Gerhard Boesch

CEO OF PRIVATBANK

Ukraine 2021  I  Finance  I  Interview

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BIOGRAPHY He became the new CEO of PrivatBank in June 2021. He has 35 years of experience in the banking industry, from trading to asset management and restructuring, including multi-faceted management roles at banks in Austria, Germany, and Ukraine. as a banking executive in Ukraine for the past 15 years, he has successfully led large bank transformation projects, including privatization initiatives.

“I AM CONFIDENT THAT PRIVATBANK WILL CONTINUE TO BE A ROLE MODEL IN THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY IN UKRAINE IN TERMS OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, SUSTAINABILITY AND GOOD CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP.”

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES SINCE BECOMING CEO IN JUNE 2021?

 

The key priority is to ensure the efficient and timely implementation of PrivatBank’s development strategy until 2024, which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in August 2021. My role as CEO is to develop and execute an actionable road map for the implementation of this strategy in cooperation with the Ukrainian State, our Supervisory Board, the Management Board, and all of the bank's employees.

 

In this respect, our objective is to further strengthen the position of PrivatBank as the leading retail bank in Ukraine, establish a more favorable environment for SME development, maximize dividends, and increase PrivatBank’s overall investment attractiveness. We need to create the conditions for the successful privatization of PrivatBank. I am confident that the successful implementation of our strategy implementation roadmap will make PrivatBank a very attractive asset for future investors.

 

Our overarching goal is to prove that a state-owned bank with such a legacy can be transformed and privatized successfully, to show everyone that notwithstanding the bank’s past, we can turn it into a success story. The success of this effort in PrivatBank will be a positive signal for Ukraine and will have a great impact on its image as a reliant investment destination.

 

PRIVATBANK'S STRATEGY SINCE ITS NATIONALIZATION IS BASED ON A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC APPROACH AND FOCUSES ON DIGITALIZATION, INNOVATION, AND TECHNOLOGY. HOW IS THIS STRATEGY BEING IMPLEMENTED?

 

Since its nationalization, improving customer experience has always been the top priority for PrivatBank. The best proof of this is the fact that after nationalization the bank not only did not lose its customer base but was able to increase the number of its active clients. Our updated development strategy envisages two components of improving the client-centric approach. Firstly, it is a change in the way of doing business. While maintaining our focus on providing the best quality products and services and generating income we will at the same time make a shift in our business approach towards meeting the needs of our clients, helping them to learn finance, grow and understand and use the services that are available, creating an environment necessary to move forward in providing the best financial services in the Ukrainian banking sector.

 

The second aspect is the transformation and reorganization of the structure of PrivatBank. In this context, our goal is to adapt the banks’ structure to the new economic reality, make it more agile and capable of catering to the new modes of interaction with the consumers of modern banking and financial services. Retaining and further investing in the existing culture of innovations and digital technology in PrivatBank will be instrumental in achieving this goal. Our key goal is not so much to increase our customer base but to educate and do more business with our clients ensuring theirs trust in our care for them and their savings. We should make the clients understand that they are in the spotlight by showing them that PrivatBank is sustainable, innovative, and is always ready to surprise the customer with new digital services. PrivatBank has been an undisputed leader in innovations for many years and has a great potential for further growth.

Of course, we will keep focusing on digitalization. Our IT departments constantly work on enhancing Privat24 mobile application for individuals and entrepreneurs, we are planning to increase the number of our “branches of the future,” and more. It will allow us to be much closer to our customers than any other bank. However, the “classic” branches still play an important role in providing services for individuals, private entrepreneurs, SMEs, and retail. I believe that in the future, we will combine our online and offline strengths, namely the bank’s innovations and digital capabilities, and proximity to customers with our branch network. I’m convinced that it is what makes PrivatBank the most unique bank in Ukraine.

“UKRAINE HAS ALL IT NEEDS TO BECOME THE NEXT EASTERN EUROPEAN “EMERGING TIGER”. THE ABUNDANCE OF EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED CHANGE-MAKERS AND UNRIVALED PREPAREDNESS TO EMBRACE NEW TECHNOLOGY MAKE UKRAINE A VERY ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT DESTINATION.”

PRIVATBANK HAS ALWAYS BEEN A ROLE MODEL IN UKRAINE'S FINANCIAL INDUSTRY. HOW DO YOU PRETEND TO PRESERVE ITS LEADING POSITION?

 

For many years, PrivatBank was the most profitable bank in Ukraine. And we want to preserve this position. Our new strategy is also about improving the bank’s operating model to increase efficiency and to maximize the number of dividends paid to the state budget and turn the bank into an attractive investment object. However, when I think about the bank’s development, I consider not only its financial goals but also its cultural and community development. PrivatBank’s activity affects not only the bank itself. It has a huge impact on the state and, subsequently, on Ukrainians to enhance trust towards the financial system and promote responsible financial literacy. Overall, I am confident that PrivatBank will continue to be a role model in the financial industry in Ukraine in terms of corporate governance, sustainability and good corporate citizenship.

WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE FINANCIAL SECTOR IN THE POST-COVID ERA IN UKRAINE?

 

According to recent surveys, the global economy and Ukraine’s, in particular, will recover faster than was anticipated. However, I do not want to give any specific predictions. Unless there is an unexpected macroeconomic shock, the economic growth can be significant. Apparently, the trend toward digitalization of the banking sector will remain. The COVID-19 pandemic made us transfer all our services online out of concern for our client's safety. And now, when our branches are open, we see that most of our customers show a very high preference for carrying out their daily transactions through digital means. Digitalization concerns not only the financial sector but all the processes in the world, for example, the paperless regime in Ukraine. Therefore, in the post-COVID era, we will need to focus on better cybersecurity to ensure the safety of our client's data.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS INTERESTED IN UKRAINE?

 

Today, the Ukrainian financial system has never been in such a good condition as it is now. Thanks to the reforms and policies implemented by the National Bank of Ukraine since 2014, the country’s banking sector today is healthy, sustainable and profitable. PrivatBank is a good example of a successful transformation and corporate governance reform. Ukraine has all it needs to become the next Eastern European “emerging tiger”. The abundance of exceptionally talented change-makers and unrivaled preparedness to embrace new technology make Ukraine a very attractive investment destination. Invest in Ukraine now and become a part of its rapid and fascinating transformation.