By Goh De No (Published 21 February 2010 in The Brunei Times)

BANK Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) is weighing continuing with its Wish Campaign despite the costs, after seeing dividends not only in the number of new savings accounts attributed to the campaign but also success in spurring Bruneians to develop a savings habit.

BIBD Acting Managing Director Javed Ahmad said the campaign has been “on target”.

“If you look at it overall, it has cost us a lot. We are looking at a million dollars one-off and over the longer term, it’s about $2 million in total. That has been basically provided already but ultimately, as I mentioned, we are looking at inculcating a culture of savings which will be a win-win situation for both the bank and customers. In terms of trying to achieve that objective, we are very much on target.

“What brought this on, in fact, is a good business proposition. That’s the reason why we are looking at continuing the campaign in the future,” he said.

In its website, Singapore-based Consulus Pte Ltd, which worked with BIBD on the Wish Campaign, said, “since the campaign’s launch, the bank had received thousands of stories of hope and aspiration, while seeing an 85 per cent increase in the number of savings accounts opened.”

Javed said the Wish Campaign isn’t merely a marketing strategy or just part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, it was designed to be bigger than that to encourage a society that is strong, that saves, especially for those who are going to be here in the future and to change people’s mindset.

“One of the key things we are also looking at is how to go about encouraging society where we are not takers of wealth, but givers of wealth. You can only give when you have something, if you don’t have something, you won’t be able to give. It was very much with that premise, we wanted to encourage a society that saves for the future,” he said.

Javed said the campaign has very much increased the bank’s involvement with the community.

He said in pursuing the campaign there were some additional costs here and there but basically, when BIBD embarked on the campaign, the bank was very clear that the aim was to change mindsets.

When the campaign was first launched, Javed realised that it takes a lifetime to change habits and that the bank was not looking at miracles happening overnight.

Before the campaign started, it was made clear that BIBD wanted to understand customers better.

“How do we go about in terms of trying to address their wishes and aspirations, their dreams? And that journey very much took place when we came to the final conclusion. It was very much based on the concept where individuals provide their basic needs to us, wishing what they hope for, for themselves, loved ones, society, community and based on those principles, we gave a concept which evolved very quickly, in one month actually,” Javed said.

He credited the marketing team for the hard work, saying that his job was “merely to encourage them and nothing more than that”.

“The ideas kept flowing and initially the main concern was ‘are we serious about $1 million?’ The first month when the $80,000 was shared among 10 individuals that was easier to absorb. Then, at the quarterly level $100,000. The momentum was building, but not in terms of just a marketing gimmick, we are really serious about it. Quarter by quarter, month by month, we actually built a community with total dedication of what we are standing firmly behind towards ensuring little by little, day by day, we save for a brighter future,” Javed said.

Lawrence Chong, director of strategy at Consulus, said that they had to be realistic when dealing with commercial enterprises. “They have to grow, make profit and a certain level of returns but if you look at the global trend moving forward, a lot of companies are asking what is the role they play in society.

“So, BIBD a national bank taking on such a campaign is a clear indication that it can be done,” he said.

“The work done for the Wish Campaign is 10 times more than a normal lucky draw. The amount of work put into it is a lot, the legal agreement, checks and balances have to be so carefully managed. A lot of people had to give their tears, sweat and time to make this meaningful,” he said.

Chong said that commercial enterprises do not have to ensure returns at the expense of not contributing to society. He believes that it’s a sustainable equation, if everyone starts looking at corporate social responsibility as an individual activity going forward, it is not sustainable. “A lot of companies are looking at climate change, poverty and so on. Brunei is a good place to do that because companies have to be faith-inspired or (have) certain level of obligation to the nation. Now, closer to National Day, you can prove to others in that it’s not always about the value of money, but it’s also about people’s hopes and aspirations.

“The level of consistency and commitment of BIBD is extraordinary compared to others in the region, especially in the banking sector,” he said.