Ilya Filatov has been associated with the banking sector for decades as a top-level manager, a digitalization expert, and a domestic fintech pioneer who has received multiple professional awards.
He was born on June 10, 1976, in the city of Klin in the capital region and received his diploma as an economist from the Moscow State Academy of Water Transport in 1998. He later advanced his skills, receiving his MBA at the Higher School of International Business with the government-associated Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in 2009.
Filatov began his professional career prior to graduating from university. In 1996, he started working as a chief economist at Elbim Bank. The financial entity had been founded four years previously and focused on providing support for innovative technologies in the energy and healthcare industries.
Later, the bank started handling Eurocheques and plastic cards. Filatov dealt with foreign currency payments while at the company. After two and a half years, he took a job at Moskva-Center joint-stock commercial bank, where he was also in charge of supervising foreign currency operations for several months.
Filatov headed the plastic card department at Platina commercial bank in 1999. “The company is known as the creator of the Cyberplat payment system,” he says. “It was also an internet-based banking pioneer in the country and started its operations in this field as early as the late 1990s.”
Filatov worked at the financial entity for almost five years. In April 2004, he was employed by a larger company, Moscow Credit Bank (MKB), where he also was tasked with the expansion of plastic card operations.
In August 2005, Filatov became an executive director at Autobank-Nikoil. By the end of the same year, the entity had completed a merger with Uralo-Sibirskiy Bank, which had been initiated in 2004. The consolidated company was named Uralsib Bank, which grew into a major player in the national financial market, ranking in the top 10 lending organizations based on equity size.
In 2009, Filatov he was appointed to the post of deputy chairman of the board. In his new capacity, he oversaw retail business, IT, and lending to small and medium-sized businesses. On his initiative, a club was founded for owners and CEOs of small and medium-sized companies, which operated as a place to make business connections and share professional expertise. “Thanks to solid management, Uralsib emerged unscathed from the world financial crisis,” Filatov says.
Upward trends in lending to small and medium-sized companies emerged as early as 2009. Filatov was proactive in the development of contactless payments and card-based loan products.
“In 2011, card-based loans rose by a third, and the following year they were 1.9 times higher,” he says. “In addition, the bank’s mortgages jumped 10-fold compared to the first six months of the previous year. Management considered this leap to be the result of the development of new sales channels, including the promotion of services through retail stores.”
In the fall of 2012, the 7th Innovative Card Solutions for Efficient Business conference was held. The event was organized by Uralsib bank and MasterCard, a transnational payment system. The lending organization sponsored the conference. Speaking at the event, Filatov reported the organization’s achievements in regard to issuing cards and servicing them for partnering banks. Uralsib issued international payment systems cards for 250 national lending entities. This number amounted to about 25% of all banks that were operating in the country at the time. This sector of Uralsib activities grew by 30-35% annually.
“The commercial entity’s retail business underwent a major upgrade and significantly improved its market share,” he says.
He worked at Uralsib until December 2014 then received an offer from another large-scale financial entity, taking the position of vice-president. Approximately three months later, he was promoted to the position of the Chairman of the Board.
During his first twelve months at the major financial institution, Filatov oversaw a three-fold increase in consumer lending, with losses decreasing three-fold. He describes the lending organization as ‘a union of the diverse,’ characterizing its top managers as young, creative and gifted people who complement one another and are not afraid to take up ambitious tasks. Filatov recalls their motto – ‘Every day is yours.’
“I believe that following client practice is the key operational concept, putting aside an aggressive hard sell of services. Services should be offered only when the customer needs them. In order to deliver on this task, innovative monitoring systems for client requests should be developed. At the same time, there is no magic technique in banking that can guarantee success in every case,” Filatov says.
In 2017, the financial organization adopted R-Vision, a cyber threat defense system that was developed in the country. This led to Filatov receiving an information security award. The company earned another award a year later, the IT Leader title, due to the development of state-of-the-art digital services and the successful integration of products with the capital’s city services app.
Filatov led the efforts aimed at the creation of the first virtual bank card in the country, also presented in 2018. In January 2019, he received the Retail Finance Awards prize as the top manager in retail banking. Starting in the spring of the same year, he held several managerial posts in Cloud Retail and Cloud Retail Plus open joint stock companies.
The owner of the financial organization headed by Filatov is an IT giant and one of the biggest telecommunications corporations in the country. Filatov took a position in the company on August 1, 2019, as a member of the board and vice president for financial services. Concurrently, the company’s fintech units were formed as a separate division.
“Financial technologies have a growing impact on the holding’s increase in revenues,” Filatov says.
The division’s IT experts are tasked with developing a variety of services. In addition to its website and applications, they are charged with the implementation of new POS products, the automatization of business processes, and the development of a vast variety of other products.
“In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic gave impetus to the further evolution of digital platforms,” Filatov says. “The public’s readiness to use financial products remotely increased markedly. Market research conducted at the time showed that users were increasingly interested in IT-based services.”
During the same year, the telecoms giant’s venture fund invested 125 million rubles in a mobile app to manage personal finances, becoming a minority shareholder in the startup in return. “The application is useful for those keeping their money in several banks. At the time of the deal, approximately half a million citizens were using the application, making it the most popular app of its kind nationwide. The number of the lending organization’s clients rose by 19.5% in 2021 compared to 2019. This was to a great extent made possible thanks to such investments.”
Filatov was re-elected as the bank’s Chairman of the Board in September 2021. A vital part of his job as a top manager was the further digitalization of services. “About 60% of all the company’s sales were now in remote servicing,” he says. “The mobile application was used by 80% of customers applying for POS-facilitated loans, with 30% of those clients purchasing second and subsequent products. We prefer not only price competition, but also focusing on convenience for customers and their satisfaction.”
In 2021, fintech systems developed under the top manager’s supervision received an award as innovative products in the financial industry.
Last year, the board of the parent telecom company underwent a management reshuffle, with Filatov keeping his post. “The digitalization investments made by the company were productive,” he says. “Namely, our retail portfolio showed substantial growth that allowed the company to move from a top-40 ranking to a top-15 position in this area. We set an ambitious goal of reaching 10 million clients (in 2022 it had 3.5 million clients, with annual growth of 19.4%).
“We also facilitated an increase return on investment (ROI) to 20%. Additionally, the organization has set the target of performing 80% of all its sales in a digital format. That complete digitalization and closing every offline branch is not a consideration, as some clients still prefer to visit the offices of lending organizations.”
Filatov’s further goal is for all the company’s digital services (e.g. payments, money transfers, investments) to enter the top 3 based on Net Promoter Score. The NPS scale is applied to identify customers’ loyalty to a good or brand, and their readiness to endorse it based on a 10-point scale. According to Filatov, as of now, digital operations are considered as a core strategy by fewer than 10 banks in the country. These entities are experiencing the most active growth.
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