Covid-19 quotes of the month: May 2020


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During the coronavirus crisis, Euromoney’s mission is to get the key figures in finance to tell us what it means for their firms and for the industry. We’ll run some of the key things they tell us each month.

Ana Botín, Santander | Hervé Duteil, BNP Paribas | John Hollows, CSOB | Jean Pierre Mustier, UniCredit | Phyllis Costanza, UBS Society and CEO Optimus Foundation | Piyush Gupta, DBS | Frédéric Oudéa, Societe Generale | Johann Strobl, Raiffeisen Bank International | Bernhard Spalt, Erste Group | Jin Liqun, AIIB


One of the critical things in this crisis we’ve been trying to get across… is that we have to throw away the rule book. We’ve never seen this kind of crisis in our lives”

Ana Botín, executive chairman, Santander

We were told that oil and gas prices would not drop despite the increasing competitive economics of electric mobility; we were told that developed countries could not change behaviours and had to maintain the same level of travels and consumption. YET, HERE WE ARE TODAY WITH NEGATIVE OIL PRICES AND VIRTUALLY ALL AIRPLANES GROUNDED to the runways around the world. How much longer will we be in denial – that the world can change, and that we can change?” 

Hervé Duteil, chief sustainability officer, Americas, BNP Paribas

Everyone has noticed that Skype meetings take less time than regular meetings. Board meetings which would normally have taken eight to nine hours we can suddenly do in two to three hours. That has been quite an interesting statement on the inefficiency perhaps of meetings in the past.”

John Hollows, CEO, CSOB 


When you have a big shock, you need to think in terms of discontinuity. Your behaviour needs to handle discontinuity, otherwise it won’t work. Crisis management has always shown that, when you have a big crisis, if you anticipate and manage the discontinuity, then you’re OK. That’s what we need to do on every topic” 

Jean Pierre Mustier, CEO, UniCredit

We have seen a lot of corporate citizenship and corporate responsibility coming out of our sector, but the question needs to be what was the real impact of that programme? Did you really make a difference or was it just for the headline?”

Phyllis Costanza, head of UBS Society and CEO Optimus Foundation

As a constructive member of society, we have a role to play. We are a living entity, we have a life and a role to play in society, and everyone is part of that. So we need to share the pain and continue to support real economies. But should banks take losses in the interest of communities? That is a step too far”

Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS


We have a formidable opportunity to demonstrate that responsible banking can be much more than a slogan. We can make it a reality”

Frédéric Oudéa, CEO, Societe Generale

I’m the only board member not working from home and I feel very safe in the office because I’m more or less on my own. If I’m lucky I meet maybe two people in a 12-hour day! But I don’t want to leave the office totally. I still can’t accept that the whole building could be empty!”

Johann Strobl, CEO, Raiffeisen Bank International

It’s very clear that once this crisis is over many people will be unemployed, many companies will have filed for insolvency and a huge economic cost will have been incurred. On the way there, people will look for who is responsible and if we’re not very careful there will be a blame game. That is the big danger”

Bernhard Spalt, Erste Group

Four years into operation, we have to address the formidable challenge of coronavirus which has now evolved into a pandemic, visiting its wrath on many countries in this world. This is the litmus test to our ability to deal with a crisis and emergency. This is the time for us to demonstrate our adaptability, resilience, responsiveness and relevance”

Jin Liqun, president, AIIB