NLB Komercijalna Banka has defended its market leader position in the area of agricultural loans and in providing unconditional support to farmers. The economy recognises the bank as a strategically important partner, and citizens it as a reliable pillar of support in resolving important life issues
With sustainable and responsible operations, based on deep industry knowledge, we’ve justified the trust of both our parent group and the almost one million clients for whom we’re preparing a new and agile working model announces NLB Komercijalna Banka CEO Vlastimar Vuković, before revealing some of the bank’s numerous plans to CorD Magazine.
The merger of Komercijalna Banka and NLB is among the rare examples of foreign investors entering the Serbian banking sector in recent years. How would you evaluate this experience today?
The merging of NLB and Komercijalna Banka took 430 days, with more than 500 employees and external partners successfully mapping and integrating all processes and organisational elements during that time. One of Serbia’s largest retail banking networks was formed, many branches were rebranded and around 200 applications were optimised, while the joint products and services portfolio was also expanded significantly. We achieved record results during this very challenging transitional period – exceeding all plans and expectations, and we used part of the profits to replace the entire ATM network with new and multifunctional latest-generation devices.
While the entire market was shrinking, we had growth of 7.3% in corporate lending and our share of NPLs dropped to a historic low
That’s why it comes as no surprise that this merger process is considered in professional circles as being among the most complex financial integration processes ever implemented in the region, but also one of the most successful. For us, this merger is merely the foundation for us to continue building a new first-choice bank for all employees and clients.
How are you responding to the ever-more prominent digitalisation trend and the inclusion of artificial intelligence in the sector?
While artificial intelligence, augmented reality and fintech solutions are being utilised increasingly, traditional working models are slowly giving way to modern alternatives. With an awareness of that, we followed the completion of the merger by initiating a comprehensive transformation of our business model, but also our ways of thinking and working.
We launched 24 different projects and more than 3,000 activities, via which almost 400 employees from 29 different organisational units will optimise and modernise procedures, as well as digitalising most products and services. This will result in a new, agile working model that will make us faster, more efficient and even closer to clients.
How have you helped your business clients to navigate this challenging year?
Crises are a kind of test of relations between banks and their clients, particularly business clients, which rightly expect you to fundamentally understand their business, making every step in the banking process personal and more efficient. That’s why we’ve supported each of our clients from the beginning of the year until now, adjusting every aspect of our operations to suit them – from the portfolio of products and services, to our internal procedures. In the first half of the year, when the entire market was shrinking, we had growth of 7.3% in corporate lending and our share of NPLs dropped to a historic low. As a bank that’s systemically significant and one of the factors of stability for the entire market, we supported investments and the further development of the entire community. The high liquidity, stability and capacity of our bank and parent NLB Group to support capital projects were confirmed with the financing of the construction of the Krivača Wind Farm, with 142 million euros, and project financing worth 55 million euros for the Sava Centre. This is a clear indicator that we, together with our clients and the community in which we operate, are on the road to recovery.