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Introduction

Introducing our 53rd Annual Report

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Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC commenced reporting in line with the International <IR> Framework in 2013. This Report is the 53rd Annual Report of Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC and covers the 12- month period from January 1 to December 31, 2021, and is consistent with our usual annual reporting cycle for financial and sustainability reporting. This follows our most recent Report for the year ended December 31, 2020, for which comparatives are given, where applicable.

We have taken into account investors’ as well as regulators’ calls for more clarity and concision in corporate reporting, and have employed a unique approach for this Integrated Report to meet the varying information needs of our valued stakeholders. Accordingly, each main section begins with a brief overview, which then expands to include further details in a comprehensive narrative format.

Transcending the medium

This Report is available in multiple mediums and formats catering to the communications needs of the Bank’s diverse stakeholder groups. A limited number of printed annual reports have been produced to be dispatched to those who have requested them, taking into to account the environmental footprint of printing a large number of reports as well as the prevailing regulations. Readers who prefer the ease of accessing our Annual Report online through either a computer or mobile device can access our Online Interactive version of the Annal Report while a soft copy (PDF) version is hosted on the websites of the Bank as well as the Colombo Stock Exchange for those who would like to maintain an easy-portable digital version of the Annual Report. This approach also aims to balance the disparate imperatives of conciseness, comprehensiveness, and accessibility in our disclosure practices.

Strategic focus and future orientation

Giving the reader a clear understanding of how the Bank plans to execute strategy (to the extent that it is possible to disclose such information), this Report is also structured according to the Bank’s strategic imperatives. How the activities undertaken under the four strategic imperatives lead to value creation for the mutual benefit of the Bank and the various stakeholders, which is reflected in Financial, Manufactured, Intellectual, Human, Social & Relationship and Natural Capitals is explained on pages 33 to 65. This structure highlights the plotted course of action that will propel the Bank forward and perpetuate the value creation process. It provides the reader with a clearer understanding of the Bank's direction in the wake of unfolding megatrends.

Irrespective of the method, information is central to effective investor engagement. This Report provides investors with insights into the Bank’s growth potential and the strategies by which the growth will be achieved.

Integrated thinking

We started integrated reporting in line with the IIRC Framework elements with our Annual Report for 2013. This has strengthened and reinforced integrated thinking across the Bank, leading to the integration of various aspects, making the Bank more sustainable in creating value over the long term by minimising risks, reducing compartmentalisation and dysfunctional behaviour, generating cost efficiencies, and making capital allocation more efficient. This not only integrated economic goals with those of society and environment, but also integrated the following aspects too, as you will find later in this Report:

  • The business model to business opportunities in the market
  • Strategy with the evolving business environment
  • The organisation from a functional and team-based one to an integrated one
  • Service standards across all the channels leading to an integrated customer experience
  • The Bank’s key messages across all communication channels for greater clarity
  • Software systems used to make the Bank agile and speed up processes
  • Information available across channels and products
  • The Bank with other service providers such as telecoms and fintech firms

Non-financial information

Recent trends make it clear that in addition to traditional forms of financial reporting, stakeholders in general, and providers of financial capital in particular, want access to non-financial information when assessing future potential of corporates. The Bank is well aware that information needs of stakeholders are changing in keeping with the dynamic environment we operate in. Investors in particular are increasingly becoming more interested in the future potential of the Bank than its past performance and non-financial information is becoming more and more relevant for ascertaining future potential. Accordingly, going beyond the historical financial information that depicts the value created in the past, we have enhanced disclosures of non-financial and future-oriented information that depicts the ability of the Bank to create value in the short, medium and long-term in the future, the essence of sustainability and integrated reporting. Thereby, this Annual Report seeks to provide a holistic, integrated discussion of the Bank’s performance, operations, and strategic imperatives.

Basis of preparation

This Report has been prepared in line with the International <IR> framework, and the Bank’s social and environmental impacts are presented in accordance with the GRI Standards: Core option. It also comments on the Bank’s contribution towards the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.

  • The concepts, principles, and guidelines used in the preparation of this Report are drawn from the following sources:
  • The International Integrated Reporting Framework (www.theiirc.org)
  • The Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – GRI Standards (www.globalreporting.org)
  • A Preparer’s Guide to Integrated Corporate Reporting, published by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka)
  • Handbook on Integrated Corporate Reporting, published by CA Sri Lanka in collaboration with The Integrated Reporting Council of Sri Lanka

Report boundary

The Financial Statements depict the consolidated performance of the entire Group, which includes the Bank along with seven subsidiaries – Commercial Development Company PLC, CBC Tech Solutions Limited, CBC Finance Ltd., Commercial Insurance Brokers (Pvt) Ltd., Commex Sri Lanka S.R.L. Italy, Commercial Bank of Maldives Private Limited and CBC Myanmar Microfinance Company Limited – and the associate – Equity Investments Lanka Ltd. (depicted in the Consolidated Financial Statements on pages 187 to 336).

The Bank’s social and environmental impact, as discussed within the Management Discussion and Analysis, focuses on both Sri Lankan and Bangladesh operations of Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, the Parent entity of the Group which accounts for more than 98% of Group’s revenue, assets and borrowings, unless stated otherwise.

Internal and external assessments of the Bank’s operations in Sri Lanka and other countries such as Bangladesh are encompassed within the material aspects boundaries. The Bank always takes into account reasonable aspirations and expectations of its stakeholders and engages with them in myriad ways and they have been taken into account in deciding on the information content of this Report. Information is presented in a sustainability context, covering topics that reflect the Bank’s significant economic, environmental and social impacts that substantively influence stakeholder decisions. For your convenience, we have provided quantitative and qualitative data along with reliable external benchmarks wherever possible to ensure completeness and aid comparison and further analysis of information within this Report.

During the year under review, no significant changes in the organisation type, structure, ownership, supply chain or topic boundaries took place. No changes in reporting or restatements were made of previously reported financial, social or environmental information.

Quality assurance

Through this Integrated Report, we set out to provide you with a holistic and meaningful picture of our business model, strategy, governance, performance, and future prospects. We also strive to illustrate the value created by the Bank in terms of non-financial resources such as human, natural, intellectual, and social and relationship capitals, in addition to financial capital.

We have taken every effort to provide credible information with the aid of visual elements such as figures, graphs, and tables in a consistent manner facilitating clarity and comparability.

The qualitative criteria taken into account in the production of both text and visual elements presented in this Annual Report include:

  • Completeness: This Annual Report includes material impacts within and under the direct control of the Bank, external impacts that are indirectly influenced through our engagement with stakeholders, and broader sustainability initiatives undertaken through the Bank’s own CSR Trust.
  • Comparability: This Report includes the performance of current and previous reporting periods together with industry benchmarks where relevant and available.
  • Accuracy and Consistency: The content of this Report is supported by inbuilt internal controls to facilitate traceability and verifiability of information.
  • Clarity: This Report incorporates both text and visual elements to enhance readability, facilitate understanding, and maintain concision.
  • Balance: This Report makes every possible effort to present a balanced review of relevant material information.
  • Credibility and Reliability: The financial and sustainability information presented in this Report has been vetted by reputed external assurance service providers.

Precautionary Principle

Being keenly aware of the direct and indirect social and environmental impact of our actions, the indirect consequences resulting from the business activities of our customers to whom we lend in particular, the Bank avoids or reduces any such negative impacts through credit policies, screening based on the Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS), post-disbursement supervision, dedicated green products and risk management processes.

Although the Bank’s business model and operations do not directly create a significant negative impact on the environment, every effort is made to reduce its own carbon footprint through initiatives such as solar energy usage, energy efficient air conditioning and the elimination of paper usage in its processes. These efforts enabled the Bank to become the first fully carbon neutral bank in the country.

Figure 01 on the right illustrates the guiding principles, regulations, codes, and Acts used for financial and narrative reporting; reporting on sustainability goals and practices; and the governance of the Bank.

Responsibility for sustainability practices and external assurance

The Bank’s Managing Director/Group Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and other members of the Corporate Management are responsible for the sustainability practices and disclosures made in this Report. They have actively engaged with the external assurance providers on the Report content in this regard.

The Bank’s external Auditors, Messrs Ernst & Young, have assured the Group’s Financial Statements, integrated reporting and non-financial information on sustainability reporting, while Messrs DNV Business Assurance Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., who represents DNV, has assured the Bank’s non-financial reporting. The Board of Directors and the Management have no other relationship with these external assurance service providers, aside from their engagement as independent Assurance Service providers of the Group.

Contact

Your comments or questions on this Report are welcome and we invite you to direct them to:

Group Chief Financial Officer
Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC
“Commercial House”
21, Sir Razik Fareed Mawatha
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka