BULBANK SPENDS LEAST IN UNICREDITO GROUP
Alessandro Decio, BULBANK Chief Operating Officer, to the BANKER weeklyMr. Decio, you have been working as the Chief Operating Officer of BULBANK for a month now. How did you come to this post?- You probably know that there were some changes in the management structure of UniCredito group. Quite unexpectedly, Luca Majocchi - the group Director responsible for the operations in Italy, left his post. The CEO Alessandro Profumo asked Robestro Nicastro, who was engaged with the group activities in New Europe (all contries in Central and Eastern Europe, except Russia, Serbia, and Macedonia), to take up Mr. Majocchi's duties in Italy. Mr. Nicastro was then replaced by Paolo Fiorentino who was the COO of Bank Pekao in Poland. In turn, Fiorentino was replaced in Poland by Luigi Lovaglio, my predecessor in BULBANK, and I was appointed to his post in Bulgaria. I'm very happy with my new appointment, because I know how successful BULBANK's management is and I respect the people who run the bank. I'm challenged by the idea to speed the bank's pace of growth and to improve the quality of services offered to our customers.Obviously, there has been a considerable reshuffle. What made Luca Majocchi leave an institution as powerful as UniCredito?- He made an important choice in his life. He received an offer to become the Chief Executive Officer of a big company - SEAT (an Italian media group acquired by several venture capital funds). He was challenged by the idea to start working in a different sector and to enter the field of entrepreneurship.A year before you came to BULBANK, you worked as the Chief Operating Officer of Zagrebacka Banka - Croatia's largest credit institution. Was it financially stable at the time you took up its management?- As you said, Zagrebacka Banka is a leader on the Croatian market and I found it in a very good financial condition. It is very strong in servicing its customers, it had a very good management, and delayed payments of credits were quite few. Still, the bank's policy was not oriented towards increasing the profit which is not typical of UniCredito's style. That's why we made an effort to change Zagrebacka Banka's behaviour.What do you mean by saying Zagrebacka Banka was not profit-oriented?- I'll only tell you that we found reserves for increasing the profit - on one hand, by speeding up the expansion of the market share, and on the other, by reducing the expenses. We appointed the so-called expense managers who controlled money spent on different items and tenders, organized for supply of commodities, services, and materials that the bank needed.Are there expense managers in BULBANK?- The situation in BULBANK is quite different from that in Zagrebacka Banka at that time. You should bear in mind that our Bulgarian bank has the best expenditure to income ratio compared to all other credit institutions in the group of UniCredito. So, there are not so many possibilities to further cut the costs. That's why in BULBANK we did not have to appoint expense managers.When you were officially presented on October 22, you said that you wanted to make BULBANK the most popular institution on the market of consumer credits not by offering cheaper services, but higher quality. Do you think this policy can bring profit, considering that most Bulgarians do not have enough money and seek cheaper credit services?- When we talk about stressing on quality rather than on price, we mean the solvent customers - mainly companies and a few groups of individuals. For them we have prepared packages of services that enable them to use the most modern financial instruments combined with fast and discreet services. You'll probably agree that these groups of clients are mostly interested in the quality and less in the price.Most of the big banks in Bulgaria are planning to create networks of subsidiaries in order to cover the largest possible part of the financial market. Does BULBANK intend to establish its own leasing, pension or insurance company?- There are fields in which we prefer to work along with our partners. For example, we do not find it necessary to create our own insurance and pension companies, because here we work very well with Allianz - Bulgaria Holding, which is also a shareholder in BULBANK. Its products successfully complement BULBANK. The same is true about investment funds. This year BULBANK launched a few products of Pioneer investment fund which is owned by UniCredito. Our sales are going on very well and I don't see why BULBABK should set up its own company and introduce it on the market. It's different with the leasing, however. In that field we intend to negotiate for the acquisition of a specialized company. I can't tell you its name yet, because we haven't reach a final agreement.But I believe that soon BULBANK will have a leasing company which products will complement our services in the field of crediting.