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Saturday 25.11.2017 | Name days: Kadrija, Kate, Katrīna, Trīne

Parex CEO: if money is recovered, the employees have to get bonuses

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The employees of Parex Bank should be paid premiums if most of the money that the state has invested, is recovered, the new CEO of Parex Bank Christopher John Gwilliam informed BNN.LV.

He indicates that it is going to be a difficult task to recover at least a part of the money, but almost impossible to regain the whole amount of it, adding that Parex Bank can no more be considered as an actual bank, it is more like a work-out bank.

C. Gwilliam makes a lasting impression – he is joyful yet deeply engaged in work at the same time.

First month in Latvia… What conclusions have you drawn? What are the impressions of Latvia?

I feel very good here. To be honest, I did not know much about Latvia before; however I had read about it, because I am interested in the history of Europe and its development in general. There is very nice climate here, even though when I arrived, it was too hot for me, it was in July. I cannot wait for severe and long winter. I prefer snow and cold weather, as well as storms.

I am having the greatest problem with finding an appropriate apartment, because I like if there is a balcony. However it turns out that there are only large flats with balconies in Riga, but I do not need a large one. What regards Latvia, it can be seen and felt that recession has affected the country. I have an impression that the situation is getting better though. The fact that the traffic on the bridges increases serves as an example (Parex headquarters is located at Suspension Bridge (Vanšu tilts)).

It sounds like you like challenges. Is Parex Bank a challenge? Why did you decide to work there?

Parex Bank is definitely a challenge. I enjoy challenges and this could be one of the most impressive ones of all I have ever had. I have never worked as an investment banker in the classical sense due to which I have never favored fulfilling duties only because of bonuses. I did not consider it as a good system of the financial world.

I have always been interested in completing the task without desiring bonuses that had gained huge popularity in the financial world. Once I even argued with my colleagues about the specification of a banker’s work, as I was convinced that bankers should not be paid bonuses.

The nature of a bankers’ work requires completing tasks as well as possible without thinking about any additional payment. And if they manage to do it, it will also be reflected in their salaries, but not in a form of premiums, because the system of them ruined the financial world and market. The whole world could witness this some time ago – we saw to what extent  people took risks and speculated, in order to get bonuses and how awfully wrong everything turned out after all.

Then you are against bonuses and you will not receive them in Parex Bank after achieving certain objectives?

I did not say that I am against bonuses in general. I said that I was against them in the financial world previously in connection with the speculations. I believe that if a person completes a very complex task and achieves the set goals – he or she deserves a bonus. Paying premiums for speculative transactions is something quite different. Once we have touched upon the topic – there is huge and complicated work ahead of Parex Bank. If we achieve good results, which means, if we recover a big part of tax payers’ money – the employees should get bonuses. This is, of course, a very sensitive issue but this is my opinion. It still must be considered very carefully. This theme has not been discussed completely yet, not to mention the fact that there is no agreement reached on the premiums. However, I would strongly recommend that Parex employees receive bonuses, in case we accomplish this extremely difficult task to recover the most part of the state investments. If we fail in doing this – there will not be any additional payment. I am positive that it will be extremely difficult to convince the government that the employees have earned a premium, if an outstanding work is accomplished. People have to understand that it will be very difficult to regain Parex money. It would be almost as a miracle if we managed to recover all of the investments. The more money we get back, the greater is the achievement. I remind one more time – I do not think that the premiums should be paid right away. They ought to be paid only if excellent results are achieved. There will not be any bonuses if we do not manage to reach the objectives.

Parex Bank can no longer be considered as a bank in its classical sense…

That is right. The only thing we do is saving money for the state. We could be regarded as a sort of cash recovery bank or institution (work-out bank). I am not sure I should say this, but we are not a full-service bank indeed. The only «service» we provide is collecting money for the state.

How do you evaluate the possibility to recover the investments, now when you have got acquainted with the situation?

The situation of Parex is very serious. It is a bank with many bad loans and assets. If we managed to get back even a part of the money, it would be a great achievement. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to operate with profit. Great success would be maximizing the returns from the assets. We are going to do everything possible not to suffer losses. It would be an overexaggeration to talk about profit in such a situation.

What is the most realistic scenario, how much of the invested money could be recovered?

I am here for already a month now, but I still cannot answer the question. It is impossible. I have already examined many assets. It will be hard work to get back even a part of the money.

What is the reason exactly you were appointed as the new Parex CEO?

I would like to think that it was because of my experience and skills. Obviously I made the correct impression.

Latvians are always interested in salary issues. What is your pay at Parex?

I was warned that this is a topical question in Latvia and that it will definitely be asked. This information will be publicly accessible, when the time comes – when we have completely agreed upon it. What I can say is – that I would be paid better if I worked in London in a similar post. I took up the position not because of money, but of different reasons. First of all, because I had a feeling that this job was meant for me. Returning to the question… I am surprised how much information on private entities and their pay is publicly available. It is quite strange.

Do you feel any pressure at work taking into account your responsible post and the political background?

The work will be difficult for sure. When thinking about these processes and the background I start doubting whether I have asked enough (laughing).

What are the biggest obstacles of Parex Bank at the moment?

I do not think it is a secret that the System of Justice is slow in Latvia. We have discussed this issue with the Ministry of Justice. It is difficult to explain, but it could be that the judges do not have enough specific experience of difficult and complex tasks. The case of Parex is the first precedent in Latvia. There are many new processes and regulations that have to be introduced. This definitely delays the recovery of the investments. However this is not meant as criticism to judges. It is simply that the whole system has to be reconsidered and people and institutions in responsible posts have to have an appropriate experience.

What are the positive aspects of Parex? What could help you to achieve the objectives?

People! We are a great team! The bank employs experienced and motivated people with knowledge of finances. We have also maintained good work relationship with «the other bank» or «the good bank» (Citadele). We have to rely on them in connection with IT and other services. As for the employees – we still have to work on their way of thinking and the philosophy – from classic bank employees, they have to become financial experts in recovering investments. It will take some time.


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  1. Nyvaeh says:

    A few years ago I’d have to pay smoenoe for this information.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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