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Business and Personal Finance

Banking Both Ways

George Piskov

Uniastrum Bank, one of the market leaders in banking for foreigners in Russia, has announced a new account programme called Janus. Named after the Roman guardian of gates and the god of beginnings (he gave his name to the month of January), he is represented by a double-faced head.

This ability to look both ways is what the Uniastrum Janus account is all about.

It was the personal banking experience of George Piskov, Chairman of the Board, that gave him the idea for Janus, as he himself explained at a press conference: I spend a good part of my time abroad on business, and I know how difficult it can be for a foreigner like myself not only to open an account, but to know where to go to get the best independent advice. I was thinking that it must be the same for foreigners in Russia, even more so; and that was how Janus came into being. Everything that you get from a bank abroad, you will get from Uniastrum.

Uniastrum has appointed Marc Lewis as its qualified Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) and Vice-President of the Expatriate Division at the banks head office in Moscow, to supervise and lead the Janus programme. An Independent Financial Adviser endeavours to increase the material wealth of his clients and to provide them with advice about a wide range of services such as loans, mortgages, life insurance, share funds and pension plans. In Russia, these services are no longer provided only by foreign-owned banks, and this makes the need for an IFA even greater.

Marc Lewis explained that, The project will be launched in June, at an open event for everyone who is interested. The complete Janus package will include a whole range of banking and consulting services. People can come to me for advice about all of the possibilities now available here for private medical insurance, life insurance, mortgages, tax planning and anything that affects their personal financial situation.

The press release distinguishes between the basic package Janus-Executive, which offers an easily-accessible savings account at attractive rates, and Janus-Terms, where clients can place deposits on fixed terms. All of the usual account features are included, such as debit and credit cards, and a Uniastrum Bank card for ATMs.

Janus is aimed at middle to high-income clients, but no client is too small for me says Lewis; todays kiosk-holder is tomorrows hypermarket magnate. He sees a gap in the market especially for those many foreign employees in Russia who are unable to take advantage of the many new financial services now available here.

Most important of all he is what he says he is an independent adviser: As an Independent Financial Adviser I am duty-bound to my clients to get the best offers on the market. You dont have to worry about me having any agreement for example with one particular insurance company or medical centre. He explains his role at Uniastrum Bank: Uniastrum is aiming to deliver a package of services to its clients. I am a part of these services, but there is free access to my advice, and there is no obligation to open an account at Uniastrum even if you just want information about arranging life-insurance cover.

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