Francoise Thoma (Spuerkeess): Luxembourg cornerstone
Françoise Thoma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Committee of Spuerkeess presents the technological and commercial challenges for traditional financial players and BCEE's contingency plan in the face of the current health crisis.
Could you present Spuerkeess in a few words?
Spuerkeess was founded in 1856 and is wholly owned by the Luxembourg State. Spuerkeess is a universal and systemic bank, i.e. directly supervised by the European Central Bank. Its main statutory missions are to promote savings, to facilitate access to housing and to support the development of the national economy. Today, Spuerkeess is the leader in both the retail banking and domestic SME markets, well recognized at delà̀ within the borders of the GrandDuché́ of Luxembourg. The international rating agencies have been giving Spuerkeess décerné́ for many years the AA+ (Standard & Poor's) and Aa2 (Long term Deposit Rating, Moody's) ratings respectively. The magazine Global Finance ranks Spuerkeess among the safest banks in the world and regularly awards it the "Safest Bank Award - Luxembourg". Global Finance has also just named Spuerkeess "Best Bank - Luxembourg 2020".
"The main challenge for the more traditional financial players will be to succeed in anticipating and understanding their clients' expectations as well as possible"
What challenges and opportunities do you identify for the banking sector?
In a highly competitive context marked by rapid technological and commercial developments, the main challenge for the more traditional financial players will be to anticipate and understand the expectations and needs of their customers in order to provide them with optimal support throughout the different stages of their lives. In this context, the banking sector will have to intensify the digitalisation of both internal processes and front-end tools for communicating with customers, at a time when customer behaviour is tending more and more towards remote contact with their banking advisers. At the same time, this challenge represents an unprecedented opportunity for banks to accelerate innovation in terms of both the products and services they offer and the channels of communication with customers.
How is your firm adapting to Covid-19?
Spuerkeess' priority from the beginning of the current health crisis has been to ensure the health of its customers and employees while guaranteeing the maintenance and continuity of its banking and financial activities. In order to respond to this priority, Spuerkeess maintains the opening of a sufficient number of branches covering the whole territory, allowing to ensure the necessary transactions of its customers. In addition, Spuerkeess Direct, accessible from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. via telephone and e-mail, allows all customers to carry out their transactions even without having to travel, and with the support of our specially trained advisers. At the same time, Spuerkeess has provided a large part of its employees with the necessary IT infrastructure to enable them to work efficiently in the home office. The objective of Spuerkeess over the coming weeks and months is to respond quickly to the demand of its clients, and more particularly of companies, in terms of financing needs with a view to contributing in the best possible way to the maintenance of economic activities in Luxembourg and to a rapid and confident exit from the crisis.