Cardinal Richelieu was sure that financial institutions were society's fulcrum and if he was right for his time four hundred years ago, nothing much has changed since. CEO of Alfa-Bank Oleg Sysuev give his insight on banking's social role.

Predictions of a fast-changing world give out that banking, as we currently know it, will in a quarter to a half century, change to virtual or smart contracts. It occurs to me as I speak that almost always none of these modern prophets ever have direct banking experience and their thoughts tend to reduce banking's economic and social role to a reduction to the absurd. What they leave out is that a bank has the priceless asset of direct communication with people, by which I mean, its clients. My thesis is that a bank, and readers will forgive me if I talk of Alfa-Bank, is more than a system of exchange. Alfa-Bank does money transfer, of course, but also participates in society's economic decision-making process of capital allocation. Alfa-Bank has since its early development stage become a significant presence in philanthropy and the support of the arts.

We do have to deal with the baggage of the recent past with its corrosive effect on trust but Alfa-Bank is not in this alone in our society. No one currently over the age of forty is likely to forget the lunacy of MMM and its late founder will have to answer for his behavior at a court not in this dimension.

Speaking of cash transfer, it's worth knowing that because of the considerable capacity of Alfa-Bank's IT infrastructure, a fixed cost, an increase in the number of electronic transactions results in a lowering of cost per transaction. As well Alfa-Bank has four very significant com-petitive advantages: It is not likely to be sanctioned by the US or the EU: Alfa-Bank's IT is fully compatible with Western equivalents: Extensive relations have been forged with them: Next its financial products are admired, for example the Bond: Finally, we can be an effective bridge or link with Russian clients and Western financial products.
Modesty prevents, at least momentarily, from giving a sixth com-petitive advantage, the quality of the Bank's management and amongst this leadership group our shared values are not artificial. The Bank's shareholders, led by Mikael Fridman, take seriously the development of trust and ethics within the staff. It might be thought we are about modern expensive interiors, bar counter fronts at the entrance with smiling beautiful girls and so we are, but be assured, behind the scenes we are much more.

I mentioned philanthropy. When I was Deputy Prime Minister nothing maddened me more than the scandal of the fake charity funds one saw at the time, the Afghan Fund, Olympic Fund and others. Mr. Fridman's enthusiasm to try to influence the governance of charity organizations gained my immediate support and was one of two reasons for wanting to join Alfa-Bank rather than my other option of Yukos.

That other reason is that we have a shared interest in modern music. The choice was done after a conversation with Michail Fridman: we talked about modern music for two hours. I understood that this is a place I would feel good. I think Aleksandr Gafin was absolutely right when he said that democracy in Russia began with Paul McCartney's foot stepping onto the Red Square. Music for me personally is an important part of past and today. Music school violin class. Then in school VIA movement (vocal-instrumental groups) even in a closed Kuybyshev, now Samara. I played in groups "Orion", "Berendey", then even VIA "Samotsvety", had an experience of playing in restaurants I earned money this way for a short but interesting time. And then later I had money much later I'd say I had a possibility to buy instruments. Those who were into music in 60-s 70-s would un-derstand what a person felt and feels now entering music shops full of instruments, amplifiers. I still have this shock. For example, amplifier Marshall everyone was mad about. I got many guitars, around 15. I hardly hold myself when I enter the shop. Thanks god I have money now but I am not a collector.

Music gives freedom to your soul no money can give
— Oleg Sysuev

And rock-groups of our times! They were gods for us. Uriah Heep was even in Samara when I was the Mayor. We invited them for the City Day and "July morning" was a July morning of our youth. Led Zeppelin, their unsurpassed wings giving composition Stairway to Heaven! I also like older British groups Oasis and Clash. And even more up to date. Music gives freedom to your soul no money can give. And for a person of Soviet upbringing by that constrained by borders of space time it was a fantastic freedom when you believed that everyone has a right for right and a right for left. Music of 80-s is a specific code you learn a person spiritually close to you. It is still in me and may this help to keep modern world, may be helps not to be scared of threats to the Business you serve and you really love.