THE Philippine banking industry is one of the most complex and challenging beats to cover. Covering events in the sector promptly and accurately does not only benefit the banking industry but also the whole economy.
As part of the 116th anniversary of the country’s oldest newspaper The Manila Times, we interviewed authorities from the central bank and various private banks to get their views on the media coverage of the industry.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said Philippine media coverage of the banking industry is responsible, strong and fair in general.
“Media coverage helps focus attention on issues that are important to the public, the banks, and the government,” said BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.
Tetangco explained that for the government, media attention is valuable as a means to inform both the banks and the public about policy initiatives, industry developments and new regulations.
From the point of view of the public, the BSP governor noted, the media is a useful platform for articulating their concerns, needs and sentiments about the quality of bank governance, products and services.
Tetangco also said that banks organize media events to reach out to the public and share information about innovations and enhancements in the products and services they offer as well as changes in the way they do business.
“In the process, people are able to make a decision as to their choice of banks, products and services,” he added.
When asked how collaboration between journalists and banks/bankers benefit consumers, the BSP governor said timely, accurate and responsible coverage by members of the press benefit everyone—the public, the banks and the government.
At the same time, according to Tetangco, banks have the responsibility to provide relevant and sufficient information about their products and services for dissemination through mass media, so consumers can have a good basis for making more informed financial decisions.
Sharing the same view, Nestor Espenilla Jr., BSP deputy governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector said media—in whichever form or medium—provides the public with a portal through which they can be made aware of the issues and/or be updated.
Espenilla added that banking is certainly a critical element of our socio-economic structure, because regardless of one’s economic situation, the banking industry (both mainstream and through financial inclusion) has something to offer, like new products, services or initiatives for further financial education.
The BSP official said the ultimate beneficiaries of effective regulation on one hand and of viable products/services on the other, are the public.
With so much happening in this age of information, there must be a vehicle to channel specific banking/bank information to specific target audiences, he added.
“This is where the media comes in. Presented as facts, the coverage of media of the industry and its players provides the public such desired channel. This makes the financial consumer better-informed and their financial decisions create a feedback loop that can only spur the industry and its banks to develop more products that are calibrated to specific needs of stakeholders,” he said.
He recognized the media’s critical role in informing, educating and empowering financial consumers.
Since the people view the media as a partner who will help them in their financial concerns, the media serves as a crucial bridge between financial consumers and the banking industry, the BSP official said.
Besides disseminating to the public the messages of the industry, the media also serves as a feedback channel for concerns raised by the depositing public.
“This feedback loop is a valuable source of information for the improvement of financial products and services as well as the enhancement of policies for protecting financial consumers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Allan Tumbaga, vice president and head of the Bank Marketing and Corporate Communications Division of EastWest Bank, commends the media for its adequate coverage of the banking industry, giving up-to-date reports on the latest developments in the industry.
“Media coverage contributes by making banking public more aware of regulations and the availability of products and services. It provides the perspectives of all the stakeholders of a particular regulation for the banking public to appreciate the nuances that went into the crafting of the regulation,” he said.
Tumbaga underscored that the media provides banks the critique of any particular regulation by the banking public.
In terms of development of the banking industry of products and services, the media helps provide better insights into these products and services that traditional advertising cannot impart, he said.
“Collaboration between journalists and bankers promote better transparency of the product offerings of banks. Transparency will allow for informed decisions by the banking public on products or services that they want to take or avail of. Such transparency will also make banks better in their offerings for the ultimate benefit of the banking public,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rich Manalad, assistant manager at the Public Relations and Corporate Communications of the Bank of the Philippine Islands said that that an important role of the media presence in the banking industry is not just to inform the public of developments and but to promote financial literacy to consumers.
This in turn helps banks develop products that would help their customers achieve financial health and growth, she added.
Manalad said media coverage of the banking industry brings banks closer to the goal of bringing financial services and helps bring the importance of being “financially literate” closer to people’s consciousness.
“With the media, we are able to reach out to our clients in one way or another. And this is where we feel banks and the media could do more—aside from reporting on the financial performance of financial institutions and industry developments, media could become instruments of financial literacy and inclusive growth, by reporting on banks’ products and services that have immediate impact on each client’s financial well-being,” she added.