Efficiency 2015 Annual Report

We are Oriented to Long-Term Relationships

“The human capital of ABLV Group is our most valuable asset. We acknowledge that and work towards long-term goals”. Dace Rūķīte-Kariņa, the Head of ABLV Bank Human Resources Department, talks about the strategy of working with personnel.

Statistics show that the level of unemployment in Latvia keeps decreasing. How do you evaluate the employment situation within the financial sector??

Unfortunately, we have to admit that the employment situation within the Latvian financial sector is, mildly speaking, close to critical. Let me conditionally divide human resources into two major groups: the management level which includes the positions of heads of departments and senior specialists, and the entry level which includes such positions as secretaries and assistants. Finding a specialist at the entry level, which contains university graduates or final year students, is extremely difficult. We continue to suffer the consequences of the demographic gap that hit Latvia 20–25 years ago. Moreover, the majority of youngsters and economically active inhabitants have left Latvia.

Young people tend to think that it is almost impossible to find a job in Latvia.

In order to start working in a secretarial or assistant position, one has to meet certain criteria. Young people have to have a higher education in economics or law or to be, at least, a final year student. Some positions require specialists with philological education. Ideally, young specialists should know three languages but knowing two languages is enough for some positions. However, personal characteristics are important as well: intelligence and other skills that will ensure easy integration into a potential working environment and will help to establish good relationships with the team. Great results can be achieved only in a healthy environment. It is worth noting that finding young people who meet our requirements is quite difficult. Some people also mention importing manpower. Nevertheless, let us be honest — working in the financial sector in Latvia without knowing the Latvian language is impossible as all regulatory documents are in Latvian. However, pleasant exceptions occur — there are some among our employees, but they are few.

Becoming an expert is a fine art — to grow from a sales person into a partner for clients and to establish long-term relationships with them.

Why do you have such high requirements for specialists, even at the entry level?

Taking into account the shortage of qualified manpower in the labour market, we follow the strategy of “talent pool”: the personnel at the entry level acquire the necessary knowledge and improve certain skills at this level so that within a year they grow professionally and step up the career ladder. We closely watch them growing so that they do not stay long in entry-level positions. Therefore, we have high requirements for these candidates and carefully evaluate their professional competences and compliance with the job requirements — these two factors are the main ones in the development of manpower at the bank.

What about available vacancies for private bankers? Do you feel there is a shortage of qualified personnel for this job?

The job of a private banker has always been in high demand and positions in the market are very scarce. Taking into account the fact that these employees sell not only products and services, but demonstrate the culture and values of the enterprise, the majority of banks tend to grow these personnel themselves.

In the financial market, the tradition of bringing up private bankers, financing managers and client service managers from the entry level is strong and has a long history. People in these positions “absorb” the unwritten rules of the company that basically distinguish the company and make a difference.

What skills should a private banker possess? Can you please name the main ones?

A private banker should be an extrovert, with a positive approach towards life; clever, with great erudition and an open mind. Being flexible in communication and being able to listen to others’ opinions and not to insist on your own are must-have skills. One should be able to hear the client’s wishes and understand his / her demands.

A specialist should be fluent in three languages, know the nature of the client’s business well, possess knowledge of the wide range of services and products that we offer and be able to find the most suitable solution. Becoming an expert is a fine art — to grow from a sales person into a partner for clients and to establish long-term relationships with them.

Some of the aforementioned skills can be learnt at school, however most of these skills are acquired over time just by working at one company, starting a career at the very bottom and climbing up the career ladder, step by step. Where there’s a will, there’s a way — everything is possible!

How do you select personnel? When there are available vacancies which do you prefer — your own or external human resources?

We select human resources ourselves. In the HR department, our HR managers are all professionals with experience in psychology. We know the values of the brand and our corporate environment and we are capable of evaluating the compliance of a candidate with our ABLV team and each and every business unit. Heads of particular departments can evaluate professional competences, but they cannot evaluate less obvious skills, such as teamwork or the ability to get on well with people. Therefore, we entrust the selection of employees to professionals. We pay great attention to our long-term strategy of personnel training and development; our department carefully selects personnel at the entry level and we look closely at their professional future growth. When new vacancies appear, we give preference to our employees. Within a year, 22% of our employees grow professionally, both horizontally and vertically. Around 59% become middle-level managers and 19% become top managers. Only one of our seven directors joined the team of top managers in the position of director, all of the others have grown professionally within the ABLV team.

We externally announce vacancies at the entry level. For example, recently we were looking for a secretary. We received 200 applications; however, only nine got an invitation to a job interview.

Do you attract applicants through social networks?

Yes, we have been posting job ads on Facebook for a couple of years. According to the statistics, these posts have wide reach — on average, they appear on 5,000 users’ walls. Experience shows — we need these posts.

In 2015, we started to use LinkedIn. Let me say that the main advantage of LinkedIn is that it brings together professionals from different areas. When we post our job ads on LinkedIn, we add certain criteria so that we address our targeted audience. One can get in touch with certain applicants and examine their profiles. This social network allows us to learn more about suitable applicants who may not be looking for a job but meet our requirements.

Becoming an expert is a fine art — to grow from a sales person into a partner for clients and to establish long-term relationships with them.

What are the main tools of motivation at ABLV?

The main factor is the working environment and relationships within the team. If the working environment is not comfortable for employees, it will be difficult to keep them. It is important for an employee that his / her professional skills are evaluated. We have our own ABLV traditions — at Christmas parties or bank anniversaries, top management awards loyal employees who have been working for ten or twenty years for ABLV with a memorable award. Celebrating winter holidays with children is another great tradition that we are proud of. These events are highly appreciated by our employees and their children — for example, at our last Christmas party, we hosted 650 of our employees’ children.

We highly appreciate those employees who have been working at ABLV for a long time. Together with some intangible recognition and appreciation, we award long-time employees with tangible bonuses. The system of salary calculation is based on a formula that contains a special coefficient — extra payment for the years that an employee has worked at ABLV. As well as this bonus, these employees get extra days off on top of their annual holidays. The longer an employee has worked for the company, the more free days he / she  has that can be used in conjunction with official holidays.

Our top management never forgets to be grateful and also rewards employees financially. We regularly review our salary system, index salaries and improve our motivation system. We give our employees health insurance and accumulative insurance that the employer regularly pays for. In a certain period, every employee can get accumulated contributions paid by the employer.

What motivation methods are the most appreciated?

Certainly, people like to receive tangible things. However, let me note that a positive environment and management appreciation form the basis of our employees’ loyalty. We have very low personnel turnover — it is around 5–6% a year (the total number of employees is over 800 people).

We are lucky to have such shareholders as Oļegs Fiļs and Ernests Bernis — they work with us at the same bank. They know the personnel and feel the environment. They often generate various initiatives to improve working conditions and our motivation system. This is what separates us from other banks and large enterprises. We, the employees, do not have to persuade the shareholders about what we need; they know the situation from the inside.

This is a strong reason and motivation for employees to stay loyal. The findings of our annual employee satisfaction and engagement survey undertaken by research agency TNS (part of WPP holding and research department Kantar), showed the same evidence. Owing to this research, we can compare ourselves with other enterprises from similar sectors in Latvia, the Baltic States and Europe.

Our overarching goal is to become better every year.

How does your bank see the results of this research?

With great pleasure and satisfaction I can say: “We look good!” Last year, the average index of satisfaction equalled 65%, while the satisfaction index of our employees was 83%. TNS specialists admitted that neither in Latvia, nor in the Baltics or Europe had they seen an organisation like ours, with such a high rank of employee satisfaction and engagement. One of the questions on their anonymous questionnaire was as follows: How do you rate your working environment and place? Would you recommend it to your friends and acquaintances? 91% of ABLV employees gave a positive response. This index grows by half a percent to one percent every year. It has never dropped or decreased. Naturally, there are dissatisfied employees in our team. This is exactly how it should be. To a certain extent, grumblers are the driving force!

Our overarching goal is to become better every year. We realise that our set goal should remain reasonable. One should remember what has already been achieved. Only when you realise and appreciate what you have achieved you can strive for more.


Comments by New Employees

Gints Pumpurs
Head of Insurance Intermediation Department

Honestly, before I was invited to apply for this position, my knowledge about the bank, the same as of an average person, was superficial and stereotypical. That is why I decided to turn to my friends who have been working at the bank and ask for some feedback. The information received has strengthened me in the opinion that ABLV Bank should be regarded as a good employer. I must admit it was a surprise for me that the bank in many respects outstrips Scandinavian financial magnates and is one of the largest in Latvia. The decision was made: I want to work and gain experience in this organization. My patriotism served as an additional motivation — I was impressed by the idea that it is a local company that has proved its viability, in addition to attracting well-paid staff. And, as it later turned out, by the volume of tax payments to the state our bank outstrips major organizations with branches in almost every town and in each shopping centre. I was also surprised by numerous job interviews and tests, which I took during the first two months. On the one hand, it puzzled me, on the other, fuelled interest.

Despite the fact that I worked in the insurance industry before — also under the regulation of the FCMC, initially the biggest challenges for me were many different instructions, which define and govern each action. With regard to the working environment, I can say that it is very democratic and regulated, beginning with the articles in an internal newspaper, various surveys or cooperation assessments among departments and ending with enterprise policy promoting long-term staff loyalty.

I am impressed by the level of standards set by managers both for themselves and employees. Everything we do should be precisely and flawlessly executed. And, although it is not an easy task, I am sure that it is a really effective way for the company to grow and for me, as a person, to develop.

I am already used to the strict banking approach and action control; alongside with initial experience, I am confident in my decision to work for the bank.
 

Jekaterina Koļesina
PR Specialist

The undoubted advantage of the bank’s personnel policy is an extensive training provided on the first working day during which a new employee receives basic knowledge about the history of the bank and is explained various aspects of banking activity. During the initial stage of work, the introductory course greatly facilitated my integration because I did not have to concentrate on how to bring together such concepts as “me” and “new environment”. Thanks to the information received, I felt at ease immediately.

Here, colleagues’ outgoingness creates an easy atmosphere in which one can think freely, be inspired to work and express personal opinion without fear of getting into a hobble. One more pleasant surprise was the incredible efficiency of technical support that is of paramount importance for the full-fledged work, especially during the periods of heavy workload.
 

Jānis Grīnbergs
Deputy Head of Product Development Division

I decided to join ABLV Bank for several reasons. First, a certain harmony and stability was established with my previous employer, BTA Insurance Company, SE, which allowed me to work in the comfort zone. Many processes in the company have been improved, and I felt a relative routine, as well as an inner readiness for new challenges at BTA or another company. This fact made me reconsider the loyalty to the employer, because until then I had refused all the proposals of other recruiting companies. Second, during the job interview at ABLV Bank I was pleasantly surprised by the format it was held, I liked the assignments and tests received from headhunters and the representatives of the bank. All these conclusions and reflections confirmed me in the decision to become a part of it and contribute to the bank’s activity. I must admit that I had never participated in such a scrutinised selection of the staff. Six job interviews, several tasks and tests brought me the satisfaction with my abilities, as well as confirmed the bank’s rigorous approach to personnel selection.

Honestly speaking, prior to the interview I did not have any definite opinion about ABLV Bank or its subsidiaries. It is rarely advertised in media, and the information about the bank often passes through the prism of social events. Perhaps it was a lack of information that gave rise to doubts in making the decision. But, when I came to the first meeting with representatives of the bank, I was pleasantly surprised by the interview, the atmosphere, responsive and friendly attitude. 60-minute conversation was enough for me to radically change my opinion about banking environment and my potential employers. It is said that the first experience can be an accident, but the second is a system. The next meeting was not less interesting, and I realized that ABLV Bank is the place where I wanted to work, and I wish these people were my colleagues.

After entering the office, I was finally convinced that the corporate atmosphere is wonderful, including peer support and mutual cooperation. I was pleased to see how the internal environment, all the processes and normative base are regularised, how much attention is paid to details. During the first nine months of work, in various projects I have met many new colleagues. I can see how our team is united, how actively senior management takes part in the bank’s life.

I should admit that sometimes I think about how lucky the employees of the bank and the customers are. I am proud to tell friends about the company for which I work. ABLV is a unique place that really follows the principle “Work conquers all” (Labor Omnia Vincit), and everyone supports each other, treating the job with great piety to achieve the best overall result.
 

Ļubova Kazačenoka
Acting Work Organisation Specialist

It has always seemed to me that ABLV Bank is a unique institution. After joining the team, I have fully realised that the bank has a single style, a strong brand, unshakeable values and a unique approach to the business.

I have been most attracted by how the bank values its employees, focusing on their training, professional development, and motivation. My first impressions were very positive — new associates welcomed me really friendly and provided all kind of support. During the work at the bank I have never had any reasons to be disappointed — my colleagues are not only professionals, but also brilliant, open-minded people, who are pleasant to work with, who do not leave problems unsolved. Together, we can do anything!

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.