Last year marked important milestones for the entire banking sector, raising new obstacles as well as new opportunities. In this context, ING Bank Romania CEO Mihaela Bitu and her management team have had to adjust their leadership style and stay as close to their employees as possible.
By Anda Sebesi
“Looking back at the number of new projects and initiatives the bank took on, some of which were directly derived from the pandemic, Mihaela Bitu argues that it was clear that the company had adjusted and responded to this crisis in a successful manner. “We will remember 2020 as a year marked by lots of challenges and efforts, but also one in which we demonstrated resilience, solidarity, and the ability to swiftly adapt to a new reality.”2020 was a maturity test for us and for the entire banking sector, and that test continues to this day. At ING, last year started with bold plans for development and excellent business momentum. But as the pandemic reached our country, we had to refocus on business continuity and on providing safety and support to our clients and colleagues. Of course, we remained committed to developing our digital offering, continued to lend, to on-board new clients, and to mind our business responsibilities,” says Mihaela Bitu, the CEO of ING Bank Romania.
According to the CEO, a clear strategy and direction were very important ingredients of ING Bank’s success, as they kept it on a steady course even in stormy times. “Throughout the years, we have consistently focused on digital products and services, which could be accessed anytime and anywhere. The pandemic has accelerated many clients’ tendency to access online and mobile services. From this perspective, we can say that we were well prepared, not just in terms of interacting with our clients, but also in our internal communication,” she adds. The lender’s employees had all been fully equipped with mobile devices well before the pandemic, which allowed 95 percent of them to begin working from home within two weeks.
“As a business leader, I’ve also had to adapt and cope with the challenges generated by the pandemic. My colleagues from the management team and I made adjustments to our leadership style and stayed close to our teams, even in the remote work environment. It was not easy, but it certainly showed us that alternative ways of working can yield equally good results as long as the team is engaged and united,” Mihaela Bitu explains.
Last year, the company continued to grow, develop, and attract new clients, which is an achievement in itself. “Of course, the crisis took a toll on our financial results, which were nevertheless comparable to the previous year, leaving aside the higher risk costs associated with the macroeconomic circumstances,” she notes.
The bank’s long-term strategic goal is to continue to offer accessible digital products and services in the coming years. It also aims to preserve and consolidate its innovative edge and good customer experience, which have helped it grow organically over the past 26 years. “I think this pandemic has made the good intentions and constructive approach of the banking sector more evident than ever, and hopefully this will eliminate the negative bias against some banks. Last but not least, another positive effect of the current context has been the faster adoption of modern banking services. Less cash, more online and digital services,” Mihaela Bitu concludes.