Nominee profile: Akbank (SME Bank of the Year 2023)

SME Banking
01/05/2023 Article

Akbank’s core business is banking activities, which consists of corporate and investment banking, commercial banking, SME banking, consumer banking, payment systems, treasury transactions and private banking, and international banking services. In addition to conventional banking activities, the Bank also conducts insurance agency operations through its branches, on behalf of Ak Insurance and AvivaSA Pensions and Life Insurance.

Akbank has been supporting Turkey’s growth and development for over 70 years. The bank was founded to support the financial needs of local cotton producers in Adana with the mission to support the needs of its communities. This sense of responsibility has been a core motivation in the way of doing business throughout the years.

How would you describe your bank's role in SMEs business journey considering their importance in the economy? 

Akbank is a Turkish bank founded in 1948. It has over 12,000 employees and is headquartered in Istanbul. The bank serves more than 18 million clients through its branches and subsidiaries in Turkey, Europe, and the Middle East. It offers a range of banking and financial services including retail banking, corporate banking, investment banking, and asset management. 

Since Turkey has a growing economy, SME’s are playing an crucial role in its development. This role stands for the significant contribution to the employment, which accounts more than 75% of total employment. Another important part where SME’s contribute is the export, their share in the total export stands for more than half of the total export of the country. SME’s are not only important to the Turkish economy but also to our bank. As a financial institution, our bank plays a critical role in supporting the growth and development of SME’s by providing them with access to financial product and services.

Our analysis of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is divided into two distinct segments, named: “Micro” and “Small-Medium”. Correspondingly, we have designed a targeted approach for each segment. In order to respond more accurately to customer needs, marketing teams are planned to develop a marketing strategy for two different segments.
It is important to note that our services are not limited to conventional banking products such as loans and deposits. In fact, we strive to furnish our SME clients with guidance on the optimal utilization of these products, in addition to enabling them to access consultancy and mentoring services at lower fees or completely free of charge, so as to augment their growth potential. As a top-tier private sector bank in Turkey, Akbank boasts an extensive network of 670+ branches across a multitude of regions, with 1200+ SME Customer Specialists in order to satisfy the banking and beyond banking needs of SMEs.

Akbank's commitment to SMEs is further underscored by its impressive increase in private sector commercial credit market share by 205 bps in 2022

Why do you think your bank deserves to be awarded the SME Bank of the Year? 

Akbank has demonstrated a clear commitment to serving the needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Turkey. Through its institutional organization, Akbank has established a specific focus on providing services to SMEs, allowing the bank to better understand their unique needs and offer tailored solutions. This customer-focused approach is further evidenced by Akbank's efforts to closely follow the requests and requirements of SMEs in order to provide appropriate solutions.

  • In terms of the number of active customers, with a net increase of 64 K customers, our performance was close to 4 times the highest annual net increase ever achieved.
  • Akbank's commitment to SMEs is further underscored by its impressive increase in private sector commercial credit market share by 205 bps in 2022. This growth is indicative of the bank's success in serving the needs of its customers, including SMEs.
  • According to the current BRSA report published using legal SME definition the volumetric growth, which was calculated as 112% in the private sector commercial credit in 2022, was realized at the level of 156% in Akbank. Our TL Demand Deposit and TL Time Deposit volume also increased by more than 100% with similar growth rates.  
  • Digital penetration rate is one of our top priorities. We completed 2021 with a rate of 70% in this area and reached 75% in 2022. As of Q1 2023, we are at 79% and we will continue to develop in this area by improving customer experience  through digital channels.
  • When we examine the new customers in our portfolio by channel, we see a particularly significant increase of 6 times in Digital compared to the previous year. The number of customer acquisitions through DOB, which was 5K in Q1 of 2022, has now reached 30K this year. 

We are cognizant of the non-monetary exigencies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during their business life cycles. We continuously strive to augment our proficiency in alignment with these necessities. Our services and service models are regularly revised and refined, in congruence with the feedback and input provided by our SME clients. This year, we have made substantial headway in developing bespoke products and services catering to select segments. We are contributing to the development of our SME’s with tailored solutions.

In addition to traditional banking services, Akbank has implemented various beyond banking services such as consultancy and training services to SMEs. This demonstrates the bank's dedication to supporting SMEs not only through financial support, but also through initiatives that can help them grow their businesses and succeed.

Overall, Akbank's focus on SMEs and its efforts to provide tailored solutions and beyond banking services demonstrate a clear commitment to the growth and success of SMEs in Turkey. Therefore, it is evident that Akbank is a deserving candidate for the SME bank of the year award.

Briefly describe, what are top 3 projects/achievements delivered by your bank in the last 18 months for SME customers? 

1.Sales and Lending Digitization

Need For Change
The competition in SME segment is very aggressive and we couldn’t be quicker without an overall change in the way we work on Akbank Mobile. We aim to digitize all financial processes of SMEs and ensure that they run their businesses uninterruptedly. In this context, we came up with a new innovation.

Seamless process

  • Sales and Lending was born as a result of the above concept. We minimize customer data requirements, obtain all necessary data and documents automatically on mobile application for a more seamless process.
  • Thanks to the short and easy application process the time customers spend is diminished. We obtain the least amount of information possible.

Creating personas

  • In order to offer the right packages to the right customer, target groups with common needs were identified and various personas were created. (There are 13 different personas) 
  • Customized package setups for different personas were implemented. As a non-banking advantage in certain personas, we give free memberships of third-party companies that provide e-commerce integration services, accounting services and e-commerce price and buybox tracking services for certain periods.

Sales & Lending allows Akbank; onboard new customers, sell bundled strategic products to new and existing customers without requiring them to visit Akbank branches, reward customers with banking advantages and 3rd party partnerships advantages as a prize. Thanks to the package setup, customers can buy multiple products in a single flow. (There are 6 POS, 4 Commercial Credit Card and 6 Commercial Loan packages, adding up to 16 packages overall.)

The key objectives are to increase the sales numbers by also using the cross-sell opportunities via the packages and to increase the use of Akbank Mobile application by SMEs.

2. BFM (Business Finance Management)

SME customers are potentially underperforming in the financial world, even when banks and 3rd parties provide core banking services and products properly. We recognized the need for a service that analyzes our customers' real-time data and provides insights and cash flow projections to fill the gap in this space.

BFM(Business Finance Management) / For Your Business is a smart banking initiative that Akbank SME customers can use to better manage and improve their financial activities. It has been designed as a new digital banking service that will help our customers to solve their moments of stress in financial matters and to increase their financial awareness.

In our project, we aimed to differentiate from traditional BFM (Business Finance Management) tools.

  • forward-looking personalized financial guidance through the use of historical data
  • holistic financial view thanks to integrated open banking data
  • user-friendly cash flow charts
  • leading proactive participation
  • identifying financial behavior patterns, learning from participation, improvement over time

“For Your Business Service” is the first proactive and personalized Business Financial Management tool in Turkish market. Digitalization of SME customers is one of the main challenges of banking sector. This service constitutes an anchor for Akbank to support our positioning within our SME customers’ minds in means of caring of their financial well-being.

3. Creating segment packages that require specialised and sensitive approach

  • Women SME
    Creating a new customer segment for women SMEs, highlights Akbank's commitment to support women entrepreneurs and promote gender equality. This initiative has a significant impact on empowering women and promoting sustainable economic growth. Akbank is working with EBRD and Credit Guarantee Fund to support women SMEs by helping them overcome financial barriers. The bank has received 100 millon dollars fund and disbursed 50 million dollars in 4 months.
  • Green SME
    Creating a new customer segment for eco-friendly SMEs, highlights Akbank's commitment to promoting sustainability and responsible business practices. Eco-friendly SMEs are crucial for driving sustainable economic growth and reducing the negative impact of business activities on the environment. We launched SME Eco Transformation Package as a first green SME package in Turkey in order to support customers unique needs and promote sustainable business practices.
  • Entrepreneurs
    In the entrepreneurial sphere, we have concluded our foundational infrastructure development, assembled a requisite team, and secured the essential endorsements from senior management. In due course, we shall commence providing our entrepreneur clientele with the convenience of a physical branch.

In summary, these three projects demonstrate Akbank's commitment to support important segments of the economy, promote sustainability, and drivedigital transformation. By prioritizing the needs of its customers and implementing innovative solutions, Akbank has positioned itself as a leading bank in Turkey and a valuable partner for both women-owned SMEs and eco-friendly SMEs.

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