role: Supervisor of Banks
Over the years I studied for a master’s degree in public administration and leadership, which I graduated with honors, striving to touch on education and teaching in old age. In 2015, the bank sent me to study advanced management at Harvard. I could not believe that I, little Yair Avidan – a second generation Holocaust survivor who had no money for oranges and white kernels – was a student at the best university in the world. It hurts me that Dad did not get to see it.
Who am I: Manager of opportunities and not risks, with managerial confidence, very sensitive, sociable, investor, versatile, rational and proportionate, not afraid to confront, but not looking for conflicts. A great believer in working together.
Roots: Dad’s ones are in Transylvania, Romania. They were a religious family, some rabbis and the rest merchants. During the war, Dad sold cakes at the train station as a teenager to help earn a living, and immediately after that, when he was 16, the family immigrated to Israel, settled in Haifa, and Grandpa opened a candy store. Dad had almost no education because of the circumstances.
In Israel he decided to take down the dome, worked in construction, and after enlistment he came to the HA Technical School, served as an aircraft technician and was a permanent flight mechanic. When he graduated, he started working in the aerospace industry and was one of its pioneers. He worked in aircraft testing, completed matriculation, studied law, and among other things was one of the managers of the Kfir manufacturing plant and traveled on a mission to Mexico.
The side of mother, a wealthy family of furniture dealers from Lodz, Poland, who owned a summer house and servants. The war began when my mother was 7. Grandpa was drafted into the Russian army, and the family barely survived in the ghetto. In the end, Grandma was in a difficult situation, Mom and her little sister took her to the hospital and put her in an orphanage for a few months, until Grandpa came back and found them there.
Mother continued her studies at a high school in Lodz and immigrated to Israel in 1949 with the youth aliyah, joined Kibbutz Amir, and from there moved to Revadim. Grandpa and Grandma came to Haifa after her. Grandpa opened a carpentry shop, was stung and lost money, and after a while bought the “Glaur” cinema. I remember he would put me in the movies, and after the western I saw he would take me out because we showed an adult movie.
The parents met when the mother was in the army, bought an apartment in Maoz Aviv, in the permanent residents’ housing. Mother was a complete housewife. The big challenge of her life was to start a family and a home in Israel and raise my brother and me. I was born as a gift to a decade celebrated in the country.
holocaust: The parents did not talk about what they went through in the Holocaust, and only when I was 34 did they open up and start telling, especially mother, who survived after her thanks to the wall she built between her and the trauma, in 2006 she testified at Yad Vashem. The Holocaust is present to this day. During the Gulf War, my mother would cook potatoes and hard-boiled eggs so that there would be something to eat in a time of need, and at the Wall Guard she told me that during the war she slept with her shoes on so she could run to the shelter and not have them stolen.
My girls: Maoz Aviv. We were kids of grass, football, basketball, seven stones, a long donkey. I was in the Presidential tribe in Scouts, and my parents paved the way for me to study electronics in a vocational school, so that I could have a profession. When I enlisted in the army I did my best not to engage in it. I passed the tests for a pilot course, and in half I signed a waiver because they wanted me to be a fighter pilot, and I wanted to fly helicopters, by the way, that’s still my dream. I did the rest of the service as an intelligence officer and commanded a decoding officers course. After graduation I studied math and computer science for a semester and left to work for the fashion company Sabi, as a Friday in the hierarchy.
Liora: My wife, a graphic designer by training, is an artist, painter and ceramic worker, creative and ticklish. She’s my best friend, and if she were not, I would not have gotten where I am. She has so many rights in who I am, I’m excited to say that, and really love her. We met when we were babies in Maoz Aviv. My mother-in-law who saw me in the stroller at age 3 told my mother, “This will be my groom.” They flew to Sweden for a few years, and when they returned, Liora was a year below me in Scouts and School. Her best friend was a friend of mine, and through her the bond tightened. We have three children, a bitch and there was also a horse. We live in Hod Hasharon.
Career: I went back to study and graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in economics and statistics. I worked for a year in the finance department of the Lavi project in the aerospace industry and from there I moved to the economics division at Bank Leumi, then I was five years in the business division and two years in the bank’s cadet program and flew to New York with two small children. Shortly after we returned to Israel, I switched to investment banking in Poalim Capital Markets.
Yair Avidan (Photo: Reuven Castro)
Discount: I had a dream of being at the headquarters of a large corporation as an assistant chairman and CEO. When Aryeh Mintkevich was appointed chairman of Discount, I applied to be his assistant, and after three years with him, I held a number of positions, including deputy head of the business unit, chief risk officer, I established two divisions, I was chairman of Mercantile, director at Discount New York and chairman The Trust Company.
Over the years I studied for a master’s degree in public administration and leadership, which I graduated with honors, striving to touch on education and teaching in old age. In 2015, the bank sent me to study advanced management at Harvard. I could not believe that I, little Yair Avidan, a second generation Holocaust survivor, who had no money for orangeda and white kernels, was a student at the best university in the world. It hurts me that Dad did not get to see it.
After 21 years at Discount I decided to retire and dedicate my time to serving on the boards, volunteering in the community and myself. I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Bank in New York, to that of ICL, Discount Capital, ISA and rating and parallel, I was on the board of directors of Hadassah Youth, the “Push” association and the mentoring program of Tel Aviv University.
Supervisor of Banks: I had a real dilemma whether to try and approach the position of supervisor. Those close to me pushed me and thought I could contribute and fulfill myself, and on the other hand, I had a magical year with my wife, children and friends, and I eventually applied to the selection committee and took office the day we left the first quarantine, in a challenging time, in uncertainty.
Corona: I arrived with a well-equipped toolbox and rich managerial experience. The first decision was to act on three levels: addressing Corona, current issues and investing in strategic thinking. My assessment was that we would live next to the corona for a long time, and we had to make complex decisions on a variety of issues such as loan outlines, loan layout, consumer credit and mortgages, small businesses, relieve stress and believe that whoever was in good shape before the corona would get on its feet.
Stability of the banking system: There was a point concern that there would not be enough money at ATMs and that the public would interpret that there was no money, but we got organized very quickly and prepared for the sequel. There are 50 shades of green. At the end of the day and at the beginning, the banking system is fed by customers. Those who were in good condition continued to be treated well. There were loan deferrals, close to NIS 180 billion. A large portion of restaurants and entertainment businesses do not routinely receive credit either. Many banks in Los Angeles have gone bankrupt because of the entertainment business, so there is great caution, on the other hand, the banks have put up and renewed more than 900,000 loans. I do not want to sound like a lobbyist, but in May 2020 the system worked at half power, there was difficulty in moving to remote work, and it took the banks between three and six months to balance.
Concern for banks and not for the public: It is difficult to change this image, but it is important to understand that the Supervisor of Banks deals with issues that correspond with each other – the stability of the banks and activity with customers. The bank has a responsibility to return the funds that the public has deposited with it before its responsibility for granting loans. Citizens are also confused about the role of the bank. Keeping depositors’ money is keeping customers, and when the system is stable the banks have customers. Public trust is very important to us, and the Bank-Customer Division handles it, among other things, selects the outstanding bank, and on the other hand, sanctions have been imposed on the banking system, Max, Isracard and Bank Leumi for harming customers.
Branch closures: Do not ignore the incident, which is significant for the less technological population. Out of 1,200 branches, 140 have been closed in the last decade, some of the requests for closure have been rejected by us. On the other hand, more branches were opened in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors. We are still in the position of a branch for 100,000 residents, which is an excellent condition.
Open Banking Reform: Our flagship project in recent years. It has the potential to increase competition in the financial system, give the consumer better control over the information concerning him and improve the products and services he will receive from the bank and fintechs and third parties. We also want to expand it to more information about what exists in banks and other entities.
Real Estate Credit: Real estate is a significant locomotive in the economy, and during the Corona crisis we allowed banks to increase the volume of financing for real estate and infrastructure to enable the construction of residential and employment projects. The level of risk in the activity at the moment is reasonable, but recently, due to the small number of projects, the level of competition has risen and with it the appetite for risk, a phenomenon that we monitor, so we instructed the banking system to avoid it.
leisure: There is a desirable and there is a common. I run outside, I did the Israel Trail from end to end, I circled a lot of Blanc, trying to read and being with the family as much as possible.
Looking to the future: Wishing myself health, love and happiness, to continue donating and giving and to reach the appropriate balances. The word I long for is “ease.” What about another term? It is said that the one who walks slowly will arrive on time. seen.