Marijana Vasilescu, CEO Of Sberbank Serbia:

Proud Of Record Client Growth

The goal of Sberbank Serbia is to further strengthen contacts between Serbia and Russia, with the aim of increasing cooperation between local and Russian companies, as well as providing comprehensive expertise for the development of consulting services in this area

One of the pillars of the strategy of Sberbank Serbia is for it to be positioned as a bridge between Serbian and Russian companies. Today Sberbank Serbia participates to foreign trade with Russia with a significant share of slightly more than 20 per cent, while the goal is for that total to reach 30 per cent by 2018.

With a tradition dating back over 170 years, Sberbank’s arrival in Serbia saw it gain an enviable reputation on the domestic market and in the region. What are your experiences like to date and how would you assess trends in the Serbian banking sector?

– We are extremely satisfied with operations and the results achieved. Today Sberbank Serbiais recognised as a strong brand that client trust and which represents a partner bank for them. This is best evidenced by the record increase in the number of active clients during 2016, which totalled more than 60 per cent, achieved primarily thanks to initiatives in the areas of partnerships, development of card-based and digital business, clear and transparent communication and innovative products and services.

As an absolutely dominant trend, and one that is already our reality, is digitisation, and in that area we have launched major projects and set ambitious goals. I will mention just one example, which is that we were the first bank in Serbia to enable bill payments by scanning 2D barcodes via a mobile phone. Innovative and practical solutions that are simple for end users, as well products and services, are tha areas towards which our operations are directed.

In the CEE region, including Serbia, you have over 4,300 employees in 230 branches. Does a bank with this potential imply the arrival of new investors and the further strengthening of economic cooperation with Russia?

– The fact that we are part of Sberbank Europe Group and Sberbank of Russia, which represents the strongest financial institution in the Russian Federation, with a tradition dating back 175 years, gives us many advantages. First of all I am referring to the virtually limitless lending possibilities, which is most strongly reflected in the segment of corporate business and significant loan arrangements realised.

Alongside that, our aim is also to use contacts with Russia more, in order to increase cooperation between local and Russian companies, and rich expertise in the development of consulting services in this area. Practise to date has shown that Russian companies see us as the preferred first point of contact when entering the domestic market, and that is great potential that domestic companies can and should use, and vice versa.

As an absolutely dominant trend, and one that is already our reality, is digitisation, and in that area we have launched major projects and set ambitious goals

The regional banking sector is today going through turbulence and facing accumulated problems, especially in the area of NPLs. Where do you see room for Sberbank’s development on this market?

– Sberbank Srbija has taken decisive steps and initiatives that have contributed to improving the quality of assets. From year to year we reduce the ratio of NPLs, while we have significantly increased the funds allocated for their coverage.

Over the years we have significantly improved the quality of the portfolio, which contributed to the rapid growth of the crediting business.

What sets Sberbank Serbia apart from other banks on the domestic banking market today?

– All of us at Sberbank Serbia are truly dedicated to ensuring the satisfaction of our clients, building and fostering partnership relations with them. Innovations, offers aligned with needs and a presence in places where our clients are on a daily basis, set us apart on this market.

The quality of the relations we cultivate with our clients has also been recognised by the independent international organisation ICERTIAS, thanks to which we proudly wear the medal “Because we value our clients”. Only companies that have a tested an exemplary relationship with their clients and employees can access this certification programme.

We also work intensively on optimising the efficiency of operations and we can boast of the fact that today Sberbank Serbia is among the top five most efficient banks in terms of the ratio between operating expenses and operating income. At the basis of all the results we achieve is expertise, but also the commitment of our employees, and the fact that Sberbank Serbia is recognised as the right place for the growth and the development of our employees is confirmed by the 2016 “Top Serbian Brands” Award for the best employer.