The Baltic Course  

We shouldn't be bureaucrats

The vice-president of Latvia's Trasta Komercbanka, Sergey Tarasenok, speaks on the bank’s operations on Eastern markets – a region he is familiar with far better than by stories heard

Sergey Tarasenok

Photo: Trasta Komercbanka


Trasta Komercbanka (till 1995 – Riga-Bank) – one of the first commercial banks in Latvia – was established in 1989, and its operations have always been closely connected to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other CIS countries.

In 1998, Trasta Komercbanka became the most active participant in the Riga Stock Exchange, its share in the total turnover of the stock exchange reaching 12.6%. Trasta Komercbanka became the first bank in Latvia to organize the issue of public shares for Latvian companies. One of the most significant projects was the public auction and distribution of shares of the Balta insurance company.

The year 2000 was a time of big changes, when the bank’s strategy was reconsidered and investments were attracted for strengthening its position in the banking business.

Trasta Komercbanka was the first among Latvian banks to introduce internet banking by using the TrastNet system, thus becoming accessible to its clients at any time from any computer all around the world. As a result of the introduction of up-to-date technologies, a new complex of financial services has been offered to the bank's clients in the sphere of remote banking – Telebanka – and an automated 24-hour system of account settlement by telephone – TeleTrast.



We understand the CIS

Historically the situation has formed such that our bank cooperates with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. It is a region with similar mentality, with an understandable language for communication. We have gained operational practice on stock markets; qualified specialists of the bank have since 1997 actively participated in operations with equities.

A long while ago, infrastructure for operations with "soft" currencies was also established, and is still functioning today. We are ready to open bank accounts for clients deserving special attitudes, in the location of their business. Such possibilities significantly speed up the settlement of accounts among contractors.

Our employees have the instruments necessary for the privatization of state property. We have acquired this knowledge in Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. We know how this thing works. Today, when the privatization process has started in Belarus, we would like to participate in the reform process from its very beginnings. We hope that Russia and Belarus will come to an agreement. But it is beyond doubt, that some day Russia will become a super-nation, where there will be enough work for everybody.


Informal approach

When acquiring this bank two years ago, our pre-requisite was that there should not be bureaucracy in the bank. Our principle is mobility and flexibility. The average client of a large bank becomes a big one at our bank. And he is provided with high quality services. For example, for the convenience of a client, who deals in fish trade, we open a corresponding account in Santiago, Chile. We employ the same approach, working with a client, who has business in Ukraine or Belarus and has got used to work with a bank in his own country. Such an approach helps in the real economy of time and money. It concerns such instruments as letters of credit and factoring, like in the same example with the merchant, who needs a letter of credit in a bank in Chile, which has to be approved by another bank, for example, the Deutsche Bank, the client will have to pay a commission of 3%. If dealing with us, the entrepreneur can save these 3%.

We have no unnoticeable clients. We pay complete understanding to any problem of our client. A flexible individual approach and ability to react to the fluctuations of the market situation lies in the basis of our cooperation.

The priority of services of a “personal banker” is confidentiality, as well as more convenient, dynamic and advantageous cooperation among all participants. A “personal banker” has to solve any question of its client as soon as possible. The individual work of a bank employee with a client allows taking into account the peculiarities of the job, effective provision of current information about the account, dynamics of payments and coordination of activities of all bank’s branches, taking into account the client’s interests. If necessary, it allows arranging a meeting between the client and his broker, dealer or lawyer.

The informal approach to a client is used also in work with loans and credit cards. If necessary for the convenience of a client, a credit committee can be summoned at any time. We can help the client in penetrating Western cotton or oil stock exchanges; in acquiring securities in Central and Eastern European markets; in marginal trade on the FOREX market. A client has access to deposit programs, draft programs and to the securities markets of the USA, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, the Baltic states and the CIS countries.

We aim at attracting clients that do their business in the same field. Along with this, settlement of payments is operative. Primarily, these spheres are metallurgy, oil products, cotton transit. Although the work in these fields may be quite sophisticated for the bank, we have some elaboration here, thus providing convenience for our clients.

Our shareholders and the management of the bank know many of its clients personally, meeting with them as often as necessary in order to discuss any emerging problems. These are the advantages of a rather small bank.


Regional activities

The management of our bank is located in Moscow. An informational bureau is opening in Minsk. We are preparing to open an agency in Kiev. In 2003, we plan to open an agency in Kazakhstan, where we already have clients ready to cooperate with us.