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Slovenia: small country, big opportunities

The Slovenian economy excels at transformation. As a banking partner, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank does the same

Rhiannon Edwards

12/09/2021

"We understand digitalisation not just as technological evolution of our sales channels, but also as a kind of holistic approach to be even faster, leaner and responsive bank"

Jozef Kausich, CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia

Transition has been a theme for the Slovenian economy since the 1990s, when it had to reposition itself to trade with the European Union after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Slovenia is a small country – about half the size of Switzerland – so being a member of the EU is  crucial for its export-oriented economy.

The EU today represents three-quarters of all Slovenia’s trade, with the country’s main partners being neighbours Italy, Austria and Croatia. Further afield, Slovenia also enjoys ties with Germany, particularly in the automotive and finance sectors.

Today, the country is transitioning from being a producer of intermediate goods to a seller of finished products, with electronics, home appliances and pharmaceuticals all growth areas for the country.

Seeing Covid-19 through

The country weathered Covid-19 with a V-shaped recovery. As of January 2022, industrial production had expanded by 10% year-on-year, exports by 20% and real retail trade by 32.3%.

Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia has also thrived, while supporting the real economy to remain in check during a tough time.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the bank has firmly established itself as a vital partner to the Slovenian economy, enabling companies to operate even in changed conditions and committed to supporting local corporates in their business continuity and recovery,” says Jozef Kausich, CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia.

Since December 2019, the bank has increased its corporate loan portfolio by 18%, while pushing close to 10% of market share and solidifying its position as the third bank in the corporate segment.

The bank also supported private citizens during the uncertainty of Covid-19, keeping branches open even during the complete lockdown of the country (with safe social distancing in place) and forging a strong partnership with Slovene Food Bank.

Lean, green and ready for change

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is a concern for Slovenian trade. Like the rest of Europe, the country is not immune to the wider impact of spiking energy prices leading to an increased cost of living. Bank forecasters currently expect Slovenia’s average rate of annual inflation could be close to 7%.

Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia began a transition to become a digital innovator back in 2018. Today, smart banking through digital acceleration will help businesses and individuals to manage their money better at a time when every penny counts. Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia, just like the wider group of which it is a part, continues to accelerate digitalisation to serve customers better.

“We do not want to give up the traditional way of doing business with a branch network in Slovenia, but the extraordinary situation related to the epidemic has additionally encouraged us to accelerate the implementation of as many remote products and services as possible,” says Kausich.

“We understand digitalisation not just as technological evolution of our sales channels, but also as a kind of holistic approach to be an even faster, leaner and responsive bank,” he adds.

Digitalisation will also help the bank’s green efforts, which it is committed to as part of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s wider business plan to 2025. The latter includes a pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 for the entire group’s own emissions and by 2050 for its loan and investment portfolios. It also earmarks €115bn for green transition.

As Slovenia repositions towards new export economies and new digital industries, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank stays one step ahead, ready to support the country’s companies and individuals for growth.

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