The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

CEE banking: Common markets, different products

Differentiation has become the name of the game in emerging Europe as regional banks fight to maintain profitability, but the region’s markets still have much in common.

At the headquarters of the western European houses that dominate banking in the east of the continent, the buzzword for the past two years has been differentiation. The transition economies in the region have followed very different paths in the wake of the financial and eurozone crises, so strategies based on convergence and universal coverage have been abandoned in favour of a tight focus on the most attractive markets and ruthless loss-cutting in those harder hit.

Heading the list of preferred locations have been Poland and the Czech Republic, the former for the sheer size of its market – at 40 million, its population is by far the largest in emerging Europe – and remarkable record of continuous growth throughout the past decade; the latter for the stellar profitability of its banking sector. Czech banks have consistently posted system-wide returns on equity above 20% since 2008, compared with about 15% for second-best performer Poland.

Meanwhile, the black sheep of central and eastern Europe have been Hungary (where relentless government depredations have made profitability nigh on impossible for most banking players since 2010) and Slovenia (whose state-dominated banking sector required a €4.8 billion bailout at the beginning of this year).

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree