SLOVAKIA’s banks cannot entirely escape the global financial and economic crisis. But thanks to the healthy condition of the domestic banking sector and rather conservative behaviour by Slovakia’s bankers, the global crisis does not appear to be a serious threat to their balance sheets.
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Juraj Barta, senior economist with Slovenská Sporiteľňa; Juraj Valachy, analyst at Tatra Banka; Stefaan Depaepe, chairman of the management board and chief executive officer of Dexia Banka Slovensko; Marek Duban, director general of mBank; and Terézia Molnár Copláková, head of the public relations department at ČSOB bank about impacts of the global crisis, the launch of the euro in Slovakia and other challenges facing the banking sector in Slovakia.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What impact has the global financial and economic crisis had on your bank?
Juraj Barta (JB): Slovak banks operate in a certain economic environment which has changed rapidly under the influence of the current situation and they have had to adapt to this.
However, it is important to note that banks in Slovakia have been in very good condition, do not have any problems with liquidity, have adequate capital and that, even in the past, their attitude towards doing business and providing loans was rather conservative. Because of this, the direct influence of the crisis on Slovenská Sporiteľňa, as well as on most banks in Slovakia, is minimal. Moreover, the bank is well-prepared to tackle any potential complications which may occur, such as if unemployment increases and the number of clients with problems paying back their loans increases.
Juraj Valachy (JV): The crisis has shown itself in several directions. First, there has been a big decrease in demand for loans, both from individuals and companies, which limits new investments. Then, the economic crisis has brought an increase in the number of unemployed and that has slightly worsened the payback of loans. And a big loss of demand for many firms has meant the worsening of their financial condition which can be reflected in their ability to settle their obligations. But the financial crisis shows mainly in a reduced ability to acquire resources for financing longer-term credit products.
Stefaan Depaepe (SD): Dexia Banka is part of the Slovak banking market. Slovakia is a European country with an open economy and it is natural that the global crisis has impacted it.
The bank, at the beginning of 2009, redefined its strategy to cope with the crisis. The new strategy focuses on the core business of Dexia Banka Slovensko together with optimising the organisation and increasing its efficiency. This means that the bank regularly re-evaluates its working processes and required workforce.