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23.01.2014

Bank Austria focuses on clear forward strategy and future-oriented initiatives with transformation into a modern and innovative retail bank

  • SmartBanking: Currently 6,600 new customers, 57,000 customers in total, roughly 800 consultations per month in video calls
  • By the end of 2017 approximately 350,000 customers will be served through SmartBanking, including around 80,000 new customers won on the market
  • First new-style pilot branches open in 2014: Salzburg advisory centre the first flagship branch – the first traditional branch bearing the new design in Wiedner Hauptstraße – first self-service branch on Stephansplatz in Vienna
  • Fund business booming: 30 percent growth in new funds business breaks the 1-billion-euro mark and represents more than 5.6 billion in invested fund assets
  • Savings deposits still a fundamental need: "Regionalsparbuch" product offering 1.25 percent p.a. over 24 months, focus on pension planning with ERGO Insurance products
  • Tailored asset management for selected customers in retail for the first time

Following the nationwide launch of the new SmartBanking service model in September 2013 – including personalised advice by video calls, telephone, email and text messages, as well as via online and mobile banking using the latest apps – Bank Austria has injected some new impetus into the Austrian banking market. The SmartBanking campaign resulted in the addition of 6,600 new customers on the market, and there are currently 57,000 customers served within the SmartBanking system. Approximately 800 qualified advisory discussions take place each month by video call, and roughly 70 staff are currently working on SmartBanking activities.

As emphasised by Helmut Bernkopf, the Bank Austria Management Board member responsible for Commercial Banking: "In 2013 we began the process of turning Bank Austria into a modern, innovative universal bank, and we are continuing this forward-looking initiative in 2014. We are definitely on the right path with SmartBanking and are receiving excellent feedback from customers. What is particularly pleasing is that we have achieved very high customer satisfaction figures in our new service model. The extended opening hours from 8am to 8pm are particularly popular and appreciated, as well as the convenience of being able to speak with a personal adviser anytime and anywhere. By the end of 2017 we want to win 20,000 new customers on the market each year and serve a total of 350,000 customers with our SmartBanking services. This year we shall open our first pilot branches of the new system in Vienna and around the country, providing completely new customer experiences thanks to cutting-edge design and high investment in the latest technical solutions."

New design for Bank Austria pilot branches
Bank Austria's branch initiative was launched in 2014 Q1 – over EUR 100 million will be invested in existing locations over the next two years as well. Three types of new-style branches will be created:
• Advisory centres as flagship branches in all federal provinces, offering a wide range of services for all customer groups
• Traditional branches in the new style and design, where advisory services are upgraded using the latest technology
• Self-service branches turned into highly efficient banking locations via investment in the newest technology covering all basic financial needs

In all advisory centres with up to 50 employees, highly qualified experts are coupled with a range of advisory services covering building & homes, investments and leasing for SMEs, the self-employed, corporate customers and private banking to create a flagship branch – thereby ensuring an extensive spectrum of services for all customer groups. Multimedia solutions offer new advisory experiences here, and event centres will be established for customer and employee events. There will be 20 advisory centres in total – at least one in every federal province and 12-15 in Vienna. The first flagship branch will open in 2014 Q3 in Salzburg, followed by Mödling in Lower Austria.

Existing branches will also be equipped with the latest in technological equipment: cash recyclers will be used, which fulfil all the functions related to in-payments, out-payments and transfers. There will also be highly modern multi-media terminals and interactive screens, providing a wide array of information on products and much more. Tables and SignPads will be used in advisory services too.

The initial construction work for the first pilot branches has already begun: the first new-style pilot branch will be in Wiedner Hauptstraße, opening in 2014 Q2. The first self-service branch bearing the new design will be on Stephansplatz, opening in 2014 Q1.

Attractive offers for savers and for pension planning – fund business is booming
Despite the low-interest climate and as a fundamental need and a safe haven for money, savings deposits remain the most popular form of investment for Austrians. Bank Austria currently offers an attractive return of 1.25 percent p.a. with its "Regionalsparbuch" savings product and a term of 24 months, thereby easily leading the way on the market in this context. Pension planning is a key topic, and privately planning for the future will increase in significance as we move forward. Bank Austria offers an extensive range of pension products with "VorsorgePlusPension" and "PensionsManagement Golden Gate" as well as additional pension and life insurance products of Bank Austria’s partner ERGO.

There is still a clear focus on investment funds in terms of the types of investment recommended by Bank Austria. These offer much more attractive yields for customers than conventional savings deposits. Depending on risk appetite, Bank Austria offers a wide range of funds with diverse earnings opportunities. Helmut Bernkopf: "In 2013 we managed to increase our new funds business by 30 percent, thereby crossing the 1 billion euro mark. This means that Bank Austria holds a fund volume of more than EUR 5.6 billion in its retail business (up 4.5 percent on 2012)."

Tailored asset management
With "Vermögensverwaltung 5Invest", Bank Austria offers tailored asset management for wealthy retail customers for the first time, just like in Private Banking, from disposable income of EUR 100,000. This ensures tailored asset management adapting flexibly to the changing market circumstances. Experienced investment professionals work with "Vermögensmanagement 5Invest" on a daily basis with the aim of bringing the best out of the financial markets and investment instruments.

Credit interest rates remain at historical low
Given the historically low interest rates it is becoming increasingly attractive to hedge this favourable return in the long term. Thus alongside products offering variable interest rates, attractive fixed-interest alternatives are gaining in importance, although Austrian borrowers traditionally very much prefer variable-interest products.

Helmut Bernkopf, Management Board member for Commercial Banking: "The low-interest environment is still paradise for borrowers. In our new lending business in 2013 we achieved significant growth rates of 14 percent in total and 20 percent for Building & Homes financing on a volume of roughly one billion euros."

All the information on SmartBanking including new videos on the initial experiences of SmartBanking customers can be found at  www.smartbanking.at

Enquiries: Bank Austria Press Office Austria
Matthias Raftl, Tel. +43 (0) 50505 - 52809
E-Mail: matthias.raftl@unicreditgroup.at