The Vietnamese banking system has demonstrated a number of shortcomings in the five years since the nation joined the World Trade Organisation, according to participants at a forum hosted by the Foreign Trade University in Ha Noi last week.

Inadequate technology and poor corporate governance, especially for financial management, were the two major disadvantages of domestic commercial banks, said the unviersity's associate dean, Nguyen Thi Quy, noting the rising proportion of bad bebts in recent years.

At the end of last year, the average ratio of bad debt among commercial banks was around 2.5 percent, she said, but this had lately risen to 2.8 percent among commercial banks with shares listed on the nation's stock exchanges.

Trinh Quang Anh, director of Maritime Bank's Economics Research Centre, voiced concern over the capital adequacy ratios (CARs) of banks currently, saying that CARs computed in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards and those calculated under the Vietnamese accounting standards varied significantly.

Former Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen said that challenges in the financial services sectors were foreseen when the country joined the WTO. The existing challenges to the banking system did not result from national commitments to the WTO, he said. Rather, taking part in the organisation had helped Viet Nam recognise weaknesses and presented a good opportunity.

Several domestic banks, including Maritime Bank, have tried to take advantage of that opportunity.

Maritime Bank had invested to improve and renew its business strategy, in addition to comprehensively reinventing its image. It had hired a global management consulting firm – McKinsey and Company Inc – to build the bank's business strategy since 2009, Anh said.

Last year, the bank was ranked fifth among Vietnamese commercial banks, with a return-on-equity (ROE) the highest among banks with earnings of at least 1 trillion VND (47.84 million USD)./.