Interview with Martin Frank, Head of Network Management at Sberbank Europe

Interview with Martin Frank, Head of Network Management: “One face to the customer is our guiding principle”.


Mag. Linda Michalech
Corporate Communications Manager

Sberbank Europe AG
Tel.: +43 1 22732 1300
Mobile: +43 664 8891 3662

“One face to the customer is our guiding principle”


Portrait Martin Frank, Head of Network Management

Austrian-born Martin Frank looks back onver 30 years in banking

You have 30 years of banking experience. What were your professional milestones before you joined Sberbank Europe on 1 March 2017?
I started out in the International Department at Creditanstalt. Back then, the CEO had recently called for the expansion of the overseas branch network, so there was a real feeling of a new era starting. As a newcomer you were very much left to your own devices, but expected to prove very quickly that you could cut it in an overseas environment. Structured financing deals, setting up new branches – it was all a great challenge. And this is precisely what interests me in my new role at Sberbank Europe: expansion and a wind of change in the air. Our bank's parent company and geographical set-up are a USP for Austrian and German customers doing business with Russia and the CEE countries.

That's a solid foundation for growth and expansion. From my time as Head of Corporate Sales Network at Bank Austria, I know a lot of clients who need excellent contacts and a specialist service provider for their Russian business. Making the Sberbank Europe Group the leading niche provider for this segment is a very exciting task. Despite the ongoing sanctions, we can see that Russia's imports are starting to grow again. And we boast an unparalleled network in Russia that other Austrian banks simply cannot match. 

Our task is to support the expansion of our Corporates segment throughout the region.


 How active are the Sberbank Europe subsidiaries in the CEE Corporates sector? What is their USP?
Beside the Vienna HQ, our group has well-equipped subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia. I am glad to report that those subsidiaries are generating a robust deal flow in the Corporates segment. It is primarily our CEE customers who often maintain business links to Russia and are longstanding clients of our local CEE banks. And, of course, a lot of these CEE customers have well-established business contacts in Russia, which in turn can be of interest to our Austrian and German clients. Not only do our local banks know their own markets inside out; they also understand the potential for business with Russia and have longstanding experience in setting up and supporting foreign trade deals. Sberbank in Hungary specializes in guarantee business, for instance, while the Czech Republic is big on structured financing and FX & interest hedging. Slovenia and Croatia are particularly strong at servicing medium- sized businesses, while our Serbian and Bosnian banks are a special bridgehead for the financing of trade with Russia.

What goals have you set for yourself and your team?
The subsidiaries of the Sberbank Europe Group are universal banks that perform successfully in Retail and SME banking. Naturally that also has a positive effect on our Corporates business, and vice versa. Our task in Network Management is to support the expansion of our Corporates segment throughout the region. We do this as part of our Segment Management, the objective being to ensure that processes and our cooperation with the Product Management units is as uniform and streamlined as possible.

Where do you see growth potential for Sberbank Europe?
Our potential quite clearly lies in our USP of access to the Russian market. Our parent company is one of the world's biggest banks, as well as the largest bank in Russia. Sberbank of Russia not only has a vast network; its Corporate & Investment Banking divisions also boast excellent staff of international caliber. We at Sberbank Europe currently have a major opportunity to acquire new customers and improve our cross-selling with existing ones. The customer demand is there, despite the sanctions, and we want to expand our product range, especially with regard to accounts and services such as documentary credit arrangements, guarantees, hedging, etc., which are all part of a full customer relationship. Most customer relationships start with a loan, from which – like all banks – we earn little on account of the high regulatory costs.

A comprehensive product and service package generates more profit, but it also requires end-to-end customer service.

What added value does Sberbank Europe create for its customers?
We have created the role of "Parent Account Manager", specialists who act as the sole point of contact for a particular customer. Many of our corporate clients are part of international corporations, with group operations in multiple different countries. We service our clients across national borders in accordance with our "one face to the customer" principle. The major advantage for the customer lies in having a single contact who can guide them through the entire Sberbank Group. Our Parent Account Managers establish the client's needs and then bring on board all the product specialists required to put together a pitch and an offer.

This principle is of key importance in our "Bridge Project", which is all about targeting new clients and offering them our support in their business relationships between CEE and the Russian market. There's still plenty of potential in this segment. The Parent Account Manager acts as an entry point, sounding out the possibilities available within the Group. Wherever there is business potential, he/she then takes on the role of Group Account Manager for all countries and products. This approach gives us a better overview of our clients and their needs while improving our cost and resource efficiency, which in turn benefits our shareholders.

Last but not least, we are currently offering all our customers access to "Check by Sberbank" (see page 17). Developed by Sberbank, this digital search engine supplies our corporate customers with all publicly available data on over 20 million Russian companies at the click of a mouse. The initial feedback from our clients is extremely positive, which is hugely gratifying for us and the best motivation to forge ahead with our existing projects and seize new initiatives.

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