New Opportunities in Transaction Banking
What is the role of Global Transaction Banking within UniCredit and how important is cash management?
Cash management has always been an important business for UniCredit. With the establishment of the Corporate and Investment Banking division in 2009 and its new strategic set-up, UniCredit has accelerated its growth plans in this area, and global transaction banking (GTB) is now a primary focus for the group as it is a product line that offers significant value to our clients. We are continuing to invest substantially in GTB because our clients have an increasing need of products such as cash management, trade financing and supply chain financing.
What has inspired UniCredit to make this commitment to GTB?
UniCredit is very well positioned to offer excellent GTB services, owing to our extensive network with more than 9,600 branches and strong domestic presence in 22 countries, excellent processing capability and a holistic approach to addressing customers’ financial challenges. We have long-term, trusted relationships with our customers, and extending our GTB services has already proved the ideal vehicle to engage with them on a deeper level, understanding and responding to both their transactional and strategic objectives, in order to tailor specific solutions that meet their current needs and future ambitions.
Although parts of Central and Eastern Europe lack the financial maturity of Western Europe, the grasp of new concepts and techniques is often much faster.
Much is changing in the field of corporate treasury, in terms both of customers’ requirements and the tools that are available to fulfil them. For example, financing and transaction services are more closely linked than ever, as companies of all sizes seek to optimise the financial supply chain to enhance working capital, improve efficiency and leverage their financial assets as collateral for financing. Delivering transaction services in an efficient way is also far easier than in the past, with web-based platforms which mean there is no need for expensive IT infrastructure, and which are easily integrated with in-house systems. Consequently, treasurers are less tied to their legacy cash management bank(s) and find it easier to work with their bank of choice for transaction banking, which is creating considerable opportunities for UniCredit.
How have customers responded to the development of GTB?
We are a European group with the advantage of a very strong, established local presence in 22 countries, and this allows us to suggest tailored solutions to our clients depending upon the various markets. It also means that with a local bank we face a different competitive situation in each country. We have for example a client penetration of over 90% in Austria while in other countries this may be only 20 or 30%. We are in different stages of growth across Europe, with diverse financial requirements in each country. Our primary focus is on developing a flexible strategy based on proximity in each market and cohesive solutions that reflect local variations whilst supporting pan-European cash management objectives.
In this environment, we have been extremely encouraged by the response of both new and existing customers. In Central and Eastern Europe, companies welcome our ability to share experiences, solutions and best practices derived from other parts of the continent. Companies operating in these countries recognise UniCredit’s unique ability to deploy proven solutions from other parts of Europe, adapted to meet local conditions. Although parts of Central and Eastern Europe lack the financial maturity of Western Europe, the grasp of new concepts and techniques is often much faster. Companies operating there have high expectations of their banks, which therefore need to deliver solutions that provide demonstrable value both in the short term and over a longer period. This focus on delivering pragmatic solutions that provide demonstrable benefits is equally valued by treasurers in every country who are seeking to add value without adding to the financial or administrative burden in treasury, which adds to UniCredit’s attraction.