Jahja Setiaatmadja: Simplicity for success


Chris Wright
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As part of Euromoney's 50th anniversary coverage, we profile some of the biggest names that we interviewed for our May Asia focus.

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Jahja Setiaatmadja runs Bank Central Asia, one of the most admired banks on the continent. Based in Indonesia – and resolute in the face of temptation to move internationally – it keeps things simple, is picky about clients and boasts some of the best ratios in the industry.

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Jahja Setiaatmadja

Jahja describes a promising domestic market coupled with challenges beyond its control. On the plus side, he says, the government expects economic growth of 5.3% this year, while domestic banking authorities expect third party funds to grow 8% to 10% and credit 13%.

“This optimism is a positive foundation for banks to set business targets and maintain performance,” he says.

But there’s a problem.

“We are the tail of the dragon – and China is the dragon,” he says. “The ups and downs of business in China will be reflected in our economy.

“Market volatility driven by global economic sentiment can greatly impact Indonesia,” he adds.


A large part of the opportunity comes from what hasn’t happened, as much as what has.

“Indonesia’s population is estimated to reach 256 million, but only about 36% of Indonesians have access to services provided by formal financial institutions,” he says.

BCA aims to be part of the process of fixing that.

“I have enjoyed every second of my time at BCA since I first joined the company in 1990,” he says, calling the firm a family.

Under his watch, the bank’s market capitalization has entered the top 10 of all companies in southeast Asia and it has occasionally been the single most valuable bank, depending on what DBS’s share price is doing at any given time.

“Such achievements reflect our extraordinary business performance and cooperation,” says Jahja.