Forging a new path forward

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Sent home to work during the pandemic, PT Trimegah Asset Management had to quickly implement new ways of working.

Indonesians are not easily rattled. Afterall, they live in a land where earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions occur every once in a while. So, when Covid-19 first surfaced in China late last year and then spread to Southeast Asia in January and February, they remained calm.

Recalling her thoughts at the time, Ms Vega Henrietta, Head Operation and Settlement at fund manager PT Trimegah Asset Management, says, “We didn’t think the virus would affect us because SARS did not. In fact, we know of no other deadly viruses from other countries that have ever had a huge impact in Indonesia.”

While neighbouring countries imposed social distancing and work-from-home rules, it was business as usual in Indonesia. All that changed on March 2 when President Joko Widodo confirmed the country’s first two cases of Covid-19.

When the numbers rose and spiked to 117 cases in mid-March, companies such as PT Trimegah took action and sent staff to work digitally from home. This was a new way of working and threw up niggling issues. Among some key concerns was whether their IT systems would give them seamless connection to their work.

With PT Trimegah handling about 15 trillion rupiah of assets under its management, Ms Henrietta’s pressing issue was to get contractually-sound transactions done online. The convention had been to have clients fax through signed copies of deals but this posed a challenge when staff had to work from home.

“We assured our clients that our operations would continue to run smoothly because we had very good IT and vendor support and were coordinating closely with our custodian bank (DBS), brokers and KSEI (Indonesia Stock Exchange),” she adds.

Fortunately, DBS already had in place several systems to help its institutional investor base fully digitalise their financial operations. DBS IDEAL, the bank’s corporate online banking platform, was the perfect solution for Ms Henrietta and her clients.

“Most of our customers already had the platform, but were using it only for basic stuff like checking their account balances and not utilising its entire suite,” says Michael Sidarta, a relationship manager at DBS Indonesia.

“When we started working from home early in March, we anticipated that our customers would need help in using some of IDEAL’s more advanced features and started contacting them.”

As these customers needed to hit the ground running, the DBS team zeroed in on addressing their specific needs, especially in authenticating their digital transactions. The team also hastened the process of setting up all required services and was on call 24/7 to help resolve any issues.

“Everything was done for them through our digital network and we had support teams in place to help each of them to confidently operate IDEAL according to their needs within just two weeks,” he adds.

With the platform, there is now no need for Ms Henrietta and her clients to authenticate their transactions through signed documents.

“We found that working from home can now be a solution if in the future we face situations that prevent us from going to the office,” she says. “IDEAL can now help us to keep monitoring our transactions and conduct our daily reconciliation.”