- I have often heard private bankers complain that the mortgage sector is an “unlevel” playing field. Do you agree that privately-owned and state banks are not competing at arm’s length?
- Dmitry Leus: I agree, but we should keep in mind that unequal conditions do not only prevail on the mortgage market. A big player such as Sberbank is able to provide SME lending at a rate of 8% p.a. whereas our average-weighted cost of funds ranges between 8.5 and 8.75%.
On the other hand, we have our own competitive advantages. We can afford to show flexibility when it comes to evidentiary requirements with regard to a client’s income. In addition, as a small bank, we can immediately adapt to sudden market changes. To turn around a big bank is something else. Our mortgage rates are therefore cheaper than Sberbank’s at the moment. This is because we were recently able to sell an important portfolio of securities, and have even excess liquidity now. These funds need to be invested somewhere, and this enables us to lend at lower margins.
Every international consultant will confirm that an ideal credit portfolio should have the following outlook: 50% of it should be invested into collateralized loans, 10-15% should be invested into consumer lending, or other high-yield credits, and 20-30% should be kept in treasury bonds or other safe-haven securities which can easily be sold or refinanced with the Central Bank.
- You have recently engaged in consumer lending. What has been your experience?
- There are many similar products on the market now. What is your competitive advantage?
- Let’s return to funding. Is it correct to say that client deposits constitute about half of your liabilities?
- Dmitry Leus: Yes, we have more than RUB 9bn in deposits and an overall balance of RUB 18.5bn.
- At the same time, I understand you are not attracting clients by means of higher deposit rates. By which means do you attract them?
- Well, I shop around...
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