Transformation and trust are important for success in modern banking

Artak Hanesyan:

Transformation and trust are important for success in modern banking

PanARMENIAN.Net - Ameriabank’s CEO Artak Hanesyan has given an interview to GlobalMarkets, explaining the bank’s strategy and highlighting some of the key reasons for its success in the Armenian market.
What are some of Ameriabank’s main businesses, strengths and competitive advantages?
Ameriabank believes in the potential and future of the Armenian economy. One of our strengths is our openness to transformation. Realizing our potential, and achieving success, comes not only from recognizing the need for change, but actually leading change and transforming. That is how we successfully navigated through the 2008 global financial crisis. That is how we transformed from a leading corporate and investment bank to leading universal bank in Armenia. That is why we have been pursuing digital transformation, investment which prepared us for some of the challenges we all faced in 2020.

Since 2008 we have played a fundamental role in the empowerment of Armenian businesses and the Armenian people. We are the largest financial institution in Armenia, committed to bringing exceptional banking services, products and experiences to our clients and partners. Our growth and development has been based on a long-term vision, strategy and set of objectives, rather than on short-term interests. In addition, we have thrived on the trust and longstanding relations with our clients, partners and shareholders. They have inspired us to develop dynamically and transform from a traditional bank to essentially a financial and technological ecosystem built around human needs.

What are some of the bank’s key achievements and successful projects over the past 12 months?
Despite the difficulties and challenges faced by the global economy last year, we performed well and achieved some good results. As of the first quarter of 2021, Ameriabank maintained its leadership, ranking first among Armenian banks by key financial indicators, including: assets; liabilities; loans; deposits; profit; and equity capital. In fact, at the end of the first quarter, the bank’s ROA and ROE were 1.5% and 14.2%, respectively. We are also leading the Armenian corporate bond market with a share of 26% of the market, and in pursuit of our strategy to transition to universal banking model, we increased the share of retail and SME loans. In addition, we have made significant progress in distance and digital banking, with our online banking penetration rate reaching 48% (up by 12pp.) in 2020.

Ameriabank accessed the green bond market for the first time this year. What are your plans to further develop green finance in Armenia?
Successfully issuing the country’s first green bonds was another significant achievement for the bank in the past year. We issued a total of €42m of green bonds in close cooperation with our long-term partner, FMO, which is a public-private development bank and an anchor investor in the bonds. Sustainalytics has verified our Green Bond Framework’s alignment with the international green bond principles and global market standards in its second-party opinion. The funding raised via green bonds provides an unrivaled opportunity to finance green projects that contribute to environmental sustainability. As for the plans for the future, we aim to become the leading green bank in Armenia and look forward to greater cooperation with our partners.

In what digital technologies does Ameriabank see the greatest potential? What are Ameriabank’s key priorities for 2021 and strategic goals for the future?
To succeed, a bank needs to adapt to rapidly changing environment. Our priorities for the current year are further digital transformation and diversification. Accordingly, we are consistently expanding the capacity of distance banking, improving the quality of digital services, increasing the share of retail and SME loans, simultaneously setting the goal of double-digit growth of the loan portfolio. This will help us achieve our strategic goals, such as enhancing the performance efficiency, achieving further growth in key financial indicators, ensuring high satisfaction of our clients, partners, team and shareholders, as well as maintaining an absolute leadership in the financial market of Armenia.

In a number of recent interviews, your international partners have mentioned that Ameriabank is ready for IPO. What plans does Ameriabank have for an IPO?
Over the past few years, we have become the largest bank in the country and achieved the highest level of cooperation with international partners. We are also constantly improving our corporate governance. An IPO would be a very important strategic milestone for us and would help support our long-term growth plans. Being a public company also means that we follow best practice in corporate governance, reporting and transparency. In this regard, I am proud to state that we already operate like a public company, being one of the exceptional companies in Armenia with a corporate governance system in compliance with IPO prerequisites. We are constantly following international capital markets, our listed peers, and have set relevant benchmarks for a successful IPO. We will launch the IPO process once we reach our mid-term targets. Timing will also depend on market conditions. As important as this is for the bank, it should also be said that whatever we do to support our growth and development, it has one ultimate goal – to help improve the quality of life. The formula of our success is transformational mindset and trust in the potential of our team, our country and economy we live and work in.