Fio banka does not force its products on clients if they are not interested in them. And it does not look down its nose at those who, even in today’s digital world, want to do their banking in a bricks and mortar branch. Currently, the bank is looking out for its millionth client.
A man in his seventies who can handle all his banking via a smartphone. A student who likes to do his transactions over the counter. Do you think you can’t love modern technology if you’re an older person? Maybe this is all just stereotyping – and that’s exactly what Fio banka wants to avoid. Therefore, when thinking about the strategy of developing branch offices and internet banking, the company pays attention to both groups.
“We’re not pretending to be a lovebrand. All we do is provide simple financial services at a great price, and basically, we try to not be in people’s way. Let everyone do their own thing. If that means going to the branch, so be it. And if that means using the internet, so be it. This is how we meet the needs of all generations. We’re not a bank for a particular group of clients, we’re a bank for rational clients regardless of age. Our clients appreciate a stable long-term pricing policy based on zero fees for routine services,” says Jan Bláha, Sales and Marketing Director at Fio banka.
In the long run, the company has been trying to make sure that customers can manage as much as possible online. It also knows, though, that a “home base” is still needed. “Almost one in five of our clients are legal entities that work with cash and make deposits at the bank,” explains Bláha.
Fio banka has 84 bricks and mortar branches in the Czech Republic and 19 in Slovakia. It wants to expand in line with demand, mainly to smaller towns. It does not intend to set up at the open kiosks in large shopping centres, a strategy that some competitors are betting on.
“Basically, we try to not be in people’s way. Let everyone do their own thing. If that means going to the branch, so be it. And if that means using the internet, so be it. This is how we meet the needs of all generations.”Jan Bláha, Sales and Marketing Director
Satisfaction surveys show that Fio banka clients often sing the praises of the bank’s friendly staff. Bláha says that it is similar in the company’s offices. “We keep the atmosphere of a small business. But we don’t force staff to address each other informally. We leave that up to individuals to decide, depending on how they feel,” he adds.
Central to the company’s ethos is not forcing products on clients if they do not want them. And all new employees learn this. Bláha notes that the informal atmosphere is also reflected in the dress code. “If you’re part of the marketing team and you aren’t going to client meetings, no need to wear a suit,” he says, smiling at a marketing department colleague during the conversation.
Fio banka currently has over 960,000 clients (over the last six years it has added more than 100,000 annually), from which it regularly receives and assesses requests and complaints. In addition to ongoing minor improvements, it recently released a new application for iOS (and is devising a version for Android) and made possible trading in its mutual funds, via internet banking.
If Fio banka previously marketed itself as a brokerage firm, this is no longer the case. “We want to present ourselves as a transaction bank, because only 10 per cent of new clients have a trading account with us,” explains Bláha. He adds that those who are interested can use the brokerage service for free. “If someone wants to invest millions of Czech crowns here, we’ll offer them a personal broker. But this is only a very small part of our business. Czechs are very conservative, preferring to invest in funds or use savings accounts.”
Jan Bláha says that the market for new clients in the Czech Republic is fairly saturated. He therefore sees greater opportunities in Slovakia. “We were also active in Hungary and Poland, but we withdrew from there. Now we concentrate primarily on the Czech and Slovak markets.”