Gergana Staykova for Piata Financiara: We are building the society of the future

Gergana Staykova, our Market Leader of Romania, is in the spotlight of the latest issue of Piata Financiara magazine. She shared how we build a digital society that improves people’s lives, how we overcame the challenges the world faced in 2022, how our team’s diversity makes us stronger, and much more. You can read below:

[quoteblock content=”The tbi team has emerged stronger from the year 2022 and is more ready than ever to help build a digital society that will improve people’s lives in the future. At tbi, we’ve continued to do what we’ve always done: to offer our customers the best advice and solutions to make their lives better.” author=”Gergana Staykova” author_position=”Market Leader, Romania” author_avatar=”https://tbibank.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/gergana-staykova_nobg-1200×1190.png” section_id=””][/quoteblock]

2022 was a year of change. What has changed at tbi bank in the last year?

2022 was a year of major changes on the global financial scene. After many years of stagnation, inflation soared, forcing central banks to raise benchmark interest rates and making money more expensive for everyone. Lenders and borrowers had to be more cautious, analyse the context more carefully and be as realistic as possible when making decisions.

At tbi, we have continued to do what we have always done: give our clients the best advice and solutions  to make their lives better. The changes consisted, as every year, of creating new instruments      and options and constantly offering expert advice to help people make the best decisions in the new reality, dominated by higher costs.

Retailers have faced sales declines in recent months, and consumers are struggling with rising prices. What solutions have you come up with? 

Rising prices have forced people to buy smaller quantities of products or switch to cheaper brands. It is natural, in this context, to see retailers experiencing falling sales, as consumers have become more selective. This is an unfortunate situation, which affects both our retail partners and consumers. Thus, we have created new financing solutions      to help both, as both are equally important to us.

We have managed to create a powerful network of retailers over the last few years, precisely to give people as much freedom as possible in their choices. We have made it a priority to offer advantageous financing solutions, covering a very wide range of products and services. In this way, we have helped people to buy products that were previously inaccessible to them. At the same time, we have helped retailers to sell more products and thus, by increasing the volume of goods traded, to maintain competitive prices. It’s a classic win-win situation, where customers are able to buy the products they need earlier, generating more volumes for retailers that manage to keep prices down thanks to this positive evolution.

In addition, we are always trying to educate both our partners and consumers. People need education and expert advice in order to make the best decisions for themselves, and therefore for society as a whole. We hold a lot of proactive workshops with our partners to see what best fits different industries and organizations. Also, we’re not limiting our services, being active in different industries like medical, self-care and insurance, while expanding beyond the traditional areas, entering crucial sectors like green energy.

How did the financial results evolve in 2022?

The business environment in 2022 has been challenging for many businesses worldwide. As a team, we managed to optimize internal processes, reduce costs, increase efficiency and achieve record profits. tbi bank’s consolidated unaudited financial results for the first nine months of 2022 showed an all-time record net profit of EUR 30.2 million. This is 33% higher than the same period of 2021 and already higher compared to the EUR 27.5 million achieved during the full previous year.

We have strengthened our reputation      of being one of the leaders in alternative payment solutions in South-Eastern Europe. The record financial results are a direct effect of the tbi expansion process. We continued to onboard new partners, being present in over 20,000 merchant locations in Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece. In the first nine months of 2022 tbi bank serviced almost 850 thousand loan applications in Bulgaria, Romania and Greece and disbursed nearly 400 thousand loans at the amount of EUR 520 million – 36% YoY growth.

What were the challenges in 2022 and what were the lessons from that year? 

Last year, people faced two big challenges: inflation and  war in Ukraine. These two very different situations together had a major negative impact on global financial markets. We had to react quickly to constantly changing events. Fortunately, we have a vast experience with such delicate situations. We have been through many difficult times together over the last 20 years, including the financial crisis of 2008/09, and have developed various scenarios for such complex situations.

We have learned, along the way, that innovation, creativity, and flexibility are essential qualities to resist and evolve in the long term, in an unpredictable and open world. We operate more like a fin-tech, not like a large corporation, with many procedures and processes, where activity is often hampered by bureaucracy. In recent years, especially since the start of the pandemic, our team has redesigned our internal processes and products offered to partners and customers. Since then, we have accelerated the process of digitalization and constantly increased the pace of the changes taking place internally, precisely in order to better adapt to change.

We are not just selling products, but offering amazing experiences for our customers and partners, delivering best-in-class experience being the core of our strategy. This mindset led us to creating new products adapted to the market needs such as payment solutions for merchants, consumer cash loans, business loans and deposit solutions.

How does 2023 look from the tbi perspective?

2023 as well will bring some challenges for the economy, but some of these developments will come as opportunities as the economy goes forward. We are pathological optimists and believe that the market will stabilize. We see opportunities where others see problems.

We want the best possible future for us, our partners and customers, but we have to be prepared for the worst. We think that inflation will go down in 2023, especially after looking at the NBR forecast, according to which the annual inflation rate will fall below 10% by the end of the year.

We can say that 2023 will be a year of investment for us, especially in the technology sector. The apps are a great financing and information solution for both our consumers and partners. We have launched a secure product in Bulgaria, and we’ll disclose more when we’re ready to launch in Greece and Romania.

[quoteblock content=”We are not just selling products, but offering amazing experiences for our customers and partners, delivering best-in-class experience being the core of our strategy. This mindset led us to creating new products adapted to the market needs such as payment solutions for merchants, consumer cash loans, business loans and deposit solutions.” author=”Gergana Staykova” author_position=”Market Leader, Romania” author_avatar=”https://tbibank.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/gergana-staykova_nobg-1200×1190.png” section_id=””][/quoteblock]

You have 16 nationalities in the tbi team. What challenges does this diversity bring? 

We have different nationalities, but we are closely connected by our shared values, culture and mindset. The strength of the team resides precisely in this diversity, in the fact that each colleague comes with their own vision, which is harmoniously integrated into our organizational culture. The truth is that the engine to our great journey lies in the hands of the truly amazing people at tbi.

These are the people that really put their hearts and souls into creating the best services for our clients, but also the friendliest and most welcoming environment for our colleagues. Working with people from 16 nationalities makes our work so much more colorful and interesting and at the same time allows us to exchange very different experiences, know-how and ideas. What we believe is the key to building a successful team is empowering your people. This is how you give them the opportunity to show more, motivate them to achieve greater results and at the end their capabilities really shine through.

Lately we see more and more topics related to AI and digitalization. What are the trends of the future?

AI and digitalization are definitely important trends of the future. Our priority has always been to develop a strategy that focuses on moving people forward, whether they are buyers or entrepreneurs. For the future, our focus will be on further digitalization and improvement of efficiency and making a major investment into the IT infrastructure in Romania to make all of our processes and services much more streamlined and friendly. In this way, we can build a complex ecosystem to give customers and partners more freedom in achieving a better life. In fact, our clients are not only the end user of our services, but also our Partners.

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