Innovation Led Progress

Sohar International’s fast paced growth is driven by a strategic approach to offer customers world class products and services seamlessly

Sohar International witnessed significant growth in 2021 placing it as one of the top three banks within the country. Profit for the year increased 41.6 per cent to RO28.3mn compared to RO20mn in 2020 year on the back of increased business and healthy growth. Total operating income increased 20.3 per cent to RO 110.7mn, driven by increased income from all the banks various income streams. Continuous investments in people and technology has supported the bank’s capabilities, strategic objectives, as well as significant contributions to the community, the bank’s operating expenses witnessed an increase of 11.3 per cent to RO50.3mn. Net operating income before impairment provisions increased by 29 per cent to RO60.4mn compared to RO46.8mn in 2020, resulting in a cost-to- income ratio of 45.4 per cent (31 December 2020: 49.1%).

Sohar International has been driven by its vision of taking winning to new heights and to constantly raise the bar. In 2021 Sohar International was able to achieve exemplary growth throughout all its operations despite the headwinds posed by the pandemic. This was because of its ability to improve its organisational competitiveness, enhance its market position while expanding its market share, and strengthen its relations with its investors. By keeping pace with the evolving digital demands and thereby implementing differential technological capabilities, drawing up prudent risk management systems, and transitioning to a performance oriented work culture that places a greater emphasis on people development, the bank was able to exceed the expectations of all its shareholders. As the bank ushers in a new era of banking in line with its growth strategy, Sohar International plans to setup operations through its first premises beyond borders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). As the two brotherly country relations are set to scale new heights, this strategic move comes in line with the Bank’s growth agenda enhancing capabilities and being well aligned to seek out new opportunities. In line with the same, the bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi EXIM Bank to enhance investment opportunities between the two nations opening up new opportunities in the short and long term. This milestone achievement will pave the way to realise meaningful commercial and investment exchanges between the countries while developing its industries and trade, reducing the risks associated with exports and imports, and empowering local youth workforce.

In pursuit of its strategic growth objectives, Sohar International has received approval from the Central Bank of Oman to initiate the due diligence process to assess the feasibility of the bank’s proposed merger with Bank Nizwa. Thus Sohar International seeks to expand locally through new value propositions and a network of touchpoints that seeks to contribute to further financial inclusion. As a bank that places customers at the very core of its strategy, Sohar International’s continued investment in innovative offerings, next-generation technological advancements, and steadfast expansion of its branch network has helped the Bank build on its strength of delivering a premium banking experience for customers. In line with its commitment to enhance convenience and further encourage financial inclusion, the bank has added two premium state-of-the-art branches to its physical network. Strategically located in Shatti Al Qurum and Bowsher, the branches provide a comprehensive suite of banking solutions and offers the same service that the bank prides itself in as well as a 24-hour digital lobby empowering customers to conduct self-banking.

On a digital side, Sohar International continues to connect with customers and the nation at large through various popular social media as well as other digital channels staying relevant and connected to the market it serves. Maintaining such relationships helps expand and enrich the bank’s presence within the market as well as to expand its product portfolio to cater to the various needs of the Bank’s different stakeholders.

Leveraging the strong social presence of the Bank to further engage, interact and connect with its audience, Sohar International registered a commendable rate of engagement ranking first within the banking sector for the year 2021. Closing the year with over 210K+ followers, the bank hit laudable milestones when it came to the number of impressions, views, and reach – all reflecting the ongoing followership the brand has acquired throughout the past few years. With significant popularity of such communication channels and the convenience they provide customers, dedicated Sohar Islamic social media channels were rolled out in the year 2021 gaining an impressive 20K+ follower in a short span of time.

A bank that recognises the importance of continuously injecting innovation in its processes, introducing new products and services, and increasing customer engagement, Sohar International has been improving its customers’ digital experiences while ensuring security, reliability, and resilience in all its operations with the objective of heading towards paperless banking and straight through processes. Staying ahead of the market, Sohar International was one of the first banks to leverage its Finacle capabilities to ensure a seamless transition to incorporate all VAT requirements as per the VAT policies of the country. The quick implementation enabled the bank to adapt and adopt the required practises swiftly without any interruption to its day-to-day operations whilst upskilling staff and through training and development.

As one of the key themes under its agile growth strategy, Sohar International’s digitalization journey has set in place clear milestones and engaged in key strategic technological projects that will enable it to deliver on efficiencies internally as well as an enhanced overall customer experience. With the Business intelligence (BI) platform on the cusp of usage, the bank is keen to analyse and understand customer life journeys and life styles with the purpose of providing them banking and non-banking services that would further complement their day-to-day requirements. Research & design phase would not be valuable without the delivery channels and experience and hence, the bank has embedded workflow atomization across its branch network linking key processes and therefore enhancing delivery times to customers and increasing internal efficiencies.

On the customer facing touchpoints, Sohar International has invested heavily in delivering a state-of-the-art Omni Channel experience with the launch of its conventional and Islamic mobile banking apps with numerous updates and enhancements in 2021.

National talent

With an inherent zeal to provide opportunities to the local workforce and aid in their ongoing development, the bank committed to on-board 200 Omanis in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour. These college and university graduates have been enrolled into a 2-year training and development program in organisations from various sectors, thereby enhancing their employability. Providing the Sultanate’s youth, a stepping-stone into the professional world, the program entails extensive experience, along with an attractive monthly pay.

Committed to support and empower the youth of Oman, Sohar International places strong belief in building a foundation and journey that creates ample opportunities for the youth, who will take on professional and senior roles in the future. Its inherent values of coaching, training, and helping individuals achieve their fullest potential is evident from its ongoing Tomohi Internship Programs, which has inducted its third batch of trainees in 2021. In line with Oman’s Vision 2040 strategy that prioritises empowering Omani youth across all sectors, the Tomohi program continues to give interns the necessary exposure in various departments and the opportunity to learn from on-the-job training, technical assignments, leadership programs, and coaching activities. Through such quality internship programs, the bank has been able to help the youth acquire the required skills and knowledge that are transferable to other employment settings.