During 2019, trade disagreements between the US and China, Brexit, and geopolitical uncertainties including the ones in our geography became focal points in the global agenda. With the tendency of a slowdown in economic activities on a global scale and rising expectations for a decreasing trend in inflation, we have seen a loosening in global monetary policies.

In Turkish economy, recovery began especially in the second half of the year. The downward trend in inflation and inclusive policies of prominent Central Banks of developed countries created accommodative monetary policy in Turkey. Current account balance had significant improvements. Loans have been rising as a result of the decline in inflation in the second half of the year, 12% decrease in CBRT policy rate, and decline in loan rates.

Akbank continued to perform successfully despite challenging market conditions. In 2019, while preserving our robust balance sheet, we prepared for the future in parallel to the global technological trends and made significant investments to our infrastructure. Loans were in a growth trend because of the decline in inflation in the second half of the year and the decline in loan rates.

In 2019, the loan support we provided to the economy increased to a total of TL 269 billion, with TL 227 billion in cash loans. This year, our deposits increased by 17.3% to TL 245 billion, and our assets increased to TL 387 billion.

With its strong capital structure, our bank further bolstered its shareholders’ equity with a capital increase of TL 3 billion in the beginning of 2019 and has positioned itself for healthy growth. We have one of the strongest capital structures in the sector with our already robust capital adequacy ratio of 19.7%. With the strength derived from this structure, we continued our support for the growth and development of our companies that are the drivers of economy in 2019. SME, commercial and corporate cash and non-cash loans reached TL 223 billion. Akbank reported consolidated net profit of TL 5 billion 352 million after provisioning TL 1 billion 574 million for taxes.

We believe in our country’s potential and continue our investments. Our investments exceeded 400 million USD in two consecutive years. Bringing a new approach to the sector, improving the quality of service with new technologies and by doing so, supporting our competitive advantage are amongst our priorities. Our financial strength enables us invest more. I believe we will see the positive outcomes of these initiatives in the next years.

Akbank Data and Life Center, our largest one-off investment to date, commenced service in 2019. This center will play an important role in shaping the banking sector in Turkey. Akbank is a very exciting place to be for young people who want to actualize their new and brilliant ideas.

In 2019, we had significant achievements in digitalization. This year, at the Euromoney awards, we were selected “World’s Best Digital Bank”. This is the first time an emerging market bank is honored with such a prestigious award. This award is an indicator that Turkish banks have a say in digitalization. Our innovations in the sector, our strong capital, technology infrastructure, and our employees who are amongst the most talented bankers in Turkey, were the most significant contributors to our success. With the renewed Akbank Mobile, we began to offer our customers a simple and practical brand-new mobile banking experience. We put in a great effort while designing Akbank Mobile, which was launched a few months ago. I believe we differentiated ourselves in the sector in this area.

In 2019, we also launched the ‘Tosla’ application developed by our subsidiary Aköde, which is the first fintech founded by a bank as its subsidiary in Turkey. Tosla is an enjoyable and social platform enabling young people to perform their daily financial transactions. New features will be launched within a few months’ time. Today, we still have a sizeable unbanked population. Tosla will also have important effects on financial inclusion.

In order to be successful while preparing for the future, it is crucial for culture and technology to be in harmony. We have young, highly educated, innovative and dynamic human resources. We are working hard to contribute to innovation culture and nourish young people’s innovative visions. While shaping the future, we believe success comes from a strong foundation in human and culture. Therefore, we changed the unit’s name from Human Resources to Human and Culture at Akbank.

In Akbank, another priority for us for the last few years is design. The companies creating a difference in the world are managing to do so by offering a new, different customer service via bold designs. We designed every point we touch with this approach, from Next Generation Akbank branches to our mobile banking application. We are bringing the best designers in the world to Turkey. Last year, we established our own design studio (Akbank Design Studio). We are also taking extensive actions to support the design-thinking culture.

I believe our efforts to differentiate ourselves, our robust shareholders’ equity, and liquidity will contribute to our strength in the market in 2020 and afterwards. We will continue our work to respond to the changing needs of our customers. I believe all our initiatives will have very positive reflections on customer satisfaction and financial results. I would like to extend my deep gratitude to our employees for their strong performance, to our shareholders for the trust they place in us, and all other stakeholders.