Interview with Mr. Nikoletopoulos for the daily newspaper Vecher
26. 4. 2021
Interview with Mr. Nikoletopoulos for the daily newspaper Vecher
Read the full interview in the daily newspaper Vecher or on their web site.
Q1: Mr. Nikoletopoulos, you are part of STB since 2009 and you lead the Bank for more than 8 years now. So if anyone can speak about the current state of the Bank we believe it is you and your team, succeeding to lead a bank very successfully all those years. So let’s start by asking right away, is there any problem with Stopanska banka?
Thank you for your invitation and for the direct question. Emphatically I am answering no!! Not only there is no problem at all, instead Stopanska banka is at its best shape ever, sound, strong and profitable, able of safeguarding the deposits of the people and protecting the interest of all stakeholders. As always, the reputation of the bank, the safety of the deposits and the operational model in accordance with best practices and high standards, world-wide, are for all of us the top priorities and once again we would like to assure every citizen in the country that their assets are fully and undoubtfully protected in our bank.
Q2: These days, the public was plagued with certain rumors that want to damage the banking system, part of them are aimed at Stopanska banka. What do you believe? Where do these rumors come from and what would you recommend to the clients?
We do not know the source of such speculations or their intent, this falls into the jurisdiction of the State; we should however emphasize that the vast majority of the citizens trust the banks, they cooperate excellently and they know that only a strong and profitable banking system can support the economy and secure their deposits. On the other side and like everywhere, there are some of our fellow citizens who are vulnerable even to completely inaccurate (and allow me to say ridiculous) rumors and therefore easily manipulated by those who, for unknown reasons, have an interest in damaging the banking system.
Therefore, we strongly recommend the citizens to analyze first the validity, the rationale, and the source of information, critically to challenge it and to formulate their opinion after checking the bank’s financial reports, transparently published every 90 days and discussing any issue first with the bankers they trust and the competent institutions and authorities like the Central bank.
Stopanska banka AD – Skopje is a name and brand that connects generations, historic development projects and is a beacon of trust for more than 77 years as the pillar of the economy and more importantly as the financial partner of families. Therefore, do not forget that our management and all of our 1.000 employees are available for open communication and as they did before can direct you to the most appropriate financial decision.
Q3: Covid has affected businesses world wide. Tell us please few things about the performance of Stopanska banka and especially during the COVID period?
As I mentioned, Stopanska banka AD – Skopje is in its best state today than in any of the entire 77 years of existing. Simply, since 2000 the Bank grew into a strong, highly capitalized bank ready to face the client demands and thanks to its broad network and the superior development strategy today is a highly profitable modern financial institution. Our constant answer to all challenges over the last years, is our excellent financial results, thanks to which we have a solid foundation to continue to be of support to the clients and the economy in general.
During these extreme challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bank concluded 2020 with net profits of 32 million EUR, making us once again best in a highly competitive surrounding. We continue the same successful way in 2021 and we achieved 9 million EUR profit for the first quarter of 2021, having the largest loan portfolio in the country of more than EUR 1.2 billion, strong deposit base of EUR 1.4 billion and capital of EUR 300 million, adequately covering the current and the future capital requirements of the bank.
Our strength is our clients and with the highest sense of responsibility we have done the best possible to help and support them during the difficult period of COVID. We granted a holiday payment to more than 500.000 households and to a large number of companies in 2020 and 2021, aiming gradually to become again fully able to fulfil their obligations.
At the same time, Stopanska banka focused on the health of its employees, clients and associates; it freed its resources to support the delivery of the economic packages and selflessly invested in the support of the health system via valuable donations made in the fight with the pandemic.
The Bank continued to provide financial advice and support for the clients and to guide them to positive solutions. We continue to grow in almost all business areas and therefore we can plan new ambitious projects and activities for this and the following years.
So, in short, the Bank is in top form, the clients have no need to worry at all, just to trust the bank because by that they secure their assets and their future.
Q4: NBG group stands behind STB for 21 years now. What does membership in such a Group mean for the Bank historically and for the future?
We are proud to be a member of the NBG Group, one of the most important banking groups in the region, and especially happy that Stopanska Banka AD - Skopje continues to play a notable part in the 180 years of NBG history. 21 years ago, a very successful blend of two of the most historic banks in the region commenced, allowing Stopanska Banka AD – Skopje to become the strong, profitable bank that we know today, a supporting pillar to the economy of North Macedonia and a valuable asset of the NBG Group.
Despite Covid-19 headwinds, the Group’s FY20 financial results were strong with profits reaching €328m. This is very significant for us, because NBG marked 180 years of history this year and Stopanska banka AD – Skopje as a member of NBG Group will proudly continue with the same pace, being one of the most important financial institutions of North Macedonia, operating with superior performance across all business areas, safeguarding the deposits of our customers and generating sustainable value for all stakeholders.
Q5: At the end, what is next on the agenda of the Bank for this covid stricken year and for the beyond covid economy?
Following the macroeconomic projections by the relevant authorities, the economy in 2021 should expand with a GDP growing by 3.5%-4% and lending and deposits growth by 6%.
In this context, as a Bank with the largest capital base and the biggest lending portfolio in the country, STB expects to move along the line of the market growth, with increased market share for the corporate lending and continuing with the market leadership in retail lending by offering competitive terms and pricing, while respecting the principles of prudent lending standards.
Regarding the deposits, the Bank plans on maintaining the competitive offer with the rich variety of products that follow the needs of the clients as well as modernization in the communication with this client segment.
As before, the upgrade and modernization of the digital channels and the back end will be priority in the Bank project portfolio. Of course, the care for the employees and the business continuty remains as primary focus of the management as it did before.
We are also looking forward to having the conditions ready to be present again with our massive public projects which were postponed because of the pandemic, aiming to again be together with the community in making the change for the better. We will once again ride together on bike lanes for the “Vozi pravo, vozi zdravo” and we will again celebrate diversity and inclusion through song and laughter with the “Sonuvame. Menuvame”. Until then, we should all contribute to the steps needed to getting back to the pre-covid society.