Breakout session with Umid Khakimov

By Glen Ferris

Since it was established in 2009, JSCB “ASIA ALLIANCE BANK” has ridden a wave of success that has seen it grow its position in all major markets of banking services. And, due to its sound strategy, consistent financial policy and adherence to the values of civilized business operations, the bank has gained a reputation for being a strong and reliable partner.

Here, chief executive officer Umid Khakimov, talks about the evolution of one of the fastest developing banks in the Republic of Uzbekistan, what his home country has to offer family offices looking to establish in the Turkic States and the key issues affecting ultra-high-net-worth families in the region…

Where in the world are you right now?
We are in the heart of the Central Asia – to be specific, Tashkent, the beautiful capital city of Uzbekistan.

Where would be where would you rather be right now?
As Asia Alliance Bank are always aiming to ambitiously extend our reach, we are actively targeting higher banking list rankings in terms of assets size, capital and net profit, along with a greater international presence in the financial centers of the world.  

Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan

How was JSCB “ASIA ALLIANCE BANK” established?
JSCB “ASIA ALLIANCE BANK” was established in 2009 by a group of entrepreneurs and is now successfully operating on the local market providing high-level banking and financial services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and retail clients. The bank was initially a leader in trade business in Uzbekistan until 2014, when we revised our business strategy and began to boost our loan portfolio to SMEs and retail businesses.

Asia Alliance Bank has been recognised as the ‘Best Bank for SMEs’ in Uzbekistan by both Global Finance and ASIAMONEY international financial magazines. Can you talk about how your expertise and knowledge can help organisations establish a foothold in the country?
We are sincerely proud of being recognised as ‘The Best Bank for SMEs in Uzbekistan’ by Global Finance and ASIAMONEY for two years in a row (2021 and 2022). Both magazines select ‘Best SME Bank’ award winners based on independent research and input from industry insiders, executives and technology experts. The winners are those banks that best meet the specialised needs of SMEs on their markets of operations.

Our main approach towards our clients is to become their business partners - and that doesn’t only mean being accessible 24/7. We aim to provide the best possible solutions and expertise in establishing new business, structuring transactions and issues related to tax or custom. This approach helps us to attract large local and global clients, including the likes of Pepsi, UzCarlsberg, Knauf, KFC and many more.

Uzbekistan has a growing economy and is on the cusp of mass privatisation, what opportunities does this potentially offer for private investors?
The State Assets Management Agency (SAMA) is in charge of the privatisation process in Uzbekistan and is well organised and transparent. All sorts of information is clearly given on their website. SAMA involves internationally recognised consultants, such as investment banks and legal firms for valuations and follow-ups of large privatisation lots. This makes the privatisation process even more transparent and foreign investors can rest assured that valuations, due diligence, compliance checks and hand-over process flows are safe and secure.

This process provides a great opportunity for investors to become real owners of the assets and develop their business with confidence where the State of Uzbekistan secures protection of their rights.

What are the key issues that ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) families and individuals in Uzbekistan and surrounding countries are facing and how do you go about helping them?
As our economy is in the developing stages, some UHNW families and individuals face issues related to the digital processing of financial services. Though process of digitalisation is widely applied over the country, Uzbekistan in general and some banks in particular still need to upgrade their software and applications and train staff. Another challenge is developing and modernising local infrastructure to ensure sustainable business activity.

What does Uzbekistan have to offer family offices looking to establish in the Turkic States?
Uzbekistan announced its strategy towards the development of its economy in 2017 through attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), mass privatisation and protection of investors’ rights. These principles apply to any type of investments. In the six years since that strategy was put in place, we are witnessing more and more international companies from various fields of business coming to Uzbekistan to establish their business, as a result the GDP of the country is increasing.

These basic business principles will also be offered to any family offices deciding to establish their business or a presence in Uzbekistan.   

What advice would you give to family members looking to make their first steps in establishing investment in Uzbekistan but don’t know where to start?
Nowadays, there are plenty of sources where potential investors can obtain in-depth information about investment opportunities in Uzbekistan. To name a few…,,

I would also recommend visiting the country as a tourist first to learn about our culture and traditions. The next step would then be arranging meetings with existing investors, international financial institutions and international law and auditing companies to study the investment climate.

What does a good working day look like for you?
A good working day is when our bank is able to meet clients’ needs and expectations. We strive to provide high-quality services and, moreover, bank staff are happy and satisfied with their work.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would probably expose myself more in international markets, both emerging and developing, giving me additional invaluable business experience. And, of course, consistent learning and professional development!

For more information on Asia Alliance Bank, click here.

Representatives of Asia Alliance Bank will be attending Campden Wealth’s European Family Alternative Investment Forum from February 28-March 1, 2023, in London. For further information on the forum, click here.

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