RIYADH — THE Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB) was put on a pedestal by being the first bank in the Middle East to issue an integrated annual report and the first Arabic integrated report issued by a bank globally.
The bank “adopted the integrated approach because it lends itself to SAIB’s very ethos,” said Ms. Ishraq Mohammed Al-Thebiani, SAIB Assistant General Manager – Corporate Communications Group.
“Today, we provide both conventional and Shariah-compliant banking facilities within our network that expands to 51 branches and 12 ladies sections within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” she noted.
She further said “in terms of our reporting history, we have always understood that transparency is key. In order to demonstrate our understanding of how the external environment intersects with the operations of the bank, we published our first sustainability report in 2011. Since then, we have won 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st for 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively the King Khalid Awards for Responsible Competitiveness (RC) for three consecutive years in a row. The awards acknowledge our consistent demonstration of responsible sustainability practices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
In an interview, she explained that “transparency and sustainability is paramount here and an integrated annual report reflects the kind of integrated thinking that goes on within SAIB’s various business and service groups.”
She added that an integrated annual report also lends itself to global best practices in a world that is becoming increasingly and inextricably linked. With many of our international peers adopting this form, “we see it as the next stage in corporate reporting. It requires us to produce an annual report that is concise, strategically relevant and future-orientated; one that speaks to all our stakeholders.”
Moreover, producing an integrated report aligns SAIB with the Saudi Vision 2030. The Vision focuses, among other things, on positioning the Kingdom as a global investment powerhouse and a hub that connects Asia, Europe, and Africa. An integrated annual report speaks to the kind of international players that the Kingdom is already engaging with, in a language and channel that is familiar to them.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
• This is SAIB’s first integrated report. Would you comment on your experience of putting one together?
With organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund championing aspects such as risk and future development as key focus points, integrated reporting centers on enhancing accountability, stewardship and trust. By producing an integrated report our goal was to provide stakeholders, including investors, with pertinent information that will strengthen their relationship with the Bank.
The production of the SAIB integrated annual report was a collaborative process; one that had all groups working together. This sharing of knowledge contributed towards making the process both efficient and valuable. Moreover, the ability to cultivate integrated thinking within the Bank is extremely important. Now, all groups are more aware of their role in value creation. These benefits are often stressed by industry specialists within organizations such as the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), so we are happy to say that the process was one we too enjoyed and are aware will contribute towards better reporting in the future.
• What do you think is the biggest benefit of adopting integrated reporting?
We feel that an integrated report is able to demonstrate the impact the bank has on all its stakeholders, particularly the value it creates. On the other hand, it establishes the significant role that stakeholders have on the operations of the bank, and the value derived from them. Establishing the connection between company and stakeholder is one of the biggest benefits of integrated reporting and one that will help us communicate effectively to our stakeholders.
Many global corporates such as General Electric, HSBC, PepsiCo and Nestle have started their integrated reporting journeys, so we feel privileged to be a part of this esteemed group.
• What drove SAIB’s operations during the reporting year?
Over the years we have learned to adopt a holistic understanding of performance. While we sustained financial success during the reporting year, we stood true to our mission which gives priority to the needs of our stakeholders – including customers and employees. This combined with our Sustainability Framework which focuses on aspects such as environmental protection, social responsibility and growth ensured sustainable operations for the bank. Yet, we take great pride in being able to take these efforts many steps ahead by adopting integrated reporting. We know that it will set the standard for better reporting practices for the bank. It will also inform our strategic decisions and operations in the years to come.
SAIB commenced operations in 1977 and since then has introduced products and services in keeping with the needs of its growing customer base. — SG