In Depth: interview with Luigi Fuzio, CEO Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia

The image accompanying the News interview with Luigi Fuzio, CEO Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia, shows the bank's headquarters in Ljubljana

Read the Interview with Luigi Fuzio, CEO Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia - the subsidiary bank of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group in the country.

Slovenia may be small geographically, but it is highly developed. Despite being reliant on exports – particularly to Germany – the country is enjoying sustained economic growth driven by demand for services, high employment rates and increased salaries.

Luigi Fuzio, CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia, senses this could be a turning point for Slovenia to adapt and redefine its trade strategy.

In the first quarter of 2023, growth of the Slovenian economy was driven by household spending, growth in service activities and the construction industry. Over the same period, export activity – which accounts for well over 80% of the Slovenian GDP – was weak.

A leading financial institution

Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia is one of the most successful Slovenian banks. With a focus on customer experience, digitalisation and collaboration with sister banks, it aims to consolidate its reputation as a leading financial institution there.

The bank is in a strong position thanks to its place in a large and solid banking family comprised of all banks within the Intesa Sanpaolo International Subsidiary Banks Division.

“It is precisely our international breadth of knowledge, experience and financial solutions that gives us a very strong background in reacting effectively to all the challenges of the local economy,” Fuzio says.

Despite the persistently high rate of inflation, Fuzio says the demand for loans at Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia has remained steady and it continues to gain market share. Indeed the bank is poised for further growth. Priorities for 2023 include enhancing the retail banking experience through seamless integration of physical and digital channels.

Additionally, the bank wants to play more of a leading role in corporate banking, supporting SMEs. Key to this, says Fuzio, is the transition from a loan volume-driven approach to a value-driven approach, bolstered by excellent customer service.

“We want to be the primary business partner to the best Slovenian SMEs and corporate companies,” says Fuzio, “and to contribute significantly to the development of the country.”

Strength through partnerships

Collaboration is essential for this success to continue and partnerships are important. In 2022, the bank partnered with Generali – with whom it had a long-standing collaboration – to strengthen bancassurance business in Slovenia, providing a comprehensive offering for families and companies.

While the current penetration rate for bancassurance in Slovenia is low, Fuzio sees significant growth potential. “Generali is present in all the main markets where our group operates,” he says. “So we can leverage on its wide-ranging distribution network and extensive experience in developing and offering insurance products (non Life and Life), to exploit the protection business at its best for our current and prospective clients.”

Fuzio believes the bank can actively contribute to Slovenia’s development in areas such as the EU-funded National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) and the green transition, which aims to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The former requires the country to earmark at least 40% of the funds for green transition and 20% for digitalisation.

Digitalisation is already a key part of the bank’s operations. It is the only bank in the market offering Apple Pay and Google Pay, and has won several awards for its mobile-banking user experience.

Through it all, Fuzio maintains that people are the priority. “They should always come first on the priority scale,” he says, “and our culture should allow our colleagues to express and develop their potential to achieve our common goals.”