The Alternative Financial Services Association of North Macedonia
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Close to the members of AFD: SN Finance – Interview with Nikola Joshevski, General Manager of SN Finance

Who are SN Financial Company?

FD “SN Finance” DOO Bitola started working in 2016 as part of the SN group that has been operating since 2014. The idea for its creation came from a group of professionals, proven in the insurance, banking, and business in general who carefully anticipating the development of business in our country and listening to what customers want concluded that the need for a responsible and reliable partner is a daily necessity of citizens. Our goal was to form a dedicated company, whose strategy will be based on those elements that customers value the most, and that is stability, profitability, growth and innovation. The four pillars on which FD “SN Finance” DOO Bitola operates. We act well every day on behalf of the clients, but also as a socially responsible company towards the community. We want satisfied customers, and with our transparent and team work we nurture a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. The success is in our 30 employees throughout Macedonia, credited in the segment of work with both the population and companies.

The modern solutions, the information technology that we implement and the customized offers of products for this standard, intended for crediting together with the team, make FD “SN Finance” a real partner.
 

Why is SN Finance a member of AFD?

To belong to an association that has common interests and works for our advancement, for us at FD “SN Finance” is an important thing. When you aim for the top development of the company, you want to surround yourself with like-minded people who, just like you, want progress in this industry and always aim for better results. Here the competition is overshadowed, because the smart managers in this industry know well that acting in the same framework provided by the regulator is possible with mutual, professional and dedicated work, based on high ethical standards. At the same time, membership means respect for the other, equal market conditions, respect for the principles of independence, independence in operation and free market operation without restricting the competition in this sector. It is not only a benefit, but also an honor to be a member of the AFD. Finally, membership in this association means lobbying and public advocacy in the interest of better financial services to the population.
 

Does the legal and business environment in Macedonia provide opportunities for the development of the non-banking financial sector?

The non-banking financial sector is a wider sector and includes institutions that are well established in our country, such as insurance companies and pension funds, but it also includes a young industry, which is in its beginning, and that is the financial companies. As a manager and co-owner of “FD SN Finance” DOO Bitola, I can talk about them.

This industry is regulated by the law on financial companies which entered into force in December 2010. But even though the law has been in force for 10 years, the expansion of financial companies has been happening in recent years. We have witnessed the establishment of a number of financial companies in the last couple of years. The Law on Financial Companies gave an initial opportunity for initial development of this part of the non-banking financial sector, but for real expansion of financial companies, and the creation of successful FinTech companies that will later expand beyond the borders of our country, there is a need for changing other laws such as the law on payment services and payment systems that will provide to the financial companies a greater number of opportunities for development and growth, and thus will provide to the population in our country better and cheaper services.

 

What challenges do you face as a financial company established with domestic capital in Bitola?

Our motto is “THERE IS NO I DON’T KNOW, THERE IS NO I CAN’T”, and our organizational culture is always first to look at the possibilities.

People generally think of obstacles when asked about challenges.

Our philosophy at FD “SN Finance” is to adapt to the conditions, which do not really give us full opportunities to achieve our full business potential that we have. Sometimes it is the regulations, sometimes it is the people, and sometimes the situations that we can not predict, such as the health crisis that has hit the world.

But it is our very concept that we use in managing and making decisions that is aimed at quickly and efficiently adapting the conditions and solving problems.


This is a new industry, hence the moments when we have obstacles to grow rapidly, because the environment is not ready to keep pace with these global trends that the financial institutions around the world are establishing at important positions in a modern society, we overcome them with rapid and creative solutions. Here we are talking about solutions that enable us rapid technological development, cheaper and faster services than those to which the population was used to so far, easier access to our financial services…

We invest heavily in technology that allows us to offer many of our services online. Hence, we experienced the KOVID-19 crisis “on our feet”. Therefore, I will always believe in investing in technology and quality human resources, which look forward and act in the direction of preventing risks or minimizing them. Many ask me, what is it like to provide highly qualified staff from Bitola in these specific professions that interest us? The answer is that Bitola has great potential, а university city with faculties that produce excellent workers. This is also a “natural” IT hub, in which there are many companies located here, precisely because of the brains of some young brilliant people, because of the environment to function in a smaller environment and in a city that has all the advantages of a big city, but is functional as a small town. We get to work quickly, the cost of living is lower, we are surrounded by nature: mountains, lakes and even the sea in an hour and a half. It is in such areas that the Americans have deliberately formed zones in which businesses like ours will be located in the new era. If you look at the potential, I see a beautiful future for Bitola, which means the location is not a handicap for us, on the contrary… it is an advantage.

And if we talk in terms of general problems faced by all financial companies in our country, it would be a list that would be recited by every manager in this industry: the lack of cheap and stable sources of capital, adjusting our operations to the conditions for the pandemic period, advancing technological processes and educating the population about online use of our services and the like. On these topics, all of us AFD members should work together, lobby and publicly represent the problems for which we seek a solution and a better business environment.

 
Where do you see the future of the FinTech industry in the post-Covid economic picture of Macedonia?

The Fintech industry in our country will definitely move forward. The pandemic that has been happening to us in recent months is a kind of accelerator that has drastically accelerated the development of this industry. Everyone understood what it means for businesses to offer online services. And what would it mean, if it did not exist. This is a good preparation for the population to understand why we have been campaigning for several years, why it is good for them to be our clients. They save time and money, and today they also keep their health that way. Unfortunately, with the epidemic, many understood that it was time to switch to online services, which we as FD “SN Finance” offered from day one, and now we are ready for new products that will simplify life in the new “normal”. The business environment in which we emerge when the pandemic ends – which may be in a year, two or three years – will be very different from the time before the crisis. We must look ahead.

That is why I often repeat that financial companies are here to stimulate the consumption power of the population even in times of crisis. I remain firm on the premise that micro-lending is essential to any society. It targets vulnerable groups, encourages employment, contributes to improving the living standards of people who do not have access to traditional sources of funding, which ultimately contributes to economic and social empowerment, and even financial inclusion.

In the world, this sector of ours is growing exceptionally fast and is expanding the range of services with a single goal, which is to improve the quality of services and to expand its availability to as many citizens as possible.

And in such a global health-economic crisis, our shadow banking – as the developed world calls financial companies – can play a vital role.

Let me just clarify what that shadow banking means. With the emergence of non-banking institutions in 2011 in Macedonia began the use of financial inclusion, which the developed world has long known and operated with, and in this field that liberalization was necessary with a single goal – improving financial operations in the market as a whole, because customers have more options available to meet their financial needs of different nature.

Now, as never before, this sector will be important to alleviate the economic crisis that is yet to come. There are 28 registered financial companies in the Republic of North Macedonia that perform several financial activities such as issuing loans, issuing cards, guarantees and factoring.

That this sector has great commercial but also development potential is shown by a research of the world-famous audit and consulting company EY, which found that 1/3 of consumers worldwide use two or more Fintech services, which is a great statistic. These are parameters from before the pandemic. So I am sure that by the end of 2020 the numbers will be much higher. In 2016 alone, $ 17.4 billion was invested in this industry. In 2019, that amount is drastically multiplied, which means a lot is invested. The same research emphasizes which countries around the world are moving forward futuristically, and which are standing in place.

Hence, a Regtech (Regulatory Technology) tool has been created that maps which countries and which progressive companies in those countries should be helped to achieve the opportunities offered by this industry.

I want Macedonia in 2021 to be on the list of countries in which financial services are fundamentally improved in the interest of users.

 
 

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