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Hellenic-backed summit: banks must drive sustainable future

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The challenges, trends and future of the island’s economy were forefront topics at the 17th Annual Cyprus Summit, organised by ‘The Economist’ and supported by Hellenic Bank.

Participants were left in no doubt that, with the pandemic acting as a booster for the technological transformation of businesses, economic activity will never be the same in Cyprus and throughout Europe.

Further subjects explored at the event, included: where do we stand now, almost two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic? How quickly can Europe heal its wounds and what will change after Brexit? What will the new generation of funds be? How is the modern market shaping up and what are the consequences of the highly demanding regulatory frameworks and strict supervision on financial institutions?

As a panelist at one discussion, Hellenic Bank CEO Oliver Gatzke discussed the challenges in the banking system, the revolution brought on by technology, the new normal in the financial sector and the changes required to ensure sustainable development.

The digitisation of services is not a matter of choice, but a pressing need, noted CEO Gatzke, as the banking sector in Cyprus cannot fall behind global developments.

“Last year, we saw an enormous shift towards digital and alternative channels throughout the sector,” he added. “This is very encouraging, but we still have a long way to further streamline and simplify procedures and processes to provide seamless customer service and competitive products.”

Hellenic’s chief officer also referred to the new roles created in the sector, as well as the need for banks to adopt a long-term sustainable business model, which will allow them to survive in a highly-competitive environment that involves a large number of banks and stringent regulatory requirements.

Finally, Gatzke addressed the need to ensure a sustainable future for all, noting that the European Green Deal – a roadmap aiming to transform the European Union’s economy for a sustainable future – is a first step in this direction.

The scale of the investment initiatives coming from the EU is beyond the capabilities of the public sector alone, Gatzke further elaborated. To promote sustainable financing, the banking sector must incorporate various environmental, social and governance (ESG) pillars in the investment decision-making process, supporting the allocation and channelling of funds towards sustainable and transitional assets.

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