A queue emerged early morning on September 26 near the “Ball Room” of InterContinental Hotel – The Ankara in Kazakhstan. People were patiently waiting for a registration as participants of the VIII Almaty Interbanking Conference, though the official registration wound up two weeks ago. This seemed to be a sole unscheduled part of the AIC. However, it is rather merit and not fault of the steering committee of the conference. The event has showed itself to good advantage with massive advertisement, therefore it attracted much more participants than expected. However, nobody repented.
The financial community put the clock to have Almaty time for two days, September 26 and 27. During the conference, its participants asked Almaty time. This year, financiers from the CIS and far-abroad countries met to cover Fast-Growing Banking Systems of CIS. The choice of the topic was not random. The season trend is the economic globalization. Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Chairman of Bank TuranAlem Board of Directors indicated, “The growth rates of the banking system of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus are among the highest worldwide. However, there is still no univocal understanding of sources and ceiling of such growth.” Round-table discussions covered matters that confirmed urgency of and demand for the conference. Its participants addressed the prospects for further growth of the banking sector in the CIS countries, dwelt on the reinforced involvement of foreign banks in CIS countries, discussed the development of retail lending, in particular mortgage lending, competitive advantages of dominant stock exchanges, assessed risk management systems and world experience of development of Islamic banking.
It is small wonder that the issue of crisis underlay all discussions. “Central Asian bankers were unusually candid – at times even argumentative – at what many had expected to be a staid banking conference in Kazakhstan. Instead, the meeting turned into a lively debate over whether or not the country's banks are facing a crisis,” according to the FinanceAsia. “Are we facing crisis? I do not think we are,” said Gregory Vojack, the Managing Partner for Central Asia, Bracewell & Giuliani. Representative of Standard & Poor’s Ekaterina Trofimova echoed him, “We do not view this situation as a crisis. It is a quite normal situation the banks have to cope with.”
It should be noted that AIC is upgraded form year to year in many ways due to reputable names appearing on the list of key speakers. This year, the participants of the conference included representatives of major world rating agencies, among them Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, as well as London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges, leaders of the banking systems of Russia, namely VTB Bank, GazPromBank and Sberbank, as well as state regulators of Kazakhstan. All in all, more than 600 participants from almost 30 countries of the world have attended the event.
Meanwhile, the first session of the Eurasian Club of Bankers (ECB) was a keynote of the past meeting of financiers. Thus, BTA has supported the idea of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev to establish the Club. Mr Ablyazov elucidated the need to set up the club saying, “our financial institutions still are not able to consolidate emerging problems and protect their interests. … Kazakhstan is a part of the global world and therefore the laws, restrictions and approaches employed in other countries must be used here and must be incorporated in our laws,” he argued.
Ceremonial moments also took place. The ECB session was crowned by naming Bank TuranAlem the Best Enterprise of Europe and Mr Ablyazov - the Top Manager of Europe. Tatyana Grebenyuk from founder of the awards the Europe Business Assembly (EBA, Oxford, UK) has delivered the awards.
Press briefings with key speakers of the AIC should be noted separately as an invention of 2007. Following each round-table discussion, journalists were able to obtain comprehensive answers of experts. Journalists, especially from business publications, indicated that press briefings contributed to the well-arranged and efficient coverage. By the way, agiotage was observed on the registration day not only among participants, but also among journalists. The number of journalists who arrived to cover the event exceeded the number of accredited. Overall, 61 local mass media, 7 from the CIS and 11 from non-CIS countries have covered the conference.