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“It is important for us to set global goals”

 Rezeda Murtazina

- Mukhtar Kabulovich, it is known that you were one of the first supporters of the President’s initiative on creating the Eurasian bankers’ club. Why is this idea topical?
- Partners within the EEC (Eurasian Economic Community) are still on the initial stage of forming the UEA (United Economic Area). Completely new approaches to integration are required to solve the problems that EEC faces. I think that private business should become the engine of integration, i.e. the initiative should come from the bottom rather than from the top.
I think that now there is an urgent necessity to form the interests and needs of the financial structures of most of CIS members into institutional organization. It will speed up the achievement of the goal of creating a common goods, services and capital market – united economic area.
As you know, BTA was the first bank to start its expansion outside Kazakhstan. The time told us that this strategy was correct, because other largest banks of Kazakhstan are doing the same now. That’s why I think that Kazcommertsbank, Halyk Bank, Alliance Bank, and Bank CenterCredit should support us in realization of the President’s idea.
We plan that the Eurasian bankers’ club will closely cooperate with other integration organizations, including EEC and SOC.

- Will this alliance be limited to the member-states of the EEC or will it have prospects of widening the geography of its operation?
- Initially we plan to limit to working only within the EEC. It is logical, because the leaders of these countries have declared their will for political unification, and we expect them to support our efforts of uniting the business society. However, with the current globalization taking place, our interests extend far beyond the EEC and the post-Soviet territory. Thus, we don’t exclude the possibility of expanding the boarders of this club, when our colleagues from China, Turkey, South-East Asian countries and Europe can join us.

- What will be the procedure of creating the club?
- In September VIII inter-bank conference will take place in Almaty, the organization of the conference is the BTA. One of the key discussions within the conference will covering the topic of this club, besides during the forum we plan to arrange the first session of the Eurasian bankers’ club. I hope that our Russian and Ukrainian colleagues will support our efforts, because financial integration with these countries is the most promising task for us. It is important that within realization of this initiative work is done on practical issues, because working in these markets we face specific problems, which impede development of banking industry and financial sector in general. Therefore, we are sure that realization of this timely initiative of the President should give practical benefits for all of the club members and economies of the countries they represent.
As I have already mentioned, this will be the eighth conference. This annual meeting of the leading representatives of banking and financial society taking place in Almaty has become a tradition. Almaty inter-bank conference has become one of the most reputable and effective dialogue areas in banking industry of the CIS. It is worth noticing that the conference has a stable audience, which grows by 30-40% every year, it also grows geographically. In the future, based on this international conference, we would like to create Eurasian summit, where the members could discuss problems of developing markets. Eurasian bankers’ club could become the organizing committee of the summit.
Recently we held the session of “Exclusive” club, where the heads of National Bank, Association of Financiers of Kazakhstan and “Kazyna” Sustainable Development Fund supported the initiative. Besides, we have already suggested the heads of associations of financiers of the CIS and leading banks of the EEC member states to support this initiative.

- Why did BTA decide to undertake the responsibility to implement the President’s initiative?
- For BTA the notions of expansion to the foreign markets are not just nice words, hard work every day lays behind these words. We were the first to make this difficult step of expanding the geography of our business, now were have a great experience in this area. I think we understand the problems that bankers face under economic globalization conditions better than many of our colleagues. We know better than others, that when entering a new market the company needs to solve not only issues of finances and organizing deals, it also has to overcome obstacles caused by structural problems of economies of different countries. The list of risks that company faces on a foreign market is very big; some of them are political, structural, investment, financial risks. We were very enthusiastic about the President’s idea, because we are sure that its realization be very beneficial for Kazakhstan’s economy. Besides, we cannot stay away from the process of realization and we will try to contribute to the practicality of the process.

- The above is typical for rapidly growing financial institutions. Is BTA still one of the leaders in growth?
- Yes, BTA is growing rapidly. If you remember, two years ago, when we declared our strategy, our assets were 5 billion USD, and we stated that we intend to increase the assets to 25 billion USD by 2010 and to 50 billion USD by 2015. Now BTA’s assets are already 24 billion USD. Naturally, we are revising our strategy and set more ambitious goals. We believe that we can raise BTA’s assets to 200 billion USD and, thus, become one of the largest banks in the world. Even today our bank is noticeable, we are in top 300 largest banks of the world by assets; while in the CIS we are behind only three state owned banks: Sberbank, Vneshtorgbank and Gazprombank. The dynamics of our growth is impressive and it increases our responsibilities.
In our opinion, setting global goals is very important for companies that don’t intend making no headway and be satisfied with what has been achieved. We have become the key financial institution in Kazakhstan and plan to reach the same level in all countries where we work. This year we expanded outside the CIS, our first purchase outside the CIS was a bank in Turkey. Till the end of this year we plan to register our bank in China and consolidate four banks in Russia, which belong to us. We really want to become the world bank. Maybe somebody will think that this task in too ambitious. However, if European banks come to our markets, why can’t we come to their territory?

- Do you think that too rapid growth brings too high risks?
- True, this problem is quite topical for players on the financial markets of all fast growing economies of the CIS. Very dynamic growth is always connected with structural risks. However, I think it is unavoidable phase, which we have to overcome. Probably in several years all of the post-Soviet territory will experience a period of stabilization; by that time we have to achieve the highest financial indicators, market share on most of represented markets and complete knowledge of the markets. We don’t have any other alternative to a rapid growth. The world experience of the recent years shows that mobile and flexible companies, which have a word “rapid” in their strategy, can fight for leadership. It completely concerns us. In support of my words I can say that currently our group is undergoing re-branding and the strategy of advance is the main messenger of the new brand.

- What are the components of you new brand?
- There are three components: innovation, technology and expertise. Innovation is behind introducing new products. Expertise symbolizes stability and reliability, reflected in high international ratings and awards, professionalism of the staff and authority of the management. Adaptability is symbolizes attention to details, ability to quickly react to market changes, attention to our customers, ability to meet all of their requirements and needs, and our social responsibility. These are three foundations of the company’s management. The new tasks, which BTA has to accomplish, required creation of a new brand, which will become international, universal and at the same time friendly and innovative.

- In short, what is the gist of your image?
- Our new logo corresponds to the vector of our brand’s development – “strategy of advance”. Innovative approach and modernity are reflected in the colours of the logo. Pistachio green colour symbolizes the environment of human relations, “humanity” of the brand. Scarlet colour reflects the power, energy and technology. New colour appears in the area of intersection of the two colours – synergy of two colours – it is the symbol of modernity, vitality and rapid development of our bank, where human factor is harmonically combined with modern technologies.
The logo’s form also has a meaning. The logo consists of squares, which are classical symbols of stability. Intersection of the squares means transparency – one of the key features of modern banks’ work. In general, refusal to use complicated figures is meant to demonstrate that BTA’s products are affordable and democratic.

- This years BTA was given a lot of attention from international publishers, most of which awarded the bank in different nominations. One of the awards is “The leading bank in corporate governance on the markets of developing Europe – Corporate Governance 2006”. Did the international jury emphasise the bank’s transparency in this way?
- Transparency is not a fashion, it is a necessity. In current conditions only a transparent business can be successful. This is especially true for banking industry, because people trust banks with their savings, connect the future of their children with the banks and realize their business ideas together. Understanding the importance of this aspect, our bank was one the first to sign the Memorandum on transparency with the Agency of Financial Supervision of the RK. Transparency is also important for us because we develop our business globally, and investors that buy our securities on the foreign markets have a right to know who owns the bank and who manages it.

- Can you say that Bank TuranAlem runs a socially responsible business?
By all means. Banking business in general is oriented towards the clients, and without being socially responsible you cannot succeed in this business. The meaning of social responsibility is quite wide, in includes responsibility in front of the government, clients, partners, stock holders, staff and their families. We seek perfection on all levels of social responsibility. Our business is socially responsible because we pay taxes, provide loans to the companies of real sector and services sphere, contribute to the development of our economy, help people to purchase their homes. Thus, if social responsibility is understood a way of running business when making profit is connected with benefiting the surrounding people, then the work of BTA is highly socially responsible. Sponsorship and charity play an important role in our work. We understand that our mission is not limited to making profit and increasing market share. Thus supporting social, humanitarian and other projects is one of the key directions of our activity. We think that we can and we do play an important role in preserving the cultural and historical community of the CIS, and delivering Kazakh culture outside our country. BTA has done a lot on restoring Kazakhstan’s film archive, the bank finances the orchestra of Marat Bisengaliev, leads the project on creating the first Kazakh musical, which should become a new symbol of Kazakhstan, ethnic realization of the latest cultural tendencies in the world. The Charity Fund named after Yerzhan Tatishev will soon launch a unique educational project. Besides, BTA understands that it is the conductor of the interests of our clients and our country in other states.
Last year we arranged Days of Georgian culture in Kazakhstan, and they had a great success. This project had a significant meaning for many people in Georgia. Previously we were perceived as neo-Arabic sheikhs, they saw only a source of finances in us. It is important for us that BTA’s there are humans behind our business, it is important that people understand that besides banking technologies we bring culture to new markets. I would like to mention that entering new markets is always a mental challenge to any financial company. And even negotiations between two people are always a confrontation of two civilizations. Thus, Kazakhstan’s rich experience of peaceful coexistence of many different nationalities is a priceless benefit for us.
I would like to emphasize that being Kazakhstan’s cultural ambassador outside the country, BTA doesn’t forget about the homecountry. Bank TuranAlem is proud with supporting cultural projects in Kazakh language, which are paid unfairly little attention. Good examples are the musical competition “Alem Art”, competition of composers “Mushaira” and beauty competition “Ana tili aruy”.
It has been proved many times that history doesn’t have any examples of global success, if capital was its only goal. We always remember it, an in my opinion, it is the guarantee of our success.

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