Erste Bank: The discreet charms of the bourgeoisie
In barely a decade, Erste Bank has gone from being a purely Austria-focused savings bank to a regional retail banking powerhouse. Guy Norton charts its rise to prominence and asks: where does it go next?
MIDDLE CLASS AND proud of it. That’s the unapologetic claim of Andreas Treichl, chief executive of Austria’s Erste Bank and the man who has overseen a transformation in the bank’s fortunes over the past decade. At first glance, it’s perhaps an unlikely and even arguably an unwished-for boast for a bank headquartered in Vienna, a city that more than any other in the so-called Old Europe has attempted to throw off its fusty imperial past and sought to position itself it as the gateway to the hip, happening world of the soi-disant New Europe.
Closer inspection, however, reveals that on a practical level Erste’s ambition to be the bank of choice for the emergent middle class of central and eastern Europe is one lined with a gilt-edged future.