For Me, Family and Homeland Are a Whole That Cannot Be Separated: Saribek Sukiasyan


Banks are the driving force of the economy, and Armeconombank improves its online and mobile systems year by year, which allows us to be competitive in the market.

Saribek Sukiasyan, Chairman of the Board of Armeconombank, said this during his interview with

Mr. Sukiasyan also commented on the current development trends in the Armenian banking sector and a number of economy-related matters.

- Mr. Sukiasyan, technologies and information are important attributes in the 21st century. How current is the Armenian banking sector with the new developments in IT sector?

 - Today's reality is already unimaginable without digital technologies, and this is especially true for the banking sector. Today, Armenian banks spare no expense to obtain the most advanced technologies and make customer service more comfortable.

Currently, the competition between Armenian banks is quite intense. Customers have the opportunity to compare the quality of products, services, and customer service offered by banks and select the financial institution that suits their needs the best.

Armeconombank spends significant amounts on purchase and maintenance of new technologies, improves its online and mobile systems year by year, which allows us to be competitive in the market and meet the demands of our customers to the maximum extent by expanding the range of online transactions. Now our customers also have the option to purchase digital cards.

In order to ensure the smooth operation of the bank, last year we upgraded the servers, and we continuously purchase new generation equipment such as metal card embossers, new generation ATMs, and electronic signature equipment.

- How would you evaluate Armeconombank’s role in the development of the Armenian banking sector? How favorable was the last year like for the bank, what achievements would you highlight?

 - In 2023, the bank carried out two successful placements of shares, which increased the bank's capital by more than AMD 3bn, and the number of shareholders increased by nearly 1200 to reach about 7000. This is another evidence of the permanent confidence in Armeconombank.

With special attention to the proper implementation of the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing function, Armeconombank launched the Siron software solution package which is currently one of the most advanced and widely used financial crime detection platforms in the world. It is especially valuable in today’s situation where the sanctions imposed on different countries and individuals are altered day by day. Traditionally, Armeconombank strictly follows the measures aimed at combating money laundering and terrorist financing and refrains from servicing any transactions related to the countries, banks, and customers included in various sanction lists.

As for banking products, the bank was the first in Armenia to issue Visa Infinite and Visa Platinum metal cards which provide various advantages to customers. We have always aimed to have a special position among the best banks that offer exclusive products.

Last year the bank introduced Visa Guru card which offers numerous benefits, jointly with TEL-CELL CJSC it started issuing co-branded (virtual) cards, and also joined the noncash transaction-based pension and welfare cashback project. Of course, there were also other new products and projects which you can explore by visiting Armeconombank’s website.

 - Mr. Sukiasyan, what are any problems in the banking sector of our country today that require an urgent solution? To what extent do banks contribute to the economic growth of Armenia today?

 - Banks are the driving force of the economy, and it is simply impossible to imagine the economy without them. Contrary to the opinion of a vast segment of the community, all Armenian banks except the Central Bank of Armenia are private and are for-profit organizations like any business and, being major taxpayers, they greatly contribute to economic growth. As we know, Armenians traditionally aspire to own their own homes, and this is mainly made possible due to the home loans offered by banks.

Banks greatly support startup businesses with their loan projects and offer opportunities for further expansion as well. Business entities, as they create added value, start paying taxes. As you can see, this is a chain reaction in which its participants contribute to each other's well-being and all together they contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Indeed, there are times of challenges for the country's economy, including banks, but I must say that we have always been able to keep the situation under control, thereby distinguishing ourselves from neighboring countries where shock situations were much more painful for the country's economy and population. This, of course, was greatly facilitated by the fact that the Central Bank of Armenia made decisions independently without any interference from outside.

- In Armenia, the introduction of a universal system of income declaration for individuals in a phased manner commenced this year. In your opinion, shouldn't the private sector also be public in terms of its databases, especially since the structures under your management operate by this standard?

- The introduction of the income declaration system for individuals is an important step indeed, but there are a few steps that should have been taken before the introduction of this system. In particular, I refer to major Armenian taxpayer entities, the operations of which should be as transparent as possible for the society: they must publish their balance sheet, management remunerations, independent auditor’s report, and strategic development plans for the next 3 years. If these entities have share placements, shouldn't all of this information be available to potential investors, both domestic and foreign?

After all, the availability of these conditions speaks of a company's transparency and its attractiveness for investors. The investor should have the opportunity to correctly assess the profitability of the investment for himself, for example, whether to place a deposit or buy shares.

Why do we always see the same entities in top 1000 Armenian taxpayer list, why don’t small businesses in Armenia strive to turn into medium businesses, or medium ones into large ones? This raises many questions. The economic policy of the state should be aimed at contributing to this transformation, otherwise we will not have progress or we will have very slow growth rates.

- The government of Armenia decided to take over a part of the banking liabilities and credit burden of the Republic of Artsakh. Naturally, all this was done with the support of financial institutions. Mr. Sukiasyan, how would you rate the contribution of the private sector to this matter?

- The steps taken by the government in that difficult situation were top important. I never expected the government to take over the losses and make housing arrangements for forcibly displaced people so quickly and effectively. Our international partners were puzzled how the country had more than a hundred thousand displaced people and never needed any tent towns.

As for the contribution of the banks to that case, they took over a part of the losses in coordination with the government. Armeconombank, in addition to such losses, also returned the gold pledged in the bank to our displaced compatriots in an attempt to lighten their burden a little.

- Succession of generations is important for the recovery of any industry. What would you say about the political succession of generations and the importance of the role of young people?

- I am not involved in politics, and I have no desire to get involved either; let the politicians deal with it while I stay in my native private sector. I will answer your question only with regard to the economic sphere. Age is not important, what really matters is the employee's knowledge, desire and ability to work and create added value. These are the criteria applied for selecting employees for Armeconombank.

Today the system works and I am satisfied with the outcome; everyone in the Bank is a professional. As for myself, I have never been clinging to my chair, so later I can leave my office to another professional or one of the younger members of our family with no worry.

- By the way, regarding the family: Do you have the time to be with your family?

- Definitely, despite my workload, I always make time for my family. I love our large family, I like to spend time with my family as it gives me incredible peace, and I like to contribute to the lives of children. It is true that the main burden of raising the family falls on mothers, but I believe that the man should also have his, even if small, part in this important job. For me, family and homeland are a whole that cannot be separated. If you love one, you love the other.

- Lessons learned and current challenges. Today, Armenia is facing challenges and hard decisions. What do you think is the key to overcoming the challenges the country has been facing?

Only and solely the development of the economy, this is what I see as the key to success. A country with a developed economy is attractive to investors, and it is a country to be reckoned with since it has things to offer to the world.

- Armenia's independence faces threats today. Mr. Sukiasyan, in your opinion, what are the main ways to safekeep and strengthen the country's independence?

- You divert the topic to politics again; let me answer in a slightly different way. I would simply say that I do believe that we will preserve our independence thanks to our mentality, our ideas and, of course, our inner transformation. We should move on with the idea of becoming a country with a developed economy, whose actions and opinions are taken into account. Independence can only be preserved by contributions made by all of us, and by our hard work. We do not have to love each other, but we do have to compete with each other in free and fair conditions.

- Each of us has an individual responsibility to regenerate our dream homeland every day. It requires dedication in the first place. In your opinion, what is the value system that the society will employ to develop and rebuild our homeland, and what are the elements of this system?

- The duty of regenerating the country, naturally, implies unconditional dedication, and dedication to your work above all. You have to work, you have to pay taxes to make your country strong and prosperous. We must instill a passion for hard work in the future generations so that we can have the homeland of our dreams.