The FINANCIAL -- Despite worsened macroeconomic fundamentals since last year PASHA Bank Georgia is still planning significant growth in its lending business this year. Based on the data of the past seven months, the management of the Bank is optimistic about hitting all of its key annual targets.
“In the last couple of quarters the macroeconomic picture has indeed gotten a little more complicated than we would have liked. Devaluation of local currencies put extra strain on the debt service capacities of borrowers that have seen the value of their GEL-denominated cash flow diminish in USD terms. In light of significant dollarization of the Georgian banking sector loan book this is especially troubling. Luckily we have avoided the worst of currency devaluation effects and focused on the quality of loan portfolio,” Shahin Mammadov, CEO at PASHA Bank Georgia, told The FINANCIAL.
Q. The region is currently entering a period of macroeconomic risks. What areas of business will you be focusing on?
A. Slower than expected economic growth is another complicating factor together with currency devaluation. These effects combined lead to increased uncertainty in the market inducing the corporates to delay investing decisions and focus on short term financing for the time being. This adversely affects growth of the banking sector as a whole and our loan portfolio in particular. All in all, while the macroeconomic fundamentals have worsened since last year, we are still planning on significant growth in our lending business. If the past seven months are any indication of the rest of the year, we should be in a good position to hit all of the key annual targets. As far as industry specific lending is concerned, at this stage we have not put any limits on particular sectors exploring each potential case on its own merits. The degree of caution with which we approach the situations that involve foreign currency lending has gone up of course.
Q. What are the prospects for development of PASHA Bank activity within the framework of the economic triangle “Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia”?
A. Turkey and Azerbaijan are among Georgia’s largest trading partners. Economic activity exhibits increasing trends which in turn creates opportunities for us to capture a piece of the action through providing flexible and timely product & service offerings. Recently we commissioned a survey aimed at identifying the potential client segment that either already trades with Turkey and Azerbaijan, or intends to do so in the nearest future. There is a growing interest on the part of Georgian corporates to access these two markets. The Bank can play several roles here. Apart from providing a single window solution in terms of providing financial services, we can also facilitate information exchange and in some instances even bring the buyers and sellers together creating additional value for the client in the process.
Q. Which of the features of PASHA Bank Georgia are the most important in attracting corporate clients?
A. We have worked hard to identify the exact values that our potential customers would appreciate about us the most. We used insights from our corporate clients, from the experience of our relationship managers that have been working in other leading banks before, and came up with the most attractive features that PASHA Bank actually has to offer. Our strategy does not imply undercutting the competition necessarily on price, which means it is not the market-wide lowest rates that attract most clients to PASHA Bank. It is actually the trust that we are trying to cultivate by building sustainable and long-term relationships with our clients. We are the bank that actually strives to develop the businesses of clients, so that we achieve new heights together. It is essential for us to contribute to the development of our client’s business, first of all in order to maintain a healthy portfolio. We openly state our interests to our clients, convincing them that with PASHA Bank they have double the safety because they have a financial partner that they can really trust.
One more feature that we emphasize in our brand is ‘double attention’. With us, each of our clients feels that extra hospitality and care along with the significant time that we invest in relationship building. We are a corporate bank and this gives us the opportunity to be solely focused on our corporate clients rather than splitting our attention across several business lines. Most of our clients have stressed the importance of this feature and they indeed enjoy the privilege of being in the centre of our attention. We are solely dedicated to them by providing professional service and a wide range of corporate and investment banking products.
We are also open to syndicated deals with other banks. Once again, trust is very important for banks when selecting a partner of this kind, and we are often thought of as a possible companion in large syndicated deals. We also offer our partners the fastest attention - we are very competitive in terms of speedy service and flexibility, which adds a special value to our brand.
We do believe that the service we provide to our clients is enriched with double attention and this cultivates the trust that is the cornerstone for building any relationship. The ‘double safety’ that we offer our clients along with mutual trust is of the utmost importance when selecting a long-term financial partner.
Q. What privileges do PASHA Bank employees enjoy?
A. We are glad to be able to offer special privileges to the employees of PASHA Bank, such as high-quality health insurance, sports, book and training allowances that are quite a positive distinguisher for an employee here in Georgia. We systematically send our employees to different trainings abroad, by this contributing to their professional development, once again underlying that each employee is the most important asset to our group. PASHA Bank covers all costs related to acquiring professional qualification of staff. We also offer our employees beneficial staff loan program. We are trying to provide our team with a proper working environment and terms which were very well reflected in our latest employee satisfaction level, which revealed a significantly increasing trend. I personally meet every employee within the framework of “Breakfast with the CEO”, where we discuss our goals and values in a less formal atmosphere. And I am glad to be certain that our employees share our main corporate values and are proud to share PASHA Bank corporate culture.
Q. What projects are undertaken within the framework of CSR at PASHA Bank Georgia?
A. Corporate social responsibility is very important to PASHA Bank. We try to mainly get involved in projects that are linked to development of the local economy, whether it be initiation of professional libraries, funding of educational projects, or even helping the Government in rehabilitation from natural disasters. Of course, there are cases when we conduct CSR activities in other directions too, such as blood donation by employees, but mainly we focus on educational and informative directions. Let me give you several examples:
On 24 May, Radisson Blu Iveria hosted the year’s main marketing event in Georgia - Spotlight 2015. PASHA Bank was the platinum sponsor of the event. Spotlight has been taking place ever since 2013, hosting Georgian marketers and other professionals who share their experiences with the public and colleagues.
This year a new project - Spotlight Marketing Library, initiated by PASHA Bank, was presented to guests. The project is supported by Tbilisi Mediathek and Spotlight. Marketing Library aims to create one comfortable space with professional literature in Marketing, Branding, PR and other related fields that will be available for everyone interested in these subjects.
For the Easter holiday PASHA Bank made a donation to the charity organization “First Step Georgia” on behalf of its clients and partners. This activity was very positively received, not only by the beneficiaries, but appreciated by the stakeholders of the brand. We received letters of gratitude for this kind gesture at the same time helping children with intellectual and physical disabilities in their educational needs as well as their integration in society.
PASHA Bank co-funded yet another educational project this summer: the foundation Bright Georgia organized a special Summer Camp for university applicants from socially vulnerable groups in Kobuleti. The Summer Camp hosted 30 participants who were selected from different parts of Georgia.
Not only are the above-mentioned activities pleasant for us to accomplish on common altruistic grounds, but we also strongly believe in the role of CSR in positive image-building for the brand.