Andreas Treichl, Erste Bank: Champion of the retail banking revolution
Viennese born and bred but US investment bank trained, Andreas Treichl has been at the helm of Erste Bank for the past decade as chairman of its managing board and chief executive. During that time his combination of old-world Viennese charm and savoir-faire, allied with hard-nosed new world commercial nous, has helped the bank transform itself from a venerable but dull Austrian savings institution into the retail banking champion of central and eastern Europe. A series of audacious acquisitions means that Erste Bank is now well positioned to capture the continued high-growth potential in the region, benefiting from increased political stability and rising economic fortunes. He talks to Guy Norton about his vision for the future.
The discreet charms of the bourgeoisie
"If people believe the best opportunities in the Russian banking market are already over, they are kidding themselves; they haven’t even begun yet"
In the light of the problems in the sub-prime mortgage market in the US and the associated credit crunch, is old-fashioned retail banking the new business model to follow?
Over the past few years, people have come to realize that retail banking is a very attractive business and that banks without a retail banking component tend to have much more volatile revenues. Now one additional feature and one of the results of the problems in the US and the credit crunch is the ability to self-fund, which as a retail bank we are able to do through our retail customer deposits.
Would you agree that corporate Austria has been more successful than other countries at taking advantage of the business opportunities available in central and eastern Europe, and why do you think that is?
Yes, Austria has definitely been a lot more successful in central and eastern Europe than Germany, despite Germany being so much bigger than Austria.