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Ambitious Binbasgil takes the helm at Akbank

Hakan Binbasgil, chief executive of Akbank, had a busy start to his new job. “I have met 15,000 Akbankers since I began in this role,” he says. “It was a priority for me to meet everyone in the organization. To meet our ambitions we need the contribution of everyone at the bank.”

Ambition seems to be something that Binbasgil understands; his time at Akbank has been marked primarily by change and progress. He joined the bank after the 2000/01 financial crisis in Turkey with the hefty title of executive vice-president in charge of change management. He is pushing for further change, which should be more achievable now that he has completed what must have been a rather intimidating schedule of town hall sessions and meet-and-greets.

At the start of this year, Binbasgil replaced Ziya Akkurt, who had been CEO since 2009. Rumour has it that the leadership change-over is linked to a poor 2011 performance from Akbank, with profits down 15.7% and return on average equity down by 4.6 percentage points year on year.

Binbasgil isn’t heading into his new job with low expectations, he wants Akbank to be a leader across all areas: "We have to be the best at everything if we want to be a sustainable leader. We have the resources, the capital and distribution to push on all fronts."

This seems to include taking Akbank into an area where it has often dabbled but seldom excelled: domestic and SME loans – both fields that promise to be highly profitable.

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