Alpha Bank to increase branches to 50 by 2010

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Alpha Bank is on track to increase the number of its Cyprus branches in order to support its aggressive expansion plans, which have seen its market share climb in an ever increasing competitive environment.

Alpha Bank’s Managing Director in Cyprus, Costas Kokkinos, the architect of the turnaround since 2002 when he took the helm of the Bank insists that Alpha Bank’s success is based on team work, its dedicated staff and a highly organized structure that is very flexible, but at the same time allows the bank to meet the highest expectations from ever demanding clients.

“We plan to increase our branch network from the current 33 to 50 by 2010 to support our growth, which during the last years has started making inroads into the home turf of the traditional banks,” Kokkinos told the Financial Mirror in an exclusive interview.
Kokkinos said staff morale and productivity is at an all-time high based on a fair system of rewarding hard work, dedication and the zeal with which the Bank’s relatively young employees wish to improve and offer the very best in service to the bank’s clients.

“Our motto since I came here is the same, and that is to serve and meet the high expectations of our clients,” said Kokkinos, adding that results speak for themselves, as evidenced by Alpha Bank’s steady climb in market share in terms of loans and deposits.
Alpha Bank is now the third largest lender in Cyprus with a market share of 12.7%, excluding co-ops, while it is the fourth largest deposit taker with a 8.74% share by end of April 2008.

Preferred among British clients
Kokkinos acknowledged that part of the reason explaining the phenomenal success in loan growth is because Alpha Bank has captured a higher share of the British market purchasing retirement or holiday homes in Cyprus.
“It’s true that we are first in the UK holiday/retirement market share for Cyprus but I can assure you that this is not because of price undercutting, but rather due to our fantastic organization and the zeal of our staff to meet the very demanding expectations of our British clients.”
Kokkinos explained that the key to success is being punctual in meeting the agreed deadlines for loan approvals, not attempting to pass on extra charges that irritate clients and having the right personnel to handle the paperwork.

Bank Competition
Competition among banks is fierce but Alpha Bank is very well positioned to face it, said Kokkinos.
“With a cost income of approximately 31% and competitors operating at up to 1.5 times that, we are very confident looking ahead, since productivity will be critical as margins decline.”
“Our product development capability is second to none. It no coincidence that new products launched by Alpha Bank are then copied by certain competitors. I can even give you examples were the advertising campaigns were copied as well.
Finally we have one of the best records regarding loan quality. The Non Performing Loans ratio of the Bank is half that of some competitors.”

Increased leverage
Kokkinos was full of praise of the Central Bank for its decision to increase the leverage ratio for property loan seekers from 60-40 to 70-30, describing it as a correct move that will help the construction industry, though he also admits that the move will help the banks in general. Central Bank of Cyprus monitors the banking system and specifically the quality of the loan portfolios in an effective and professional way. The increase of the percentage of the market value financed by Bank shows that the Central Bank is prepared to listen to the industry and act, Kokkinos concluded.