George Debono Chief Commercial Officer of BNF Bank outlines how the bank has evolved to meet modern customer demands and gain market share in a highly competitive environment
BNF Bank has stood out and distinguished itself in recent years through its highly recognisable brand, strong personal relationships with customers, business agility, and customer-centric products. As a relatively young bank, we have always managed to set ourselves apart by building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers, which gives us a strong platform to listen, empathise, and formulate solutions that work for businesses, families, and friends.
BNF Bank (BNF) serves both retail and business customers through a team of energetic, well-versed customer care representatives across a network of twelve retail branches. Operating throughout the Maltese islands, our dedicated corporate business banking relationship managers maintain our focus on offering an efficient, convenient, and ultimately superior client experience that adds value and meets the demands of our customers.
The synergy between our retail and corporate business segments plays a significant role in the strategy of the bank to support family-owned businesses. Whether they are startups or more sophisticated family conglomerates, our bespoke corporate services – as well as our suite of products, including our Business Accelerate programme backed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) – are tailored to the needs of enterprises at various stages of their growth.
Our digital transformation strategy is an integral part of our vision for a sustainable bank of the future. Technology plays a crucial role in delivering service excellence, as more and more customers embrace the convenience of digital tools. The development of our digital touchpoints provides customers with greater freedom, accessibility, and an overall enhanced experience based on device-responsive services that employ the highest security standards and uplifted by personal human intervention .
A particular nod goes to BECS, our AI virtual agent, which is designed to assist customers around the clock with automatic responses to standard queries. BECS is continuously learning and improving its ability to support our customers, and will gradually take over several processes previously limited by human intervention to continue to adapt to our customers’ ever-changing needs.
Such innovations are helping us establish a robust foundation and a strong springboard for our digital transformation journey. We have invested heavily in several customer touchpoints, including express deposit machines, contactless cards and security apps. We also made significant headway in our data-management systems via Power BI, Microsoft’s powerful business-analytics service.
With technology playing a crucial role in delivering service excellence as more and more clients embrace the convenience of digitisation, we are on track to continue to embrace the digital revolution. We have selected the cutting-edge Temenos Transact and Infinity to spearhead the next phase of technology investment of the bank for its Core Banking Transformation. This collaboration will allow BNF Bank to access the functionalities of Temenos Transact, the world’s most widely used digital core-banking solution and continue to expand our capabilities exponentially.
Valuing the community
Aside from the customer experience in financial services, BNF recognises that its success is inextricably tied to the progress of our communities, and our branch network serves as an important vehicle for social action and positive change. The bank operates its CSR programme across five major pillars, which are essential building blocks for the development of communities and the prerequisite for economic growth. Our efforts in the areas of philanthropy, environment, education, health, culture and heritage seek to close gaps and vulnerabilities and make the lives of those in greatest need a little better and fulfil our ESG objectives.
As we endeavour to provide clients with service excellence, we also take care of our team, acknowledging that our employees are the driving force behind our successful operations. The pandemic has also shown us that whilst BNF must have strong digital platforms, we also need to maintain human interaction with our customers, particularly at pivotal moments in their life journey. This is when our people can make the difference and that is why we continue to invest in training, improved methods of working and most importantly continue to instil a strong collaborative culture across all support functions, where everyone feels the need to contribute towards delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Embracing the future
As we endeavour to deliver on our promise to customers, we strive to add value by enhancing our business and industry knowledge to remain at the pinnacle of modern financial-market trends. The strength of our brand uplifts our efforts, whilst our image, values, reputation, and corporate culture combined have helped us build a positive and strong public perception of a trustworthy and transparent organisation.
Year after year, our efforts are recognised by organisations and industry publications of international repute serving as testament to our drive, dedication, commitment and success. Developing an environment conducive to competition and innovation in the financial-services sector is part of our strategic direction, and the awards we have received serve as further motivation that drives us to keep innovating and improving to deliver our customers with a differentiating experience.
"We continue to instil a strong collaborative culture at BNF"
Looking ahead, BNF embraces the future by continuously pursuing innovations, continue to invest in its systems, people and the community it serves. We will remaining faithful to our core values throughout our ambitious journey to become the leading Bank in Malta for Maltese families and their businesses.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Chief Commercial Officer at BNF Bank p.l.c., George Debono leads the Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, Business Development and Treasury Departments. He has over 25 years of experience in the banking sector, during which he occupied various senior management roles, predominantly within Commercial Banking, Retail Banking and Risk.