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ProCredit Bank, Georgia’s New General Director Sets Future Plans together with Extended Management Team

Published: July 23, 2012 | 10:04 am
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Sascha Ternes: “We are proud that we have managed to obtain the position – the third largest bank in the country.”

ProCredit Bank, Georgia announced changes in its Management Board. Dr. h.c. Sascha Ternes, Director of the bank since 2007, has been appointed as General Director and will replace Ms. Maya Meredova. Alongside with Dr. h.c. Sascha Ternes (General Director) and Ms. Ketevan Khuskivadze (Director), Ms. Ketevan Burduli has been appointed as third Director of the bank.

Furthermore, all six Division Heads of the bank have been included in the extended management team, which now comprises of 9 persons. This step is in accordance with the bank’s long-term vision to increase management capacity and at the same time to gradually reduce the number of foreign managers.

During the coming months, the management team will focus on the completion of several large projects, in particular the construction of a new head office building, renovation of existing as well as opening of several new Branches and Service Points in Tbilisi and the regions, improving the efficiency and variety of customer service channels even further and the introduction of new products, such as Energy Efficiency Loans and a new Savings Account.

The COMMERCIAL TIMES interviewed Sascha Ternes, the new General Director of ProCredit Bank, Georgia.

- According to the announcement by ProCredit Bank, Georgia about changes in its Management Board, you’ve replaced Ms. Maya Meredova as General Director. What are your major short-term and long-term plans and priorities as the head of the bank?

- Our bank operates with a long-term view, so our approach is stable. I do not expect any type of immediate changes in the bank’s plans. It’s also important to note that my personal strategy and vision is not different as I have been the member of the management board for the past 5 years. It is, of course, clear that we have a couple of important projects that we want to promote and develop. As for my personal priorities, for the next few months I’ll be mostly focused on our new colleagues in the management, where I will do my best to build up a strong, united team and will support them to the maximum extent possible.

- You’ve been the Director of ProCredit Bank, Georgia since 2007. How would you evaluate the job done by your predecessors Mr. Philipp Pott and Ms. Maya Meredova?

- I personally feel extremely proud about several things the bank has achieved in the recent years. We have been able to get to the position where we are today- the third largest bank in the country. This process was fostered by significant work done on the institutional level inside the bank, and also by the strong and solid performance of the bank, both in terms of loan portfolio quality as well as profitability.

- What is the very first most important project the new Management Team will launch?

- There are several projects which we started in the past, some of which are still in progress. We will be working on those projects as well as on the completion of our new head office construction. We also want to renovate several existing branches in the country and want to open up new ones not only in the capital, but also in the regions. We would like to make our customer service even more efficient for the benefit of the customers and also for improving our internal efficiency, we are interested to offer our clients even more channels for customer services to make the daily operations more simple and convenient.

- When will the bank launch new products, such as Energy Efficiency Loans and a new Savings Account? What are the main advantages of these products?

- Energy Efficiency Loans is something new for us, we have not been offering it until today. We think it is a very sophisticated product. What we want to achieve is that with the right choice and the right recommendations we’re committed to fulfill the overall objective, to make sure that the client reduces the energy consumption. Currently we have international consultants to help us improve the technical competence of the bank, which enables us to develop this product successfully. Afterwards, we will launch the first part of this product, which will be primarily offered to private individuals, probably in September. Shortly after that, we will carry out the same project for business clients. As for the Savings Account, we always try to be very simple and what we are planning right now is to have improved conditions on Saving Accounts, including certain incentives for clients.

- Furthermore, all six Division Heads of the bank have been included in the extended management team, which now comprises of 9 persons. This step is in accordance with the bank’s long-term vision to increase management capacity and at the same time to gradually reduce the number of foreign managers. What’s the number of foreign managers at the bank currently?

- Indeed our main long-term objective has been to increase management capacity and to enrich the management team with local managers and we have fulfilled our intention as I am the last remaining foreign manager in the team … however our Shareholders in Frankfurt already started to consider me as “half-Georgian”.

- Ms. Ketevan Burduli started her career in ProCredit eight years ago in bank’s credit department and has taken over responsibility for the Small Business Division in 2010. What are the main factors keeping qualified personnel within the bank for years considering the headhunting activities in the local business sector?

- I assume that generally, our colleagues have very high loyalty, which comes from the strong identification with the bank; they identify themselves as members of a serious institution which is almost as a family. It is the values that make our bank so attractive and the convenient conditions provided here. We offer intensive trainings locally, we also have academies abroad, for example in Germany, where we send our employees frequently. These trainings, values and goals, the possibility to get a fast promotion create a very comfortable environment for personal development of people, which is mostly appreciated. Our colleagues are the most important assets of the bank and we do our best to make them understand and feel that.

- SME funding is the main direction for ProCredit Bank. How successfully has the bank been developing in this direction in 2012 thus far?

- By the end of June, the total number of clients has been 352 000. This means, that in the first 6 months of the year we have gained approximately 20 000 additional clients. Our total loan portfolio is USD 441 million by end of June, including the growth for the first six months by USD 32 million, which is a 8% increase.

- Last month Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili criticized banks for high interest rates on loans. Do you expect the situation to change in Georgia’s banking sector policy in this respect?

- We already can feel, especially on larger loans that the interest rates have actually slightly reduced. However the possibilities to further decrease the interest rates on loans will depend very much on how the cost of funding for the banks is developing, which is mainly reflected by the price which we have to pay for the deposits of clients. Obviously, if interest rates on loans should reduce, then interest rates on deposits need to reduce in line with that as well. In this regard, we have recently seen quite an illogical development, by having extremely high interest rates on deposits, although I personally believe that this will change in the near future. Subsequently there is a good chance that interest rates on loans will decrease as well.

- ProCredit Bank, Georgia is completing the construction of its new head office. When do you plan to move in the new building? What are the plans for the current head office?

- I believe that we will be moving to the new head office in the next few months, our progress on the construction is developing quite nicely. Our current/old head office comprises 8 floors, out of which we will keep only the first two floors – which are in our ownership – and it will stay as one of the larger branches in Tbilisi.






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