We have started 2024 by strengthening our competitive advantages in all market segments, and engaged in the development and stabilization of the domestic economy at the same time.

In an interview to Zarkerak.am, Artak Arkelyan, Chairman of the Executive Board/CEO of ARMECONOMBANK, spoke about the achievements made in 2023, plans for 2024, and shared his views as to standing firm in their positions n the current geopolitical and economic conditions, keeping the image of a desirable employer, and described the model adopted by the Bank to succeed in the sector.

- Mr. Arakelyan, what were the results of the Bank for 2023? Which are the main directions of the Bank’s activity in the near future?

- 2023 was another year of progress for Armeconombank despite a number of geopolitical and economic challenges.We closed the previous year with important achievements: growth of profitable assets and further attraction of resources, increase of our capital, and we exceeded our strategic goals by earning significant profit. Among the achievements, I would like to point out also the successful placement of shares that brought the number of our shareholders above 7,000 and reaffirmed the fact that investors see the Bank as a reliable and profitable destination for investment.I should mention that the Bank has been successfully proceeding with the issue of shares amounting to AMD 12bn including over AMD 3bn placed in 2023, AMD 3.7bn placed in early 2024, and the rest will be placed during the current year.

Regarding the plans for the future, we have started 2024 by strengthening our competitive advantages in all market segments, and engaged in the development and stabilization of the domestic economy at the same time.  While observing the priority of micro, small, and medium business financing, the  driving force of the economy, we will keep up our lending policy for agricultural, housing, and consumer sectors. The processes related to the development of digital technologies in terms of the modernization of existing products and launch of new products will remain in our focus so we offer more of convenient solutions to our customers in the future.

- Armeconombank stands firm in its positions as shown by positive performance indicators. What is the key to success for your team?

-Yes, the Bank holds specific positions in terms of all key indicators, and the achievements we had the previous year are quite express in this respect.  These achievements were made possible due to the ability of our staff, the most important asset of our company, to share a common vision, support each other, stay consolidated, and devoted to their work.

I believe that our goal to strengthen the Bank's positions in the Armenian banking market and gaining a much larger share in terms of the main asset/liability indicators over the coming years is fully achievable.

- How would you evaluate the competitive position of the Bank, and the competition level in the banking sector as a whole?

- The Bank ranks above average in the sector  in terms of key performance indicators, and the competition in the field in quite severe. The banks that have a larger base of affordable resources and flexible, customer-oriented policy will have more advantages.

In my opinion, the Bank’s achievements come from a number of other factors, too: in addition to having a dedicated and professional team, we traditionally observe corporate governance principles such as equality and protection of rights of major and minor shareholders, and transparency of the business. To be competitive, improve the existing positions, quickly respond to market changes, and come up with products appropriate to our customers' needs, the use of digital technologies has become especially imperative over the recent years, which is what we keep in our permanent focus. In this area, our team has greatly contributed to the further digitalization of the Bank and incorporation of the latest technologies in customer service.

- All the sectors are facing a period full of challenges. What are the problems you face in your current activity?

- There is really no shortage of challenges - from efforts to improve the service quality to securing an adequate level of capital for further expansion of the  business and prospective development.There are a number of objectives such as having better information security along with the latest digital solutions, acceptable quality of assets quality along with the growth of loan portfolio and steps towards strategic goals.

We have been overcoming the obstacles as we have clear goals supported by detailed and meticulous plans, and effective schemes to achieve them, and each unit supervisor has an adequate vision of his/her objectives and the sequence of steps towards them. The high level of industry regulation and the existence of effective risk management function at the Central Bank of Armenia highly contributes to the resolution of any issues.

- A wide network of international partners and a fully booked agenda - Mr. Arakelyan, how does your team manage to establish, develop, and maintain butually beneficial cooperation with your foreign partners?

- Ever since its establishment, Armeconombank has greatly appreciated the active role and support of international financial institutions in the development of the Bank and, as an important part of its strategy, has been involved in various projects implemented by such institutions, which shaped up adequate cooperation experience and skills.

The Bank historically and traditionally succeeds in cooperating with foreign partners. Along this path, the cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as early as in 2000 was an important step, and the cooperation developed further as EBRD became a shareholder. This, in its turn, had a significant positive impact on the Bank's reputation in the international arena. Currently, the Bank closely cooperates with more than 20 leading international financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), German Investment and Development Company (DEG), GDR Reconstruction Credit Bank (KFW), Dutch Development Bank (FMO), Swiss Symbiotics Investment SA, BlueOrchard Finance S.A., responsAbility Investments AG, Belgian Incofin Investment Management investment companies, etc., and more than 115 projects worth nearly USD 630.0m have been initiated to finance the development of the country's MSMEs. In general, the international sphere is one of the most sensitive segments and requires daily follow-up, and to keep it secure, a proactive, accountable, and transparent approach is extremely important.

- As a member of the society, Armeconombank adheres to social responsibility and  constantly supports social projects in various areas. Which ones would you single out?

- Social responsibility and social projects have always been important for the Bank's key shareholders, the Sukiasyan family, and for the Bank's management as well. Without going into details or focusing on individual programs, I would simply state that the critical goal of having a better homeland lies in the basis of these steps.

- There is an opinion that Armenian banks are still desired employers. How many employees does Armenian Bank have today and what are the principles of employer-employee relations at your bank?

- Today, the Bank has about 1,000 employees (a few hundred more are engaged in our outsourced services).Generally, in employer-employee relationship the management needs to demonstrate a fair and impartial attitude to everybody since motivated personnel represents the driving force of the business; it contributes to the increase of the work efficiency and, therefore, to the development of the business as well.

In this regard, we continuously improve our motivational systems, use social support packages, keep effective mechanisms to reward our personnel and, of course, facilitate professional progress, and finance their education.

Armeconombank's doors are open to all those who have adequate knowledge, desire and enthusiasm to work in our team, create added value and develop. Moreover, we give preference to recent graduates as we believing that young, stereotype-free people can breathe new life into the Bank's operations.

- Mr. Arakelyan, your position implies significant responsibility: what is important to succeed in such a work and achieve good results?

- Armeconombank is my first workplace. In 2005, I joined Armeconombank and held various positions from a Specialist to Deputy CEO, and became the CEO in June 2023. I value the experience and skills acquired over those years, and I use them to help the Bank develop and achieve new heights.

The Bank already has a 33-year history, and the managerial approaches shaped over that time make Armeconombank stand out in the Armenian banking sector. While faithful to its governance traditions, the Bank never hesitates to adopt new, up-to-date approaches.

As we maintain the continuity of the Bank's mission, we intend to supplement and develop our  corporate governance values with a clear prospect of strengthening our positions and increasing our share in the Armenian banking sector.

Updated: 02/04/2024 10:03