Interview with Ivana Pícková, CEO of Max banka

March 25, 2024

At what stage is the process of merging Max banka with Banka CREDITAS? And what the banking of the future will look like, or what the role of women is in high business positions. These are not the only topics Ivana Pícková, the CEO of Max banka, discusses in an interview for Ekonomický magazín.

Will your bank continue to profile itself as an online bank for everyday use?
Definitely, the modern world of banking is changing rapidly as are the expectations of clients. Nowadays, most of them count on being able to manage their funds independently, anytime and anywhere. At Max banka and within the entire CREDITAS Group, we are encountering this trend, which is why we place an emphasis on online payments, account management, payment cards and investment tools.

In your opinion, what is the difference between men and women in their approach to banking?I don’t know. I guess I can’t judge. Actually at work, I have never thought about that I am a woman, I don’t emphasise it or suppress it. I deal with specific tasks, problems and situations. I may deal with some things differently than men, but more likely differently than anyone else, no matter women or men. (smile)

Your bank won the Financial Product of the Year 2023 competition. It is a savings account and a time deposit. What do you think led to the victory?
Above all, I believe in our pro-client and fair mindset. Over the long term, we offer favourable valuation of deposits in both valued products. We do not complicate anyone’s life with unnecessary fees, limits or any other terms and conditions.

You can open a CZK and EUR savings account with Max banka, and you can also open a USD term deposit account. Which currency is the most valuable?
This varies greatly over time, with each currency depending on market developments. It can be assumed that rates in crowns will fall in the coming months and that rates in euro will be more stable, but everyone should choose according to their specific needs. A good portfolio includes savings as well as investments corresponding to the investor’s willingness to accept a higher or lower level of risk. It is true that diversification is essential.

Are you in favour of changing to the euro currency?
Absolutely. It just depends on the timing and the final conditions, i.e. the conversion rate.

At what stage is the merger with Banka CREDITAS?
This is a very complex and demanding project, but we are proceeding according to the set schedule and we want to implement the legal merger as soon as possible, preferably by the end of this year. The process is similar to the previous bank mergers on our market.

You are an online bank, do you think brick-and-mortar establishments are a thing of the past?
I don’t think so. However, they will have to adapt to more demanding clients, or those with individual needs and requirements. Today, the basic operations are handled by clients themselves in their mobile phones; in this regard progress and security will continue to advance.

What is your opinion on cash? Will we be only online in the future?
We are clearly heading towards this, the transition from cash to cards and from cards to mobile phones or watches is unstoppable. Mobile payment accounts and cards are already standard for schoolchildren who manage their own pocket money.

How is the development of artificial intelligence in your bank?
Cautious. In principle, we try to monitor developments in all IT areas, but at the same time we approach them with due diligence. The security of our clients’ data, systems and money has and must take precedence over any rapid development in our bank.

What new technologies can we find in your bank?
The CREDITAS Group has launched Max Invest, a new investment app, which offers not only the opportunity to invest in ETFs, but also a comprehensive academy where those interested can educate themselves in the field of investing. However, most banking technologies are “invisible” in principle. They are primarily concerned with security and compatibility in processing requests, and these are being developed. We are also developing foreign currency products, specifically the ability to link multiple accounts in different currencies to one payment card.

How do you see the possibility of sharing? Can a bank be shared?
In the true sense of the word, I understand sharing applies to physical objects. I can share a car, an office, a computer, an object or space that I need but don’t need it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Banking services are intangible by definition, so sharing them does not make any sense.

You assumed the position of the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors in January 2023. What visions did you start with?
From the very start, the integration of Max banka into CREDITAS Bank has been a long-term goal. And until then, I want Max banka to develop in the spirit of its motto “Online bank for every day”. This involves streamlining and automating processes, focusing on widely available and comprehensible products for retail and developing mobile and internet banking.

Do you have an idea of what banking will look like in 20 years?
What banks will be able to do in twenty years is difficult to predict. They should first and foremost meet the needs of their clients. Whether we log in to banking with a blood print on the back of our hand, if there will still be cards, or whether we pay with an iris scan in shops is not really that important. Generally speaking, a stable and strong banking system is much more important for the prosperity of the entire country and its citizens than most people realise.

But I imagine we won’t need to know about the bank in 20 years. That is to say, the information will be so interconnected that the bank will not ask you for any loan application documents. It will itself know which regular payments need to be paid because you have committed to them by contract, etc. It will independently and fully automatically suggest to you how much money to set aside for the future and where. This is a vision that sounds very comfortable to some people and frightening to others. However, I consider it very likely, even in less than 20 years. 

The interview was published on the Ekonomický magazín portal. Author: Renáta Lucková.