Interview with EuroCham Board Member Etienne Kettenmeyer


1. What motivated you to join the Board of Directors at EuroCham?

After 7 years in Cambodia and 20 years of professional experience, I felt legitimate enough to sharea  few things I have learnt about business and management in the financial field. As a European living in Cambodia, EuroCham is the perfect institution to do that, with a long and successful track record in terms of institutional dialogue, business support, and community life. Ratana Phurik-Callebaut, Blaise Kilian, and Arnaud Darc demonstrated an incredible passion and vision at the very beginning of EuroCham, and they are still very active members of the European/Cambodian community today. I feel very humble and honoured to follow their path, along with Tassilo Brinzer and the whole newly elected Board. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been living in Cambodia?

I am a Luxembourg citizen, born and raised in France. Half of my family is still living in Luxembourg and it is always a pleasure to visit them. My wife being Cambodian, I first visited Cambodia in 2004 for summer vacations. We decided to relocate to Cambodia in 2015 for family and professional reasons. I am very grateful to Cambodia and Cambodians for being so welcoming to foreigners. I feel at home in Cambodia, and now it is the other way around: I go to Europe for vacations! I still take lessons in spoken Khmer and I am still in the process of understanding the Khmer culture. My journey is not over. 

3. As a banking professional, and member of the first licensed rating agency of Cambodia, how do you view the overall financial and banking sector landscapes in the country? What steps need to be taken to help maintain growth?

Through all the years I have been active in Cambodia, I have witnessed an incredible path in terms of financial development, technology usage, and regulation improvement. The National Bank of Cambodia is instrumental in leading the way for local and foreign investors, while protecting customers and managing the monetary policy of the Kingdom. During the pandemic, the National Bank of Cambodia and the Ministry of Economy and Finance did a tremendous job in protecting customers by encouraging banks to renegotiate loan terms, easing temporarily regulatory requirements for banks to be able to face the crisis, implementing a State guarantee fund for SMEs, protecting the KHR/USD exchange rate, and accelerating the igitalization of banking transactions with Bakong.

I am truly amazed by the capacity of the country to adapt to difficult situations and quickly implement innovative solutions. We don't realise how much and how fast the country is changing. In France, people are surprised when I tell them that I don't have cash in my pocket anymore! I am very confident in the strength of the banking sector in Cambodia and it will become more and more sophisticated with economic growth. A few years ago, there was no need for a rating agency. Nowadays, with the increasing number of bond programs listed at the Cambodian Securities Exchange and the increasing weight of foreign investments, such as Morgan Stanley investing in ACLEDA, you realise that the Kingdom has already taken a step forward.

The country's financial landscape is now mature enough for the creation of a rating agency. The Rating Agency of Cambodians project is the vision of HH Sisowath Chakara, a veteran of the asset management industry, whose goal is to promote the emergence of young finance professionals in Cambodia. This initiative is important in terms of service, trust, and sovereignty. I am honoured to be part of the first rating committee and build a financial community focused on implementing international standards, looking for constant improvement. Credit rating may only be the first step of services proposed. RAC will evolve step by step, but quickly, as usual in Cambodia! 

4. What specific issues are you focused on addressing as a Board Member? Are there any committees you’d like to get involved in?

Following the Covid-19 situation that was very stressful from a social point of view, but also from an economic point of view, I believe that most independent businesses in Cambodia need capital investments and new business opportunities. I would like to be useful to members as an investment facilitator, whether in terms of investment opportunities or training. Europe shall not be the only partner of Cambodian companies and we should explore opportunities in ASEAN.

On the advocacy side, I am a member of the Fintech group, which is active within the Technology Committee. Under the leadership of Nicolas Hollander, the new CEO of Bred Bank, and Matthew Tippets, the CEO of Clik and President of the Committee, the group will advocate for the implementation of more digital transactions in our day-to-day life. For example, now you cannot collect any digital consent and that is slowing down the loan disbursements and the signatures of contracts. Camdigikey, a kind of certified digital identity for certain administrative operations, is a very promising brick in the digital environment that we could leverage. 

5. If you were to pitch Cambodia as a trade or investment destination to a European company, what would your sales pitch look like?

I would say that Cambodia is the perfect gateway to ASEAN market: friendly business environment, reasonable operating costs, and low level of competition. The small-sized market, compared to Indonesia, Vietnam, or Thailand, is largely compensated by the fact that a strong GDP growth is there for the next 20 years, thanks to heavy investment in infrastructure (speedways, railways, airport), which will create new commercial and manufacturing opportunities. The Covid-19 vaccination plan of the government was perfectly managed (the second vaccination rate after Singapore in ASEAN), demonstrating the planning and execution capacity of the government. Workforce is a good challenge because of the fierce competition on the labour market: employers have to be creative to attract and retain the best profiles. Younger generations are asking for more than a wage, and that's what you have to work on as a manager. Come, see, and invest in Cambodia: you will fight for growth, not for survival! 


Annual Platinum Partners

Annual Gold Partners

Founding Chambers & National Chapters