We spoke with Marijana Vasilescu, President of the Executive Board of Sberbank Srbija, about banking operations, digitisation and consolidation in the banking sector.
How satisfied are you with the bank’s operations this year?
– We are extremely satisfied with operations, this year and in general since Sberbank Srbija started operating on the Serbian market. We ended last year with a significant increase in the number of clients of as much as 62 per cent, and during this year we are continuing to record great results.
Deposits and placements with both retail clients and businesses are growing and they are precisely the ones who best confirm the quality of our business model.
Namely, growth of 11 per cent in deposits of the population, but also growth of 8.7% in deposits in the segment of large and medium-sized enterprises in the first half of the year, are a clear signal of the trust we have gained.
Placements with retail clients in the first half of the year grew by 23 per cent, while the credit portfolio of medium-sized and large enterprises increased by 17 per cent compared to the previous year.
The profit realised in the first half of the year is 35 per cent higher than in the same period last year, and we expect that by the end of the year it will be two and a half times higher compared to last year. This kind of good result is based on an increase in the number of clients, improvements in efficiency and the optimisation of operating costs.
We expect the future to bring us new growth, and our corporate policy is such that we are always ready to provide our customers with an even better offer and to nurture partnership relations
What makes the Serbian banking market attractive for your bank?
–I would say that we are mutually attractive – the Serbian market for the bank, but also that the offer of the bank is attractive and recognised as such by the market.
When we view the parameters determined by the size of a bank, we can state freely that we are a medium-sized bank. That fact itself represents our comparative advantage and gives us the opportunity to be quick in making changes dictated by the market and trends, and to offer above-average service quality.
In that context, I would mention numerous initiatives and projects, and among them I would highlight the unique partnership programme on the Serbian Super Card market, of which we are co-owners, and with which we have satisfied a special market niche.
The development of digital banking is one of the key aspects of our business plan. I will note that we are very proud that we are the first bank in Serbia to enable customers to pay their bills via mobile phones – by scanning the 2D bar code. This service eases the payment of bills significantly, with maximum precision.
In the corporate business segment, we are positioned as a bridge between Serbian and Russian companies, while our share in foreign trade with Russia currently totals 20 per cent, with a tendency of continuous growth.
In your opinion, what has been brought by the current wave of banking sector consolidation?
– We believe that consolidation will be a wind in the sails of banks that will stimulate us to invest even more in our own development and growth. Generally, this year has seen significant changes in the ownership structures of banks, and we are awaited by even greater activity in the domain of digitisation, increasing the efficiency of operations and unavoidably intensive cooperation with FinTech companies.
The strong support that Sberbank Srbija has, thanks to financial giant Sberbank Russia and the members of the Sberbank Europe Group, both in terms of expertise and specialisation, and in terms of virtually unlimited funds that we can lend to the Serbian economy, definitely represents our comparative advantage.