Jelena Galić, Chairman of the Executive Board of AIK Bank, interview for Cord magazine
Customer satisfaction as a focus
In the six years that Jelena Galić has been the head of the Executive Board, AIK Bank has grown both organically and through acquisitions on the domestic market and in the region. It has become one of the systemically important banks in Serbia, which greatly contributes to the stability of the entire financial system.
Consistency, transparency and perseverance, joint commitment, care for people and the environment, expanding boundaries in thinking and acting create positive opportunities and outcomes. These are the values that both I and my team believe in, points out Ms. Galić, who recently received two valuable awards.
We are approaching the end of the year, a period when financial results and market position are summarized. Are you satisfied with this 2020 and the period you spent at the head of the Executive Board of the Bank?
In these six years, as long as I am the head of the EB, our Bank has become a systemically important bank on the domestic market, it has increased its assets to over two billion euros. In this period, AIK Bank became the first domestic bank to enter the European Union market through the acquisition of Gorenjska banka in Slovenia and thus became a stable banking group with assets of over 4 billion euros. The financial and business indicators of the group are significantly above the average of the domestic and regional banking market, with realized ROE of 31%, ROA of 6%, share of capital in the total balance sheet total of 19%, strong deposit base of over 3 billion euros, which is a strong basis for further strengthening the market position.
By developing and expanding cooperation through a regional approach, benefits can be achieved not only within the banking sector, but also in the real sector of the economy, thus ensuring accelerated economic growth and development of the entire region.
We are looking to the future and are continuously introducing new, innovative services and offers, because customer satisfaction is the basic focus of our business. The main aspiration of AIK Bank in the coming period will be to create products and services in accordance with the needs and preferences of clients.
You have encountered many challenging situations during your career, but none, we are sure, is like the pandemic that is still going on. How does your Bank handle all aspects of Covid-19?
In order to protect the health of employees and the normal functioning of the company during a state of emergency, we focused on the continuity of customer service. The main goal was to protect all employees and customers, while ensuring the smooth provision of services. We have strengthened hygienic protection measures and disinfection, enabled “remote work” (i.e. from home), maximally strengthened and additionally provided all digital services aimed at clients from potential operational risks. In all banking activities, both with households and with the economy, measures tailored to clients have been taken, especially in those sectors that have been most affected by this crisis, in coordination with public authorities.
The measures taken were successfully implemented, which resulted in a stable health situation within the organization and the smooth running of regular activities without operational incidents. In times of crisis, it has been reaffirmed that solidarity, mutual support and a team spirit that unites are paramount.
AIK Bank is recognized as one of the leaders in providing innovative and modern services. What did you introduce in the previous period?
At one time, we were among the first in the local market to implement an eCommerce service that allows users to use advanced e-business systems. We continuously upgrade existing applications and processes to provide customers with a better and faster user experience. In accordance with the adopted strategy of digital transformation, we continue with the implementation of projects that directly affect the availability of a large number of products to customers 24/7, both through the branch network and in the online environment on digital communication channels. We want to automate the sale of products and make them available through online channels, with numerous background services and processes related to everyday banking operations.
Today, our clients in electronic and mobile banking applications can access the required funds with just a few clicks, sign a contract through two-factor authentication and receive funds on the account. The whole process does not take longer than 10 minutes. We offer online lending with digital signing of contracts without going to the branch, “on-line savings”, and we also have an “on-line on boarding” service.
We have also implemented a project of instant payment with a QR code at points of sale, which speeds up the transaction and transfer of funds, with lower costs than with card payments. In the branches, we have provided 24/7 accessible self-service zones of multifunctional devices that support payment or withdrawal in local and foreign currencies, bill payment, installment payment, transfer orders, access to electronic banking … There is also our network of “smart safes” which allows anyone who wants to deposit funds to be available in real time on the account.
Your company is an organization with a strong social responsibility. What have you focused on this year?
During the previous year and this year, we allocated significant funds for health care institutions, medical equipment, treatment of children … We provided significant support to the green economy, young people in the development of start-ups, young people in education, including the Mathematical Gymnasium in Belgrade which stands out by exceptional student achievements, the development of women’s entrepreneurship and the active participation of women in socially important projects.
Could the Bank have recorded all these great results without hardworking, dedicated and motivated employees and great leaders like yourself who stand out?
In my business endeavors, I have always strived to push the boundaries, to encourage partners and associates to work together with consistency, transparency and perseverance to meet challenges. A good leader is characterized by the strength of vision to go ahead of his time, the flexibility to be open to different approaches and the wisdom to make smart choices. And finally, no less important trait of a good leader is commitment to people and the environment, and for me one of the key elements of success is precisely that care for people and the environment.
Our team is characterized by uniqueness, commitment to innovation, openness and expansion of boundaries in thinking and acting. We strive to learn every day and acquire new knowledge and skills, to invest in the development of our own capacities. On the development path, it is necessary to have innovation, openness and transparency. It is the basis for safety and sustainability, which is crucial in all endeavors, from the operational to the strategic level, thus gaining the trust of partners, clients and employees.
In accordance with the adopted strategy of digital transformation, the implementation of projects that increase product availability continues
Jelena Galić was recently presented with two flattering awards – Best Banking CEO Of The Year Eastern Europe 2020 and Best Commercial Bank Serbia 2020