The profit posted by the Estonian-owned Bigbank AS for 2019 was 39% up on the same figure for 2018, reaching a record-breaking 24.5 million euros. The group’s loan portfolio also set a new record of 473.5 million euros, while the bank’s assets grew to 574 million euros.
“Our aim is to be the most widely recommended provider of digital financial services in all of the countries we operate in, and to that end we focussed last year on boosting the quality of our loans and streamlining our work,” explained Martin Länts, chairman of the management board of Bigbank. “Our profit for 2019 broke records because our business volumes increased and the quality of our loan portfolio improved significantly. On top of that, our operations generally were a lot more cost-effective.”
Länts says that 2019 saw the launch in all eight countries in which the bank operates of a new real-time information system called Nest, which covers the majority of the bank’s core processes and which is linked to external registers and settlement systems in a number of countries. The bank’s services can now be used digitally in their entirety. “Among other things, Nest allows our staff who are working from home to do whatever it is they need to do much more effectively and as such to maintain the quality of their customer service,” Länts explained. “Nothing has changed for our clients, and indeed nothing will, even with all of our staff working from home.”
Länts added that the bank introduced a new area to its business operations in 2019. “Last year we set up Corporate Banking to boost the efficiency of our business client service and to develop new products,” he said. “It was an important step for us to take, because we’re now able to serve business clients throughout the Baltic States – in addition to Estonia and Lithuania, we’ve started offering business loans in Latvia, and we’ve added new business loan products to our portfolio, like small loans for companies.”
Thanks to strong growth in its net profit, the group’s equity increased by 16.4% to 141 million euros in 2019, meaning that the bank is well capitalised. Equity cost benefit rose to 18.7%, exceeding the goal of 15% set in the bank’s strategy.
“We’ve created a substantial capital buffer for ourselves and significantly improved our risk management policy and practice and overall management principles,” Länts said. “Our deposits have been showing better long-term rates of return than pension funds as well, which means that in the future our clients will have the chance to invest any money that’s freed up from their pension fund in deposits, for example.”
Jonna Pechter, the head of Bigbank’s Estonian business unit, says that it in financially complicated times such as we are experiencing at present, payment difficulties tend to arise more often. “But the quality of Bigbank’s loan portfolio is better than it’s ever been, and we’re sure that in working with our clients we’ll be able to overcome the difficulties the state of emergency is causing,” she added.
Pechter says that cooperation between a bank and its clients is the best way of finding workable solutions to problems. “In the case of clients facing temporary payment difficulties, the thing is that they themselves need to be interested in resolving the issue,” she said. “If they are, then we can offer them flexible solutions. The most important thing is that the client gets in touch with us before they get into debt with their repayments, because then we’ll be in a far better position to help them.”
Clients should inform the bank immediately if it becomes clear that they will run into payment difficulties. Doing so will enable a solution to be found as quickly as possible. “Solving problems is part of our everyday work, not just in crisis situations,” Pechter added. “We’re judging every case on merit, because the difficulties people are facing aren’t just stemming from the virus itself but also from the indirect impact it’s having on the economy.”
Bigbank AS (www.bigbank.ee) is an Estonian-owned special bank that focusses on loans to private and legal persons and fixed-term deposits. In addition to its operations in Estonia it has subsidiaries in Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania and offers its products as cross-border services in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. At the end of 2019 the group had close to 113,000 loan agreements in total: 33,000 in Latvia, 31,000 in Estonia, 30,000 in Lithuania, 11,000 in Finland and 8000 in Sweden. Bigbank had 385 employees at the end of the year.
For further information please contact:
Martin Länts,Chairman of the Management Board ofBigbank AS