During 2016, we witnessed numerous unforeseeable developments. In addition to the fluctuations in the global economy, the US Central Bank (Fed)’s much anticipated interest rate hike in the fourth quarter raised the cost of capital for emerging markets. The headline events of the year were Brexit, additional monetary easing by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BoJ), geopolitical developments, and the elections in the United States.

The Turkish economy began losing momentum during the third quarter after growing at an annualized rate of 4.5% in the first two quarters of the year. A recovery ensued in the fourth quarter after effective incentives and policy measures were announced by the administration. The initial signs of recovery suggest that economic growth can accelerate to 3–3.5% in 2017. We expect continued outsized contribution of public sector investments to growth. The recovery under way in the EU, if it continues in accordance with the projections, has the potential to boost Turkey’s export performance. In terms of performance by sector, we observed positive developments in the housing and construction industries, particularly in the fourth quarter. We see this trend continuing in 2017 as a result of projects that are expected to move forward. In addition, we expect the policy measures that aim to boost consumption to support consumer durables, as we recently witnessed favorable developments in this sector as well.

Akbank was among the most successful banks in the market during this period thanks to its robust capital, prudent management, efficiency and asset quality. Leveraging our strong balance sheet, we continued to bring resources to Turkey and channel them to the real sector. The total capital we raised from overseas markets climbed to USD 6.2 billion last year. Ramping up our support to the Turkish economy by 18% compared to the end of last year, we increased our total loans to TL 219 billion, TL 179 billion of which was cash loans. Akbank’s support to the real sector especially stood out, as our Turkish lira-denominated commercial loans (including non-cash loans) soared 23%, twice the pace of the banking industry. Our commercial lending resources, including the SME segment, reached 321,000 companies employing a total of 4.1 million persons.

Akbank’s total assets grew 17% in 2016, topping TL 294 billion, while deposits went up 16%, rising to TL 174 billion. The Bank posted consolidated net profit of TL 4,854 million after provisioning TL 1,347 million for taxes. As another indicator of our healthy growth during the reporting year, Akbank’s nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio remained at a low level of 2.3%.

Under Akbank One-Stop Corporate Investment Banking launched last year and reflecting our faith in the strength of the Turkish economy, we began generating much more effective solutions for investment financing in Turkey. This service model enables Akbank corporate banking clients to receive corporate and investment banking services while easily accessing the experience and expertise of Akbank’s subsidiaries—all in one step. Akbank Wealth Management, created jointly with our subsidiaries AkInvestment and AKAsset Management to help customers invest their savings confidently, registered major accomplishments in its first year of existence. We introduced more than 100,000 customers to Akbank Wealth Management this year thanks to our experience, expertise and digital approach.

As we march ahead toward our goal of rendering an excellent banking experience for our customers, we chart our roadmap in line with our commitment to innovation and development. We offer the banking experience of tomorrow for our customers today using products that are being rolled out for the first time anywhere in the world. We leverage our digitalization and mobile technology-based strategies to meet the demands and needs of customers via truly exceptional services. We continuously undertake a people-focused, technologydriven transformation. Akbank has invested more than USD 500 million in technology over the last five years alone as a clear indication of our focus on innovation and R&D.

Akbank Direkt Mobile was voted the “World’s Best Mobile Banking Application” by many international organizations. Akbank ranked ahead of even Western European banks in terms of mobile banking customer activations. This accomplishment of the Bank was included in the instruction of Harvard Business School students as a case study. In addition, Akbank opened its online digital application services development infrastructure to all programmers worldwide. We won The Banker’s “Technology Project of the Year” award in recognition of this forward-looking action.

We are executing all our plans and strategies with one of the most qualified, well-educated, highly trained, and productive workforces in Turkey. We recognize that we must employ the best human capital to excel and succeed in our industry. Some 95% of Akbankers are university graduates, while Akbank ranks among the top banks in the sector in terms of the percentage of employees with post-graduate and doctoral degrees. We continue to invest in our young, dynamic and highly-educated human resources who are responsible for the largest share of our success.

It is a source of great satisfaction and pride to us all that the Bank’s high performance is commended by well-respected authorities, in Turkey and abroad. Akbank was designated the “Bank of the Year in Turkey” by The Banker, a highly regarded institution in the global banking industry. We also won the “Best Bank in Turkey” award from the sector’s leading publications, including Euromoney, Global Finance, EMEA Finance, and World Finance in 2016. As a first in the Turkish banking industry, Akbank was also deemed the “Best Bank in Central and Eastern Europe” by Euromoney this year. We shared the joy of becoming the first bank to bring this award to Turkey. In addition, Akbank was named “The Most Valuable Banking Brand in Turkey” in Brand Finance’s survey for the fifth consecutive year.

We continue to sponsor corporate social responsibility projects that future generations can inherit and that generate sustainable value for the country. Our initiatives that focus on culture and art, education and entrepreneurship are supplemented by volunteer efforts participated by Akbankers and stakeholders. As part of the volunteerdriven projects we undertook this year, we organized nearly 150 activities with the participation of some 300 Akbank volunteers and reached 45,000 students.

As it has done since day one, Akbank will continue to create value not just for the economy, but also for Turkish society and culture. I would like to thank our employees, customers, shareholders and stakeholders for sustaining this track record of success and these accomplishments.​