World's best bank transformation 2017: KBC
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World's best bank transformation 2017: KBC

Few people would have expected a firm following a bancassurance model with operations in the eastern bloc to be among Europe’s best-performing financial institutions. But that is what KBC has achieved.

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If you were planning to write a case study on how a bank that was once close to collapse was able, relatively quickly, to turn itself into one of the developed world’s best performers, then you would struggle to find a better subject than KBC.

Remember that KBC was also a poster-child for what went wrong with the global banking system before the financial crisis of 2008. 

Here was a bank that had forgotten its strong roots in northern and eastern Europe and embarked on a strategy to become a global bank. One that had a host of assets in Asia, including in curious areas such as Japanese equities and a Chinese mutual fund; sprawling assets from Latvia to Romania; and most ruinously of all, a US structured products business that eventually wiped billions from the bank’s bottom line. 

Although KBC had been profitable up to 2007, insiders say the group had become far too diversified and paid too little attention to its risk profile. 

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