A Greek banker in Ukraine, amazed by L’viv, charmed by Odessa’s Greek ties

Interview with the banker Ilias Mouzakis, born in a Greek island, upper education in London, Board Member and Retail Banking Director at Piraeus Bank Ukraine.

Let’s start with some information on Bank Piraeus: which are your numbers and how many branches do you have in Ukraine?

Piraeus Bank in Ukraine is a part of the international banking group Piraeus Bank Group, which started operating in Ukraine in September 2007 after the acquisition of the International Commercial Bank (ICB). The regional network of Piraeus Bank in Ukraine covers Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, L’viv, Odessa, Kharkov and Cherkasy regions. The bank services its client through a nation-wide network of 15 branches. The total assets of the bank in Ukraine currently amounts to c. UAH 3.3 bn.

Headquartered in Athens, Greece, with around 11K employees, Piraeus Bank Group has roughly 5.5 ml customers. Total assets of the Group amounted to €64.4 bn, net loans to €37 bn and customer deposits to €45.5 bn on June 30, 2020. Piraeus Bank is the leading Bank in Greece with c. 30% market share in terms of loans and deposits and a nation-wide network of 524 branches.

Why your Bank is named Piraeus? Is there a story about its origin? Is it revealing of your proximity to maritime sector?

Piraeus Bank was established by a group of ship owners back in 1916 to finance trade, as Greece still represents the largest shipping fleet in the world. It took its name from the biggest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe, Piraeus. The original name was in French, Banque du Pirée. Then it was named Bank of Piraeus and became listed in the Athens Stock Exchange in 1918.

Which are your plans of expansion in Ukraine?

The strategy of the bank is to be present in the main cities of Ukraine and offer excellent services to all of its customers, with its primary target being the commercial banking. We are constantly evaluating the market and trying to identify possibilities to expand our physical presence, but this is done having always in mind the benefit for our customers and of course, the value that such actions will generate to the shareholder. Currently, the bank has invested substantially in order to expand its digital channels, being ready to launch new electronic channels by the end of current autumn.

Is Ukraine a safe market from your point of view?

Being here since 2009, I have experienced many challenges. What I could honestly say is that Ukraine is a strong country with amazing capabilities. It was proven over the years that despite the challenges, Ukraine grows stronger with many more to be seen.

How Piraeus wants to be different from other international banks?

From my point of view, Piraeus Bank in Ukraine differentiates from its peers on the quality of services that the bank provides to its customers. Although it may sound common as a statement, we believe that the attitude of the bank to the detail and to the customer service has been proven as one of the most reliable and of high quality. Being “small” give us the ability to be agile and concentrate to the detail. A “red carpet” service is our aim to all of our customers.

Which are the qualities of your Bank, that you are particularly proud of?

Having our clients coming always first in our daily agenda. We have the attitude of servicing our clients paying to them the ultimate attention, having them always feel safe and comfortable.

Who are the main shareholders of Piraeus Bank?

Piraeus Bank in Ukraine is solely owned by Piraeus Bank SA. The main shareholder of Piraeus Bank SA is HFSF by 26% (Hellenic Financial Stability Fund) and the remaining 74% is held by the private sector such as some of the largest UK and US funds. They comprise 64% legal entities and 10% individuals.

As a manager, you travel a lot in Ukraine. Which city or places would you recommend to a friend to visit?

Odessa without thinking twice. Being born and raised in an island in Greece, the sea rejuvenates me and it is an integral part of me. Odessa has an “aura”, which immediately charms even the most demanding visitor. Not to mention Odessa’s Greek ties! On the other hand, I have been fascinated by L’viv, a historical city in the western Ukraine with amazing castles, temples and surrounding hills.

Do you like your job? What makes it interesting?

I have been in banking for the last 20 years from different positions. As my mentor mentioned to me from the first day in my banking career and I still keep it as my biggest heritage, is to work with emphasis to detail. Banking is an amazing world, which provides fascinating professional moments and massive diversity. You never stop learning, you continuously grow professionally and if you always emphasize to detail, you never stop becoming proficient and professionally articulate.

Which is the best way to contact your Bank for information or offer of services?

The best way to get in contact with us is to visit one of our branches and get to know us. We invite you to feel our hospitality, get to know our well-trained colleagues at the branches who they will be happy to assist you with any of your queries. Digital contact through our website and our call center are always available options, but the physical contact would be more enjoyable I reckon!

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