Interview Torbakhov

Alexander TorbakhovMember and Deputy Chairman of the Management Board
>> Being socially responsible comes naturally for Sberbank. Unlike most other organisations, for us social responsibility is a requirement determined by the national scale of our operations. If we imagine for a moment that Sberbank were to cease to exist, then the country’s financial life would cease to exist as well

2011 was a very successful year for the Bank as retail customer deposits exceeded RUB 5 trillion. This means that virtually every Russian citizen trusts us and this is not a trust we can allow ourselves to betray.

Each year we set ourselves objectives in terms of the volume of loans, transactions and deposits. Only a year ago processing 25,000 loan applications per day seemed like a big achievement, but now we process over 50,000 applications each day.

The development of remote service channels is an important aspect of our social responsibility: we ensure accessibility to the most advanced financial services in every corner of the country, thereby improving the financial literacy of our customers. Moreover, the use of remote banking helps us reduce service costs for customers. This allows the Bank to offer its customers more affordable products and services.

We encourage our customers to switch to remote banking services, using demo stands, information materials and SMS campaigns to inform and educate. Many customer service outlets now have so-called promoters, whose function is to assist customers in performing transactions (such as paying utility bills) through our self-service terminals. There is nothing difficult about using a terminal, so a typical customer, having been assisted two or three times, is then able to complete transactions on his or her own in future.

We are convinced that our customers should be able to use remote and selfservice channels to fulfil their financial service needs. With this in mind, in 2012, we plan to accelerate regional expansion of the Bank’s remote services, expand our network of cash machines and terminals and extend their functionality

We are convinced that our customers should be able to use remote and self-service channels to fulfil their financial service needs. With this in mind, in 2012, we plan to accelerate regional expansion of the Bank’s remote services, expand our network of cash machines and terminals and extend their functionality.

As part of the development of remote service channels, we are continuously making improvements to Sberbank Online, our online banking system for retail customers. At the end of 2011, the Bank launched the seventh version of the service. Among many other new features, it allows customers to make deposits without leaving their homes. Overall, I believe that Sberbank has managed to create an Internet bank that is unique in Russia. We have already developed iPhone and iPad apps and are now developing apps for other mobile platforms, including Android and Windows Mobile. Our Mobile Bank is a world-class service, and we are continuously improving it.

We are currently implementing a broad range of initiatives intended to strengthen the customer focus of our operations. In 2011, Sberbank began cross-selling for the first time. Until recently, our work with our customer base had not been sufficient. Rather than generating customer flow, we simply dealt with those who came to us. We now reach customers through regular and electronic mail, text messaging and telephone calls to share our new offerings. The first steps have been taken and the Bank’s technological capacity is growing and developing to address these complex objectives. Instead of serving as a simple service organisation used to pay utility bills, we have become a fullyfledged financial institution.

Recognising the importance of equal access to banking services for all customer groups, we took into account accessibility issues when designing new formats for our outlets

Our product line includes socially oriented offerings specifically targeting lower-solvency customer groups. These products include: the Young Family loan, a mortgage programme for military servants, a mortgage programme allowing the use of child benefit as down payment and special accounts and cards for pensioners. In 2011, we expanded eligible age ranges for our loan products: now they are available to pensioners and young people.

Recognising the importance of equal access to banking services for all customer groups, we took into account accessibility issues when designing new formats for our outlets. As part of the outlet reformatting programme, all our outlets are being equipped with ramps and wheelchair lifts. This has become the standard in our work: we are a civilised company operating in a civilised country.

The Bank also offers special job opportunities. We actively employ people with limited mobility to work as call centre operators, as modern technology makes it possible for them to work remotely.

Sberbank is often called “a state bank”, the implication being that we enjoy some special preferences, but in reality we are a market institution. We want to raise the quality of our customer service to international standards and make sure that our customers are satisfied with our product offerings and service standards. Sberbank simply has no option not to be a socially responsible business. The days of “wild capitalism” in Russia are long gone. If we want to stay in business, we need to offer easy-to-understand, transparent and convenient services, and these are the objectives we have been addressing.

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