No Image
No Image


No Image

Financial Institutions in Turkey

Financial Institutions in Turkey













Financial Institutions in Turkey

Financial institutions are the parts of the financial system. The financial system is the complex structure, and every year it channels billions of dollars, euros, yens, Turkish liras from savers to people with productive investment opportunities. Financial institutions commonly separated as depository institutions and as non-bank institutions.

Our major target in this paper is to have a wide look at financial institutions in Turkey. For easy work and best understanding it makes sense to follow mere wisdom think globally- do locally. So, in order to make a proper outline, I plan firstly work on general financial institutions all over the world, and then look whether they exists in Turkey, their structure and how they work.

Non-bank Financial Institutions

Although depository institutions, or by other words banks are the financial institutions we deal with most often, they are not the only financial institutions we come in contact with. In such transactions like purchasing insurance from insurance company, or buying a share of common stock with the help of the broker, we are dealing with non-bank financial institutions.

The role of non-bank financial institutions is to transfer funds from lenders-savers to borrowers-spenders. In the time of technological progress, non-bank financial institutions innovate new services, and now compete more directly with banks by providing banklike services to their customers.


Insurance Companies: Every day we face the possibility of the occurrence of certain catastrophic events that could lead to large financial losses. Because these losses could be large relative to our financial resources, people found the solution by buying insurance coverage that will compensate the sum of money if catastrophic events occur.

Life Insurance Companies: The first life insurance company in the United States (Presbyterian Ministers Fund in Philadelphia) was established in 1759, in Turkey it was established in 1893 by Osmanli Sigorta, a member of Osmanli Bank. In 1918 was created İttihad-i Milli the first insurance company created by Turkish laws. This huge difference in time was because insurance in Ottoman Empire was accepted as gambling, and correspondingly was forbidden. But after two great fires in Beyoglu and Kumkapi (Stanbul) in 1870 the laws were rearranged, and gave permission for foreign insurance companies to service in Ottoman Empire.

Life insurance company sells policies that provide income if a person dies and incapacitated by illness, or retire. Such companies are organized in two forms: as stock companies or as mutual companies. Stock companies are owned by stockholders; mutuals are technically owned by policyholders.

Because death rates for population as whole are predictable with a high degree of certainty, life insurance companies can accurately predict what their payouts to policyholders will be in the future. Consequently, they hold long-term assets that are not particularly liquid corporate bonds and commercial mortgages as well as some corporate stocks.

There are two principal forms of life insurance policies: permanent life insurance (such as whole, universal, and variable life) and temporary insurance (such as term). Permanent life insurances policies have a constant premium throughout the life of the policy. In the early years of the policy the size of the premium exceeds the amount needed to ensure against death because the probability of death is low. Thus the policy builds up a cash value in its early years. But in later years the cash value declines because the constant premiums falls below the amount needed to ensure against death, the probability of which is now higher. Term insurance, by contrast, has premiums that are matched every year to the amount needed to ensure against death during the period of the term (for example one or five years). Hence term policies have no cash value, thus, in contrast to permanent life policies, provide insurance only, with no savings aspects.

Property And Casualty Insurance Companies: Property and casualty insurance companies specialize in policies that pay fro losses incurred as a result of accidents, fire, or theft. Property and casualty insurance companies same as life insurance companies separated both as stock and mutual companies, and regulated by government. The investment policies of property and casualty insurance companies are affected by two basic facts. First, because they are subject to income taxes, the largest share of their assets is held in tax-exempt municipal bonds. Second, because property losses are more uncertain than the death rate in a population, these insurers are less able to predict how much they will have to pay policyholders than life insurance companies are. The earthquake in Izmit in 1999 exposed the property and casualty insurance companies to huge losses. Therefore, property and casualty insurance companies hold more liquid assets than life insurance companies. Property and casualty insurance companies will insure against losses from any type of events, including fire, theft, negligence, malpractice, earthquakes, and automobile accidents. If possible loss being insured is too large for any firm, several firms may join together to write a policy in order to share the risk. Insurance companies may also reduce their risk exposure by obtaining reinsurance. Reinsurance allocates a portion of the risk to another company in exchange for a portion of the premium and is particularly important for small insurance companies. The most famous risk-sharing operation is Lloyds of London, an association in which different insurance companies underwrite a fraction of an insurance policy. In Turkey the reinsurance activities also widely used, there is many companies that deal with other insurance companies by reinsurancing. As an example we could give Marsh Reinsurance that give reinsurance service and reinsure into the reinsurance companies abroad directly or through reinsurance brokers. There is also the Association of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies of Turkey located in Istanbul.

Pension Funds: in performing the financial intermediation function of asset transformation, pension funds provide the public with another kind of protection: income payments on retirement.

There is an important increase in share of pension funds due to tax policy, because employer contribution to an employee pension plans are tax-deductive. Furthermore, tax policy has also encouraged employee contribution to pension funds by making them tax-deductible as well as enabling self-employed individuals to open up their own tax-sheltered pension plans, Keogh plans, and individuals retirement accounts (IRAs). Because the benefits paid out of the pension fund each year are highly predictable, pension funds invest in long-term securities, with the bulk of their asset holdings in bonds, stocks, and long-term mortgages. The key management issues for pension funds revolve around asset management: Pension fund managers try to hold assets with high expected returns and lower risk through diversification.

The structure of pension funds in Turkey changed over time, affected by global changes in economic world. For example in the past, pension funds hold about 99% of their funds in government bonds and only 1% in stocks. But currently, when stock performs outstanding performance, pension funds hold about 25% of their funds in stocks. Pension funds are now the dominant players in the stock market.

Pension funds in Turkey are two types: private pension funds and public pension plans. Private pension funds are administrated by the banks, a life insurance companies, or a pension fund manager. Anadolu Emeklilik is live example for private pension funds. SSK, Emekli Sandigi are public pension plans, that are give services to public workers.

Beside this, pension funds are highly related with the trust. Households will not save their money in banks, pension funds, or other financial institutions if they have no trust to them. The government plays here an important role in protection household savings and regulating the structural work of financial institutions. The legal legislation, like FDIC increases the trust of people to the banks and others. As long as households trust to private pension funds they deal with them.

Many turkish banks also gives private pension fund services (Ak Bank- Ak Emeklilik), and outstanding increase in pension funds rate is also related to people trust to the turkish banking, as well as to the pension funds.

Finance Companies: Financial companies acquire funds by issuing commercial paper or stocks and bond or borrowing from banks, and they use the proceeds to make loans (often for small amounts) that are particularly well suited to consume and business needs. The financial intermediation process of finance companies can be described by saying that they borrow in large amounts, but often lend in small amounts- a process quite different from that of banking institutions, which collect deposits in small amounts and often make large loans. There are three types of financial companies in Turkey: sales, consumers, and business.

1.      Sales Finance Companies are owned by a particular retailing or a manufacturing company and make loans to consumers to purchase items from that company. Sales finance companies compete directly with banks for consumer loans and are used by consumers because loans can frequently be obtained faster and more conveniently at the location where an item is purchased.

2.      Consumer Finance Companies make loans to consumers to by particular items such as furniture or home appliance, to make home improvements, or to help refinance small debts. Consumer finance companies are separate corporations, or are owned by banks. Typically, these companies make loans to consumers who can not obtain credit from other sources and charge higher interest rates.

3.      Business Finance Companies provide specialized forms of credit to businesses by making loans and purchasing accounts receivable at a discount; this provision of credit is called factoring. Besides factoring business finance companies also specialize in leasing equipment, which they purchase and then lease to businesses for a set number of years.

Mutual Funds: Mutual Funds are financial intermediaries that pool the resources of many small investors by selling them shares and using the proceeds to by securities. Through the asset transformation process of issuing shares in small denominations and buying large blocks of securities, mutual funds can take advantage of volume discounts on brokerage commissions and purchase diversified holdings (portfolios) of securities. Mutual funds allow the small investors to obtain the benefits of lower transaction costs in purchasing securities and to take advantage of the reduction of risk by diversifying the portfolio of securities held. Many mutual funds are run by brokerage firms, but others are run by banks, or independent investment advisers.

Mutual funds have seen a large increase in their market share due primarily to the booming stock market. Another source of growth was the specialization of mutual funds in dept instruments.

Funds that purchase common stocks may specialize even further and invest solely in foreign securities or in specialized industries, such as energy or high technology. Funds that purchase debt instruments may specialize further in corporate, government, or tax- exempt bonds, or in long-term or short-term securities.

Mutual Funds are primarily held by households (around 80%) with the rest hold by other financial institutions and non financial businesses.


Depository institutions, or simply banks are the most important of all financial intermediaries and are generally the first place we go when we decide to borrow money to buy a car, or go to holiday.

Bank strategy simply is collecting small deposits and making big loans, and as all economic units pursues the goal to maximize their profits. Generally banks and Turkish banks as well have four primary concerns: the first is to make sure that the bank has enough ready cash to pay its depositors when there are deposit outflows, that is, when deposits are lost because depositors make withdrawals and demand payment. To keep enough cash on hand, the bank must engage liquidity management, the acquiring assets to meet the banks obligation to depositors.

Second, the bank must pursue the acceptably low level of risk by acquiring assets that have a low rate of default and by diversifying asset holdings. The third concern is to acquire funds at low cost, and finally they must decide the amount of capital they should maintain and then acquire the needed capital.

The banking sector constitutes a great part of the Turkish financial system. Many of the transactions and activities taking place in both money and capital markets are carried out by banks. Turkeys financial system and its banking sector are virtually synonymous as a consequence of the countrys economic and historical development.

 There are a number of factors that give banking its prominent role in the Turkish economy. These are:

 -The economic structure peculiar to Turkey,

 -The choice to turn resources into long-term investments through the banks for the objectives targeted in the development plans and annual programs, and the establishment of banks by the state to finance certain sectors,

 -Extensive application of continental European banking practices as a model in the legal structure of the banking system and

 -The lack of a full-fledged capital market.


The development of the Turkish banking sector can be analyzed within six separate periods, which differ as to policy and method:

 The Period of the Money-changers and the Galata bankers (pre-1847):

During this period, all quasi-banking activities were carried out by money-changers. The Galata bankers consisted mostly of the ethnic-minorities in Istanbul.

The Period of Foreign Banks (1847-1908):

Since the financial situation of the Ottoman Empire deteriorated after the Crimean war, the Empire faced the need for external financial support. Representatives of several foreign banks came to Istanbul with the purpose of extending credits to the Empire at high interest rates. The Ottoman Bank (Osmanlı Bankası) was established in 1856. Its head office was in London and served as the Central Bank until the 1930s.

Development of National Banking and Implementation of Etatism (1909-1944)

The years following the proclamation of the Second Constitution (1908) gave rise to the national banking movement, which was a reaction to foreign banking.

 Twenty-four national banks were established in Istanbul and Anatolia between the years 1908 and 1923. However, foreign banks continued to dominate banking activities due to the consecutive wars (1911-1922), capitulations granted to foreigners and scarcity of national capital.

 In 1923, the first National Economic Congress held in Izmir dealt with a large number of economic problems that the country would have to solve. The Congress took the decision that banks would be established to finance the main sectors of the economy. T. İş Bankası (1924), Sanayi ve Maadin Bankası (1925), and Emlak ve Eytam Bankası (1927) were established to provide commercial, industrial and housing credits, respectively.

 However, the adverse effects of the Great Depression on the balance of payments and the lack of domestic capital called for a government-supported economic development policy in subsequent years. As a result of this policy, six state banks were established in the 1930s, including the Central Bank of the Turkish Republic.

Development of Private Banks (1945-1960)

Despite the adverse effects of the Second World War, a significant rate of growth and industrialization was achieved with the support of the newly established state banks, which created a tremendous increase in capital stock of the private sector.

 Beginning in the early 1950s, etatism weakened because of positive developments in the private sector, expansion of international cooperation and transition to a multi-party political system. A more liberal and private sector oriented policy was adopted in the following years, and as a result, more than 30 private banks were established by 1960.

Planned Development Period (1961-1979)

A new planned development policy was adopted in the beginning of the 1960s. According to this system, the state would administer the economy and issue recommendations to the private sector through five-year plans prepared by the government to cover all sectors.

 As recommended in the plans, several development and investment banks were established to finance various sectors in the 1960s and 1970s such as the Tourism Bank (Turizm Bankası) in 1960, Industrial Investment Bank (Sinai Yatırım Bankası A.Ş.) in 1963, State Investment Bank (Devlet Yatırım Bankası) in 1964, and the State Industry and Workers Investment Bank (Devlet Sanayi ve İşçi Yatırım Bankası) in 1975.

Liberalization and Internationalization in Banking (post-1980)

A new liberal economic policy began to be implemented in January 1980, which aimed at integration with world markets by establishing a free market economy. As a reflection of this policy, the 1980s witnessed continuous legal, structural and institutional changes and developments in the Turkish banking sector. During these years, a series of reforms were adopted to promote financial market development. The main aim of these reforms was to increase the efficiency of the financial system by fostering competition among banks.

 In this context, interest and foreign exchange rates were liberalized, new entrants to the banking system were permitted and foreign banks were encouraged to operate in Turkey. Turkish banks intensified their business relations abroad either by purchasing banks in foreign countries or by opening branches and representative offices. The liberalization of foreign exchange regulations increased the foreign exchange transactions in the banks. Beginning in 1984, the special finance institutions, operating according to Islamic banking principles, also became part of the financial system.

 The Interbank Money Market, which is administrated by the Central Bank, was established in 1986 with the purpose of regulating liquidity in the banking system.

 A uniform accounting plan and accounting principles as well as a standard reporting system were adopted in the same year. In 1987, the application of external auditing of the banks in accordance with internationally accepted accounting principles was started.

 In addition, legal and institutional arrangements were introduced to foster the development of the capital market. As a result, banks began to provide additional services such as consultancy and trading in securities, underwriting fund management, establishing mutual funds and financial consultation.

 Besides diversifying their services, banks improved their technological infrastructure by extensive use of computer systems; began employing more qualified human resources; and at the same time put an emphasis on training programs.


Banks are institutions by which funds accumulating in the economy are collected and channeled to investors. This makes the public supervision of banks essential.

 All banks in Turkey are subject to the Banks Act and to the provisions of other laws pertaining to banks. The new Banks Act No.4389, which brought substantial differences, was issued on June 23rd, 1999. Prior to the changes in the Banks Act, the Undersecretariat of the Treasury and the Central Bank had been the two main regulatory and supervisory bodies in the banking sector. With the new Act, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA) were formed, which had financial and administrative autonomy. The mission of the Agency is to safeguard the rights and benefits of depositors and create the proper environment in which banks and financial institutions can operate with market discipline, in a healthy, efficient and globally competitive manner, thus contributing to the achievement of long-run economic growth and stability of the country.

 With the establishment of the BRSA, the Savings Deposits Insurance Fund (SDIF), which had been under the authority of the Central Bank, began to operate under the administration of the BRSA. However, with the enactment of Act No. 5020 on December 26, 2003, the management of the SDIF was separated from the management of the BRSA.

 The decision-making body of the Agency is the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BRSB), which is appointed by the Council of Ministers and consists of seven members. Following the appointment of the members of the Board, the Agency commenced its operations as of August 31, 2000.

 Banks in Turkey have the status of joint-stock companies and are subject to general controls under the provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code and of various tax laws. Besides, banks are subject to special supervision by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency. As the representative body of the banking sector, the Banks Association of Turkey (BAT) aims at protecting and promoting the professional interests of its members.

 The BRSA exercises its supervisory authority on a direct and ongoing basis through the Board of Sworn Bank Auditors who is responsible for on-site examination of the banks in terms of legal considerations and financial soundness. Additionally, the banks financial statements are audited by external auditors in accordance with internationally accepted accounting principles. Banks are also examined by their own auditors, who are required to submit quarterly reports to the BRSA.

 Recently, the supervisory system has been further strengthened by legislative arrangements and a number of decisions taken in accordance with the standards of the prudential regulation exercised by the international banking community and in general covered the following banking related areas:

Foreign exchange exposures,

  Capital adequacy,

Internal control and risk management,

Lending limits

Conditions to be met by bank owners,

Bank ownership control in transfer of shares,

Consolidated and cross-border supervision of banks,

Accounting standards for financial disclosure purposes,

Prudential reporting and loan loss provisioning.

 Moreover, during 2003 and 2004, several improvements have been realized in terms of regulative and legislative framework of the Turkish banking system;

        SDIF has been separated from the administration of the BRSA and its legislative framework has been renewed for the collection non performing loans from the debtors of SDIF banks.

        In July 2004, savings deposit insurance was limited to 50 billion TL (50 thousand New Turkish Lira (YTL), approximately 37.250 USD), which is expected to decrease the moral hazard effect.

        Risk based deposit insurance system has been settled.

        In order to increase intermediation costs, stamp duties and charges on loans were removed, deposit insurance premiums were decreased considerably and special transaction taxes on deposits were lifted. Furthermore the government has eliminated the Resource Utilization Fund on commercial loans. 

       Accounting standards has been brought mostly in lines with International Accounting Standards.

Also some legislative changes and new targets are expected to realize in 2005;

        The new banking act, draft act on financial services, prepared by BRSA is expected to become into force. The draft act aims at setting a competitive environment, reducing the risks and bringing transparency in the banking sector.

        In order to improve the efficiency of supervision of the banking sector, risk based supervision model is being designed by BRSA.

        Given the recent technological innovations in financial sector more emphasis will be put into IT based audit systems.

        A new draft law on credit cards is being prepared by BRSA.

        It is expected that regulation and supervision power of non bank financial institutions to be transferred from Treasury of Turkey to BRSA


Following the November 2000 and February 2001 crises, which had negative impacts both on the economy and the banking system, an extensive streamlining plan; Banking Sector Restructuring Program was started and announced to the public in May 2001 by the BRSA. The restructuring program was based on the following main pillars: (1) Restructuring of state banks, (2) Prompt resolution of SDIF banks, (3) Strengthening of private banks, and (4) Strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework. Progresses achieved in these fields are presented below

1) Restructuring of State Banks; Financial restructuring of state banks was completed, and correspondingly they began to make profits. Similarly, with the requirements of modern banking and international competition, significant steps have been taken within the framework of operational restructuring. Besides, the number of branches of the state banks which was 2,494 as of December 2000 was reduced to 2.236 as of December 2004; and the number of personnel which was 61,601 was reduced to 39.454. 

2) Resolution of SDIF Banks; 21 banks were taken over by the SDIF between 1997 and 2003. After the BRSA began to operate on August 31, 2000 (in addition to the existing eight banks) the administration of 13 banks was assumed by the SDIF according to the resolutions of the BRSA. Of these 21 banks, 13 banks were merged; five banks were sold to domestic and foreign investors; and the licenses of two banks were revoked. By the end of December 2004 there was one bank which remained under the administration of the SDIF, Bayındırbank, the bridge bank for the resolution of the SDIF banks.

3) Strengthening the Private Banking System; Within the scope of the program focused on private banks, primary steps were taken towards strengthening the capital structures of private banks with their own resources and limiting market risks. 25 private banks were subjected to a three-phase audit process. Cash capital increases, correction of provisions set aside for nonperforming loans, positive changes engendered in the market risk and valuation of securities were taken into account during these evaluations and accordingly, three banks were determined to have capital requirements. The capital requirements of these banks were provided either by their shareholders and or by the allocation of subordinated loans given by the SDIF upon BRSA decisions. With the improvement observed in profitability, the average capital adequacy ratio of the private banks was recorded at 28.2% as of December 2004. 

4) Strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework

Concurrently with the financial and operational restructuring of the banking sector, significant progress has been made in legal and institutional regulations. Within this context, regulations were issued to prevent risk concentration in loans, limit participation of banks in non-bank financial institutions and ensure preparation and disclosure of the balance sheets of the banks in compliance with international accounting standards. Among many other structural reforms, the banking reform intended to upgrade and modernize the current rules and in general covered the following banking related areas: capital adequacy, foreign exchange exposure, internal control and risk management, deposit guarantee schemes, accounting standards for financial disclosure purposes, prudential reporting and loan-loss provisions.

As a result, the restructuring program resulted in the following in the banking sector: 

  • The banking sector entered a consolidation process.
  • The significance of state-owned and SDIF banks in the system has declined.
  • Financial risks in the banking sector have been reduced to manageable levels.
  • The capital structure of the sector has been strengthened.
  • The sector has re-entered a growth period.
  • The profitability performance of private banks has improved and state-owned banks have started to generate profit.

At the end of September 2004, the Turkish banks numbers were as follow:

Number of Banks                           


And lastly, lets say few words on this table. As we can see, after banking crisis in November 2000 and February 2001, the numbers of commercial banks as well as all other banks has declined significantly. If in 1999 number of commercial banks were 62, in 2004 it has declined to 35. These crisiss has huge negative impact on Turkish banking system, but nevertheless, it is still take the bull by the horns, and as many foreign banking giants as HSBC, Citibank, Fortis have entered the Turkish banking market it is sounds like its has a potential capacity and bright future.


F.S. Mishkin The Economics of Money, Banking and Financial Markets Colombia University Press

No Image
No Image No Image No Image

No Image
No Image