Women in finance: Teresita Sy-Coson

Teresita Sy-Coson sits at the head of BDO, the Philippines' biggest bank by total assets, and has played a central role in increasing its market cap.

Teresita Sy-Coson, the eldest child of the Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy, or Tessie as she is more commonly known, helms Philippines’ biggest bank BDO and has been described by one dealmaker that has worked with her as being “tough” and “visionary.”

Sy-Coson has shaped BDO to be the biggest bank in the Philippines in terms of total assets, loans, and deposits. She was behind BDO’s push to acquire Equitable in 2005, then the third-largest bank in the Philippines. She has also overseen the bank’s increase in market capitalization, delivering returns for shareholders.

While all of Henry Sy’s children are involved in the business, Sy-Coson plays an all-encompassing role. In addition to chairing BDO, Sy-Coson is the vice chairperson of SM Investments Corporation, one of the Philippines’ leading groups with interests in retail, banking, and property development.

In terms of capital markets, BDO has also broken ground as an issuer, being the first Philippine issuer to tap international capital markets in 2006 with a global depositary receipt offering.
As an investment bank, BDO has also arranged a number of landmark deals including Puregold’s IPO in 2014.

Finally, on the service front, BDO has pushed the envelope extending operating hours till 6pm and also keeping some branches open over the weekend, upping the ante on competition.

While CEO Nestor Tan runs BDO on a day-to-day basis, Sy-Coson has been described as being hands-on and having mentored him. She is also the chairperson of BDO Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the bank that focuses on the areas of relief, operations, education, shelter, and livelihood.

FinanceAsia’s 2015 honour roll of the most influential women across the Asia Pacific region spans investment and commercial bankers.

Published as a feature in the July / August 2015 print edition of FinanceAsia, the series also presents leading women in new areas of finance such as fintech where Asian companies are among the fastest-growing in the world.

We also canvassed corporate financiers for exceptional women working in deal advisory including lawyers and accountants. In the process of researching the series, we found evidence of progress in creating more diverse workplaces in the region.

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