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“What was achieved and what is planned gives me a lot of comfort when looking at the future development of AccessBank”: Interview with Dariusz Kacprzyk, Member of AccessBank Azerbaijan Supervisory Board

13 February 2023

Mr. Kacprzyk, in your opinion, how did the recent development in the region affect the Azerbaijani banking sector? Are there any specific areas that banks in general should increase their focus on?

With all of the influencing factors in mind, incl.: the geopolitical turmoil, turbulences on the markets and in particular fluctuating prices, shortage of resources, but also increasing pressure on ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues not just from regulators, but also from clients, I must say, that we have now particularly challenging ecosystem for banks and pretty tough expectations are triggered. Based on my 30 years of experience in banking let me draw the following main conclusions:

·         Banks needs to acknowledge that the black swans exist, and the fact that we witnessed such events recently (e.g. pandemic, military conflicts, etc.) does not mean that they would not happen again so certain measures for getting prepared for them needs to be taken.

·         On-going digitalisation and globalisation create great opportunities, but even to the more extend imply need for huge investments into technology, cybersecurity measures, etc. The positive thing about it is that these investments would make the banking organisations & infrastructure lighter, thus more flexible which together with automation and self-service by clients at the end would make it less costly.

·         Despite of the changing environment, banking models, innovative, if not sophisticated products and technology used the key issue remains unchanged: it is all about confidence and this value needs to be protected.

Do you think that AccessBank has weathered past market turbulence well? If yes, what is the primary reason in your opinion?

Based on my over three-year observation of AccessBank, I admire the enormous effort of all the involved parties which - in these challenging circumstances - made the progress possible. I appreciate the passion that I encounter among the people, happy to see that many changes implemented and yet planned to assure the sustainable development of the bank. I am quite sure that objectively the bank managed to overpass successfully this difficult period and gained very solid foundation for the new chapter of its development. From this perspective, the 20th Anniversary of AccessBank is therefore a great opportunity to celebrate both the accomplishment of the necessary restructuring as well as a kind of the new opening. What was achieved and what is planned gives me a lot of comfort when looking at the future development of AccessBank and I am particularly happy to be a witness of that transition.

What are your expectations of AccessBank in the next five years?

AccessBank - with no doubts on my side - has made enormous progress recently and managed to get back to the right tracks. This is a fundamental achievement, as more focus could be allocated to the future.

In the constantly changing environment, the bank needs to accommodate in the various aspects. It starts with the people, their professional training, commitment and shared responsibility. Then it is a question of introducing of the new prudential rules, which are often more restrictive in terms of the compliance, risk appetite, etc. Finally yet importantly it is about certain investments into the technology, which will be prerequisite for the further digitalisation, operational accuracy, product development, etc.

It is very important in my opinion for the AccessBank to become more pro-active in terms of the innovative products to facilitate the acquisition of the new retail clients, as some diversification of the customers’ portfolio, hence also risk, is very important. In parallel, it also crucial not to forget about the current core markets (micro and agro entrepreneurs), which may not be too sophisticated yet. The balance is crucial to assure sustainable growth of the bank in the forthcoming years.

With all the lessons taken recently, which – in my opinion – are of the great value, devoted management and employees of the bank and at least some necessary investments I am convinced that AccessBank would strengthen its position as one of the market leaders in its segments of the market and would become even to more extend a kind of avant-garde player (innovative, agile & successful). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that and will support it.

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