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"In every crisis, we need to look for new opportunities for development"

First Deputy Chairman of the Board of JSCB "Almazergienbank" - on the difficulties and achievements in the context of a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic and the associated crisis have negatively affected many areas of the economy, but in some areas it has opened up new opportunities. First Deputy Chairman of the Board of JSCB "Almazergienbank" JSC Anatoly Myreev told how the pandemic gave the AEB an additional impetus for development, and how the bank will transform its services, services and financial products in the near future.

"In every crisis, we need to look for new opportunities for development"

- Anatoly Nikolaevich, how did the pandemic affect the habits of the bank's clients, and how did the AEB restructure its work in the new conditions?

“The fallout from the pandemic has accelerated changes in our customers' behavior and highlighted the critical importance of digitalizing services. The implementation of digital transformation, as well as the challenges and barriers that it poses to us, make us take a leap in our development.

We see evidence that people have begun to visit bank branches less and use more online services. In April-May, there were five times more daily mobile bank users than clients visiting our offices. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded a 70% increase in the number of users of the AEB Online mobile application. More than 90% of payments by legal entities and individual entrepreneurs are made online through AEB Business.

For Almazergienbank, this has become one of the main challenges of 2020 - we have quickly improved the existing platforms and formed new offers for our clients.

For example, we have implemented the ability to apply for a loan through the application. At the same time, a reduced rate applies to the online application. The service quickly became one of the most popular. You can also leave an online application at Online bank. Now we are preparing a similar service for accepting applications for loans for implementation for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs.

At the same time, we are not considering the option of a complete shift to digital. The traditional service format will remain, our branches will continue to work. There is a significant percentage of clients who prefer to visit offices and receive “human” service, and in this regard, our services are socially significant.

We, like the banking system of Russia as a whole, met the crisis of 2020 in the best shape compared to the challenges of 2008 and 2014. The bank was forced to rebuild its activities from the wheels, transfer employees to a remote mode. Note that we did not stop work for a single day. This is, first of all, the success of the team, which quickly restructured itself to new realities.

However, I cannot say that the tests that have fallen to the share of the financial sector are simple, we expect that we will feel the consequences for our clients over the next two years.

- Already now, a person can practically not go to the bank, but receive all services remotely?

- A significant part of the changes implemented as part of the development strategy of the AEB banking group until 2022 is aimed at precisely this. Already today, through AEB Online, you can apply for a loan, make money transfers inside and outside the bank, pay for cellular communications, the Internet, utilities and state payments, replenish e-wallets, receive the necessary certificates confirming payment for services, track the status of loans and generally monitor your accounts, analyze income and expenses.

With remote service, without a visit to the bank's office, the speed of payment processing is higher, the tariffs for some operations are more favorable. Moreover, a smartphone is always at hand and has long become a universal tool that allows you to solve almost all basic tasks for managing your finances.

Now we are testing the AEB Online 3.0 application inside the bank. In the new version, the developers have paid serious attention to the user experience, the basic operations within the application have become more convenient, additional functions have appeared: a system of quick payments, a chat with our employees. But the main thing is that after the launch of this version, we will be able to launch our new products faster and more flexibly, and it will be possible to use our main services without visiting the office.

- You have mentioned several times the development strategy of the banking group until 2022. Can we summarize some first results of its implementation right now?

- When we started working on the strategy, we didn't think that many of its tasks would have to be solved much faster than planned. Circumstances pushed. The same pandemic as I mentioned earlier.

People actively, one might say at one point, turned to remote services. This, firstly, became a challenge for our heads of business units and the digital team, and secondly, it significantly raised the bar of customer expectations from the bank's services, offers and products.

In terms of increasing the reliability and speed of operations, together with the bank's partners, we have achieved that the level of accessibility of basic services is now more than 99% fulfilled, according to reviews, this was one of the main wishes of our customers.

In addition, we have taken the first steps towards creating a credit factory. As I already mentioned, now the client can apply for a loan through the bank's website. We hope that by the end of the year we will be able to issue loans to our clients in a mobile application without visiting the office at all.

We understand, and this is reflected in our strategy, that simply digitizing the same products and services that we offer in the branches is the wrong way. Banking is now adapting to the world of constantly and ubiquitous technologies, and the only way to comply is to design a customer-bank experience specifically for this world. Thinking in service categories in offices will not bring success, so our main focus is on developing service delivery channels - first of all, this is a mobile application for our clients.

Now experts are arguing that the future in the financial sector is still in the hands of banks or fintech companies. It seems to me that in the end the winner will be the one who maintains the trust of customers, takes care of their financial health and will listen to them.

And, of course, the strategy is based on digital transformation. But, like any changes, digital transformation is not only and even not so much a change in business processes, it is a change in the thinking of the bank's team - a common understanding of why we are doing this, the formation of a unified vision of the team and change leaders, focus and open discussion on the most sensitive issues and, probably, the main thing is the belief in success and energy.

- The bank issued a number of loans under the Far Eastern Mortgage program. Yakutia is the leader in issuing them. What caused such a stir?

- Not even a number of loans. Here, I think, we can say without undue modesty that we occupy one of the leading places in the region in terms of extradition. Why do people turn to Almazergienbank? We try to take into account the wishes of our clients, to make the conditions more acceptable.

AEB was noted at a recent meeting of the working group on the implementation of the preferential mortgage program chaired by the Minister of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Alexander Kozlov.

Our practice of lending to individual housing construction for the category of young families under the Far Eastern Mortgage program was named the best. In Almazergienbank, they can get a loan without attracting additional collateral.

If we talk about the hype, then it is caused, first of all, by the unprecedented low rates and a variety of preferential programs.

Let me remind you that recently, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree to reduce the down payment on preferential mortgages from 20 to 15%. The solution makes mortgages more affordable for many citizens. Such a move by the government as a whole will have a positive effect on the housing lending market, because banks participating in the concessional lending program have already begun to reduce the minimum down payment. The threshold for the programs "Far Eastern Mortgage" and "Family Mortgage" has also been lowered. All this proves once again that the issue of housing lending is in the focus of attention of the Russian authorities.

- AEB is a regional bank, in principle there are not many of them. Where do you see your mission in terms of promoting the development of the region?

- In December 2019, at a traditional meeting with bank employees, the AEB mission was voiced by Nikolay Dolgunov, Chairman of the Board of Almazergienbank. It is also reflected in the development strategy. We strive to become an innovative partner for our clients operating in Russia and around the world, in accordance with the goals of the social and economic development of our republic.

You have correctly noted that Yakutia is one of the few regions of the country where a regional bank has survived. This was done, on the one hand, thanks to the firm position of the main shareholder, and on the other, due to customer support. The republic has a very active and efficiently working business community, with which we are building a mutually beneficial partnership. We have over seven thousand corporate clients and entrepreneurs in our asset. The number of retail clients has reached 300 thousand.

We are very grateful to the residents of the republic, individual entrepreneurs, enterprises and companies for their loyalty and dedication. As our own bank for the Yakutians, we know well the clients, their desires and expectations. This knowledge enables us to develop competitive and successful products that meet the expectations of our customers.

Published in the journal of the Agency for attracting investments and export support of Yakutia "InvestYakutia"

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