We want to have a constant and stable organic growth on a month-on-month basis while providing our customers with added value thanks to our staff’s great expertise, excellent understanding of customers’ needs and capabilities, higher comfort in using our services and more favourable, flexible and better banking services.
“The market in which we operate is extremely competitive and it constantly changes. Our bank has set, as always, quite ambitious but achievable goals. I am confident of that because Sberbank Serbia today is made of a very well-coordinated team of experts and professionals who have been working in the banking sector for years and know the needs, challenges and problems that all our clients and partners face very well. Sberbank Serbia is one of the most important bridges in business cooperation between Serbia and Russia, which is quite understandable since we operate as a member of the largest Russian bank in the world.”
You were recently appointed the Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Serbia. What goals have you set for yourself in terms of developing Sberbank’s business in Serbia?
Our bank operates stably while nurturing and developing cooperation with an extremely large number of clients – both individuals and legal entities – who sincerely perceive Sberbank Serbia as their parent and main bank.
Sberbank Serbia has two strategic goals in the coming period. We want to continue with improving all our services, because only in that way can we offer our clients even more favourable and better quality solutions. Therefore, we are working hard on further digitalization of our products, the development of advisory support on our website which now features a modern chat-bot platform, as well as the modernization of all services we provide to business owners and domestic companies. This trend will continue in the coming period.
Another important goal is to further strengthen the Sberbank team and make sure that all our colleagues have the opportunity to continue developing, personally and professionally. This is why we launched a large-scale HR project called “Sberbank’s Path of Knowledge”, which provides all our employees with the opportunity to express their talents and interests, or to continue their further development through a series of well-designed training sessions, while adopting new knowledge and skills . The reason for all this is extremely logical. There is no good service without satisfied staff. We are all aware of that. Our team and employees are our greatest potential, while investing in their further development is always the best and most profitable investment.
How would you rate Sberbank Serbia’s operations and results accomplished during the coronavirus pandemic?
In short, great perseverance and commitment to clients are the best description of our business in the past period. This is why I am quite confident that clients and business partners, when all this is over, will remember us as a bank that, even in the most challenging months, has always been there, determined and ready to provide them with timely, top quality support. We have maintained stability, presence and determination. Our clients and partners expect this from their bank.
On the other hand, our bank has demonstrated that it can operate extremely successfully even in the most challenging period. If such a trend, agility and energy continue, 2021 will be the best year for us since the bank’s inception, financially-wise.
“Our team and employees are our greatest potential, while investing in their further development is always the best and most profitable investment”
With a strong lending activity, we have managed to increase the value of the loan portfolio by over 50 million euros compared to the beginning of the year. For example, only in the SME segment, we have recorded a 35% increase in placements than in the same period last year. At the same time, during the second quarter of this year, in the large and corporate clients segments, we recorded a 30% increase in the payment of guarantees, letters of credit and other documentary instruments and a 77% increase in generated net fees relative to the same period 2020. The value of our loan portfolio in the retail segment alone exceeded half a billion euros, while the value of retail deposits increased by over 600 million euros.
The good work organization and the huge energy that our employees are investing in everything we do, have led us to generate a profit of over 12.5 million euros during the first eight months of this year alone and to significantly exceed the results originally set for 2021.
Of course, our active involvement in the programme of lending to businesses with a state guarantee scheme made a significant contribution to this result, under which we have so far approved and paid out over 160-million-euro-worth of loans, and supported more than 3,000 domestic companies with favourable liquidity loans. Our share in the total amount of these placements exceeded 7.6%, which is twice as much as our share in total assets in the domestic banking market, while our share in the number of disbursed loans exceeded 10% and unequivocally speaks of our bank’s desire to meet the needs of as many domestic businesses as possible.
In which ways does Sberbank support the cooperation between Russian and Serbian companies?
In addition to numerous services that we have designed to facilitate cooperation between Russian partners and domestic companies, our bank is also actively involved in the promotion of domestic producers and the organization of gatherings where our businesspeople can meet potential partners from Russia. To this end, a B2B conference was held this year, at which eight Serbian companies presented their production potential to the leading Russian retail chain X5. Organic and environmentally friendly products from Serbian producers, as well as products that don’t contain palm oil, were strongly featured in those presentations. The results are already visible – the first cooperation agreements between Serbian producers and the X5 retail chain have already been concluded. For instance, the Serbian company Modital from Zrenjanin has already started exporting its products to Russia.
“If such a trend, agility and energy continue, 2021 will be the best year for us since the bank’s inception, financially-wise”
Regarding the specific services that Sberbank Serbia provides to domestic businesses who are already cooperating with Russia or are planning to enter the Russian market, in addition to favourable transaction banking services, I would like to highlight out documentary business products, letters of credit, payment guarantees and advance guarantees. Then there is our international factoring service, which is becoming increasingly popular among domestic companies and business owners, because this service guarantees payment security and facilitates easier and better liquidity management. It is not surprising that in recent months we have been contacted by quite a few domestic exporters, who are interested in our international factoring service and who come to Sberbank Serbia following referrals from their business partners and customers.
You are involved in the My Data for the Bank project. What other activities have you carried out with the view of digitalizing your services and what exactly does this project entail?
People will certainly benefit the most from this project, because in this way, Sberbank Serbia has allowed them to submit their personal data and loan documentation to the bank in digital form by using the eGovernment web portal. This means that people can now obtain our favourable loans completely online, from the comfort of their home and with no need to submit various statements and certificates to us in paper form.
We already received loan applications from clients via this digital service in early August, and their number has been constantly growing. This is very encouraging for us to see, but also a validation that people are very interested in using this beneficial service.
The My Data for the Bank service is available to everyone who has opened an account on the eGovernment web portal and has an electronic ID. This electronic ID is a set of parameters that people can get only from state bodies, and our bank wants to ensure soon that both our clients and Serbian citizens can get their electronic ID completely free of charge in our branches. In this way, Sberbank will further contribute to the process of creating a digital identity of Serbian citizens, which will significantly improve business in our country and create new digital processes.
Sberbank has been spending a lot of funds on socially responsible activities that contribute to the development of art and environmental protection. Which projects would you highlight in particular?
Over the past year, we have supported many CSR projects and organizations. We have successfully implemented a large number of donations to health care institutions in Serbia, with the view of further contributing to the improvement of their work and an even more successful fight against Covid-19. In the second half of 2020, Sberbank set donated over 8.2 million dinars towards the purchase of new ventilators, improving treatment conditions in the hospital in Kikinda and other medical centres in Serbia (through a direct donation to RHIF and UNICEF), and helping the Torlak Virology, Vaccine and Sera Institute.
In the past few months, we have launched an important environmental and educational project called SberGreen – 1 Email = 1 Tree whereby we invited our clients to leave us their email addresses and consents in order to send them all notifications electronically in the future, rather than in paper form. At the same time, we committed to plant one tree for each email and consent we receive.
So far, we have collected 22,600 email addresses and we will have planted over 23,000 trees by December 2021. Public enterprises Srbijašume and Nacionalni Park Fruška Gora gave us a strong support in this endeavour, as did the Ministry of Environmental Protection. We have already carried out several afforestation campaigns on the slopes of the Suvobor and Rudnik mountains and in Belgrade, while the planting of trees in the Fruška Gora National Park is planned for the autumn.