Life in the sanctions regime forces us to concentrate on business in Russia and fight for efficiency, and the largest Russian bank is no exception. The president of Sberbank German Gref told Kommersant how sanctions have changed the attitude to international business, what priorities the bank has today and what is the ecosystem of the Savings Bank.
- 2017 was very difficult for the country, new sanctions were added to the old sanctions, how is Sberbank's international business feeling under these conditions?
"Even in the conditions of sanctions, all our foreign assets, including the Ukrainian bank, show profits at the beginning of this year. So our international strategy has justified itself. However, from the moment we adopted it, geopolitical conditions have changed: today it is very difficult to conduct international business, including because of sectoral sanctions. Therefore, we decided to gradually optimize our international presence.
- Is Denizbank's sale part of this optimization? Why did you decide to sell the most profitable of your foreign assets?
- The main limitations are that we could not attract financing for the bank from the market, could not receive dividends. Due to the sanctions Denizbank's operating conditions became more stringent than those of its competitors. But even so, the bank developed extremely successfully: in five years the balance increased almost threefold. If you look at the price of the deal concluded in late May, then the asset is realized much higher than the multiples that exist today in the financial market of Turkey. Over the past five years, no deals on the market have been made with a multiplier to the capital above one, according to our deal, the multiplier is close to 1.2 of capital. This, of course, speaks about the quality of our asset. Of course, we are sorry to sell such a successful asset, generating a stable profit and a good return on capital. But for us it's a good deal.
- When can the transaction be closed?
- We hope to complete the necessary approvals from regulators before the end of the autumn and close the deal by the end of the year.
- Do you intend to abandon the European business as well?
- In Europe, we have a small bank, it is under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank (ECB), and of course, in this market we also began to work uneasy. We are changing our strategy in Europe: from some markets we will leave, somewhere to transform the model, somewhere to focus on the digitalization of business.
- You do not hide the intention to leave Ukraine, now are again in the process of negotiations?
- That's right, we are in the implementation stage of the Ukrainian bank. We do not disclose the details of the talks, but we have an understanding of the regulator's needs, and our further steps to reach an agreement. We consistently and smoothly reduce the balance of the Ukrainian bank. Like negotiations, it takes time, so we move in two directions and maintain the trajectory. But I still think that the sale of the bank would be much more profitable for us and the regulator.
- What will eventually remain of your international business?
- We will continue to work in a number of countries in Europe, in Belarus, Kazakhstan - wherever we see the prospect.
- Did you have a desire to wait out sanctions and not to part with successful foreign assets?
- In business, it is necessary to have a certain planning horizon, for us it is three years. On this horizon, we do not yet see a reliable prospect of lifting the sanctions. Geopolitics is now such that it does not contribute to the internationalization of business.
- In Russia, the business of Sberbank is much better than in the international arena. Based on current results, could you give any forecast for the year?
- In the baseline scenario, our forecast assumes that the return on equity remains at around 20%. Given the large number of external factors, this forecast can be considered conservative-reasonable. However, in the world there are not so many banks that can boast 20% ROE with inflation in the country at 3-4%. We also set ourselves an ambitious task in terms of the ratio of operating income to operating expenses and expect it to be below 35%.
- Do you plan to further optimize the staff and offices as part of spending control?
- Staff optimization is a natural process in such a large group of companies. Over the past year, the number of our employees has decreased by 10 thousand, reaching 310 thousand, and this process will continue - mostly by natural means, through the retirement of employees, the vacancy, the development of new technologies. With regard to the network in the past two years, we have been pursuing a very conservative policy. Now we limit the reduction of the network to only those cases when we can not find an alternative premise, and the existing premises are to be closed according to the norms.
- You touched on the topic of technology ... I wonder what technological changes in Sberbank do you consider to be key?
- This is really an endlessly interesting topic. We were at the epicenter of technological innovation. We are developing two key areas. The first is the creation within the bank of a new technological platform, which should be completed by 2020. Thousands of people work for this purpose, we carry out a great transformation, sharing the responsibility for creating the platform, and translating a large number of engineers from Sberbank-Technologies. All application components of the platform will be developed in the bank. The second direction is the creation of the architecture of the ecosystem of providing services to our clients.
- What will this new technology platform give to the client?
- It will work much faster, more reliably, flexibly create new client services. Now, from the moment of the idea's appearance to the proposal of a new product, the client can go through the months, and the new platform will allow to pass this process in real time. The platform will increase the speed of operations, will enable rapid introduction of new products and services to the market.
- Due to what?
- Due to the micro-service architecture, in which all services look like small gears, and you can attach new ones to them, as in the designer. Today we have a huge consolidated platform, and to get connected to it, we need to go through a long period of testing the new service and the entire system. The new platform will allow to connect elements very quickly (through an open API), the most advanced technologies will be implemented inside. For example, a data factory will be built that will allow real-time processing of all user requests, manage all data in the cloud architecture and, most importantly, its key engine will be built using the latest technologies, including both machine learning and artificial intelligence . Today we use all this, but only in certain parts of the bank, in a non-centralized manner, which consumes much more time, effort and resources.
- What are the costs for the new platform and the payback period?
- Within the framework of building a new platform, Sberbank is implementing more than 500 projects. The main programs that are identified as strategic are the United Front System, the Business Support Development Platform, and the Data Factory. According to our estimates, after the introduction of the platform will pay off in three to four years. But not only is economy important. The new platform is the infrastructure of the ecosystem we create. We want to provide our client with the final service. After all, a financial service is always intermediate: money is not needed for money, they serve some purpose. We want to provide not an intermediate service, but an end service, so we look at the needs of our customers and the largest markets related to the realization of the client's needs. We have chosen priority areas and try to create an ecosystem of final services around our financial ecosystem.
- What are these directions?
- There are areas in which we are already actively working, for example, e-commerce. We invested 30 billion rubles. in Yandex.Market, our joint venture with Yandex on an equal footing. There are such areas where we have not yet come out, and analyze the market, we are looking for projects.
- If we talk about the Yandex.Market project, what will essentially change for the consumer after your arrival?
- Previously, this project developed mainly as an advertising one, we intend to turn it into a real electronic trading platform with a lot of additional services, a domestic analogue of Amazon. This platform will serve not only individuals, but also legal, it will serve as an infrastructure, reduce user costs, handle delivery, serve small and medium-sized businesses. This is not only a connection of the buyer with the seller within the country, in the future we plan to launch an international platform that will allow buying imported goods and supplying Russian abroad.
"When will this happen?"
- Development will be phased. Now the testing of the delivery of goods is started, the next step is the retail platform, then it will be possible to develop the entire infrastructure.
- Will Sberbank finance transactions within the framework of the site?
- Yes, in the future we plan to do it.
- You have a number of projects launched within the ecosystem, such as telemedicine. Why it?
- We consider the telemedicine market to be very promising, but in Russia it is not yet sufficiently developed. The combination of our capabilities in the field of new technologies with medical technologies will allow us to do a lot. Therefore, we acquired the market leader - the company DocDoc - and we will jointly develop it. Already, 1.5 million patients have registered with a doctor via DocDoc.
- Do you use the DocDoc service yourself?
- I did not have any reasons, but I actively test it.
- What other directions will form the basis of the ecosystem of Sberbank?
- We are looking at projects in the field of education. At the SPIEF, we entered into an agreement with the French project "Association 42". In Russia, based on its technologies, we created "School 21" - a free school of programming for the preparation of architects of world-class technology solutions. Applicants from 18 to 30 years already now can apply for participation in the selection, training will start in the autumn of this year. This year we recruit five hundred people, in the next we hope to gain a thousand. The school has a unique educational methodology: there are no lectures, there are no professors, there are no grades, but there is a magnificent online platform that allows each student to build an individual learning trajectory. The educational process in the school is based on group and individual work on IT projects, in which training is conducted on a peer-to-peer basis. The school also provides the opportunity to study at that speed and at that time of the day, when it is most productive for a particular person. The training will take from one and a half to four years, depending on the speed of mastering the material by students. This is today the most prestigious and effective system of training specialists in the field of modern technologies.
- Who is financing the project?
- Sberbank. We hope that "School 21" will become a source of personnel for us and for the entire Russian market.
- Education starts with high school, do you have any ideas here?
"Not just ideas." We have a charitable foundation "Contribution to the Future", through which we finance a large number of educational projects. This is, firstly, our program "Teacher for Russia", where graduates of the best universities - Higher School of Economics, Moscow State University, Litmo, Fiztekh, St. Petersburg State University - are sent to teach children to remote regions of the country, including rural schools. We pay them from 20 thousand to 35 thousand rubles. monthly, and schoolchildren get the opportunity to learn from first-class specialists. Now we have about two hundred such teachers. At the same time, already now the competition in this program is 20 people per seat. After the end of the two-year contract, stipulated by the program, we help them to implement their own social project. Today, 100% of the graduates of the program realize their ambitions in the field of education. We invite investors from other regions of Russia to this project. We can see how our unique children, teachers of high qualification, have a positive impact on children in rural schools, opening up new horizons for children. For us, this is part of our mission.
- Will a mass product be created, let's say, Sberbank's online school?
- We are now working on the creation of an educational platform. Our idea is to give students of secondary schools the opportunity to take a course faster, not only to gain knowledge of the school curriculum, but also to develop technological skills, personal, cognitive and social skills. The platform is created for both distance learning and for schooling. The tasks include the methods of social interaction between the student and teachers, the administration, classmates, between teachers and parents. The possibility of individual selection by the student of the trajectory of learning is laid: setting personal goals in subjects, obtaining personal assignments, learning at any time, anywhere, constantly monitoring the quality of knowledge and skills. Today there is no analogue of such a modern system of school education in our country. And in the world of such platforms a little. We studied the experience year, formed the project and now we begin to finance it. We assume after piloting to transfer it to schools for free.
- When will students be able to test this platform?
- According to our plan in early 2019, the first version of the system should be implemented. The fact is that in schools, a very serious infrastructure should be created for this, retraining of teachers is carried out. Now we select the first six or eight schools that would like to test the program, and with them we will begin the pilot implementation.
- You listed three components of your ecosystem: e-commerce, medicine, education. Is there anything else?
- Of course. For example, the provision of the ultimate service in real estate. Three years ago we created DomClick. At first it only helped clients in the choice of housing, then it became a place where it can be purchased and sold. Later, automation of mortgage loans was mastered, and now the whole process of buying a home. Now we, together with Rosreestr, with the support of the government, implement a plan for automating the registration of real estate, which allows the clients to offer a full cycle of all operations from the choice of housing to its registration into ownership. Together with Rosreestr we seriously changed the entire process of real estate registration, and in the Moscow region we can register a deal on our platform within a day. By the end of the year it is expected that this can be done for the day across the country. Our plan is to bring this process to a minute, all the technological possibilities for this are there. Today, more than 40% of transactions are registered in this system.
- It would be good if these opportunities appeared when working with other state services.
- We are working on it. Our technology partners in the government are the Pension Fund, the Federal Tax Service, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Treasury and other agencies.
For example, we want Sberbank Online or our other application to replace the customer service center for the client.
We want to create maximum comfort for the client and save his most important non-renewable resource - time. Many services you can begin to receive from us already this year, and each year their number will grow.
- What opportunities will appear first?
- For example, receiving childbirth, maternity, pensions, registration of transactions, etc. We see a great perspective in the creation of cloud services and recently bought a market leader company. While this market in the country is relatively small, but if you look at the West, it is several times larger than in Russia, and we see that in the next five to six years, the volume of cloud services will grow no less than 10-12 times.
- Speaking of technologies, it is impossible not to affect the blockage and crypto-currencies. What is your attitude to these innovations?
- Blocking is a very promising technology. We work with him a lot, we design a lot, the bank operates a special laboratory of blockade, which is used in various processes in our business.
- What does the final customer give to the customer?
- First of all, reliability is the absence of a central counterparty in the system. Significantly reduce transaction costs, which also makes the process cheaper for the consumer. This technology is very promising for all operations where you need confirmation of your rights.
- A crypto currency? Are you for or against?
- Our state, like the overwhelming number of states, formulated a fairly unambiguous attitude to the crypto currency in the form in which it exists today. No state will part with a monopoly on money issue. Therefore, as a decentralized currency, it is not recognized. But in a large number of states it is not prohibited and operations with it are possible. Most governments believe that the crypto currency is property and, like any property, should be taxable. If you bought bitcoins and they grew in price, then, accordingly, you have to pay tax. This, of course, sharply reduces the attractiveness of the instrument as a means of payment. I look at the Crypto currency as a source of financing for the development of such a unique technology as a blockade. In this sense, technology is unique, since it has a built-in self-financing mechanism. I think the ban on crypto currency is not the best solution for both the development of technology and for the disclosure of the full potential of the crypto currency itself.
- Do you use crypto-currencies?
- Not now. Although previously I made purchases of crypto currency to understand the technology. But never for speculation. I'm not a speculator at all, I have a fairly low risk profile: I do not play in a casino. Yes, and banking experience taught this. It was important for me to understand how it all works, what the technology is, how vulnerable it is, how convenient it is and how it can be used in our business.
- And what are your impressions?
"Quite convenient." I changed the currency for traditional currencies - it was interesting how the exchange mechanism was built, - I bought goods. When this currency began to cost thousands of dollars, then, of course, looking back, you realize how much the price of these goods has grown. (Laughs.) But I do not buy any more crypto currency, and anyone who does not like playing casino, I would not recommend this.
- But there is a demand from customers? I think many would be happy about the opportunity to buy and sell the Crypto currency through "Sberbank Online".
- There is some demand. But we do not perform transactions with crypto currency in our remote channels, there are a lot of other possibilities for this.
- So far, that is, do you consider this option?
There is an opportunity, technology exists, but no, we do not. And what is more, we do not recommend our clients, because the market is very volatile, there you can lose a lot.
- It is known that there is a huge demand for cashback in Sberbank. Will it appear?
- We have a loyalty program "Thank you", this is the most massive program, which is used by more than 33 million customers. It is quite convenient, it has a huge number of partners, and you can spend points "Thank you" for almost any purpose. I think in the autumn we will present its updated version with a whole series of pleasant surprises for our customers. In particular, it is planned to launch the possibility of exchanging points for rubles.
- I would not want to break this positive note, but I can not help asking one more question about the analyst of Alex Fack. I just want to know your attitude to this story ...
- The problem is that one day he was already warned about unprofessionalism and the second time stepped on the same rake.
We issue about 200 reports per year, 10 thousand pages, and we never stopped their publications, did not interfere. But this report, issued by our subsidiary company Sberbank CIB, unfortunately, was prepared completely unprofessional. I had to sort it out, invited the employees, asked them: can I get the initial data on the basis of which your conclusions are drawn? The conclusions were only assumptions. This, in our opinion, is unacceptable.
- If so, then no, the data should be at least in the analyst, even in journalism, in which you, in fact, reproached Mr. Fack ...
- This is in any case unprofessional. But the press publishes information for an unlimited number of people, and the analyst is sent out to clients for making important investment decisions. There are no assumptions here. To me, there were no claims from Gazprom and other clients, but I decided to sort it out in principle. I asked to make my findings a compliance service, a control and audit service and an independent analyst. All three conclusions show that during the preparation of the report, formal procedures were violated, and the conclusions in the report are not supported by the initial data. Then I decided that the whole group of companies should know that nonprofessionals we will not tolerate. Moreover, I felt that I should apologize for the mistake I made. If the report were professional regardless of the conclusions, which, in fact, occurs in the overwhelming majority of our analytical materials, I would by no means do so.
Gref German Oskarovich
He was born on February 8, 1964 in the village of Panfilovo (Pavlodar region, Kazakhstan). He graduated from law faculty of Omsk University (1990), graduate school of law faculty of St. Petersburg State University (1993). He was on an urgent service in the special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He taught at the Omsk University, since 1991 he worked as a legal adviser and the head of the regional agency for management of property in the administration of the Petrodvortsov district of St. Petersburg. Since 1992 - Chairman of the Committee for Property Management, deputy head of the district administration. Since 1994 - Director of the Department of Real Estate, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on State Property Management (KUGI) of St. Petersburg. In July 1997, he became the first deputy chairman of the KUGI, in September appointed vice-governor-chairman of the KUGI instead of the murdered Mikhail Manevich. Since August 1998 - First Deputy Minister of State Property of the Russian Federation. In December 1999, he headed the Council of the Center for Strategic Research. On May 18, 2000, he was appointed Minister of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation. Since November 28, 2007 - President, Chairman of the Board of Sberbank.
Candidate of Economic Sciences. He was awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland III and IV degrees, Honor, Alexander Nevsky, the French Order of the Legion of Honor.
Sberbank of Russia
PJSC "Sberbank of Russia" was established in 1991 on the basis of the Soviet system of savings banks. It is the largest bank in Russia. The share in the total assets of the country's banking system is about 29%, Sberbank accounts for 46% of total retail deposits, 39% in the retail market and 32% in the corporate lending market. It has a network of 12 territorial banks, 17,500 branches in 83 constituent entities of Russia, subsidiaries in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and Turkey. The network of ATMs and self-service terminals of Sberbank has more than 90 thousand devices. According to Sberbank, its services in Russia are used by about 110 million people, abroad - 11 million people. The main shareholder is the Bank of Russia, whose share in the authorized capital is 50% plus 1 voting share. Sberbank ranks first in Russia in terms of assets (24.1 trillion rubles), allocated funds of individuals (11.7 trillion rubles), loans to individuals (5.3 trillion rubles) and legal (16.5 trillion rubles). persons. Net profit in 2017 according to IFRS amounted to 748.7 billion rubles. (an increase of 38.2% by 2016).