Efficiency 2015 Annual Report

Relationships that Stand the Test of Time

Staņislavs Zabrockis, Head of ABLV Bank Customer Relations Development Department, talks to Sergejs Mazurs, Head of ABLV Bank Product Development Division, about bank’s long-standing cooperation with its partners, the basics of effective teamwork, and the importance of human factor in the business relations.

Speaking about the bank’s partners, let’s clarify, who are they?

First and foremost, they are law firms, consulting companies, and law offices — agencies, which provide legal counselling, accounting and auditing services, as well as other legal services (lawyers etc.). In short, everyone who helps entrepreneurs to conduct their business. Certainly, among our partners, there are large legal and consulting companies, as well as private consultants, who are also actively operating in the market.

Many years ago, we began cooperating with several companies. Initially they were the clients of the bank and then they started recommending us to their clients and partners. That is how we gradually acquired loyal long-term partners. Relationships are not built in a day, it takes many years.

How do you manage to maintain business relations with a great number of companies from different fields and different locations? Besides you, there are only three employees in your department.

Yes, we work effectively! (Laughs) Considering the vast range of geographical locations and the number of partners in the surrounding and CIS countries, we have truly learned to handle our duties in a calm manner. On average, each of us services about 100 partners. Believe me, that is a lot. We have to meet regularly with each one of them and inform them about the latest news. That is why we hold an annual large-scale conference for our partners, during which our senior executives speak about important issues, plans, development strategies, and of course, listen to the opinions of the delegates.

Our relationships with our partners are based on trust that has been tried and tested over the years and, sometimes, under not the easiest circumstances.

To keep their finger on the pulse?

Yes, but not only because of that! We share the important issues with our audience and are open to dialogue. You know, to understand the market, you have to hear it and feel it. We get what is called a “field report”.

Such meetings have already become a good tradition; they are helpful not only in regard to sharing experience and knowledge, but also in bringing people together. Our partners gladly communicate not only with the bank’s representatives, but also with each other. They have become good acquaintances, if not friends. A good atmosphere helps in work and in life as a whole. We spend so much time at work — it is important to feel good while communicating. In 2016, the 10th anniversary meeting with ABLV Bank partners will take place. This is a highly-anticipated event not only for us but also for our partners. Just imagine — people from various countries have been coming to our meetings for ten years, sharing their experience and discussing the most pressing issues. If we analysed the topics discussed in this period, we could see the evolution of the financial sector. Ten years ago, the most relevant issues were investments, funding, and short-term loans, but nowadays the topics are completely different: compatibility, regulations, as well as automatic exchange of information. The world has changed, and we have changed with it!

I want to add that we also actively participate in international conferences dedicated to business management, asset security and international law. In doing so, we not only uphold our professional image, but also promote Latvia as a country where you can run a business effectively, openly and lawfully. We are working on all fronts…

So, without spending a fortune on advertising, we are leading a “guerrilla” campaign? Why do our partners want to do business with us? Why is ABLV Bank so attractive to them?

I would like to emphasise this right away: advertising alone can only yield short-term results, but we are working for the long run. We have never focused on rapidly increasing our client base — the exact identity of the client has always been important. It is unlikely that advertising alone would get us high quality clients.

The recommendations of lawyers, consultants and auditors are a lot more important than even the most colourful banners. The recommendations of experienced and professional people, who value their reputation, are as valuable as gold!

Our bank appreciates long-term cooperation with reliable professional partners and is ready to invest our time and resources in these relationships. Besides the conference’s comprehensive informational programme, in which our senior managers speak every year, we also prepare an interesting entertainment programme. We want to not only share our experience, talk about important issues and hear the opinions of the clients and partners, but also to communicate in informal settings. Sometimes, the informal conversations lead to better understanding of the partner’s aspirations. The human element is also important — when you know people personally, it is easier to trust them and start cooperating.

And, above all, — our reputation, our knowledge, our relationships with the clients, with whom we have gone through so much together, speak louder than words — they are our best advertisement. Our relationships with our partners are based on trust that has been tried and tested over the years and, sometimes, under not the easiest circumstances. They recommend us to their clients, because many have known us for 20 years. Together we have overcome multiple crises, done so with dignity, and without offending anyone.
Let us remember the bankruptcy of one of the largest security holders — MF Global UK, when the bank took on all the risks from the clients, when it could just as easily have transferred them to the clients, as many others did.

The annual international conference for ABLV partners

In your opinion, what are the main components of a long-term cooperation with partners?

Knowledge and trust! First, they trust us… The best demonstration of our partners’ trust and confidence in our professionalism is that a lot of them are also the clients of our bank, and therefore know our operation mode “from within”. It is easier for them to understand the internal mechanisms of the bank; how we operate here. Similar to other clients, they communicate with their private bankers, use our online banking services and know many nuances of our document management, which an outsider would know nothing about.

This knowledge allows them to recommend us for cooperation with confidence, because they have first-hand experience of our internal processes. They can show the potential client how the online banking works, explain, how fast the money transfer and how the conversion process works — they know about the operating conditions and all the latest developments.

Do you plan to expand the partner list? What criteria are we using when looking for them? Moreover, who finds whom: the bank finds the partners or vice versa?

Thanks to many years of experience and reputation, the clients recommend us to others and people reach us with offers to cooperate. However, we take the screening process very seriously, and before making the final choice, we collect the necessary information and run a check-up. Our potential partners need to be professionals in their field, have an impeccable reputation and operational background. Previously we worked for our reputation, now it works for us! (Laughs)

So, it is not that easy to become a partner?

Becoming a partner of ABLV is a privilege in its own way. However, when all the initial steps on formalizing the relationship and screening are taken, and we see that the required level of responsibility is there, we are ready to cooperate.

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

All rights protected by the Copyright Law of the Republic of Latvia.
Reproduction is prohibited without the consent of ABLV Bank, AS.