TBY talks to Mira Koshkimbayeva, Chairperson of the Board at Delta Bank, on growing the bank’s balance sheet during the crisis and its role in targeting rural and SME customers.
TBY Tell us about some of the core strategies that you have instituted at Delta Bank during your time as chairperson?
MIRA KOSHKIMBAYEVA I’ve been with Delta Bank for more than two years. It’s historically been a small bank, yet whereas the bank assets were worth something like KZT25 billion, that has now doubled. The same goes for the bank’s total capital, which has increased from KZT5.6 billion at the end of 2008 to KZT11.7 billion by mid-2011. Additionally, according to Standard & Poor’s, Delta Bank has better-than-sector-average asset quality indicators, a high share of liquid assets, and good capitalization ratios. I’m very proud to be a part of this bank and to have played a role in its rapid development. In fact, a lot of the developments took place during the crisis, with Delta Bank vastly increasing its assets and capital over that period specifically.
What was the secret to Delta Bank’s strong operating performance over that period in the country’s economic history?
Although we were a relatively small, unknown bank two years ago, among our main advantages was that we worked with some very sound corporate customers, most of who were from the SME segment. We decided to focus on our existing clients, to offer them new products, and to generally build on Delta Bank’s core strengths, the foremost of which is our speed and flexibility in rendering the services our customers seek and need. This growth has also been reflected in the development of our human capital, with more people having been hired to support the bank’s developing operations.
How would you assess your current market position? How do you differentiate your services in areas where there is more competition?
I think the market position of Delta Bank is strong enough in the small banks’ segment. The most encouraging aspect is that such banks are strengthening every year. As for branch numbers, our bank has advantages compared to other banks that are of more or less the same size in terms of assets. In 2010 Delta Bank opened two new branches in Pavlodar and Petropavlovsk, and the branch network consisted of 11 branches, seven additional offices, and one representative office. In 2011 we are planning to open one more branch in Ust-Kamenogorsk, and additional offices throughout Kazakhstan for individual customers, mainly.
What is your opinion of the general level of development in the banking and financial sectors in Kazakhstan overall?
We were very proud of the financial and banking sector before the beginning of the crisis in 2007. The crisis was an experience for Kazakhstan, and the sector has learnt from it and it has helped the country to develop further. Overall, we have a good finance and banking sector, as we must if Kazakhstan is going to continue developing and integrating with the world economy.
What niche market and customer segments does Delta Bank seek to target?
Most of our clients are from the agricultural sector. We chose to focus on the agricultural sector because it is government supported, which means a lot of resources are flowing toward it. We are a part of governmental programs in this sector. We work directly with farmers and also with the subsidiaries of KazAgro. Currently, our bank is tailored to support this industry, and its small, efficient size reflects that. Nevertheless, we are planning on growing and diversifying, and of course as our operations develop we will become comparable in size to banks supporting the oil and gas, and metallurgical industries. We are also extending into more areas, and plan to be in 12 regions across Kazakhstan by the end of 2011.
With the government’s 2010-2014 plan for the diversification of the economy, what are your bank’s prospects for more cooperation with foreign investors in the coming years?
Most of our customers are working with foreign partners to export their produce abroad. We are also playing a part in this, helping with communications, cooperation, and transactions with foreign partners. As diversification brings in even more foreigners, we are open to more cooperation with foreign investors and partners in the future as well.
What is your assessment of the development of the mortgage sector in Kazakhstan?
We are in partnership with the Kazakhstan Mortgage Company, which is a governmental program. Many banks suffered from retail lending during the crisis, and so the government made an effort to support them. On this base and framework, we will only see the mortgage sector go from strength to strength.
What’s your outlook for 2011 and beyond in Kazakhstan from a banking perspective?
All the indicators point to continued growth. Considering that the economy proved its viability in 2010—with GDP growth at 7%, and a stable national currency—I think Kazakhstani banks will face the issue of expanding lending to the real sector in 2011. It’s time to move on, keeping in mind the lessons of crisis.
© The Business Year