Three questions for Sonja Sarközi, Chief Retail Banking Officer at Sberbank Europe

"Customer experience is key - both online and offline"


Mag. Linda Michalech
Corporate Communications Manager

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

"Customer experience is key - both online and offline"

Sonja Sarközi, Chief Retail Banking Officer at Sberbank EuropeAt Sberbank Europe, you are responsible for the group-wide retail strategy. What will be the strategic focus and the main retail projects in the coming years?

In the short term, digitalization will be key - that is no surprise. We need to speed up in order to keep pace with our competitors and, in spite of our size, become an agile retail organisation. The financial services industry and consumer behavior have undergone tremendous changes, so we have to sharpen our understanding inside Sberbank of being 100% client focused. We also have to capitalize on shared solutions for e-banking on all devices, with account, loan and credit card products that can be acquired online within minutes. And that is merely our first step. We then have to work out our clear positioning for future hybrid customers. What do they really expect from their financial partner? What are the future roles of branches? Customer experience will be key here - both online and offline.

In all its CEE markets, Sberbank Europe - slowly but steadily - has been increasing its market share over the past years. Which products and services does our banking group need in order to further grow its market position?

From what I have seen so far, we do have great initiatives in the markets. Combine these with deeper consumer insights and strong engagement, and we will very soon come up with products and services that will positively surprise our existing customers. But we definitely also need to attract new customers. We have to give them reasons to change their bank. Apart from our products ("WHAT") and processes ("HOW"), we have to give them good reasons "WHY" they should do so. And we do this by communicating our ethos, our purpose: to help them improve their lives. Offering innovative, accessible products and being our clients' partner in their everyday financial life will be the outward manifestation of this mindset.

Banking and financial services are in the midst of a dramatic transformation. How do you see the future of retail banking?

Customer expectations, technological development, regulatory requirements and the overall macroeconomic environment are creating the need for banks to change. Radical innovation and transformation of the current service proposition will be key. Banks need to rebuild their organization around the customer, thus the focus has to be on understanding the customer's needs and expectations. This can be accomplished through clearly structured and highly customizable services, like a banking platform which serves as the central hub for a rich and complex digital ecosystem, helping customers discover, buy and maintain related products and services. The aim is to create an individual and customized banking experience upon which to build a deep partnership and gain customers' trust that banks are acting in their best interest. A strong brand reputation, powerful technology solutions and a clear vision & values will be among the most important factors for the success of retail banking in the future.

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