Banking transformation is vital for the future of Greek banking was the clear message to come out of a gathering in Athens of C-Suites [cluster of a corporation's most important senior executives] and executives of Greek and international banks, earlier this month.

The recovery and the strengthening of the banks, following Non Performing Loans (NPL) management which is still in progress as Greece’s four systemic banks are forecast to sell more than Euro 19bn ($21.3bn) of NPLs were extensively discussed between C-Suites and bankers.

Costas Michailides, deputy chairman, the Hellenic Bank Association and chairman of National Bank of Greece (NBG), told the gathering: “We moved from banks that 10 years ago were too big to fail, to banks that today may be too small to win. Yet the biggest threats come from our business model and from our traditional interpretation of banks’ reason for existing. I believe, we need to "re-invent and re-imagine” both.

“Banks should take on a pioneering role in the change that is indispensable in the banking sector. For this to happen, cultural change is fundamental and can only be led by shared values that resonate with the new expectations set by our people, our clients and society as a whole”.

Richard Groeneveld, md, N26 Bank Group said: “Fundamentally, customer needs have changed dramatically in recent years, and on a global scale.” He said digital banks are transforming the banking experience from end-to-end. The banking challenges we see relating to expensive products and poor usability translate across borders, which makes a fully digital, universal bank experience increasingly relevant.”

Christos Megalou, ceo of Piraeus Bank, highlighted the transformation of Greek banking has been intense and ongoing during the past years. The current macroeconomic recovery is helping the effort. “Beyond the billions of NPEs and the consequences of the multiyear crisis, Greek banks are currently engaged into a reset of their action plans and business models, with the ultimate target of revitalising the Greek economy.”

Greek banks should focus on “enhancing the top line growth, financing the key contributing sectors of the Greek economy, capturing the opportunities while dealing with the threats of open banking and accelerating their digital transformation” said Konstantinos Vasileiou, deputy ceo, Eurobank. He said Greek banks should “reinstate their role as a catalyst of economic development, contributing to their clients’ prosperity and embracing a new corporate culture of strong governance and sustainable growth”.

Lazaros Papagaryfallou, gm, cfo, Alpha Bank said his bank is giving emphasis on customer satisfaction and on the delivery of tailored and digitally enabled service. He said the bank is in the process of redesigning its operations to increase efficiency and response times. “We are already implementing a Digital Transformation program which promotes the role of digital channels in sales of products and transactions effected by customers,” he said.

Ernestos Panayiotou, chief transformation officer head of business strategy at NBG, noted the bank is adopting a “more proactive commercial approach and a more agile and competitive operating model are key parts of our strategy, powered by technology and analytics, and supported by our people”.

Andrew Ratcliffe, past president, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) stated: “A retail bank’s purpose should be to enable individuals and small business to transact, manage and plan their financial affairs in an efficient secure and responsible way in order that they all have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives.

“Strategic questions that need to be addressed include how banks choose to use their customers data, how to improve compliance as regulations develop, how to rapidly innovate, experiment, discard and improve their technology while maintaining minute by minute operational resilience and also finding how we can combine the strengths of human intelligence with artificial intelligence to find solutions to meet customers’ financial needs.”

Nikos Kalogiannis, partner, PwC Greece, said banking institutions in Greece are already in a transformational mode, in an effort to replace NPL exposures with assets and products that will enable the improvement of their results and valuations. He said: “This happens in a period where global banking redefines the structural elements of the sector and the target models, in line with the emerging customer expectations and needs. The competition may take different forms, come from different starting points and places and with a different offering, therefore it is imperative banking institutions in Greece reveal their unique competitive advantage, promote trust, offer value propositions and re-imagine customer experience. The banking workforce need to adjust their capabilities to the needs of the new era, where technology and use of data evolves exponentially.”

– Filed: 2019-11-13