of APB,

Standing before you as the 31st President of The Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka, is a privilege and an honour, for which I am ever so grateful to the membership.

The confidence and trust you have placed in me to lead this organization, gives me a great sense of encouragement and inspiration.

Today, we mark new beginnings by gathering in solidarity and we celebrate our affiliation to this distinguished association. Like a congregation at a wedding, you signify by your presence a pledge of support for this marriage of a new president to a leading institution in the country.

Whilst standing before you, I would like to go back almost 32 years in my life. I had my education at the Mahanama College – Colpetty and in my schooling days I never thought that one day I will become a banker. But the destiny had other plans in letting me find an advertisement published by Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd., in May 1988, calling for Bank Clerks. I was just an ordinary youth then, nothing much to brag about my school career, educational qualifications or sports activities. Theodore Roosevelt once stated “Believe you can and you are halfway there…”. Back then, more than anything else, I just had one thing with me, that was the strong belief that I will get this job somehow or other.

There were more than 3,000 applicants and since the campuses were closed, most of those applicants happened to be University undergraduates who were waiting to commence their university education. As a result, the competition was very tough but I went for the written tests conducted at St Peters College, then faced the interviews at Commercial Bank’s Head Office, with that strong belief that this job is mine. Eventually, the miracle happened and by October 1988 I was selected to be in a batch of 20 new recruits for the Commercial Bank. My sincere gratitude to my alma mater, Commercial Bank and the members of the interview panel, especially then Commercial Bank’s Manager – Human Resources, late Squadron Leader J T Rex Fernando for taking that decision. I was at Commercial Bank for almost 25 years till May 2013, working in different capacities. I have very fond memories of Commercial Bank and needless to say that I became the banker that I am today because of the training, the discipline and knowledge that I gained whilst being employed at Commercial Bank. In that sense, I am very glad that I was elected for this top position in the association, to serve the banking community in the country, in a year when Commercial Bank is also celebrating 100 years of operations in the country.

I joined Seylan Bank PLC., in May 2013 as the Assistant General Manager – Credit Risk and my sincere appreciation to Mr. Derek Kelly and Mr. Kapila Ariyaratne, for making that decision. Mr Ariyaratne have always been a very understanding superior officer. He too had been a Council Member of APB in the past and my sincere appreciation to Mr. Ariyaratne for his unwavering support for the APB activities.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I together with few of my colleagues joined this prestigious association on 15th August 1995 at the invitation of former Office Bearer Mr. S Sivananthan and former Council Member Mr. Felician Perera who was my superior officer at that time. I had the honour of joining the APB Council in 2013, at the invitation of Mr. Piyal Hennayake whom I met at the Colombo Toastmasters Club. My sincere thanks to all of them for bringing me in to APB and paving the way to serve the banking community as an office bearer of this distinguished association.

Since 2013, I had the privilege of working with seven past presidents in the capacities of Assistant Secretary, Secretary General [almost 3 terms], Vice President and Senior Vice President. It was a pleasure working with my fellow Council Members to serve the APB membership, all these years.

It is very heartwarming to note that since its inception, APB has taken an active role to develop the professional skills of the members. I want to focus on three key tasks during the coming year;

The 1st Task is of course is the incorporating of APB as a legal body through an Act of Parliament. Undoubtedly, incorporation by statute would enable APB to better engage in the activities that it has been carrying out for the last 31 years, for the development of the Banking Profession and the Banking Industry, on a sound footing. Also, APB would be in a position to contribute to the national development goals as many other professional associations which are having the legislative recognition by incorporation through legislative enactments.

In pursuance of this motive, the Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka (Incorporation) Bill was presented to Parliament as a private member’s Bill by Mr. Roshan Ranasinghe MP and was seconded by Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala MP and the first reading was done on 5th March 2014. This bill that was settled by the Legal Draughtsman was cleared by the regulator, Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Honorable Attorney General. As directed by the Honorable Attorney General, a Cabinet paper on this matter now needs to be submitted by the Ministry of Finance for the draft Bill to be adopted by the legislature.

I need to express my appreciation to former Advisory Council Member Mr. Sunil de Silva and former Council Member Mr. Thejaka Perera for the hard work already done in this project. My Council will pursue this matter closely with the Minister of Finance in the new Parliament and will try our best to complete this incorporation during the current year.

Secondly, we are planning to hold a Research Symposium in November 2020 for the Bankers under the theme “Sri Lanka – Economic Resurgence in 2021 through Strategic Vision”. The preliminary work on this regard had already been done and two eminent institutions; namely, the Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Ernst & Young – Sri Lanka have already confirmed that they will partner with APB  in holding this Research Symposium. Also, I must mention with much gratitude that the Peoples Insurance Company has already committed for a sponsorship of Rs. 1.0 Million to hold this Symposium and I need to express my sincere appreciation to the Past President Mr. Deepal Abeysekera for arranging this sponsorship. We will keep you posted of the arrangements for the proposed Research Symposium, in the days to come.

Thirdly, we are in need of a proper interactive Membership Management System to maintain our membership records as well as to connect with them regularly on APB related matters. Our Membership & Social Committee is in the process of evaluating several Systems which are available in the market and we hope to migrate in to a new System latest by 30th September 2020.

Before I end this speech, I would like to share a quote with you from Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Dear members, join hands with us on this great journey, and let’s strive to improve the professional skills of the Bankers as well the recognition given to the bankers in the country.

I thank you for being here today to witness the 31st Annual General Meeting of the Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka.

I wish you a very pleasant evening……!!!

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