Intentions are no longer enough, companies have to prove a positive impact within the communities

Intentions are no longer enough, companies have to prove a positive impact within the communities

Interview with Ufuk Tandogan, CEO, Garanti BBVA Romania

Q: Garanti    BBVA    is    doing    business    in    Romania  for  more  than  20  years.  How  would  you  characterize  the  company's  experience in Romania?

U.T. Garanti BBVA is active for more than two decades on the Romanian market. We focused from the start on a healthy growth and customer-centered approach. We put great emphasis on the way we connect with our clients and we encourage all our team members to embrace a morality of care, making sure that our customers’ needs come first. In this regard, we focus on   bringing   the   best   financial   solutions   on   the   market. Balance is, at the same time, a keyword for us. We aim to keep a level-headed portfolio and have a sustainable development path. At  the  same  time,  we  permanently  aim  to  diversify  our products and services for all market segments, in line  with  our  clients’  changing  and  evolving  needs  and  to  always  be  by  their  side,  as  a  trustworthy  financial  partner.  As  a  universal  bank  and  financial  integrated Group, our strategic focus is on sustainable growth   and   development,   maximizing   customer   satisfaction and the digital upgrading of our services.

Q: What do you think are the most important challenges  for  banking  in  Romania,  in  2020?

U.T. In  Romania,  I  would  say  banking  faces  challenges  similar to the ones in other countries. There are some technological,  legislative  and  economic  challenges,  and, therefore, the banking industry needs a strategy that is prudent and uses small, calculated steps. Above  all,  2020  was  an  unpredictable  year  and  the  biggest  challenges  are  related  to  the  coronavirus  pandemic. This pandemic is maybe the most serious challenge to the world’s economy in nearly a century. Its impact will likely take some time to overcome, as almost  all  businesses  are  struggling  to  find  a  path  forward,  banks  included.  The  financial  sector  is,  however, in a unique position to play a pivotal role in supporting the communities and customers. Many people and many companies are still affected by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and, in the first instance, we need to make sure that people know that our products are specially designed to give them protection  in  this  time  of  uncertainty.  For  example,  when   getting   a   personal   needs   loan,   our   clients   benefit free of charge from the Credit Reimbursement Protection  Insurance,  which  covers,  among  other  things,  involuntary  job  loss.  I  want  to  stress  that  ensuring easy access to finance is the way we support efforts to recover our economy and society. Secondly, during this period, we focus on developing a  prudent  lending  strategy  and  we  are  very  careful  to  whom  we  grant  loans,  because  we  do  not  want  our  clients  to  end  up  in  the  situation  of  not  being  able  to  pay  their  monthly  installments.  We  have  highly  centralized  operations,  which  bring  efficient  processes and the best customer experience. We are constantly  increasing  the  operational  efficiency  of  the  bank  and  we  have  been  focused  on  improving  the asset quality of the bank.

Q: Companies  have  great  responsibilities  to  communities and society. How do you see these new responsibilities for Garanti?

U.T. In  Garanti  BBVA,  we  are  aware  that  we  have  these  responsibilities.    Regarding    the    customers,    we    always  make  sure  that  the  relationship  we  create  with   them   is   a   long-term   one,   but   we   do   not   speculate on their desire or need to take loans.In  our  bank,  we  also  believe  it  is  important  to  get  involved  in  actions  that  have  a  positive  effect  on  the  economic, social, and cultural environment in Romania. Therefore,  we  support  projects  that  encourage  the  development   of   the   Romanian   entrepreneurship,   environmental   issues,   as   well   as   other   initiatives   impacting the community. The fact that we have always worked  together,  as  one  team,  for  a  common  goal  is  what made us a reliable financial group and a valued, trustworthy partner for our clients.  Over  the  years,  Garanti  BBVA  has  also  developed  a  multidirectional     social     responsibility     strategy,     through  numerous  initiatives,  aiming  to  bring  a  contribution  to  the  well-being  of  the  society.  The  main  directions  the  bank  has  invested  in  are  the  following:  protecting  natural  habitats,  supporting  the   development   of   the   local   businesses,   and   facilitating  access  to  financial  education  tools.  All  these  projects  have  been  developed  and  sustained  by the bank on the long-term.The reality is that sustainability has become a matter of  widespread  public  interest  for  some  time  now.  Young people, our future customers, especially, have higher  expectations  from  the  business  environment  to act ethically and to take on a broader role to serve society   and   help   shape   a   cleaner   and   a   more   sustainable  and  prosperous  future.  Just  stating  a  commitment to environmental or societal causes will not do anymore. We have entered an era where good intentions   are   no   longer   enough.   Companies   are   called to action to prove that they can have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.

Q: Which  would  be  the  project  you  would  like everyone to know about?

U.T. The  first  that  comes  to  my  mind  is,  for  example,     our     long-term     collaboration     with     Worldwide  Fund  for  Nature  Organization  (WWF  Romania),  which  dates  back  to  2010,  when  we  launched  WWF  Bonus  Card,  the  first  eco  affinity  card in Romania. Through WWF Bonus Card, Garanti BBVA redirects 0.3% of the total value of transactions made by cardholders to WWF Romania, to support the  development  and  implementation  of  its  local  environmental    projects.    Thus,    employees    and    customers  have  the  opportunity  to  get  involved  in  protecting natural habitats. Since 2010, RON 1.68 million have been directed by Garanti  BBVA  to  WWF,  for  funding  its  programs.    Garanti BBVA has also contributed to the increase of WWF  visibility  by  promoting  its  causes  via  social  media. WWF Bonus Card is very popular among the bank’s clients, who find the eco-affinity card useful due  to  its  benefits  and  importance  for  preserving  the environment. This is proof that Garanti BBVA is not just talking about environmental protection, but the bank is also taking action. The funds directed to WWF   are   making   a   difference   for   endangered   species, virgin forests and local communities.

Q: What are your plans for the near future?

U.T. Although  there  is  still  much  uncertainty  regarding  the  economic  impact  of  COVID-19  pandemic,  our  customers  are  still  making  plans  and  we  must  support  them.  According  to  an  IRES  survey released recently, one out of ten Romanians intends to apply for a loan in the next year. Most of them are interested in accessing a consumer credit or a mortgage and we are ready to assist them in this journey, as a trustworthy financial partner.Therefore,  we  can  help  our  clients  make  plans  and  offer   them   the   financial   support   they   need   to   overcome  these  challenging  times.  We  will  always  be  there  for  our  clients  and  we  will  offer  them  transparent solutions, exceptional customer service, and  we  will  always  be  next  to  them,  in  order  to  choose the most suitable offer.

You can also consult the interview in the document below: