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Home truths from emerging markets

It has been a challenging few years in emerging market banking, so it is hard to blame lenders for wanting to put a positive spin on difficult situations.


At the same time, after repeated deep dives into the annual reports of EM banks, we noticed a widespread fondness for certain phrases that could perhaps most charitably be described as euphemistic. As a public service to our readers, we thought it might be handy to provide translations for a few of these…

“We are building the branch of the future”

God knows the branches of the past didn’t do us much good

“Free wifi has now been rolled out across our entire network”

F***, no one told us about 4G

“We’re taking a holistic approach to our customers”

If they won’t buy a mortgage, perhaps we can flog them life insurance

“The operating environment is challenging, but with the right approach you can make money”

We make sure the cash is laundered before it comes to us

“We have instituted state-of-the-art risk management procedures”

Turns out giving local management a completely free hand wasn’t such a great idea

“We’ve done the work and taken the hit, we’re confident we are now fully provisioned”

We’re not booking the next loss until our bonuses come through

“In local currency terms, it was a very profitable year”

We had to take a 50% write-down because the local currency lost 50% of its value last year

“It turned out there was a significant level of mismanagement and related party lending in the banks we bought”

We didn’t give a crap about this stuff when the money was coming in, but now we do