Table of Contents Statement of problem…………………………………………………………………1 Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………2 History………………………………………………………………………………... Mission……………………………………………………………………………….. Overview……………………………………………………………………………... Departments of Askari Bank…………………………………………………………. i) Human Resource Department……………………………………………… ii) Sales and Distributions Department………………………………………. iii) Customers Service Department…………………………………………… iv) Department …………………………………………………………. Conclusions and Recommendations List of Illustration EXECUTIVE SUMMARY INTRODUCTION The banking sector has witnessed a dramatic change during the last ten years with the development of Askari Bank, which is not only redefining priorities and focus of the banks, but also threatening the domination of traditional players. The story begins with the incorporation of Askari Commercial Bank Limited in Pakistan on October 09, 1991.Askari Bank commenced its operations in April 1992, as a Public Limited Company. The bank is listed on the Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad and in London stock exchanges and the initial public offering was oversubscribed by 16 times. It also has a unit in Bahrain now reaching worldwide mapping global and local opportunities. Fig 1.1below shows geographical areas Askari Bank has catered: While capturing the target market share amongst the view banks, Askari has provided good value to its shareholders. Its share price has remained approximately 12% higher than the average share price of quoted banks during the last four years. Askari Bank has expanded into a nationwide presence of 153 branches and an offshore banking unit in Bahrain. A shared network of over 800 online ATMs covering all major cities in Pakistan supports the delivery channels for customer service. As on December 31, 2008, the Bank had an equity of Rs.11.016 billion and total assets of RS.207.168 billion, with over 475,000 banking customers, serviced by a total staff of 2,118 people. Askari Bank is the only bank with its operational head office in the twin cities of Rawalpindi- Islamabad, which have a relatively limited opportunities as compared to Karachi and Lahore. This created its own challenges and opportunities, and forced as to evolve an outward-looking strategy in terms of Askari market emphasis. As a result, Askari developed a geographically diversified assets base instead of a concentration and heavy reliance on business in the major commercial centers of Karachi and Lahore, where most other banks have their operational head offices. Historically, Askari’s core marketing focus for its asset base has been the middle and upper middle business houses (including wholesalers and manufacturers) operating in the large urban centers of Pakistan, which are primarily focused towards foreign trade. This segment constitutes significant revenues to the bank. The liability side remains focused on the middle and upper middle class retired and serving government and armed forces personal and mid-size business houses. Their corporate banking division was established in april 1999 with the primary focus on servicing large corporate and multinational companies (MNCs). Benefiting from the bank’s growing balance sheet size, this division is now gaining momentum and their long-term aim is to develop it into an independent unit. With this branch network of over 100 and further expected increase in future, the ATM’s facility and internet banking, Askari Bank’s reach is ever increasing. In recognition of this reach, they have set up a retail-banking group in July 2000, the mobile ATM’s facility is first time started by Askari commercial bank in 2005 dedicated to serving the urban consumer market; Askari is committed to aggressively market this segment. The strategy is to provide their customers with a basket of innovative products to meet their varying needs. Askari Commercial Bank is the only Private Sector bank that has been approved by the World Bank as a participating Financial Institution for the US$ 200 million line of credit sanctioned to the Government of Pakistan for the Financial Sector Deepening and Intermediation Project. Askari's emphasis on further broadening its core foreign trade business translated intohandling a higher volume of Export and Import business of R s . 3 6 b i l l i o n r e g i s t e r i n g a growth of 42% over the pervious year. This enhanced foreign trade business was secured dueto excellent customer services and efficient international settlement arrangements with our correspondent banks. Askari Bank is operating throughout Pakistan. Most of the branc hes are connected throughour State of the Art, On-line Communications Network, which gives the bank a competitiveedge in providing instant services to its clientele. We also offer direct access to the latest Foreign Exchange Rates through our Online Communications Mission: To be the leading private sector bank in Pakistan, with an international presence, delivering quality services through innovative technology and e f f e c t i v e r e s o u r c e management, in a modern and progressive organization culture of meritocracy, maintain h i g h e t h i c a l a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l s t a n d a r d s , w i t h p r o v i d i n g e n h a n c e v a l u e t o a l l o u r stakeholders, and contributing to society. Vision: “To be the leading bank in Pakistan.” OVERVIEW The organization structure of Askari bank is tall. It follows a long chain of command. The hierarchy has a greater level of authority. Fig 1.2 below is the organizational chart of the Askari Bank T-block Branch. There are several layers starting from the top management to the lower levels of management. There are various advantages of tall organizations. Firstly, within tall organizational structure there is a close supervisory control because of the low span of managers. Secondly, it is a more authoritative structure as a consequence, the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Thirdly, in a tall structure the responsible person is other accountable to the higher authorities. Fourthly, this structure enhances the control of the top regulation over the organization. On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of high-ceilinged organizations. The primary disadvantage of this structure is that employees are less motivated within this structure therefore, such organizations lack innovation. Secondly, verdict making is slow because for every decision, the approval has to be taken from the higher authorities. Thirdly, towering structure creates communication barriers between the upper and lower management. Moreover, less benefits and rewards are given to the body in the tall organizational structures, which de- motivates the workers. Fig 1.2 Organizational Chart of the Branch Askari bank believes in strength lies in differences so it synergizes with people from different walks of life via teamwork. Teamwork is done to maintain a respectable and corporate image, to provide maximum customer satisfaction. In order to provide quality service they work together and maintain quality at each individual level. According to the primary research we conducted we got to know that both types of feedback are practiced at askari bank. Based on the situation constructive feedback is given and it has significant impact on the employees performances which in return affects the banks overall performance. And the focus of constructive feedback is on the improvements rather than the mistakes. This particular feedback primarily is practiced for the individual’s growth. In case of a destructive feedback the branch logistic officer resolves the issue at his/her end. Askari Bank seeks to maintain high st andards of service and ethics enabling it to be perceived as impartial, ethical and independent. In addition to the general guidelines, the following are the salient features of the Bank’s code of ethics and conduct. • Presence of a corporate culture that seeks to create an environment where all persons are treated equitably and with respect. • Employees must carry out their responsibilities in a professional manner at all times. They must act in a prudent manner and must avoid situations that could reflect unfavorably on themselves, the Bank or its customers. • Employees must commit to the continued development of the service culture i n which the Bank consistently seeks to exceed customers’ expectations. Fairness, Truthfulness and Transparency govern our customer relationships in determining the transactional terms, conditions, rights and obligations. • Employees must safeguard confidential information which may come to t h e i r p o s s e s s i o n d u r i n g t h e d i s c h a r g e o f t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . R e s p e c t f o r customers' confidential matters, merits the same care as does the protection of the Bank's own affairs or other interests. Employees must ensure that know your customer principals are adhered by o b t a i n i n g s u f f i c i e n t i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t t h e c u s t o m e r s t o reasonably satisfy ourselves as to their reputation, standing and the n a t u r e o f t h e i r b u s i n e s s activities. • Employees must avoid circumstances in which their personal interest conflicts o r m a y a p p e a r t o c o n f l i c t , w i t h t h e i n t e r e s t o f t h e B a n k o r i t s customers. Employees must never use their position in the Bank to obtain an advantage or gain. • Employees must not enter into an agreement, understanding or arrangement with any competitor with respect to pricing of services, profit rates and / or marketing policies, which may adversely affect the Bank's business. • Employees must not accept gifts, business entertainment or other benefits f r o m a customer or a supplier / vendor, which appear or may appear to compromise commercial or business relationship. • Employees must remain alert and vigilant with respect to frauds, thefts or illegal activities committed within the Bank premises. According to our research IT has resolved many of the issues like ethical lapse and ethical dilemma that banks used to face previously. It has evolved banking to a great extent. it has become faster easier and widespread. If we rewind to 10 years back, we used to use ledger books to record financial transactions, banking was completely paper based, and the records were kept in the customer books. It was very hard, if one wanted to see his/her previous records, the bankers had to search for the related files among the huge piles of ledgers which was time consuming and errors were also possible. They used databases to keep complete record and information of their customers so that it becomes easier to deal with them. It has all the records of transactions made by their customers. Calculations were being done by the bankers which did have chances of mistakes. Calculations have become fast due to pre defined programs. When the IT has been introduced everything is computerized, and digitized. There are many soft wares’ used in banking in order to get the work done more efficiently and have very less chances of errors and repetitions. Oracle is computer language which is being used by the different banks including Askari bank. It is the best complex computer language. It is being used by the bankers for keeping internal information. Oracle has introduced a software flex cube which is used for financial system support. Now if we come to customer’s convenience different banks have introduced ATM’s at different places so that people can easily do their transactions, pay their utilities bills easily from anywhere at any time. Great amount of importance is given to listening, as the communication comprises of both listening and responding. The communication between the employees and organization is vital for the decision making. The communication in askari bank is a two way process. Both the verbal and non-verbal methods of communication are employed. Verbal communication is complimented by non verbal cues, thus making the communication effective and efficient. Conflicts are common in a workplace. In Askari Bank, mostly conflicts among employees do not occur because employees have increased understanding group cohesion and improved self knowledge. They usually try to avoid conflicts. If they occur due to some reasons, employees directly discuss it with the Head Manager of the branch. They don’t consider conflicts as a bad thing as long as they are resolved effectively or have positive outcome such as personal and professional growth. Askari Bank has a virtual office in Main Boulevard through which all the analysis are conducted and memos are transmitted. Also Askari Bank experiences High context culture as they have to be friendly and combine both verbal and non verbal messages while communicating with their customers and amongst peers as compared to being precise and literal to what they say as in low context culture. Customers have to read between the lines and add nonverbal nuances to fully understand the message. It is important to have excellent listening and observational skills when interacting with individuals from a high context culture. Askari Bank has a tall structure so the authority is automatically in the hands of senior officers. Employees in different branches do not have the authority to take essential decisions for the company instead all the main decisions are taken by the head office. DEPARTMENTS OF ASKARI BANK Human Resource Department The human resource department of the askari bank is responsible for all the employee related matters which consists of hiring, recruitment and selection, firing, training, performance appraisal and most importantly communicating effectively with everyone. Askari bank is one of the most successful banks of Pakistan and so to maintain its image and market share it has a virtual office in Islamabad. The virtual office controls and manages all its IT based systems. Communication processes are very effective of the bank. To stay connected with every branch all over Pakistan it has the intranet, a plat form which updates everyone, maintains connections and promotes two way communications. Memorandums are the most common way of inter office communication and letter heads are not required for inter office communication. Also vise debit cards are issued to link the staff where as, for external communication such as with customers’ letter heads are required. For formal communication official emails are also used. Communication is horizontal and vertical (top-down and down-top). Askari bank caters to a wide audience, from the elite to the middle class. In order to maintain its customer base and for their convenience they have several different branches. For example in Defence housing authority its target customers are the residents of the area, the branches in Bdami bagh and Shahalmi are for the business audience. Educational institutes such as LUMS are also its customers. The Human Resources department pre-sets the job description and goal setting. These documents are than distributed by HR department itself to all the employees. Each employee signs the goal setting document every year which outlines their goals for that particular year, when the job responsibility of an employee changes they sign both the goal setting and job description (internal recruiting). Vacancies for external recruiting are advertised through different mediums which include newspapers and websites. The process of hiring is done through the website. The candidates apply through the website while the company correspondence is through contact numbers and emails. Alienation of work force is something that Askari strongly prohibits so whenever there is a change in the company policies it is conveyed via the intranet or immediate distribution of circulars and through the SOPs (standard operations procedure). Problems regarding the work force within a single a branch are resolved by the logistics manager. Further the employees are motivated by given bonuses, leaf year assistance that is equal to one gross pay. Loan services are also extended to the employees that is discounted rate of interest on loan for instance if it is 15 % for the customers for the employees it will be 5%. As far as the banking is concerned all facilities are free for permanent employees. Rules are rules and are to be followed by everyone and if this leads to some sort of dissatisfaction the country head passes down the circular. Employees give their feedback but nothing much can be done about it. There are minimal chances to change the policy. The decision making authority rests with the top management. At the branch level only the branch manager and operations manager are involved in the decision making rest of the levels below these are just informed. Everything follows a certain procedure and there are less than 10 percent of chances to change that. Customer Service Department Askari bank limited comprises of different branches so the working style or the methodology varies from branch to branch. But the bank recognizes employee’s behavior and interaction with others as a vital part of their duties in order to achieve the desired level of performance and corporate objectives, reservation of congenial and professional working environment is encouraged. ABL seeks to create an environment where all persons are treated equally and with respect, where person’s rights are respected and where efforts of the staff are encouraged and their achievements are recognized. And employees being co operative towards each other face to face communication is the most productive. Different forms of formal communication channels are used by ABL. For employees Inter office Memo, E-mails and Intranet is used. Exhibit .1 shows what an inter memo looks like. On the other end for customers the communication channels such as Letter Heads, Telephone, Written and even SMS is used to inform them about their Visa or Debit Card transactions. Channels Of Communication Intranet 34% Inter Office Memo 42% Emails 24% Maintaining key relationships with the customers is the key to success for ABL. So satisfying the customer, meeting all its needs is what Askari Bank strives for. Askari Bank provides special training sessions for its employees such as Mandatory, Planned and Pressure Points Trainings. In this the employee is trained specifically as of how to deal with a customer. So the employees are trained to analyze the situation and to react accordingly. For example at the T-Block branch the bank accommodates DHA Security Accounts so most of the owners are illiterate so they have to be dealt accordingly. And to communicate formally with the customer so that the employee is able to establish a relation with the customer and because of which any negligence is either ignored or diminished permanently. If the customer is high tempered, the employees are trained to maintain the respect and politeness element. The training sessions held at the ABL bores this particular thought into the employees head that is “Customers are always right” which enables the employees to accommodate the customers to the optimum level. Banking is all about “Customers” and banking primarily is based on customers so retaining them is highly vital. As the promotional tagline used by ABL IS “INSPIRING RELATIONSHIPS” Askari Bank strives to build and retaining the long-term good relation with its customers. An example put forward by the interviewee is that if a member from a family is 100% satisfied, he/she will bring the whole family to ABL. Sometimes expectations are out of the way so it is hard to meet them. Example is that if the customer wants some of the charges to be waved of, the bank or the employee dealing with that customer will wave of the charges e.g. online charges as they are not at the bank expense, but the charges that are on the bank expense cannot be compensated at any cost. To elaborate more, the charges for issuance of a debit card cannot be waved off but at the same time the bank offers “value plus” where the online charges are waved off automatically for the customers. Feedback from and to the customer is again very important for ABL. The bank provides several ways for the customers to give feedback to the bank in respond to their services. Written satisfaction letters are provided to the customers to present their views to the bank also verbal conversations regarding satisfaction are held by the employees. Feedback forms are also available at the ABL website and on all of the respective branches. In addition to this a campaign is held once a year to judge the satisfaction levels of the employees. Types Of Feedback Verbal Conversation 28% Feedback Form 72% Communication is almost the same irrespective of the nature of the customer, for instance let it be a walk-in customer or a regular/loyal customer. The only difference is that with the walk-in customers special care is taken while dealing with it so that the walk-in customer becomes a regular customer. And for this particular attainment counter management is very important and Askari Bank has an effective counter management system. Marketing Department Askari bank is Market Oriented as well as Customer Oriented. It is market oriented for the reason as the completion is very vigorous amongst the banks so in order to meet the competing strategies it practices market oriented approach at some levels. Now it is Customer oriented as the priority banking centers are established at every branch of the bank, where customers receive highly privileged services in a highly elegant environment. It gives the chance of experiencing new standards in banking. So their customers are Individuals, Businesses and the educational institutions. Market VS Customer Customer Oriented Market Oriented 50% 50% Askari Bank uses both formal and informal channels of communication internally and externally. For employees Inter office Memo, E-mails and Intranet is used. On the other hand for customers the communication channels such as Letter Heads, Telephone, Written and even SMS is used to inform them about their Visa or Debit Card transactions. Also the Askari bank has a call centre and it also uses fax both internally and externally. It uses an amalgamation of both the physical and mechanical mediums. The physical media includes large meetings and department meetings. And the mechanical media includes Emails, Intranets, SMS and letters. According to the interviewee it is very rare to experience any conflict in the working environment as everyone sees its department a family, and believe in cooperation and tend to get along really well. But if there is any conflict than the matter is resolved either by the Branch Manager or the Manager Ops who deal with the conflicts and design the procedures accordingly. Firstly ABL does not require much of marketing as the base of ABL is Army. And army already has a hired force of competent personnel’s who manage all their business and commercial activities. But at the branch levels strategies are being implemented and the employees are involved in executing them but they play no part in the formation of these marketing strategies. Every branch of ABL comprises of an Accounts department where all the financial matters are taken care of. Also the Manger Ops of the branch handles part of the budgeting matters and part of the expenses are managed by the branch manager. Now email is one medium of communication that the employees can uses INTERNALLY only\while the Branch Manger and the Manager Ops can use this medium externally as well. So for communicating the strategies Email, Fax and the intranet is used mostly. But the employees are only informed about the strategies or new product/services and not asked to contribute in it in any way. All that is required from the employees is their FEEDBACK. The most common mediums used for the promotion of the new product or service are the ABL’s website, Newspaper, TV channels. In addition to this all the respective branches issues Brochures and hands them to the customers along with placing Banners outside the respective branches. Mediums For Promotional Activies Others(Newspaper ,Brochures & Banners) 12% Website 40% TV Channels 48% Sales and distributions department Askari Bank does not have a specific sales department. Whatever services they provide to their customer’s, they regard them as their sales. As sales are involved so are external entities. Basically Askari Bank deals with common people like students, housewives, businessmen, working class, watchmen, laborer’s etc. They target their product wisely according to the needs of customers. They do not offer a big product for example a big loan to a student. They mainly offer and target businesses whether sole proprietor, partnerships or corporations. The channel of communication used by Askari Bank is direct. They have a face to face meeting with the customers to explain them their products and services better. Also if customers have any queries they can directly ask there and then and the bank can assist them solve their problem at the spot. In return customers question them about what the bank has to offer them and account related information. All the uncertainties of customers are resolved at hand. If new offers are to be conveyed to the customers than they advertise through TV, billboards, pamphlets which is an indirect channel of communication. Also SMS and phone calls are done sometimes which shows they also contact their customers personally. The communication medium is always formal with customers, especially walk in customers. There are rare customers with whom Askari Bank has informal communication medium. Those customers include mostly family and friends otherwise to keep a professional environment customers are treated formally. There are channel branches through which the product reaches the customers. The services provided by Askari Bank are the products available in banks. Mobile banking is not very common in Pakistan otherwise it would have been a channel through which services would have been provided to customers. Askari Bank has the policy to always record contracts and agreements in written forms. They believe there should always be a physical copy for evidence. Hard copy is must. That is what they emphasize most. Legal documents are signed by customers and bankers. So that they always have a physical document to refer back to and show customers if anything goes wrong. In any business operating entity problems are common. It is evident that customers always face some kind of problem from the banks due to technical formalities but it is the banks responsibility to solve their problem and keep them satisfied. Likewise, Askari Bank also faces these issues. So their aim is to provide all services to customers in every way. They cannot refuse their customers so they are 24/7 there to solve their customer’s problems and provide assistance to them. Sales data is very crucial for Askari Bank as its stockholders have to refer to the sales in order to invest, save or spend. Every branch provides its sales report to the head office. Sales data is presented by head office weekly and monthly. It is done sometimes through e-mails or different formats like written intra office memos. The information is exposed to shareholders at stock exchange. Moreover, annual reports are also available to stockholders. In order to increase sales, it depends on the economy of Pakistan and it is very evident from the prevailing situation of Pakistan that the condition is not favorable right now for the bank as the economy is in recession and sales instead of increasing are decreasing. The manager of Askari bank says that the Pakistan economy is stagnant, there is no boom. Only few sectors are showing progress. Government is also holding its projects right now due to the circumstances of Pakistan economy as it is not at all profitable to invest. No one is investing and so Askari Bank is not able to increase its sales. The changes in the economy affect the sales a great deal. For example, there is a general view that in December state bank rate will decrease like it has recently. When mark- ups come the state bank decreases its rates. Now people will withdraw their money from the bank as they have anticipated that rates are going to decrease. So the affect would be that profits from banks would divert to other businesses like property. People will vacate their money from banks and devote in property. If bank rates increase why would anyone go after plots? That is why the transformation in the economy affects the sales a lot because people want profits not losses RECOMMENDATIONS The procedure for opening an account should be simplified. The account opening form should be self-explanatory and include translation in Urdu for those customers who are not well read since the fact cannot be ignored that many people do not have a good understanding of English. The importance of manpower cannot be denied in any organization. In case of banks it is the most valuable asset, because the bank is most sensitive organization and to be in harmony with this sensitivity, need for proper human resource is felt badly. A sizeable promotion of the officers of ABL, are promoted in without test and interviews of officers cadre. The promotion policy must be too tight and transparent that no one may have the chance to promote on criteria other than required qualification, experience and performance. It is important to say that the external level market is full of required talent like MBA, M.COM. But on the country only graduation with simple subjects is still requisite qualification for officer’s cadre, which has already worked amply in the devastation of ABL. Therefore the recruitment qualification to the officers frame work should be enhanced for simple graduation, to professionally qualified preferably masters in their respective fields. Delegating powers to the department in-charges up to the possible extent will most certainly reduce the workload on the managers and they would be able to perform well by taking quick remedial actions where necessary. Besides, the spare time will be spent dealing with matters of more important nature. Conclusion Banking sector has adopted new techniques with the passage of time in order to compete in this world. ABL is one such bank that is successfully operating in its field. A system of regional management is in place to ensure the improvement in productivity. They area live to the expectations of the customers. It is moving towards its goals. It has won many awards in the banking world. It achieves its target and playing active role in social sector as well. It is successfully creating the relationship with the nation. The performance of the bank is improving with the time. Its profitability has shown improvement over years, but still it requires improvement in infrastructure and technology. The bank aims at a prosperous future by “inspiring relationship” and work for the betterment.
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