I think we have succeeded in what our mission is, and that is to anticipate market expectations and create high quality products, through the application of new technologies and services
Extensive experience gained during these trying times was a turning point for the entire world based on which we will further strengthen our market position and justify customer expectations. We are going to use our experience and energy to create new products, services and projects that will make Montenegro a more attractive place for business, investment and living in general.
Given your abundant experience in the banking sector, could you tell us how the Coronavirus pandemic generally affected the operations of banks and CKB specifically?
The public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has brought a whole new reality without much time to adjust, so the entire system had to react quickly and efficiently to a new environment. Unfortunately, today we are witnessing a lack of clear state strategy and determination of decision-makers to tackle, in a more agile manner, the issues we face. This is not giving a positive signal to the existing and potential foreign investors who are rightly concerned about the direction in which the country is moving.
People are the greatest value of CKB, thus our priority has been to preserve the health of the employees. We invested significant efforts and resources to create a safe environment in which support and empathy are uncompromising values.
CKB has quality procedures in place and a modern business organization. The fact that we are a part of OTP Group, the leading banking group in the CEE region, further confirms that this is a stable and resilient system which is constantly upgraded and strengthened. Owing to that, in the environment where it was difficult to plan anything, we managed to give an adequate response to all challenges and be one step ahead, whenever possible.
“We came to understand that the awareness of the general wellbeing and interest is irreplaceable and that no personal success or satisfaction is sustainable without that awareness”
CKB Customer Protection Program, whose implementation was intensified in the past year, maybe the best example of this. As part of this Program, we met with the customers who needed our support. We created models tailored to their needs, giving them the opportunity to successfully handle the crisis and continue doing business through a sustainable approach. This is just one aspect of the partnership approach that CKB customers expect and for which they place their trust in us.
How did CKB contribute to the elimination of consequences caused by the Coronavirus pandemic?
During the pandemic, as I mentioned, we succeeded to provide solutions and offers that enable long-term stability to the customers, but also easier return to the standard way of business.
By membership in all relevant bodies such as the Montenegrin Foreign Investors Council and the Association of Banks and through all major institutional initiatives, as the largest bank on the Montenegrin market CKB strives to contribute to the recovery from the consequences of the public health crisis.
I would like to take this opportunity to underline the importance of the experience we have gained during the past period. We should be well aware now that putting personal interests ahead of collective interest and wellbeing is not a key to success, especially by decision makers who are given the opportunity to improve the quality of life of the citizens. They will always find a partner in CKB for this kind of endeavors, but they must be aware of the responsibility they have at the moment. Therefore, all personal and short-term interests must be overcome, in order for us to create a system that is stronger, fairer and more resistant to future challenges.
Crnogorska Komercijalna Banka and Podgorička banka completed the merger process in December last year. What does this mean for your customers and what benefits do they get from the integration?
The process of merging Podgorička banka into CKB was the most complex and important process of this kind in Montenegro, which lasted 17 months. We made every effort to integrate the best practices and standards of both banks and provide all our customers with the modern and best possible banking service on the market.
At present, the customers of CKB have at their disposal a wide range of products, cutting edge digital products and services, and extensive network of branches and ATMs across the country. The companies and state now have even stronger partners for the implementation of development projects, and the citizens have our support for all important endeavors in their lives.
I think we have succeeded in what our mission is, and that is to anticipate market expectations and create high quality products, through the application of new technologies and services. We are exclusively guided by high international business standards, and we improve the entire social and business environment by connecting people and projects. In all of these processes, our focus is on maintaining customer trust and satisfaction as the ultimate and core value of our overall performance.
For the third consecutive year, reputable financial magazine Global Finance named CKB the best bank in Montenegro. Furthermore, in the first quarter of this year CKB made the biggest profit, as much as EUR 5,83 million. How did you manage to achieve such results in these challenging times?
All results and awards you mentioned are the outcome of dedicated work, investment in the system and people, as well as understanding and monitoring not only the market but also the global trends. Furthermore, one principle which connects us all in CKB is when something is perceived as a difficulty or an obstacle, we are encouraged to achieve even better result!
For instance, more than 15 years ago when the digital transformation was initiated, many market participants were not aware of its importance and saw it as imposed obligation. CKB created the most advanced electronic banking system in Montenegro, which did not lag behind the best services of that time. We saw it as our chance to grow and used it. As a result of that, CKB is a digital leader and the most innovative company both in the opinion of the profession and customers.
So, if there is a secret to our success, it is to find a chance in every challenge and do our best to make the most of it.
Besides being a leader in all areas of business, CKB is a responsible member of the community in which you do business and strongly committed to corporate social responsibility. Which CSR project would you single out?
Corporate social responsibility is deeply rooted in our corporate culture. It has never been a matter of trend or self-promotion, but simply the need to do good for the community in which we live and do business. I would not single out any particular project as each one is equally important to us, but I would say that we are focused on supporting the healthcare system, children and young talents, as well as on the projects that raise awareness of the importance of art, environmental protection and equal opportunities in the society.
“So, if there is a secret to our success, it is to find a chance in every challenge and do our best to make the most of it”
The importance of socially responsible business is best shown by the fact that, although we were one of the largest donors during the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, this year we continued to cooperate with all organizations, associations and individuals that we supported in the previous years. It was extremely important for us to stand by them even in these challenging times and show once again how much we believe in what they do.
After achieving great results and following the year that brought numerous changes to the business, what are your plans and goals?
Extensive experience gained during these trying times was a turning point for the entire world and we will use it to further strengthen our market position and justify customer expectations.
We are going to draw on our experience to create new products, services and projects which will make Montenegro a more attractive place for business, investment and living in general.