A Bank going from strength to strength
As businesses worldwide face up to the challenges of events unprecedented in modern times, Michael Collis, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of BNF Bank talks to Business Times about how a clear long- term strategy based on strong foundations has ensured success for the Bank and enhanced its growing reputation.
BNF Bank is now a familiar name in Malta with a strong brand identity. The Bank's history dates back to 2008 and can essentially be divided into two phases. In the first, the establishment of the Bank was accompanied by infrastructure, including a strong Branch network of 12 Branches. The second phase commenced in late 2016 with the arrival of new shareholders, the Jud Investment Group. Since then, significant new capital has been invested in the Bank, a rebranding has taken place, we have invested in people and IT and the Bank's balance sheet has grown strongly.
Modern Commercial Banks must combine overall success in four broad areas to ensure a strong and sustainable future. The first of these is to put the customer at the centre of the institution's ambition. The marketplace is highly competitive not only amongst established Banks but competition is also growing from new players who tend to be driven by technology.
BNF's philosophy is driven by an ambition to serve our customers in the best possible way we can. To this end, we believe that Branch banking still has a very important role to play, particularly in a country such as Malta which still has traditional close- knit communities. We invest heavily in our Branch network, ensuring that our business is close to local communities both in the Banking services we offer but also in the active charitable contributions we make, many of which are driven by the Branches themselves.
To BNF, best in class customer service also means having a full range high-quality product suite which can serve our clients' needs.
In retail Banking, whilst we are probably best known for our market leading home mortgage products, we also provide a suite of services to help clients with their financial requirements at all stages of life, from student times to retirement.In our commercial business, the Bank works hard to provide top quality services to all sizes of companies in Malta, from the largest to the one person start-up.
Our award-winning specially designed SME programmes are designed to help our customers in the early days of their business venture. Our objective is to continue to serve those clients over the long term as their businesses grow and prosper.
The second area of importance is investment in technology. Not only does superior technology drive organisational efficiency but there is a clear and growing customer need for remote banking services. Many of our clients have busy lives and need to be able to transact 24/7. In the last year, BNF has significantly upgraded its online banking offering and has introduced an 'app' to simplify banking on hand held devices. Furthermore, under our 'Vision 2023' programme, BNF has also announced a significant technology investment programme which will see the bank achieve full digital transformation in partnership with one of the world's leading suppliers of Banking software.
The third area of focus is risk management. A disciplined approach to risk ensures that Banks can adopt a consistent approach to customer service whatever the phase of the economic cycle. In the last twelve months, global health challenges have resulted in serious economic disruption. During this period, BNF has stood by its customers, both individuals and companies, providing assistance where necessary and possible. This has further underlined our commitment to the Maltese community.
The fourth pillar of success is regulatory compliance. We pride ourselves in working closely with the various regulators and authorities in Malta to ensure the integrity of the Banking system here. We have invested heavily in systems and structures in this regard and this investment will continue to grow over the forthcoming years.
BNF was delighted to receive the coveted award of Bank of the Year from the Banker Magazine - published by the Financial Times. This award recognised the development of the Bank over the last few years.
We have no intention of 'resting on our laurels.' Our Vision 2023 programme will see the Bank continue to expand its activities and its client base. The Bank will invest significantly in both technology and its Branch network to ensure a successful and integrated omnichannel offering. We will also continue to invest in the areas of risk management and regulatory compliance to maintain and strengthen our foundations.
Most importantly, we will continue to put the customer at the centre of everything we do, to make BNF the bank of choice in Malta.