Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug.20
By Eldar Janashvili – Trend:
Azerbaijan’s AccessBank restructured about 10,000 loans in the first half of 2020, First Deputy Chairman of the bank’s Board Evgenia Gashikulina told Trend in an interview with.
According to Gashikulina, many of the bank's clients have faced difficulties in repaying loans due to the introduction of strict quarantine measures, as well as partial or even complete closure of businesses. The bank’s management took timely measures in this direction.
Moreover, as she noted, despite the bank’s failure to lend in pre-planned volume and the arisen necessity in creating additional reserves, it was still able to finish the half-year with indicators higher than those envisaged in the business plan.
In general, the bank reacted very quickly, constantly introducing various changes, improvements and updates to ensure the safety of employees and clients, as well as encourage the use of distant channels, establish new communication platforms with clients, and ensure the safety of the its elderly clients.
During the first half of the year, the bank faced several unforeseen situations, one of which arose in early March and was due to a collapse in oil prices and the accompanying rush among the population to exchange manat deposits for dollar ones, the first deputy chairman noted.
"Literally in two or three weeks of March, the bank carried out a significant conversion of its deposit base, and deposits worth about 50 million manat [$29.4 million] were converted into dollar deposits,” she said. “The bank was able to cope with this situation calmly, since we always have a very high level of liquidity, which allows the bank easily react to such events.”
She also stressed that the reorganization of the bank’s work and the functioning of its branches and head office in the new conditions has also become a new challenge for the management.
"The bank faced several tasks. The first and foremost of them is, of course, the safety of employees and clients. The second one is to ensure continuous work and the availability of all services in full amount,” Gashikulina noted. “At the same time, it was necessary to maintain a high quality of service to the population."
She added that 50 percent of employees in the bank’s branches worked remotely, so that in the event of detection of COVID-19 infection case in one team, another could fully replace it and no branch would be closed.
“This reorganization of the work wasn’t easy, but thanks to the streamlined processes for managing operational risks, staff activity and constant adaptation of the plan to the current situation the bank coped with it very quickly,” Gashikulina said. “Another problem was that as a result of quarantine measures our clients who could not repay loans faced difficulties.”
“Therefore, we had to actively restructure loans. At the same time we could not invite all clients to the branch, so as not to increase the risk of infection. That’s why the bank has developed a mechanism for restructuring loans through its contact center," she concluded.
(1 USD = 1.7 manat on Aug.20)
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