The Serbian banking major, Banca Intesa Beograd, has been garnering the spotlight for quite some time for all the right reasons and International Business Magazine recently got the opportunity to review the organization for its annual awards ceremony. The bank nominated its CEO Darko Popović and our jury unanimously adjudged the CEO with ‘Banking CEO of the Year Serbia 2023’.
On the occasion of this grand win, International Business Magazine is sharing the bank’s success story and some of the results it achieved under the leadership of Darko Popović.
Heading the Serbian banking industry for over 15 years
A universal banking institution, part of Italy-based Intesa Sanpaolo group, Banca Intesa has been at the helm of the Serbian banking sector for more than 15 years, topping the list of the most successful banks in the country by total net assets with a market share of 15 percent, total capital with 14.8 percent and total customer deposits with 15.7 percent. Its constant business growth rests on a unique synergy of local expertise and the global experience of its parent group, backed by a diversified business model, a solid balance sheet, as well as strong liquidity and capital positions. This enables it to offer a range of top-class products and tailored services to all retail and corporate customer segments – private individuals, entrepreneurs, small businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporates and multinationals.
Banca Intesa’s sharp focus on customers, coupled with a host of advanced products, strong digital drive and developed branch network, enables it to deliver consistently on the retail front, with a 17.4 percent market share in loan portfolio and an 18.4 percent share in deposits. Banca Intesa is also the standout bank in the payment card market, comfortably leading the league tables with a 25 percent market share in the number of payment transactions in the country and abroad. In addition, the bank runs the most developed POS and ATM networks in the domestic banking sector and is the only bank in the Serbian market to have American Express brand in its payment card portfolio.
It also holds the top market spot on the corporate front with a 16.3 percent share in the loan portfolio and 15.5 percent in deposits, while placing a strong emphasis on SMEs and entrepreneurs as the driver of Serbia’s economic growth and job creation. The Bank is especially active in the implementation of international credit and guarantee lines in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the German state investment and development bank KfW, and other supranational lenders. Banca Intesa was the first bank in Serbia to introduce the EBRD’s Women in Business program for supporting female entrepreneurship and is currently the sole bank in the market to launch the EBRD’s Youth in Business initiative that seeks to facilitate access to finance for young entrepreneurs.
Banking on digital transformation
Embracing rapid growth in advanced technologies as well as changes in customer habits and expectations, Banca Intesa started a comprehensive digital transformation in 2019, when it upgraded its core banking system. The journey continued in 2021 with the introduction of a new digital banking platform, allowing the bank to widen the scope of products and services offered to customers alongside standard banking transactions to include a range of new functionalities such as cash loan disbursement, cash withdrawal from ATM and money transfer without account number. It ended 2022 with over 510,000 digital platform users and 21 million transactions of individuals on digital channels, while more than 20% of cash loans are granted via the app at the moment. Despite a strong focus on digitalization, Banca Intesa did not neglect the further improvement of the business network through the transformation of the operating model in order to provide clients with a superior user experience, while placing an emphasis on strengthening its advisory function and moving transactional activities to digital channels.
Pursuing growth opportunities in asset management and leasing
Appreciating that its customers need more investment opportunities, Banca Intesa has established investment fund management company Intesa Invest, providing households and businesses with alternative ways to boost the value of their assets, reduced investment risk, professional asset management, and maximum flexibility. Since Intesa Invest launched its first investment fund in mid-2018, its total assets under management have recorded continuous growth, exceeding 180 million at the end of 2022, giving it a market share of 33 percent.
Furthermore, the bank provides its customers with leasing services via its leasing arm Intesa Leasing which specializes in leasing new and used vehicles as well as construction, farming, and production equipment. Intesa Leasing is also the only leasing company in the Serbian market to provide its customers with real estate leasing, offering businesses everything from office space to production facilities. With over 120 million euros in new financing in 2022, Intesa Leasing doubled its portfolio which exceeded 200 million euros at the end of the year.
Incorporating ESG as a new business paradigm
Acknowledging that banks are the key source of green finance that can support the transition to a sustainable economy, Banca Intesa has embedded ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles into its practices and processes and establishing an efficient ESG governance model, while also promoting strong internal ESG culture. Integrating ESG aspects into daily activities through product development, the bank has devised specialized products and services promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency to encourage clients to reduce their environmental footprint as well, including energy efficiency mortgage and consumer lending, as well as ESG farming loans. In 2022, it disbursed around 30 million euros in circular economy lending and is currently focusing on the integration of ESG rules into credit processes by setting clearance procedures and assessment approaches to be used in credit and underwriting processes. Going forward, Banca Intesa remains firmly committed to progressively incorporating sustainability factors in its daily actions in a bid to further protect the environment, drive positive social change and boost its support for the community.
Press Release received on Mail from Banca Intesa Beograd