1. General information about Hypo Group Alpe Adria
Hypo Group Alpe Adria is an international financial group with more than 380 banking and leasing locations in twelve European countries: Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia and the Ukraine.
The group has a rich historical background. Roots of Hypo Group Alpe Adria date way back in 1896 when the group was founded. Consequently, it has accumulated more than one hundred years of business experience. In the beginning of its activities, it concentrated on financing public institutions and housing construction. Hypo Kärnten – as it was then known – became a universal bank in 1982.
In 1988 the Bank took the first step on the road to international expansion by opening a leasing subsidiary in Udine, Italy. It became a public limited company in 1991, and in 1992 Grazer Wechselseitige Versicherung joined the Province of Carinthia as the second shareholder. This marked the beginning of a new era for Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank.
With cross-border activities in twelve countries of the Alps – Adriatic region, the Hypo Group Alpe Adria has a unique position in the economic area constituted by South Eastern Europe. Its network of branches and offices exists in Austria, Italy and Germany, from Slovenia through Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ukraine.
Business priorities in the operations of Hypo Group Alpe Adria are the strategic business sectors – banking and leasing, with the focus on a common goal: contribution to the prosperity of the Alps – Adriatic region and of the people living in it.
Hypo Group Alpe Adria is committed to pursuing its goal of becoming the leading commercial bank in the Alps – Adriatic region.
1.2. Mission and Strategy
The mission of the Group is the following: instead of pursuing global presence as a goal, Hypo Group Alpe Adria is more locally oriented. In the Alps to Adriatic region, with its cross-border markets, it is local market knowledge at a very personal and emotional level, which is crucial. Personal contact with the customers represents the basis of mutual trust for the Group. For this reason the Group sees its relationships as partnerships, which extend far beyond simple money issues. According to the Group, success can only be achieved through human contacts, and it can only be measured in terms of personal relationships, so that partnership at a personal level is the Group’s ultimate ideal.
Hypo Group Alpe Adria leaves the goal of worldwide presence to the global players. As a leading regional player in the Alps to Adriatic area, it concentrates on the southeastern markets, with the motto “banking business is people’s business”, confirming its nonnegotiable customer orientation. Respecting differences, growing together and sharing successes with others – these are the cornerstones of partnerships with customers on which the business structures of the Group are based.
Having in mind that the fundamental strategy of the Group is to achieve growth in the Alps to Adriatic region, Hypo Group Alpe Adria has been pursuing its visionary strategy since 1993 with great success: to establish and develop a strong financial services Group in the Alps to Adriatic region which combines the highly developed Northern Italian, Germany and Austrian business cultures with growth market opportunities in Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Macedonia and the Ukraine. As a result, the Group plays a key role in directing funds and economic development to and in the region. Up till now, its successful expansion has given Hypo Group Alpe Adria intensive coverage of the areas, which in coming years will become its home markets.
Additionally, long – term involvement and commitment are priorities of the Group. Hypo Group Alpe Adria has established itself as a strong and reliable business partner in the Alps to Adriatic region. Its involvement in each country represents a long – term commitment, so that businesses operating in any of these countries have the certainty and security they need in order to develop their activities. The Group is actively involved in developing local economies, and consequently, this contributes to the foundations of local prosperity.
Furthermore, preserving independence and regional identity is one of the cornerstones of the Group’s philosophy. This fact gives customers and business partners the certainty that they are handling their business with a dynamic and internationally minded bank which at the same time is at home in each of the individual regions. Hypo Group Alpe Adria is close to its customers in all the countries it operates in, thanks to its emphasis on independence and un-bureaucratic decentralized structures.
1.4. Regional presence of Hypo Group Alpe Adria
It is important to underline that the expansion of Hypo Group Alpe Adria into its core market, the Alps to Adriatic Region, followed gradually. The establishment of the first Austrian bank branch in Vicenza (Italy), under EU law followed with Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995.
In the same year leasing companies were established in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Zagreb (Croatia). In the upcoming years further leasing outlets were opened in Slovenia and the expansion of the branch network in Italy and Croatia.
In 1997 the number of staff at Hypo Group Alpe Adria went over the barrier of five hundred employees, accompanied by the start of construction of the present Klagenfurt (Austria) headquarters, which was completed in three phases by 2002.
By the beginning of the new millennium, Hypo Group Alpe Adria already employed over one thousand people. In the following year it entered the market in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 2002, Hypo Group Alpe Adria’s expansion penetrated into the market of Serbia and Montenegro. The Group’s dynamic progress continued in 2003, when it was announced as investor of the year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, opened a leasing branch in Munich (Germany), founded the Biogaspark Alpe – Adria and launched tourism initiatives in Carinthia (Austria), starting the Schlosshotel Velden project. Hypo Group Alpe Adria is today active in Austria, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Ukraine. In 2005 it numbered approximately 5000 employees at over 250 locations.
The year of 2006 has been extremely important for the Group and it conducted strategically important expenditure decisions. It founded Hypo Alpe – Adria – Bank a.d. in Podgorica (Montenegro), Hypo Alpe-Adria-Rent d.o.o. in Belgrade (Serbia) and Hypo Alpe-Adria-Leasing OOD in Sofia (Bulgaria). The principal company of Hypo Group Alpe Adria is Hypo Alpe – Adria – Bank International AG, which has its head office in Klagenfurt (Austria). Its owners are BayernLB (67.08%), the GRAWE group (20.48%), Kärntner Landesholding (12.42%) and Hypo Alpe – Adria Mitarbeiter Privatstiftung (0.02%). The network of Hypo Group Alpe Adria currently has around 7,500 employees serving more than 1.3 million consumers.
2. Hypo Group Alpe Adria in Serbia
Hypo Group Alpe Adria conducts its business activities in Serbia from 2002, as a part of the Hypo Alpe – Adria – Bank International AG Klagenfurt, which originally operated only in the territory of Austria. In the past couple of years, the Group began with its dynamic expansion in the international market, which consequently resulted in great success: the Group became one of the most successful financial institutions in the Alps – Adriatic region, with approximately 7500 employees and more than 1.3 million clients in twelve countries.
“When we arrived to the Serbian market, we made a thorough analysis of finance, economy and legal sector, as well as the political situation of the country, based on which we have determined that Serbia will become one of the most important countries in our network. Serbia has enormous potential and we plan to invest in this country in the future and to become one of the leading financial institutions of the country.” (Markus Ferstl, former Chairman of the Management Board of the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd)
Having in mind that Hypo Group Alpe Adria`s strategic business sectors are banking and leasing, the Serbian market was firstly penetrated in the leasing sector. Leasing represents a relatively new form of financing in the Serbian market. Therefore, a leasing company bearing the name Hypo Alpe Adria Leasing d.o.o., was established in 2002, and it gained a leading position from the very beginning of its activities.
The company remained the leader till present time with a cumulative market share of 35.19% in all segments of financing. Hypo Alpe Adria Leasing d.o.o. Beograd currently employs 136 people in affiliating offices throughout Serbia, including Belgrade, Novi Sad, Cacak, Niš, Subotica, Sombor, Zrenjanin, Becej, Vršc, Šabac, Kragujevac and Kruševac.
Additionally, not long after the establishment of Hypo Alpe Adria Leasing d.o.o. in Serbia, the bank by the name Hypo Alpe – Adria – Bank a.d. Beograd was founded in 2002. In just eight moths of business operations in Serbia, the newly founded bank achieved a growth rate of 853%, which exceeded all expectations. Hypo Alpe – Adria – Bank a.d. Beograd is currently one of the top five financial institutions in Serbia, with a market share of 8.55% and first-class and diversified portfolios. Additionally, it employs more than 800 people and has developed a rich business network consisting of affiliates in almost all bigger cities in Serbia, taking into consideration the headquarters of the company located in Belgrade, in the Business Center “Usce” where the other member companies of the Group are located.
Hypo Alpe Adria Securities a.d. Beograd was founded in 2004. The company is ranked among the top five broker companies in the market of shares and of old savings bonds trading.
The youngest company of the Group is Hypo Alpe Adria Rent d.o.o. Beograd, which is the first financial institution in Serbia to offer the possibility of operational leasing for the clients.
During the present research, special focus will be on the bank and the leasing company operating in within the system of Hypo Alpe Adria Group.
3. Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd
In order to proceed with the research on Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd, it is necessary to explain the circumstances in which the banking sector in Serbia existed from 1990s till present time.
Disintegration and collapse of socialist Yugoslavia in the beginning of the 1990s announced the so-called “lost decade”, meaning that major structural features and weaknesses of the banking system were preserved or additionally deteriorated and the overall situation became desperate. The main characteristics of 1990s were losses of markets, repeated wars, economic sanctions and international isolation of the country. Mismanagement and pervasive corruption were main factors, which contributed to the degeneration of the economy. After the major hyperinflation, which occurred in 1993 and 1994, 90 % of all bank loans were perceived as bad. Unprofitable and non-performing foreign currency balance sub-balances dominated balance sheets.
One of the main priorities in the reform agenda of the new Serbian authorities, which took over in 2000 was bank restructuring. The essence of the strategy was to undertake bank rehabilitation and re-capitalization only in the cases when it was expected that the banks could be viable institutions with good prospects for privatization through sale to strategic investor at a reasonable price and only if it can be implemented with identifiable fiscal resources.
In the beginning of 2002, Serbian authorities decided to conduct one of the boldest bank resolution measures undertaken in transition economies: they liquidated four large and deeply insolvent banks, which accounted for 60% of the book value of the sector’s asset and for about two thirds of outstanding commercial credit to non – financial sector. Furthermore, banking legislation and regulations were improved.
After the first major wave of reform, credit institutions have become more attentive in lending money to the real sector which was still very week. The government immediately acted on attracting foreign investors since there was an urgent need for such a thing. Consequently, from the late 2000 to December 2002, National Bank of Yugoslavia (the central bank) issued eight bank licenses, out of which seven were for the foreign owned banks.
Internationalization and privatization of the Serbian banking industry continued in 2005. The share of the market accounted for by foreign banks rose to 67.52%. Out of the ten largest banks, seven are foreign.
Successful sales of Serbian banks to foreign financial institutions provided a vigorous stimulus to the country’s banking industry. Total assets of all banks in 2005 jumped by 40.4% compared with the previous year, to 9.07 billion euros. Strong increases in lending to private and business customers were the main forces, which were driving growth. Progress was also made in restoring the confidence of domestic savers: total deposits at the end of 2005 amounted to 5 billion euros. Foreign banks which penetrated the Serbian market played an important role in restoring confidence in the sector and have gathered a significant share of new deposits. One of these banks was Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd.
Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank’s involvement in the Serbian market began in December 2002, when it acquired Depozitno-kreditna banka. The Austrian bank concluded the purchase of 86.6% of the Serbian Depozitno-Kreditna Banka, founded May 22nd 1991, whose registered offices were in Belgrade. At the shareholders’ meeting held on October 8th 2002, the Bank’s name was changed to Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank a.d., the capital increase to EUR 5.5 million was resolved, and the new Supervisory Board was appointed.
The headquarters of to Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank a.d., the member of the Hypo Group (after Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Liechtenstein), are located in the new part of Belgrade – New Belgrade.
Referring to total assets, Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank a.d. is Serbia’s fourth-largest bank with a market share of 6.47 %. Furthermore, approximately 900 employees are currently working for the Bank in a total of forty-one branch offices throughout Serbia.
Market share of top five banks in Serbia (Source: National Bank of Serbia available at http://www.nbs.rs/export/internet/latinica/50/50_5.html)
After just several months of its operations in Serbia, the Bank has established itself as a recognizable part of the Serbian financial scene. In its first two years of its activities, Hypo concentrated on corporate customers. The Bank has achieved a particular competitive advantage in the corporate sector with its long-term investment lending. Efforts to develop private customer business began in 2004. The specific focus gradually switched to the housing construction market, which was performing excellently.
“When we arrived to the Serbian market in 2002, we were among the first ones and there had been only six foreign banks operating in the market. We have used that window of opportunity, the situation when there had been few foreign banks present, in order to develop our credit portfolio. In that period, we had the opportunity to finance some of the most successful companies in Serbia, as well as to develop well-balanced portfolio, which we diversified over the years. Special attention was dedicated to retail sector, mostly in the field of house loans. Additionally, we have formed a special unit for financing of small and medium sized enterprises and this has become one of our corporate priorities, having in mind that these companies are often suppliers and partners of the big companies we already cooperate with. Other than that, our focus is on food industry, agriculture, pharmaceutical and chemical industry.” (Vladimir Cupic, Chairman of the Management Board of the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd)
The Bank is organized in the following sectors and departments:
- Corporate sector
- Retail sector
- Sector of financing public enterprises and local community units
- Treasury sector
- Investment banking
- HR department
- Economic analysis department
- Sector settlement
- Market support sector
- Logistics sector
- Sector of organization and information technology
- Legal department
- Department of business control harmonization
- Marketing department
The research process will only incorporate the sectors, which are relevant for the research question of the thesis.
3.1. Corporate sector
From the very beginning of its operations in Serbia, the Bank has established an extremely developed corporate sector, which quickly expanded in the sense of different departments within the sector, as well as the number of employees. The corporate sector of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank quickly achieved competitive advantage in comparison to other banks in Serbia.
Various departments are organized within the sector:
- Credit department
- Small and medium enterprises (transferred to the Retail sector in 2006)
- International financing
Products and services of the corporate sector are concentrated on the client and its needs, and include the following:
- Investment loans (loans approved for the purpose of purchase of machines, equipment, land, real – estate)
- Framework loans (exceeding permissible minus on the account, eskont of bills and revolving lines)
- Documentary operations (guarantees, credits, purchase of receivables and inkaso)
- Loans for working capital
Till 2006 Hypo Alpe Adria Bank mainly focused on long – term corporate loans, which were given to the big corporate clients. Since then, it strategically refocused on small and medium sized enterprises and expanded its offer of products.
Corporate sector is known for its extremely innovative products and services offered to the clients. The innovation, which was introduced by the Bank in the market of Serbia, is the so-called “cross – border” financing. This type of financing is dedicated to the clients that operate in more than two countries. The financing capital is actually provided from outside Serbia and offered to the clients under much better conditions than the ones, which are present in the Serbian market. Additionally, the Bank provides special guarantees for the clients within the Hypo Group, and in this way supports their business activities in other countries.
Furthermore, another product, which is particularly innovative, was introduced in 2004 and it is called the revolving line. By using this product, clients are automatically enabled to use other additional products, according to their needs (dinar and foreign currency loans, working capital loans, guarantees etc.). The revolving line can be used by big corporate clients, as well as small and medium sized enterprises and entrepreneurs.
Being a strategic branch of the Serbian economy, agriculture is one of the top priorities of the corporate sector. The Bank has been extremely active in financing agricultural production: individual agricultural manufacturers have the possibility to finance basic and working capital.
Cross – selling activities refer to the presentation of bank’s products from other sectors within the Bank.
Acquisition of new clients also represents one of the fundamental operations of the corporate sector. It is particularly important since it is the basis of the planned growth of deposits, as the fundamentals for the primary sources.
Special attention within the sector is dedicated to project and structural financing, like: financing of projects for the market or long – term exploitation, purchase of shares, mergers / acquisitions of companies.
3.2. Human resource (HR) department and relationship towards employees
HR department of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank was established in May of 2003 and has developed its activities at a very rapid pace, due to the fact that the number of employees was increasing intensively.
In the very beginning of its operations in Serbia, the bank had a total of 27 employees and in just one year the number increased to 323 employees. In 2005, the growth trend continued and the number of the bank staff reached 531 people. Finally, on the closing date, 31 December 2008, Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank a.d., Beograd had 871 employees. The increase of the number of employees is the result of the extension of the branch office network. Furthermore, additional employees were recruited in the headquarters to cater for the increasing customer demands. Within the initial process of selection and engagement of young experts, 600 potential candidates have been interviewed. Furthermore, database containing more than 1500 biographies of interested candidates was created, which points out to the fact that young people of Serbia are very keen on participating in the creation of modern multinational companies.
One of the key priorities of the HR department from the very beginning of its existence was to enable quick integration of new employees into the system. Secondly, the Bank immediately started with the implementation of the Hypo standards, creation of the corporate identity and team atmosphere in the institution.
Additionally, a very important strategic goal for the department was to become the source of educational staff, which would be capable of taking on new jobs, initiatives and development. In that sense, many of the employees, who have already acquired standards of the corporation and business modalities, have obtained leading positions within the Bank as the heads of various sectors.
As far as the age structure is concerned, majority of employees of the Bank belong to the age group 30 – 39 years old, as it is shown in the diagram below. Additionally, 47% of all employees have acquired university education, while 33% of employees have secondary education.
Activities of HR department are focused in three directions: administration, finance and education.
In the area of administration, the department is handling recruitment process and hiring of new people who are competent and can contribute to the environment of the Bank.
In the field of finance, the so called “time – management” program is being implemented within the department, referring to the planning of the budget which will be used for the purpose of staff education and various bonus systems realized through completed targets.
Having in mind the fact that, contemporary flows of banking operations worldwide demand constant education of the staff in all areas of the business, HR department takes particular notice of education of employees.
The department is conducting educational trainings in various forms: motivation trainings, special skills development courses and language courses. This contributes to the raising of the efficiency level of the staff. Educational trainings are organized internally and externally. Some of the most important types of trainings, depending on the sector are:
- Cross – selling courses
- Microsoft Office Excel seminars
- Insurance trainings, which enables the participants to obtain the license of the insurance mediator
- Small and medium sized enterprises trainings
- Seminars for the sale of pension and investment funds
- CDO`s and Credit linked trainings
- Specialist courses MCPD and MCITP Database Administrator for staff in the sector for informational technologies
- System Oriented Management course 1 and 2
- Optional modules
- Top executive Education
- Public Finance Basic Training
- Project management – Train the Trainer
- Project Management for Top Management
Cross – selling courses for account managers are particularly important for the activities of the Bank, in order to introduce existing clients of the Bank with new products and services. In this way, account managers tend to ensure that the additional product or service is being sold to the client, while at the same time enhancing the value the client gets from the Bank.
Moreover, employees have the opportunity of expanding their knowledge in seminars jointly organized in cooperation with relevant public institutions, such as the National bank of Serbia, Association of Banks in Serbia, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Business research and other external providers, as well as trainings related to international accounting standards.
Having in mind that the Bank operates in twelve countries and that everyday communication involves the use of foreign languages, English courses are provided for all employees, at the expense of the Company. Additionally, certain numbers of employees who occupy the positions, which are directly linked to the headquarters of the Group in Austria, take courses of German language, whose expenses are also borne by the Company.
Particularly relevant project of the department was realized in 2008, when the Bank established its internal employee – training center. The main goal of the project was to make the best possible use of the existing knowledge and the practical experience of the staff. The center was formed in order to initiate internal transfer of knowledge among employees, information sharing, better communication, which consequently leads to better work performance and improvement of inter-personal relations within the Bank. This modern and completely technically equipped space is intended for internal and in – house trainings, seminars and workshops for employees. Additionally, several types of trainings are conducted within the Center: cross – selling workshops, “Hypo – 1” – a tool which helps the staff get acquainted about other sectors besides their own, small and medium size enterprises trainings, etc. In just three months after its opening, more than 400 employees have participated in organized trainings, and in one year more than 900 employees successfully passed over 30 internal educational and development programs of the center, which consequently justified the original expectations set by the management of the Bank.
In addition, there is no doubt that one of the key priorities of the Bank is employee satisfaction. HR department in Hypo Bank actively conducts the employee assessment programs, which are incorporated in the employee satisfaction program. Originally, the program was based on yearly interviews of employees and their superiors on the subject of work efficiency and success, through self – evaluation done by the employee, and the evaluation obtained from the superior. In order to upgrade the program, in 2007 HR department decided to introduce new actions.
One of these actions was employee satisfaction survey. This type of survey is conducted among all employees in the end of every working year, and concentrates on the four most important areas of employee satisfaction: general satisfaction with work and work conditions, communication and interpersonal relations, leadership, bonus systems and career opportunities. Achieved results from the survey serve as the basis for strategy planning for the upcoming years. This is particularly important in order to include the opinion of the staff in the process of future strategy defining and decision – making, so that everyone can benefit from it. Furthermore, obtained results were than given to the HR agency Advance Response International that deals with HR issues, and in this way anonymity and objectivity of the research was achieved. At this point, it is necessary to highlight that Hypo Bank has developed cooperation with several human resource agencies for the purpose of various types of trainings: project management, leadership and management, credit and market risk, etc.
Asides from the efforts, which are focused on the improvement of communication among employees, inter-personal relations and management, the management of the Bank puts special emphasis on professional development of the middle and top management members. For that purpose, development center operating within the HR department was established in order to assess development necessities of the staff belonging to these levels of management. The center analyses results of interviews, surveys and supervisors suggestions, and consequently creates individual development plan for every employee. Another type of development plan created in the center, is team development plan, which is implemented on the entire teams working in specific sectors.
“In order to do business well, you need to have products of good quality, but asides from that, you need to have excellent staff. Therefore, we invest a lot in education and training of our employees. For example, in the second quarter of 2006, we realized a special trainee project. We hired motivated young people who had just completed their university education and we enabled them to pass specific trainings throughout the entire Group in two years, in order to get familiar with every aspect of the company business activities. They didn’t have trainings only in Serbia; they also visited other Hypo companies abroad. As we often like to say in the Group: our greatest assets are our employees and for that reason we will continue to invest in their internal and external education.” (Marija Sutanovac, Head of the HR department of the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd).
Important point, which should be highlighted in this section, is opportunity for scholarships for university education of employees. Each year Bank supports further education of thirty selected employees and provides funding for their studies. This program represents a special kind of acknowledgement for talented and hard – working employees. Furthermore, in cooperation with the Serbian Business Club “Privrednik”, the Bank provides scholarships for ten students, which are not employees of the bank, and in this way shows its support directed to the young people of Serbia. In this way, talented and perspective students have the opportunity to be in touch with the people from the most significant and influential companies in Serbia, and can find employment opportunities upon their graduation asides form their scholarships.
3.3. Marketing department and relationship towards clients
Marketing department had a challenging task of providing support to all business activities of the Bank, once it penetrated the Serbian market. The key priority of the department was to create a positive image of the Hypo Bank, as well as to inform the Serbian population about its products and services. Corporate image strategy emphasized values of the bank: its tradition, innovative approach to business, Alps-Adriatic philosophy based on the regional banking client focus, partnership, security, corporate responsibility and independence. The main focus of the department was to create and promote the corporate image, which emphasizes that Hypo Alpe Adria Bank a.d. Beograd takes care of its clients in the same way as it takes care of its employees, and that it is a reliable partner who nurtures the local community in which it exists.
The main element of the department’s strategy was to create two-way communication with the clients: to reach the clients, and to hear their needs as well. For that purpose, the Bank introduced a special program called clients suggestions. Clients of the Bank have the possibility of sending their suggestions, comments,