The FINANCIAL — Bank Republic is aiming to become the “Refferance Bank” by 2015. “Bank Republic has never lost the loyalty of its customers,” said Ramaz Kukuladze, Commercial Director of Bank Republic.
“The Bank has always been and still continues to provide various products and high quality service to its customers. Most importantly, the rate of reliability and credibility of the Bank has never fallen.”
“According to the quite ambitious strategy of the Bank, we have already started intensive marketing communication. We have successfully launched unique new products, implemented advertising campaigns and various special offer events , as well as participated in different activities. All these are directed at increasing our brand awareness and brand value.
Apart from this, the Bank continues to intensively implement CSR projects aiming to develop prioritized aspects of Georgian society.
Long-lasting commitment to work in the field of CSR will remain one of the strategic points for BR in 2012. The Bank will continue to implement in its daily business the three principal pillars of commercial development for Bank Republic in Georgia: network expansion (staying closer to customers), innovative and tailor-made products and solutions and superior quality of service.”
Q. According to the strategy of Bank Republic, it has to be the “Refferance Bank” in Georgia. What is your current position in the Georgian Banking sector?
A. Currently Bank Republic is one of the leading international banks on the market. The Bank is continuing to strengthen its position on the market in 2012 and is offering lots of innovations in service as well as products. 2015 is an important date for the entire group. This is the benchmark, when member banks of the group will become successful examples of teamwork, innovativeness, collegiality and professionalism for themselves as well as for the environment where they work.
Q. How will demand for different products change in 2012?
A.2012 started very actively and successfully for Bank Republic. We are satisfying various requirements of our customers with our new offers and products. We predict increased demand for business loans as well as mortgage loans. Demand for deposits has already risen significantly and continues to grow in 2012.
We launched a new product – the deposit ‘More’, at the beginning of 2012. This is a combination of high profitability and flexibility. Thanks to the interesting offer, adequate communication and attractive advertising this new product has already gained high interest amongst customers.
Apart from these, we offer SMEs loans from 12 percent and a grace period of up to 12 months. Entrepreneurs can make their own schedules of payment themselves. People who get credits during this special offer will get free seminars from Bank Republic. Issues including business administration, financial governance and marketing will be discussed during this one-month seminar. Interest in this is quite high.
During the whole year the Bank takes into consideration lifestyle, vacations, holidays of the Georgian population and we try to offer new actions and attractive proposals to suit these. Due to such an attitude our long-term and useful relations with our customers become stronger.
Q. In your opinion, what has been the result of the exit of international bank HSBC from Georgia?
A. HSBC Bank left Georgia because of changes in HSBC Group’s global strategy. Bank Republic purchased the retail portfolio of HSBC. It was important for HSBC to find a suitable candidate who would continue providing clients with excellent service and ensure their smooth transition to a new provider. The deal with BR, a member of international Société Générale Group, was the perfect opportunity for HSBC.
Q. In your opinion, what are customers’ expectations of Bank Republic and how much does the Bank satisfy these expectations?
A. Our customers expect lots of novelties from us, new offers that meet their requirements and high quality service. We plan exactly such activities.
We are shifting to market oriented strategy – we are matching our products and services to market needs and not vice versa. BR is an expert and we want to educate and advise our existing and potential customers. An innovative approach, full support and maximum responsiveness – that is what’s to be expected.
Q. What novelties is BR planning for both corporate and retail clients’ directions? Which direction is more important to the Bank at present?
A. We are constantly researching the market. According to the results we then offer new products. We have relations with member banks of Société Générale Group all over the world. Their consultations are important while developing and implementing novelties.
Both of the directions, retail as well corporate, are very important for us and we are working actively in both directions. Thanks to its universal business model Bank Republic is a reliable and long-term financial partner for individuals, micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, organizations and large corporations.
Q. Which sector has the biggest share of BR credits out of the whole corporate portfolio?
A. The energy sector has the biggest share of our corporate portfolio. This sector is a large and growing part of the Georgian economy. As one of the most active banks on the market, Bank Republic is presented in all the fast-growing economic sectors of Georgia.
Q. Does BR intend to expand the chain in 2012? How many branches and service centres does the Bank currently have?
A. Bank Republic currently has 38 branches and more than 130 ATMs across the country. We plan to expand the chain this year in the capital as well as in the regions. We opened our 38th branch a short while ago. Several of our branches in Tbilisi and Batumi are open 24 hours a day, which is additional comfort for our customers.
Q. How is the number of online transactions increasing? How much money was transacted online in 2011? How important is an increase of online transaction for BR?
A. Demand for online transactions is increasing significantly. Development of online transactions is part of our strategy. Exactly now we are working on a new internet banking system. We will launch it in the near future.
Q. SMEs worry that their main problem is difficult access to loans and high interest rates. What kind of activities is BR implementing to simplify access to loans?
A. Our goal is implementing and strengthening two-sided and long-term relations with this segment. We are ready to satisfy their business and private needs. Procedures of issuing small business loans have further simplified recently. Small loans without collateral are issued in a day. The process of simplification hasn’t finished yet and we will continue working intensively in this direction in order to keep on providing consistent high quality service. Our interest rates are really competitive. We are always presenting special offers to our customers as well.
Q. How does BR care for the development of its employees? How many employees does the Bank currently have?
A. Bank Republic is an active and popular employer. Being a popular employer is very important. This confirms the strength of our corporate brand.
We constantly care for the development of our employees’ careers. We have our own training centre. This gives us the possibility to train each of our employees and increase their qualifications. The development of their careers is also supported by Société Générale Group with its programs for employees of its member organizations.
We currently employ more than 1,000 professionals. Their number will grow alongside the growth of the Bank continu.