Having easy access to safe and straightforward banking services is a must

CKB is a leading bank in Montenegro that supports both the economy and its citizens.The interview with Tamás Kamarási, Chairperson of the Management Board of the CKB, provides valuable insights into the Bank’s approach, strategic objectives, social responsibility, and position within its parent company, OTP Group.
We engaged in a discussion with Mr. Kamarási regarding the present condition of the banking industry in Montenegro, as well as the obstacles and anticipations in relation to economic and regulatory reforms. According to him, Montenegro’s banking system is rock solid, thanks to the country’s banks that are well-capitalized, consistently liquid, and profitable.
How do you assess the current state and expectations of the banking sector here in Montenegro, bearing in mind the economic and regulatory reforms?
Overall, I hold the view that the banking industry in Montenegro exhibits a high level of stability. Banks possess substantial capital, maintain a constant level of liquidity, and make profits. The banking sector holds significant relevance for the Montenegrin economy and serves as a pivotal component of the country’s financial ecosystem. The stability of the financial system is of paramount significance in providing assistance to citizens and the economy.
Nevertheless, I would like to establish and monitor the projections for the future within the wider framework of the Montenegrin economy. The geopolitical landscape poses significant challenges and has the potential to affect even the most resilient industry. In addition, we keep a close eye on energy prices, which can fluctuate because of wars in the Middle East. As energy costs rebound, there is a possibility of a subsequent increase in oil prices, which has the potential to undermine the previous inflationary pattern observed in recent months. Another crucial determinant is the projected rate of growth. Within the global framework, it is imperative to consider the extent of economic growth that may be anticipated from the Montenegrin economy. From my perspective, I hold a cautiously positive outlook and anticipate a growth rate of approximately 3% for the Montenegrin economy in the upcoming year. This projection has the potential to outperform the average economic growth rate in Europe.
The tourist industry in Montenegro has recovered to its pre-crisis levels, which bodes well for the country’s economic future.
In light of the foregoing, I have come to the conclusion that Montenegro’s future growth prospects are favourable, particularly when considering the country’s wonderfully stable banking sector.
Can you share with us some of the key strategic goals of CKB for the coming years, especially in terms of supporting the growing Montenegrin economy?
Being the market leader in Montenegro is both an opportunity and a responsibility for CKB to fulfil its mission: to become a trusted lifetime financial partner to all of our clients. Three principles – simple, safe and caring- are central to our approach. The aforementioned principles serve as a compass while we design and manufacture products and services and foster an atmosphere of professionalism within our team.
Currently, we are dedicated to streamlining all of our services in order to enhance user-friendliness and improve accessibility. Digitization plays a crucial role in our operations, as it not only involves creating digital products but also involves educating our clients about the benefits of adopting them. Our primary objective is to consistently deliver the utmost level of protection to our clients by employing cutting-edge security protocols. Caring entails comprehending the requirements of both clients and staff. I firmly believe that there are numerous areas where our desires and anticipations align, and that these should serve as the foundation for all partnerships that are both valuable and of high quality.
Our strategy orientation primarily aims to establish proximity with our consumers and offer them cost-effective services that are straightforward and user-friendly (for box 1).
How is CKB adapting to rapid changes and technologies and how do they affect the way you work with your clients?
CKB establishes itself as a conscientious frontrunner in the market, not only adapting to, but also influencing the banking sector. Being a member of the multinational consortium, OTP Bank, grants us access to extensive knowledge, investments, and cutting-edge technology. Our primary objective is to enhance the financial literacy and comprehension of our clients regarding our range of services. We strive to be at the forefront of this industry and introduce advancements that provide advantages to our consumers.
While digital channels are gaining popularity globally, we maintain that a physical presence in Montenegro, in addition to digital solutions, is indispensable. Our strategy includes offering a comprehensive range of services, including enhancing the services provided at our branches to effectively cater to client requirements. We shall persist in our presence in prominent urban areas, implementing updates to our branch network and enhancing services through various means.
We are dedicated to being accessible through digital platforms, while also emphasising our physical presence. Given the economies of scale and the small population of Montenegro, it is prudent to have a physical and digital presence. With our position as a leading bank with a 30% market share, it is incumbent upon us to assume the obligation of offering both types of services.
The banking sector increasingly emphasises social and environmental responsibility. Can you share with us how CKB contributes to sustainability and social responsibility in Montenegro?
The banking sector in Montenegro has a crucial impact on society, not only due to its stability and importance in the financial ecosystem, but also because of its social responsibility and contribution to the community. Banks not only ensure a secure financial position and liquidity, but also make significant contributions to the community by fulfilling tax obligations and providing substantial employment opportunities.
CKB’s business is significantly influenced by social responsibility and the promotion of environmental protection awareness. CKB allocates substantial resources to enhance the professional development of its employees through internal training programmes and the promotion of an equality policy across all levels of the organisation, including the Management and Supervisory Boards. We actively endorse a range of activities that hold significant value for society as a whole, enhancing both the standard of living and company operations.
Furthermore, CKB places a strong emphasis on promoting sustainability and upholding environmental responsibility. At the group level, we are actively engaged in implementing a range of programmes and objectives to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. As a member of the group, CKB is committed to adopting bestpractices and attaining the required outcomes in this field. Our staff actively participates in all socially responsible projects, and we consistently provide support for their initiatives.
How do you see the role of CKB in the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Montenegro?
The issue of the banks’ involvement in facilitating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises is intricate, particularly when considering the circumstances in Montenegro. Under optimal circumstances, wherein all businesses exhibit transparency regarding their financial affairs, the function of banks becomes pivotal in facilitating such enterprises. The provision of consistent financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises has a profound influence on their prosperity and ability to compete, which is crucial for the advancement of the Montenegrin economy.
Nevertheless, the situation in Montenegro is intricate due to the lack of financial transparency among many small enterprises, hence impeding the establishment of collaborative partnerships. This poses a difficulty for the Montenegrin economy and a lost chance for expansion, affecting both small enterprises and the financial sector.
CKB has the potential to greatly influence this industry by introducing new ideas and creating novel products and processes. However, due to the previously noted lack of transparency, a more cautious strategy will be necessary. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the aforementioned difficulties, we are presently in the process of creating specific cutting-edge remedies that we will provide to this particular group of clients, with the aim of enhancing their capabilities and assisting them in enhancing their commercial operations.
CKB is dedicated to forging reliable relationships with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and is prepared to exert efforts to harness the potential of this sector (box 2).I am confident that we can make a meaningful contribution to the growth of small and medium-sized firms, although it may take a few years for the effects to materialise.
Last question, CKB is part of the OTP Group, how significant is your membership in this group, in terms of the application of advanced business practices on the Montenegrin market?
CKB is one of the smaller subsidiaries in the OTP Group in terms of profit creation and asset size. Despite being the largest bank in Montenegro, our size within the Group is relatively small. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that OTP does not establish its management style based on size, but rather on establishing elevated benchmarks for service and quality. OTP prioritises delivering top-notch services to clients, irrespective of the scale of individual subsidiaries. I believe that this is the “secret of success” of OTP, which has made it the fastest-expanding banking group in the CEE region.
Furthermore, CKB leverages knowledge and best practices obtained from various markets within the OTP Group and implements them in the Montenegrin market (box 3). With the assistance of our parent group, CKB can expedite the development of innovative and top-notch products and services for our clients in Montenegro.