Tomas Spurny: Competition by business model

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By:
Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker
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As part of Euromoney's 50th anniversary coverage, we profile some of the biggest names that we interviewed for our May CEE focus.

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Tomas Spurny has spent most of his career rescuing and restructuring some of central Europe’s larger lenders. Most recently, Erste tapped him to turn around struggling market leader BCR in Romania. Before that he spent three years in Budapest cleaning up CIB Bank for Intesa Sanpaolo.

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Three years ago he returned to his native Prague to take on a different type of challenge: preparing GE’s Czech banking subsidiary for a public listing and life as an independent lender.

One of his first priorities after the IPO in 2016 was to narrow the gap between the newly rebranded Moneta Money Bank and its larger Czech rivals in terms of technology.

“The previous owner hadn’t invested in digitalization so there was a lot of catching up to do,” says Spurny.

That has required a significant investment from Moneta’s relatively small budget. With a balance sheet of just under $10 billion, the bank is currently sixth in the Czech market by total assets.

Spurny has therefore opted to focus on digital development in three areas: distribution of credit products; transaction banking; and fee-based products, including insurance and asset management.

“We want to compete based on the efficiency of our multichannel distribution system and business model,” he says. “In practice, that means providing basic banking services and products, complemented by insurance and wealth management products that are easy to understand, transparent and fairly priced.”

Paying off

The investment is already paying off. From zero in 2016, sales of retail and small business products via digital channels today account for 30% to 40% of the total. Meanwhile, Spurny has kept costs down by cutting Moneta’s branch network by around 20%.

“Our philosophy is to be simple and functional,” he adds. “I call it the Bauhaus design of banking – and so far it has proved to be resilient against both banking and fintech competitors in the Czech market.”

It remains to be seen whether or not Moneta will be able to continue to hold its own against deep-pocketed regional groups and low-cost disruptors.

Either way, Spurny sees a bright future for the bank.

“Our aim is to achieve at least a 10% market share in the Czech Republic; then in the medium to long term, potentially expand into one of the larger markets in our neighbourhood,” he says.

“Alternatively, if we can’t develop on our own, organically and through acquisition, we will be a very attractive addition for either one of the local banks or a new entrant to the Czech market.”