“AccessBank is already among TOP-5 banks of Azerbaijan on several criteria”. Ilkin Guliyev, member of the Management Board of AccessBank
Mr. Guliyev, how has the banking system changed during the recent years? How do you see these changes in AccessBank?
In general, the banking system has changed significantly after devaluation and personally in my opinion, these changes are efficient and more effective. Along with being a major shock for the market, devaluation has brought a new vision to banking. Besides, I think that the pandemic itself has given a boost t digitalization of banking. The good news is that the Central Bank has taken very significant steps towards the digitalization, and thus approved new rules. And the banks in their turn try to benefit from these changes. AccessBank also became proactive in digitalization – a new mobile application will be available for our customers soon. Internet banking application for our business customers completely meets their needs. Along with this, we are also thinking about the update of our digital channels for business customers as well.
Have the recent global events had an influence on AccessBank?
I guess, yes. At least we see it in the Bank. For instance, in comparison with other neighbour countries, we can observe the growth of investments from major foreign companies to our country due to the developing economy, stable exchange rate, open environment for investment. We are very pleased with foreign companies that have opened new accounts in our Bank in the last 6 months. This fact attracts both additional investments to our country, and new customers to our Bank. One of the main reasons why legal entities use of our services is that all shareholders of AccessBank are international financial companies and institutions.
You have been observing AccessBank from the sidelines while working in other financial institutions. What do you think, how is it going inside the Bank?
In point of fact, while working in other 3 banks, AccessBank impressed me as an interesting bank with its unique corporate values. Frankly speaking, I didn’t think much when I got offer to join the AccessBank team, since, as I’ve noted earlier, this Bank seemed very interesting to me from the side and differed with its strong structure, foundation. Moreover, to be engaged in development of the retail business in the bank which is a market-leader in microfinance was a very attractive offer itself. Attractive and risky at the same time. I wasn’t sorry for my choice at all when I have joined the AccessBank team – I became acquainted with the strong, professional team, with the bank possessing great potential and unique corporate values relative and close to me. I can say, that me and AccessBank became carriers of the same values.
What is the difference, peculiarity of AccessBank from other banks?
There are banks where processes are in the first place (process base), there are also banks where the engagement of people (team base) is more important than processes. I see the mix of these two directions in AccessBank. The main asset of our Bank, the team plays a very significant role, at the same time, constantly improving processes also take their place. I believe, that this symbiosis has been very well formed in corporate governance, business life of AccessBank. Foundation of the Bank was established in this format. In my opinion, this is the main peculiarity that distinguishes us from another banks. Surely, the fact that AccessBank posseses the largest market share in microfinance direction in the country, as well as the fact that it has the largest deposit portfolio after systemically important banks, is one of our distinguishing points.
Where do you see AccessBank in upcoming years?
The main mission of AccessBank is to continue the strategy of support small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the retail customers. We will develop this strategy step-by-step in our digital channels as well. This is the requirement of both customers and market. Digitalization and comfort of our customers will be one of the priorities of our Bank for the next 3 years. We have plans to completely digitize the process of opening an account for both business and retail customers without the neccessity to come to the bank. As for the branch network, we will open for customers our new 30th branch office in Nakhchivan during this year. And for the next years, we are going to use agent banking services rather than opening branch offices.
AccessBank is already among TOP-5 banks of Azerbaijan on several criteria. Our main objective is to develop these parameters in some directions, and to keep them in other ones. Moreover, we also plan to maintain the largest market share in support of small and medium-sized enterprises and our position in TOP-5 in terms of deposit portfolio of retail customers, improve our service quality and, in addition, our digital channels, to become one of the most profitable banks in the near future.