"Our main challenge for the future is to become one of the main banks in the Albanian banking system. This should go hand in hand with increasing our customer base and offering them more funding opportunities for them.The strategy to achieve this is by constantly working to improve ourselves and providing our customers with the best service on the market. This statement was made by the General Manager of OTP Bank Albania, Bledar Shella in an exclusive interview for STAR BUSINESS.
OTP Albania Bank is closing its first year in Albania, which is a growing year. To whom will you attribute the growth so far?
The year we left behind was definitely a year full of challenges and historical moments. The main objectives for this year were two: the integration process with the OTP Group and the financial results. I am very proud that both of these objectives were achieved successfully. This result was mainly due to the tireless work, concentration and professionalism that the team at OTP Albania Bank has shown throughout this year. Also, among other factors for this success should not be left without mentioning the strength, ambition and general corporate culture of our staff.
How would you evaluate the performance of OTP Albania Bank? What are the internal controls you are implementing to ensure that each objective is met to a satisfactory standard?
OTP Albania Bank reported an impressive increase in all major business areas for 2019. I am very proud that OTP Albania Bank has had an increase in terms of its share in the Albanian banking market and return on investment. Also, during 2019 the bank has managed to reduce the percentage of bad loans. Last year's results were achieved after consolidating our existing services, which in turn have led to better operational efficiency. As I said before, 2019 was a year of change and one of the most important things was for people to be aware and responsible for these changes. Each of us had a role to play in this great scenario. We agree with our annual goals and objectives of the previous year and make sure that every part of them is achieved in a timely manner.
What are the challenges of the future? Do you have a strategy to deal with them?
Our main challenge for the future is to be one of the main banks in the Albanian banking system. This should go hand in hand with growing our customer base and providing more funding opportunities for them. The strategy to achieve this is by constantly working to improve ourselves and providing our customers with the best service on the market. I believe that the excellent customer experience translates into brand loyalty, business growth and at the same time, profit. I judge that the competitive advantage of OTP Albania Bank is exactly this: Customer experience.
OTP Bank in Albania has been assessed as an incentive to bring Hungarian investors to Albania. Do you see any first signs?
OTP Bank is not only the main bank in Hungary, but also one of the leading groups in the country, which operates in various business segments, such as real estate, tourism, car financing, etc. The entry of OTP Bank in a certain market is followed by the entry of Hungarian investors in this market. During his speech at a press conference in April 2019, the Chairman of the Board of OTP Bank, Mr. Sándor Csányi, highlighted several key areas of interest such as agriculture, agriculture and industry. This was also emphasized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Mr. Péter Szijjártó during his recent visit to Tirana, when he said that Hungarian companies view their bank's presence in a market as a matter of credibility. We are very optimistic that the presence of OTP Bank in Albania will have a positive impact on the growth of Hungarian businesses investing in our country.
What are the plans for the development of the Bank's branches?
Currently, OTP Bank Albania operates through a network of 37 branches and 78 ATMs strategically opened throughout Albania. During 2019 we have opened two new branches in Tirana and much remains to be done in this regard. Our plans for the growth of the bank will continue during 2020 with more open branches and ATMs strategically located. The goal is to be as close as possible to our customers and serve them better, faster and more efficiently.
Tell us more about the staff you have hired. Are you investing in the empowerment and development of Albanian bankers, who will be the future of this industry? And how important is the cultivation of the teamwork environment towards achieving the bank's ultimate goals?
The passionate and professional team of OTP Albania Bank is our greatest asset, and we are proud to have a large team of people oriented towards customer service. OTP Albania Bank will continue to invest even more in training team members and improving their knowledge, giving them the knowledge to serve our customers more efficiently and safely. Our main area of focus will be for our team members to be fully equipped not only with product knowledge, but also with features and skills such as time management, problem solving and communication.
In my opinion, the key to success can only be found through teamwork, the power of collaboration and synergy. I am confident that our banking achievements come as a result of this spirit. At OTP Albania Bank we act as a single body towards a common mission. This is evident in every business process and in the bank environment.