Eva Collardová: Our product range makes sense to people

May 7, 2024

If you want attractive savings and investment products supported by modern banking, then Banka CREDITAS is a good choice. “In the spirit of our motto “Want more from your savings”, we try to offer our clients the highest possible value,” says Eva Collardová, Director of Banka CREDITAS, in an interview.

The number of clients has increased more than tenfold since 2017. How did you achieve this?
We are very pleased with the increase in the number of clients and it proves that they are satisfied with Banka CREDITAS. Clients feel that they come first and appreciate our attractive range of products and services. Retail clients have quickly become fond of savings accounts and term deposits, which are among the best on the market in terms of their parameters, and which help them value their savings favourably. Our everyday banking for retail and business customers is also very much in favour of our clients – the vast majority of our services are free of fees, including ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world. We have a modern digital banking system, which allows you to control accounts at twenty other Czech and Slovak banks from one place, and where you can also find a clear family budget structure... To put it simply: our product offer makes sense for people in terms of performance and price.

People choose a bank based on certain criteria – value for money, security, ease of access, etc. What do you think they should emphasise and what should they avoid?
Most of the parameters are quite easily comparable in retail banking, especially fees and rates. Then it is a good idea to see if the bank can do what I need. For example, a euro account with a euro card. And then, how comfortable I am with communication with the bank and digital banking. Is it clear? Can it be easily linked to accounting? What everyone should look out for are hidden fees and conditions. We don’t charge them at CREDITAS. We play fair.

In relation to the previous question, we would like to ask the following: What arguments would you use to make people choose Banka CREDITAS?
If you prefer attractive savings and investment products supported by modern banking, then Banka CREDITAS is a good choice. In the spirit of our motto “Want more from your savings”, we strive to offer our clients the highest possible value. If you want modern digital banking that makes it easy for you to do what you need and does a lot of extra things for which you do not need to pay, come to us. For entrepreneurs and companies, I would add that we are flexible and fast in arranging loans and we can find tailor-made solutions even in cases where, for example, the client would not fit into the “boxes” of the large banking houses. All in accordance with the regulations, of course.

Two thousand crowns – this is the dividing line in Czech society. Exactly half of people save more each month, half save less. Alarmingly, one in six Czechs or Moravians is able to put aside no more than five hundred crowns a month, according to a press release from the bank in November 2023. What does that mean?
That Czech society cannot be viewed through the lens of average numbers. Even the most basic division into two halves shows that the living standards of different groups differ quite significantly. This is particularly good to bear in mind when considering various changes to pensions, where there will be an increasing emphasis on personal savings over time.

Even small savings should be managed sensibly. What advice would you give to those who have money, figuratively speaking, under their mattress at home?
Such people let inflation eat up their money unnecessarily and their savings lose value. If you look at the past year, CZK 100,000 would earn you roughly CZK 6,000 a year on risk-free products that fall under the deposit insurance fund, such as savings accounts. Investment vehicles even more so. Money under the mattress does not earn anything. On the contrary, it loses value. And if we go back to the CZK 6,000, that is basically what the mattress will cost.

Many people today are paid in euros. The logical question is how to deal with them? Having a euro account and letting it sit there, exchanging it for crowns and appreciating them – any advice is valuable in this case. What strategy do you recommend to their owners?
Yes, the euro account is a good choice. But first of all, you should look at the exchange rates of your bank, because if I have a salary in euros but expenses in crowns, I still can’t avoid the conversion. If someone wants to save in euros, they can use a euro savings account or a time deposit. I think we offer an interesting return there.

When we save, it is usually either for our old age, our children or grandchildren. That is what savings accounts are for – which one is the best? How do they differ and what should I consider to decide?
The key is to look at the interest rate, which is sometimes grouped by amounts or applies to the entire amount. Another factor is the crediting of interest – monthly is a standard – at the end of each month. It is a good idea to check whether the bank makes the rate conditional on something – for example, the number of transactions in the current account per month or a minimum inflow, or perhaps the fact that no money will flow out of the account in a given month. It is also quite common to combine several products with savings – for example, investments or a current account. We don’t apply these conditions for savings accounts. We are as transparent as possible for our clients.

We often encounter the issue of deposit insurance. Which products are concerned?
Deposit insurance covers current accounts, savings accounts and time deposits up to a total equivalent of €100,000, i.e. approximately CZK 2.5 million. It also applies to some special products, such as an escrow account – used for example when selling a property. The deposit insurance fund, on the other hand, does not cover investment products, bonds, subordinated deposits, etc., which are riskier, but the client can earn more on them.

Finally, cybercriminals are “keeping up with the times” and their practice of cleaning out the accounts of gullible people are becoming more sophisticated. What does the bank do in this regard, and how should your clients behave if they want sleep in peace?
We help and advise clients to use digital tools in a safe way. Of course, we have a number of sophisticated internal tools to defend against potential attacks.

How do you think the banking market will develop in 2024?
A period of lower rates is coming, which is good news for people who want to borrow, less so for people who save. They will probably increasingly look for investment alternatives, for example in the form of funds. What will be very interesting is the developments around the long-term investment product, which are state tax-supported products for saving for old age and which we also intend to offer within the CREDITAS Group, within our Max Invest investment application.

As for Banka CREDITAS, what do you want to surprise your existing and potential clients with?
A bank should not surprise clients, but build trust and offer stability and great service and that is what we strive to be the best at. That is why we want to continue to improve our services in the digital environment. We also want to broaden people’s options and make investing easier, which is why we have launched several new products. We now offer online investments. Clients can buy and manage bonds and mutual funds online. We then offer them ETFs as part of our new Max Invest app. We want to remain among the top banks in the market for savings appreciation, this is our long-term strategy.

The interview was published in the magazine CzechIndustry, on the Casopisczehindustry.cz portal.