English-speaking service in the financial sphere of Belarus: Baker Tilly Bel research
In the process of cooperation with foreign customers on providing outsourcing services for their subsidiaries of Belarusian companies, we have repeatedly faced difficulties in establishing communication between their representatives and organizations of the financial sector of Belarus in English. Sometimes it is quite difficult to find and identify a specialist, for example, in a bank of client's interest, who could explain the procedure of opening accounts, tell about the rates of the bank, describe the specifics of banking services. Only a few banks have the English language interfaces of the Internet banking system.
Therefore, we were curious about the opportunities to support English-speaking customers in the financial sphere of Belarus in general.
The research covered 24 banks, 16 insurance and 24 leasing companies of Belarus.
At first, we analysed the websites of the organizations. It turned out that only 50% of banks and insurance companies, as well as 17% of leasing companies, have an English version of their websites. Only 12.5% of banks have an English version of the Internet banking system.
Afterward, we sent letters to the contact e-mail addresses indicated on the websites of the organizations with a request to fill in a short survey in Google form with three questions about the possibility of serving foreign customers in English. The reply by e-mail was received only from 2 banks, 3 insurance companies, and 2 leasing companies.
Then the survey was carried out through phone calls to the organizations' infoline, information about which was contained on the websites. During the call, specialists were asked questions about the possibility of providing services to a foreign client in their company in English.
However, we have met with many difficulties during this process. For example, some organizations were not available on any of the phone numbers given. Some companies promised to check the information and call back but never did.
In one of the largest banks in Belarus, an employee answered that it was not within his competence to answer such questions and offered to make an application on the website through the section "Requests" and wait for an answer within 15 days (the application form is presented only in the Russian language and only in the Russian version of the website, and it is quite difficult and time-consuming to fill it out).
In most organizations, an infoline specialist did not know the information and was unable to answer the questions by himself. But in such cases, he redirected to other specialists, or switching the call, offered to find out and call back at the contact phone number left, or offered to give the phone number of another specialist. It should be noted that in many cases the specialists were unable to provide specific information, citing the need for more detailed information about the client and the services required.
So, the presented research results are based on the information received directly from the organizations.
- It is possible to get the information in English on the issue of opening an account and tariffs for services by phone call (infoline) in 46% of banks, 31% of insurance companies, 33% of leasing companies.
Consulting support in English is available with further cooperation:
○ in verbal form (by phone): in 29% of banks, 31% of insurance companies, 38% of leasing companies;
○ in written and/or electronic form (written request, e-mail): in 54% of banks, 63% of insurance companies, 54% of leasing companies;
○ through personal meetings: in 38% of banks, 31% of insurance companies, 46% of leasing companies.
- 33% of banks, 44% of insurance companies, 42% of leasing companies informed about the availability of a foreign client service manager or other similar specialists ready to provide consulting support in English.
In summary, we are not going to make any evaluation conclusions about the significance of foreign clients for the Belarusian financial services industry. We just note an observation from our own practice: in the process of selecting a bank to open an account, an insurance company to provide insurance services, etc. from several options, representatives of foreign companies with the right to make decisions choose a company that offers them the opportunity to communicate in English.