TBC Bank CFO Seeks to Maintain “Ground Focus”

An Eastern European finance chief aims to keep a FTSE 250 financial institution from losing its "small-company level of ambition."
Kerry MarunaMarch 28, 2018
TBC Bank CFO Seeks to Maintain “Ground Focus”

Since its split from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has become the fastest emerging finance market in the region. Among the financial institutions helping to lead the charge is TBC Bank, the country’s largest lender. The publicly held bank has grown its bottom line faster than its peers by steadily growing loans and deposits while successfully controlling its costs. After achieving a London Stock Exchange premium listing in 2016, In 2017, TBC was added to the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 250-index.

We spoke via phone with TBC’s deputy CEO and chief financial officer Giorgi Shagidze, who will be presenting at Innovation Enterprise’s FP&A Innovation Summit this April, to talk about his role and the challenges a rapidly growing financial institution faces.

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Giorgi ShagidzeCan you describe your background in finance and how you came to TBC Bank?

Mathematics has been a specialty of mine since high school. And because of that, my early career was in the software development field in Georgia. Coming from a mathematics background, it was a great opportunity for me. From there I progressed and became a branch manager, head of IT, and head of the credit department for that company, which lead me down the path of financial services. I jumped at the opportunity to become the deputy CEO of a local bank.

Soon thereafter I continued my studies abroad by applying to the Cambridge MBA program and then completing a CFA program. I had the chance to join Barclays’ Executive Leadership Program with rotations in London and Dubai. After Barclays I decided to head back to Georgia where I found an opportunity at TBC Bank. I joined TBC in 2010 and I became deputy CEO and CFO at TBC.

Is there anything you do that lies outside the typical finance role?

That depends on how it’s defined. Nowadays, we see finance leaders as strategic partners to the chief executive. They’re also the first contact between the management team and investors. My role in addition to “typical finance” is to contribute as much as possible to the strategy of the company and to lead the investor relations effort to ensure clear communications from both sides. This is where I spend my time and effort, as it’s crucial to our organization.

Describe the challenges to international investor relations.

Since we’re interacting with many different investors from many different backgrounds and geographies, we need to be cognizant of the different regulatory requirements and also find a way to incorporate these requirements into the company’s strategy and [performance] targets.

What’s most important is to ensure that we continuously over-deliver on the targets we are sharing in order to build a consensus. The more accurate the consensus, the better the communication to investors. Given the international structure of our company,  it’s imperative that we take a proactive approach to developing very clean, ambitious targets.

What’s the difference in the communication process for an emerging company like TBC?

TBC is in a growing phase even still, but when I joined the bank seven years ago we were much smaller in size and sophistication. The ambition of a small, growing company is something we’ve fought to maintain. Smaller companies naturally have an easier time putting together a consensus and communicating shared targets for investors. As TBC grew from a relatively small company to being listed on the international market, we had to increase the acceptance levels of our target sharing. Understanding this and maintaining a small company’s level of ambition is what helps maintain TBC’s level of success.

What are the challenges TBC faces now that it didn’t before?

The biggest challenge now is ensuring that within regulatory requirements and investor relations we still have enough time and effort for the ground focus — meaning, contributing to the larger strategy and supporting the business initiatives. The time we spend now on regulation, reporting, and leasing rules has become more significant, which brings with it the challenge of conducting business with the same effectiveness and vigor as before.

Finally, what will attendees take away from your presentation?

First, I’d like to give delegates an impression of Georgia, which is a dynamic country that continues to grow and that has an excellent governance and regulatory backdrop. Second, I hope to convey the message that the strength of the finance function is most important for a bank’s decision-making and effectiveness when communicating to investors.

Giorgi Shagidze became deputy CEO and finance chief of TBC Bank in 2010 and deputy CEO and finance chief of TBC Bank Group PLC at its establishment in 2016. Shagidze will present at our FP&A Innovation Summit in London on April 25, 2018.