Carlos de Cordoue, CEO Credit Agricole Serbia: Leaders in Financing of Agriculture

The up going trend is visible in all business lines: private individuals, agro, SME and corporate, but the most of all, we are proud on our client acquisition that marks increase year after year

In 2019, Crédit Agricole Serbia achieved a dynamic growth of number of clients, which is mostly based on service, and products they offer, but also on unique relationship model we nurture. Carlos de Cordoue, CEO Credit Agricole Serbia, talks about business results and future plans.

Next year is 15 years since you bought Meridian Bank in Serbia. How satisfied are you with doing business in our country?

— One of the most important things for each business is the good environment i.e. business climate that it operates in. Serbia is now a country with growing economy, stable monetary system and good business perspective, which is all confirmed by significant foreign investments in this country. This positive atmosphere was also stimulating for Credit Agricole to develop its business and grow on this market. In the past, a big job was done to organize and structure the bank to be in line with the Credit Agricole global policy. We dedicated time and energy to build specific corporate culture among our employees and to implement it in everyday business operations. We performed some important procedural settings in order to prepare the company for stable and quality growth. All this resulted in organic growth of Credit Agricole Srbija year after year with excellent results in NPL, portfolio quality, client acquisition and client satisfaction. How do you see the results made in 2019?— In 2019, Crédit Agricole Srbija achieved a dynamic growth of number of clients, which is mostly based on service, and products we offer, but also on unique relationship model we nurture. This relationship model is obviously recognized as attractive one, having in mind that we have succeed to significantly increase our clients portfolio, despite the strong competition in banking sector. Our results in 2019 meet the objectives we have set for in 2019 and we have over performed in some segments.  We can proudly say that in 2019 we have achieved more than one hundred billion dinars in loans, which demonstrates in which extent we are supporting Serbian economy. The up going trend is visible in all business lines: private individuals, agro, SME and corporate, but the most of all, we are proud on our client acquisition that marks increase year after year.

What are your plans for 2020 and what will the strategic focus be placed on?

— As it was in previous period, one of main goals of Credit Agricole Srbija for 2020, as well, remains to reach a sustainable growth in all business lines, and to keep and further improve its leading position in selected market segments such as agriculture and car financing. Together with strong focus on innovation and digitalization, the key focus will be excellence in client relationship. Practically, it means that we want to achieve even better relationship with our clients and be closer to their needs and expectations. That is why we have decided to expand our network of branches and have opened two new branches in Serbia. This is going to bring us closer to our clients. However, we are also trying to reorganize the business within the branch in order to better meet the needs of our clients. In that sense, we have launched a New Branch Concept, which we are gradually implementing starting from the big-gest towns in Serbia. This is our response to the needs of both digitally well-informed clients, but also to the ones that are accustomed to service that is more traditional.

How the general trend of economic growth reflect on the activities of your corporate clients. What kind of loan to the economy dominates your portfolio?

— The solid trend of Serbian economy is, of course, beneficial for our corporate clients. We believe that several sectors like IT, agro business, and construction are offering good potential for development. Crédit Agricole Srbija is also much committed in supporting foreign investments, which are growing fast thanks to greater attractiveness of the country. We are particularly happy to see more and more French companies investing in Serbia. In addition, we have specific focus on the investment that will make a positive impact not just on immediate future, but also on next generations. That is why we have developed partnerships with some International financial institutions like EIB and KfW on specific type of financing which support innovation, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The operations of Credit Agricole Bank are well known through the support to local agriculture. Can our farmers expect more benefits in 2020?— Crédit Agricole Srbija is recognized as one of the leaders in financing of agriculture by using our expertise from the Group and by supporting energy efficient projects in agriculture. We also have a long history of participation in subvention programmers of the Government of the Republic of Serbia in which we are going to continue to participate in the future.  Our goal is to bring the financial solutions for agro especially to young farmers and help them to better use their resources. We are dedicated to creation of full chain of value and we are doing it through development of three parties’ agreements. This model of linking together suppliers, farmers and food processors has proven to be very successful and gives great results.  We intend to give stronger support to development of production of organic food in Serbia where we can find significant potential for this type of agriculture. It is very good that this global trend is also present in Serbia whose farmers can offer their products to domestic and foreign consumers. Credit Agricole Bank also supports ecological projects.

How satisfied are you with your portfolio of green investment credits?

— Crédit Agricole Group has been committed to a sustainable development policy for over twenty years. CSR is one of the Group’s markers and plays a central role in the business lines being a core issue of the strategy. Our goal in Serbia also, is to keep alive the spirit of an economy oriented towards the common good, making the green finance one of our growth drivers.  All Group’s entities are committed to a common climate strategy in line with Paris Agreement. We have make a clear decision to exit from financing thermal coal production, and even more, we have assigned a transition rating to large corporate customers to structure dialogue with them on their energy transition roadmap. Credit Agricole Srbija participate in many programs offering financial support for energy efficient projects among which I would mention our financing of biogas projects. This is an ecologically justified and profit-able of using agricultural waste for creation of additional value in the production of electricity, heat, and natural fertilizers. The banking market in our country is undergoing huge changes, with some banks having left the market.

How will this affect the sector and the interest rates?

— Banking sector in Serbia is currently going though important changes that have been announced and expected to happen. This is just the beginning and we can expect that this trend is going to continue in the future. Still, banking market in Serbia remains extremely competitive and it is not likely that it will result with any negative impact on the customers.

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