Mher Ananyan: Rising together

24.09.2020 | 10:04 Home / News / Interviews /
#Mher Ananyan #AraratBank #rebranding

Interview of Mher Ananyan, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of AraratBank, to Banks.am


- Mr. Ananyan, the recent rapid changes are in the spotlight of everyone’s attention. Within this context, let’s talk about the bank of new times. In your opinion, what changes has particularly the banking sector undergone? What challenges and prospects do the banks face nowadays?     

- A bank is a regularly transforming system which must constantly follow the global trends, or sometimes even be the one which dictates its own rules. We come across novelties everyday and in every field, requirements and challenges are quite diverse; one should keep the finger on the pulse.

In this age of innovations, digital banks are rapidly evolving, seeking to reduce physical intervention and provide all kinds of services through one digital platform.

The pandemic, in its turn, accelerated the pace of changes in the banking sector and once again made us reconsider our plans and our habits of making long-term programs. Have you noticed that we have almost stopped making cash payments or keeping money in cash? Using cards and online banking applications, more than ever has both health and security implications. In 2018, AraratBank also rolled out and launched the mobile banking system with great success, and keeps upgrading it.  This is the imperative of new times.

However, on the other hand, one must admit that there are conservative people who prefer traditional banking system and services to those who prefer these innovations. I myself highly value keeping the culture of face-to-face communication, and under these circumstances one should do its best to have a cosy environment in the bank for people of all ages, genders and preferences, the customer must be sure that when applying to the bank with any question, they will receive full support and advice.

Among others, the 21st century urges to change the strategies. If, in the past, services were developed with the vision of using them for a period of 5-7 years, now that period has been reduced to 1-3 years. Nowadays, time has become a vital resource for all of us. In this period of rapid changes, we have come to the point that the most difficult situation is when a lot depends on your decision. Today, banks have to be twice as much responsible in many issues. We are well aware that sometimes we have to take quick, well-thought and effective decisions, and value the true worth of time, as "yes" and "no" might be the shortest words, but sometimes, as a poet says, “We need to live the whole life to be able to utter those words”.

- Mr. Ananyan, AraratBank has a history of approximately 30 years with a special place in the Armenian banking sector. Today, it has come up rebranded and with a new slogan. What is the message of the new brand?

- For us, honor and responsibility begin with our very name. The image of AraratBank is not the colors or the arrangement of letters. Bearing the name of a beacon and the most important symbol for all Armenians, we are already committed to being a worthy institution with appropriate values and principles. In the span of these years, one of our primary goals has been to promote the development of a unique banking culture in Armenia, to promote the development of human-centric, customer and employee caring practices.

We are now uniting behind the goal of reaching new heights, uniting everyone – the team, customers, management, partners and the state - and introducing the concept of "together" in all relationships. We all have the desire to rise throughout life, and we have built the rebranding of AraratBank on the basis of the ideology "Rising together".

It all starts with mutual trust, which is another formulation and manifestation of togetherness. Before you start any cooperation, you should make sure that there is a reliable companion next to you, and if someone in the circle takes another way, the whole system will suffer, and it is impossible to climb without reaching out to each other. In the sense of trust, the bank-customer relationship is vital, which we are now "relieving" from all kinds of dividers. Customers must be confident that the bank sticks together in any case, they must know that the bank they chose has values that are acknowledged, prioritized and irreplaceable. One of the most important features of the bank is the ability to listen. Our customers must be sure that we understand their concerns in depth and are ready to help.

The principles that guide me in my work now have been always important and present in my life, as I was brought up with certain values. Here I quote what my father used to say, “You should live your day as if it is the most responsible and last day of your life”. He taught my brothers and me that we can never rise without failures, so we built our lives on this system of values and customs, and took important actions and decisions in adolescence, youth or adulthood. Our family was the role model for us, we tried to remain true to our roots, and to the ability to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong.

The family model is best reflected in bank-team relationship. As in a family, you should always inspire, encourage, give room for self-expression , the opportunity to become better and perfect. Everyone on the team should feel accepted, appreciated and important. When you give your employees at least one chance to rise, believe me, you get twice more in return: they do their best to show that your decision to trust and promote was justified. I think my mission is to bring people to life, because living only for yourself is, in a way,  an expression of selfishness. I assure you, there is no greater joy than to be able to live and make people live, rise and help people to rise.

This might be one of the features of my management experience that I have gained over the years.   I might sound trivial to say that nothing came easy, but  this is the reality. I worked in the banking sector at a young age: I was 28 but already managed a team of 142 employees. At that time, I was more abrupt in decision-making, but now I consider important to make the message reach people in full, without excessive sharp words or actions. Emotions are the best feelings, but definitely not the best friends.  I faced many cases of extremes in my life but I was confident that whatever happened paved a new way that would lead to higher peaks.    

- From this standpoint, what is the role of the Government in the ideology Rising Together given banks are important institutions that provide financial stability of the country?

- Banks are one of the pillars that ensure the development of the country; and our unity would be incomplete without the bank and state, country and economy circle. The main function of banks is to attract non-circulating assets of the economy and invest them in the sectors in need.  In other words, the bank takes responsibility at its own risk so that these funds are used efficiently and as needed.   As a result, all stakeholders benefit - depositors, borrowers, the bank, and the state, because taxpayers make the part of the chain.  Therefore, as we ascend, we take with us all the institutions and systems related to the bank.

Banks constitute a part of the success of those systems, but in our society, banks are often criticized and blamed based on the shaped stereotypes.  Sometimes people even “feel offended” when their loans are rejected, and funds are not provided , but they never even realize that the bank simply keeps them away from possible failures. At AraratBank, an individual approach is shown to every customer, where the needs and risks of our customers are always assessed, and respective forecasts are made. As a result, we understand that rejecting the loan of a customer we hold them back from new failures because our goal is not only to ensure the bank's profitability. We realize that customers are part of our corporate culture and heights are unreachable without them. We unite and rise together, overcoming all kinds of challenges and breaking stereotypes.

From the cooperation standpoint, if you want a reliable environment, then the bank is the institution you need, if you want to develop, move forward, then the bank is the institution you need, if you are in search for a perspective job, a  motivated team, the bank is the institution you need, if you want a reliable  partner on your way to the top, then the bank is the institution you need. Banks are the most important institutions for  the state, as they are the driving force of financial stability, economic development, and the implementation of fiscal and monetary policy . A bank is the institution where thoughts and ideas turn into reality. We will rise together and everyone has a room in our unity.

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