Efficiency 2015 Annual Report

Corporate Style as a Source of Inspiration

As we know, the environment influences people, their habits and even a working style. In that regard, the representative office of ABLV Group in Moscow which provides consulting services, as well as its employees are close to perfection, because in 2015 they received a beautiful gift — offices in a united corporate style. We spoke to Alexander Gradov, Deputy Head of Representative Office in Moscow of ABLV Consulting Services, about the renovation and everyday life of the office.

To what extent did the renovation in the corporate style increase the feeling of belonging to ABLV Group, and did it give extra inspiration for work?

Extra inspiration — definitely! New things are always wonderful, and I can say that renovation, which made our office’s style united with the whole group, is a great accomplishment. We have got a beautiful, functional and comfortable environment.

How much time did it take to complete all the transformations?

Four months. We planned to finish it in three, but then understood that we possibly have to exceed this deadline. We were temporarily renting premises in the same building as our office. That allowed us to control the renovation more effectively and speed up the process. Although, there are always some problems with construction workers — they never seem to finish in time.

How comfortable was the transition period for the representative office?

As I mentioned, we were lucky to get premises on the first floor of the same building. The office centre has four floors, and our office is on the top floor. We only needed to take the elevator three floors up to supervise the renovation. That helped a lot. We were considering moving to another business centre during the renovation, but the owner made a very interesting offer to move to a nearly finished office on the first floor, and we did not decline.

ABLV group is famous for its attention to detail. Is the new office equipment convenient for daily work? Have the designers and construction workers taken into account all the nuances and needs of your work environment?

For employees, of course, the office has become more functional. Now we have perfect furniture. In my opinion, it is the best furniture for working spaces. We have it in all of our group’s offices. Now everything is brand new, except of a couple small things. The grey wall colour has become a special element of the interior. Grey is a colour of stability. Notably, it goes well with minimalism. If you hang a simple painting on a grey wall, the colour glistens. And if there are some bright accents, for example yellow or bright green, like our chairs, then you do not even need other decorations.

New things are always wonderful, and renovation in corporate style is a great accomplishment.

What is the working area of your office and how cardinally did its layout change?

The area of our office is 250 m2. The previous layout changed dramatically. When we talked about rebuilding things, after being working for 5–6 years in this office, we thought that there is no need in changing anything, because it already was comfortable and functional. We even tried to convince the designer to make only minor changes and improvements, because people got used to their environment. However, the specialist made some dramatic changes. Initially we were against the proposed solutions, but now we understand, why they were made. After all, designers have some kind of genius, sense of the atmosphere that can be achieved in the specific room.

How deeply did you get involved in the nuances of renovation works?

For better or worse, I got involved in almost everything. Of course, I would prefer that men in blue costumes came and did everything like in the TV show, but in a real life, you have to supervise everything. That is why now my colleagues and friends are joking that before the renovation in Kiev (the representative office of ABLV Consulting Services in Kiev is the next to be renovated in the corporate style) they should send me there as a consultant.

But on a serious note, I must point out the tremendous support from ABLV Bank General Service Department. The employees of the bank — our parent company — organized the delivery of furniture and materials from Latvia and helped in the renovation process. ABLV Bank Deputy Head of Corporate and Private Clients Service Division Mihails Ponomarenko was a great help in the renovation — he was directly involved in the supervision, communication with designers and acted as an ordering party on behalf of the bank.

Do clients appreciate the new interior of the representative office?

Definitely. You cannot dislike this interior. The comments are always very emotional. Especially about the client area, which is quite clearly separated from the working area. Everything that clients see there is impressive, starting with the front door. It is identical to the front door of the Mortgage Loans Service Department at 21a Elizabetes Street, Riga. Our guests even make selfies with the door in the background! Many ask for the name of the manufacturer. The address of the Latvian company goes like hot cakes! Many colleagues from Riga note that they feel like in their own office.

It is like the situation with large supermarket chains, which are designed so similarly, that you forget for a moment, which store you are in…

…because the ketchup is always on the right shelf. (Laughs) I agree. It is also important for the clients — whether they come to us or our Riga office, they end up in the same atmosphere, which I hope they enjoy. That gives the feeling of confidence and reliability.

How much do people pay attention to office culture and designing the branch offices in a united style in Moscow?

I shall say that we rarely visit other offices. However, we know that in Moscow the corporate style is mostly noticeable when it comes to the branches of the largest banks. They really have a united style, for example, Alfa-Bank, Bank of Moscow, Sberbank. You can tell by the colour scheme, which bank you are in. Perhaps, there is some truth in the fact that when you have a corporate style, people will approach and recognize you.

Noev Kovcheg business centre, in which your office is located, once was awarded a prize for the best facade among the A class business centres. With the completion of renovation, ABLV Group in Moscow is represented on the highest level in all senses.

That is correct. Our office is located in the heart of Moscow — on one of the so-called seven hills. We like this building because it is not a trendy high-rise anthill. The business centre is quite comfortable — there are few offices and few people. The building fits organically in the cityscape, our office is the pearl of this beautiful business centre, and the owners do not hesitate to say it. Sometimes they even ask us to show to visitors how the results of proper and carefully designed work can look.

The zone of your physical comfort, without any doubts, has expanded — how often do you have to step out of your comfort zone when servicing or attracting clients? Does the necessity to conform to the highest standards put extra responsibility?

Every employee, of course, has their own comfort zone. However, we are not only afraid to step out of it, but we are even used to it. The thing is, the clients, generally, come here with different moods, different mind states, and of course, sometimes, we have to lead complicated negotiations. Our branch is kind of like an outpost, where clients from Russia find out what service they can get. Daily communication with people of different tempers, moods, life experiences and income levels is quite difficult. However, the new environment — new interior — sometimes significantly lightens the negotiation process.

Office with a total area of 250 m2, equipped with the latest office appliances and elegant office furniture

Our office is the pearl of the business centre and embodiment of proper and carefully designed work.

The field of consulting services is very wide. What are the basic areas of activity of your representative office?

We talk about all of the activity areas of our group. Primarily these are banking services, recently we have begun helping with formalities of getting a residence permit in Latvia. We inform people about the services of ABLV Bank’s subsidiary — property developer Pillar. Also operations with securities and all kinds of tax consulting. We are ready to tell a client in Moscow about all the ABLV Group’s services. It is his decision to choose a solution that fits his needs.

Moscow is a very competitive place — this most likely applies to consulting, too. Why do the clients choose you amongst all the alternatives?

Actually, in our field, the competition in Moscow is not that big. As for the choice of clients, I think they are influenced by the high quality of servicing, which spreads and reaches our potential customers through the word of mouth. The higher the quality of servicing in Riga is, the higher the chance that the clients will appreciate it and will tell their acquaintances, and they will also come to us.

That is the best type of advertising, right?

That is the best and most reliable advertisement — the quality of the offered services.

Highlight of the office — woven front doors

There is a Maslow’s pyramid of person’s needs. Can you structure the needs of your clients in a similar manner? What is the most basic need?

Of course, the safety of funds. People have earned money, and want to keep it safe. The basis of a similar pyramid, in my opinion, is safety and security. Then, I suppose, I would put the access to your own finances. By trusting finances to some foreign bank, the client from the Russian Federation understands, that his money is “somewhere over there”. Therefore, if safety is the basis, access to funds is the second important thing. Above that — service, provided by the group, in terms of communication with private bankers, internet banking, which we are working very hard on.

Designers have some kind of genius, sense of the atmosphere that can be achieved in the specific room.

As the first representative office of ABLV Group, you have been operating for more than 10 years, and this period has allowed you to observe some tendencies of potential client moods changing depending on various internal and external factors. For example, to what extent can the political situation influence the eagerness of Russians to become clients of a European, or, in particular, Latvian bank?

We truly have been operating for more than ten years. And of course, the political situation in Russia during this period has been changing dramatically, and the financial tendencies, caused by different political reasons, were noticeable. As I mentioned, the safety and security of funds are very important, so any news report about Latvia on the Russian television, to put it mildly, concerns the clients. When Russia is making remarks about Latvia, it causes a quite serious tension. Any unfavourable political situation, of course, is a challenge for the clients, and we understand it.

One of four conference rooms — comfortable and private

The business strategy of ABLV Group emphasizes the understanding of client’s business. How is this principle reflected in your work?

First and foremost, we are meticulous with the information provided by our clients, to comply with the ever increasing compliance requirements.

Are the clients understanding or do they perceive these requirements as a kind of invasion of privacy?

Background security checks allow us not only to save our reputation, but also to provide the best service, which is our top priority.

Designers have some kind of genius, sense of the atmosphere that can be achieved in the specific room.

Table of Contents

Creative team: Arnis Artemovičs, Ernests Bernis, Jānis Bunte, Anna Celma, Ilmārs Jargans, Jekaterina Koļesina, Sergejs Mazurs, Samanta Priedīte, Jūlija Surikova, Romans Surnačovs
Project managers: Anna Celma, Jūlija Surikova
Interviews: Jānis Bunte, Ingrīda Drazdovska, Konstantīns Gaivoronskis, Katrina Gordejeva, Ilmārs Jargans, Jekaterina Koļesina, Sergejs Mazurs, Romāns Meļņiks, Sergejs Pavlovs, Romans Surnačovs, Jānis Šķupelis
Text authors: Leonīds Aļšanskis, Jānis Bunte, Anna Celma, Vladislavs Hveckovičs, Jānis Grīnbergs, Māris Kannenieks, Ļubova Kazačenoka, Jekaterina Koļesina, Zane Kurzemniece, Aleksandrs Pāže, Gints Pumpurs, Dmitrijs Semjonovs, Jūlija Surikova, Kaspars Vanags, Benoit Wtterwulghe
Photography: Arnis Artemovičs, Uldis Bertāns, Mārtiņš Cīrulis, Ieva Čīka, Krišjānis Eihmanis, Andrejs Hroneloks, Alise Jastremska, Valdis Kauliņš, Valts Kleins, Marks Litvjakovs, Sergejs Mazurs, Reinis Oliņš, Samanta Priedīte, Gatis Rozenfelds, Polina Viljun, LETA foto, Marka.photo, Studija F64
Proofreader: Jānis Frišvalds
Translators: Jekaterina Koļesina, Nataļja Malašonoka, Lidija Marsova, Jūlija Surikova
Design: Aivis Lizums, Valters Horsts

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Reproduction is prohibited without the consent of ABLV Bank, AS.