Regarding inflation, growth strategy of ESG and social responsibility – Pawel Straczynski, Deputy-president of Pekao Bank S.C., in charge of the Financial Division

Regarding inflation, growth strategy of ESG and social responsibility – Pawel Straczynski, Deputy-president of Pekao Bank S.C., in charge of the Financial Division

Currently about 20 million Polish people actively use internet banking, and 14 million use mobile banking applicatons. At Pekao Bank S.C. we put huge emphasis on digitilization and digitization of our services. Are the effects of these changes felt by your clients?

In two years time we would like for 100% of our services to be realized using our application. The indicator of digitilization and digitization of services is one of the main indicators of realization of our business strategy. The current indicator level of digitilization in our bank is at 70%. We will not abandon branch service banking and we will not replace it with digital service. We want to complete our current offer in a way that the client can choose the method they prefer. If they would like to visit one of our branches or do their banking from home, they will receive the same level of service.

This however is changing somewhat, since more people of advanced age are slowly learning to use mobile services.

This isn’t just about the age factor, I would not stigmatize older people with the lack of ability to move around in the digital world. Direct relations with advisors are very valuble, recognized by, amongst others, business owners. Let’s remember that the pandemic left a mark on social relations and frequently personal contact is the result of decline in meeting with people face to face.

As far as the corporate secotor is concerned, a lot of companies are already your clients. What direction are going to take?

In that respect we are definitely in first place. Our stake in the market reaches nearly 30 percent. We are getting more involved in major projects. We finance huge investments that deal with Energy transformation. In that field we want to be the number one banking choice. In the case of smaller businesses, we are in second place, but while strengthening our inclining position, we want to keep growing. For strategic purposes we are putting more effort into acquiring young clients. We are a system bank and our ambition is to lead every market sector.

With the inflation currently skyrocketing, and interest rates are successively being raised, does this present a positive outlook for the banking sector or does it actually mean a period of a kind of consumer stagnation?

Inflation is a worldwide phenomenon. It is first of all the result of a rise in global Energy and raw materials costs caused by the geopolitical situation, the current war and the European Unions direction in terms of climate politics, which wants to speed up the Energy transformation and the move to renewable Energy sources. Supply chains have been affected by covid-19 and the war, wilst having effect on inflation. Stretching supply chains was a miss idea. Although, it does make a difference where something is manufactured, even if at a low cost. The delayed effect on demand was another factor affecting inflation. This is observable in the tourist or food industry. After two years of the pandemic we started going to restaurants, shopping, to travel agencies, to just live like we did before the pandemic and this first effect of delayed demand is an additional inflationary factor. Interest rates are on the rise, of course, but let us remember that the current inflation rate is 12-13 percent and the basic interest rate is 6 percent., so the actual interest rate is still in the negative. The rate of honorarium still exceeds the inflation rate.

Many refugees have opened accounts in your bank, additionally your bank has prepared tailored solutions to business clients from Ukraine to securely manage the finances of their companies from Poland. How does the war in Ukraine affect the banking situation in your opinion?

We strongly cater to Ukranian citizens. Our mobile application is available in ukranian, additionally we are working on service in that language. At Pekao Bank, Ukranian citizens can already fill out applications  for granting the parental assistance from the national 500+ program, with help of the internet service and and the mobile application. The bank made the procedure as easy as possible for Ukranian citizens to open accounts – one document, such as a passport is enough. Pekao Bank does not charge service fees in this case.

What is the ESG strategy that the bank implemented last year and what goals is it setting for itself?

In the ESG strategy we became much more involved in sustainable projects – at least 30 billion zloty. Please consider these figures as bear minimum. By the year 2024 we would like to get involved in low emission projects, reduce our involvment in high emission assets to less than one percent. This will not be a mass contract termination act nor will it involve renewing contracts. We are a responsible bank, a Polish bank, with assets from the national Treasury and in the same way as international banks have their owners, who’s will is expressed and realized through management, we have our own shareholders and we listen to what they have to say.

So if your aim is not to mass terminate contracts, then how will this process look?

We surely will not engage in any new projects that are in the high emissions sectors, but we will take part in Energy transformation. During the forum in Davos, at which I had the honor of partaking, Premier Jacek Sasin said that Energy transformation  in Poland should go from coal directly to renewable Energy sources, omitting the transitional fuel. We find ourselves in this complicated situation, and we should in a controlled and safe manner continue the process of extinguishing coal assets, but in a different timetable because we have to take into consideration that there will not be as much fuel as we had planned. We definetly have to speed up the RES building process and Energy distribution.

Pekao Bank S.C. pays close attention to social responsibility in business based up on which it additionally created the „Regulations Charter„ or, a list of internal corporate values. Can you tell us some more about this Charter?

Our social responsibility is the banks response to aims established in our ESG conduct. It is a comprehensive document founded on three pillars: Environment, Involvement and Order. Amongst key aspects of the last pillar, the promotion of growth, diversity and employee equality stand out. Most important aims in this context are increased satisfaction and involvement. To reach these goals, developmental programs, succession plans and attractive commission and salary system. Pekao’s priority is also attention to equality rights, narrowing the salary gap and maintaining a balanced ratio of men to women in managerial positions. In the financial division, amongst overseeing directors, four are women. This is meant to show that there is no disproportion in the building of our managerial division. Women consist of three quarters of the employed work force. It is no surprise that our bank for the third year in a row has qualified for the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. The presence of women in our upper managerial positions is at 57 percent. In the aforementioned ranking there are only two Polish companies.

I would also like to ask about social programs. Does Pekao Bank S.C. get involved in any sort of assistance?

In the FOB report, that being the biggest annual look at innitiatives amongst firms in field of SCR and sustainable growth from the given year. Pekao Bank has been recognized for all submitted deeds. The limit was 10, so all have been highly recognized. For example, our program for women called „Sugar Free”, founding of which is based on encouraging and inspiring women to growth in life and in business, or „MiLOVE running with wisent”, it’s aim besides creating tighter bonds between employees, ha salso been encouraging them to physical activity and taking part in charitable causes, this is something we have seen a rise in amongst our employees. Our people educate and assist seniors who are members of the Polish Red Cross. We work together with the SOS Organization – Villages for Kids in Poland. The opening of our virtual Art Gallery of our bank has been recognized, two pieces of art valued at 400 thousand zloty combined have been lent out to the Museum at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

Banku Pekao S.A. Pawel Straczynski, deputy president at Pekao Bank S.C., Financial Division Manager

Alumni at University of Economics in Wroclaw and Executive MBA, specilization in company management. Has rich experience in management. Has held the position of president of Tauron Polish Energy S.C. and Managing Board Member at PKEE. Previously held the position of deputy president at PGE S.C.

Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Anastazja Lach