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Russky Standart raises consumer credit’s spirits

Roustam Tariko: from Kinder
Surprise via Martini and vodka
to consumer credit

In the sober world of finance, naming a bank after a famous vodka seems like suicide, but not in Russia. In 1999 Roustam Tariko, owner of Russia's leading vodka brand, Russky Standart, decided to open a bank with the same name.

"The professional bankers we hired to run the bank hated the name. 'You can't name a bank after a vodka,' they said. It is not the proper image," says Tariko, sitting on a leather sofa in his minimalist office near Russia's White House. His black lacquer desk is empty and a Bang & Olufsen stereo is nearly the only wall decoration.

"But the consumers liked the name," he says. "First they were reassured as it was clear where the bank made its money. Secondly, the vodka business is 'liquid' and so the bank is seen as more solid."

For the former communist country the idea of consumer credit is new - for most Russians being able to buy that dream fridge on credit feels like getting it for free.

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