CEO Marc Raisière: ‘Belfius remains a bank for everyone’ – Businesses

Belfius is rapidly developing a separate branch network for its wealthy customers. By the end of this year there will be 20 such private & wealth houses. At the same time, ten ‘ordinary’ offices disappear every year. Nevertheless, Belfius remains a bank for everyone, says CEO Marc Raisière.

Belfius achieved a net profit of 428 million euros in the first six months of the year. This is an increase of 5 percent compared to the 406 million euros from the first half of 2021. It is the best half-year result in Belfius’ history. Last year, the bancassurance company had a record profit of 935 million euros for the entire financial year. An improvement in that result is possible, but not a goal in itself, says CEO Marc Raisière.

He is skeptical because an economic slowdown is a possibility. However, the bank currently does not see any effect of the high inflation and economic uncertainty on the loan portfolio. It therefore further reduces its stock of credit commissions, which were built up during the covid crisis.

Buffer of DKK 160 million

Belfius still has a buffer of 160 million euros to absorb potential credit losses. Real credit losses in the first half of the year amounted to just under 30 million euros, and this remains historically low, said CFO Johan Vankelecom: “In a normal semester, you can expect 50 to 60 million euros in credit losses. The number of problem loans has fallen to approximately 1.87 percent of the total loan portfolio.”

Read more under the video

Last year, Belfius paid out a temporary dividend of 130 million euros in the autumn. Whether it also happens this year is a matter for the shareholders, says Vankelecom, but he is already taking that into account. Last year, the Belgian state grouped its capital holdings in the financial sector with the Federal Participation and Investment Company (FPIM).

Belfius’ revenue increased by 6.2 percent in the first half (to 1.3 billion euros), but costs rose even faster, by 7.9 percent. Belfius explains this by saying that the bancassurance company continues to invest in people, marketing, innovation and technology. Just today, however, the group announced that it will stop sponsoring the football clubs RSC Anderlecht and Club Brugge. According to Raisière, football sponsorship does not provide enough. He will continue to bet on sports like hockey. This sport is also better suited to the target audience that Belfius is targeting for growth: the wealthy Belgian.

Read more under the table

© Belfius

Separate only for rich Belgians

Belfius is developing a separate network of offices for its wealthy clients. By the end of this year, twenty such private & wealth houses and about sixty by the end of 2025. These are available to the 155,000 private banking customers (from half a million euros in assets) and the 3,900 asset management customers of Belfius (from 2.5 million euros in assets). Ten branches disappear every year in the ‘normal’ branch network.

“Normal banking is done digitally,” Raisière explains the difference. “This means that fewer and fewer people come to the offices. Those who want advice are still welcome, but more specific advice is needed for wealthy clients, which is why we provide a separate network for them.”

Nevertheless, Belfius remains a bank for everyone, emphasizes Raisière: “We count 172,000 social accounts that help PCSWs guide the underprivileged or people in a difficult situation. We have 24 billion euros in loans to the public and social sectors . This means that the schools , We have built cycle paths, swimming pools and hospitals. We invest in massive installation of solar panels on public housing. And we offer free services to elderly customers suffering from digitization. We again offer telephone banking. So is Belfius .”

Higher savings rate in 2023 at the earliest

A higher savings rate is not an option for Belfius customers for the time being: “The deposit rate at the ECB is zero percent, while we offer 11 basis points in interest and pay 30 basis points in bank tax. This means we are still losing money. on savings accounts. If the ECB’s deposit rate exceeds 0.5 percent, you can start thinking about a higher savings rate. I think that will be the case next year at the earliest.”

Read more under the video

Meanwhile, the credit engine at Belfius is running at full speed. The bank granted 12.4 billion euros in new loans in the first half of the year. This is a growth of 18 percent. The total loan portfolio has grown to more than 107 billion euros. Belfius’ relatively young activities in the capital markets are also growing rapidly. With this trading room, Belfius wants to offer companies, governments and wealthy individuals direct access to the financial markets.

Beats has potential

In the autumn, there will also be a major campaign to put Beats on the map. Beats is the combined package of banking and telecommunications services that Belfius launched more than a year ago in collaboration with Proximus. “We took the time to test everything, we made mistakes and learned. But the commercial results are promising. We are convinced of the potential of Beats. That is why we will launch a major commercial and marketing campaign this fall,” Raisière said.

Belfius achieved a net profit of 428 million euros in the first six months of the year. This is an increase of 5 percent compared to the 406 million euros from the first half of 2021. It is the best half-year result in Belfius’ history. Last year, the bancassurance company had a record profit of 935 million euros for the entire financial year. An improvement in that result is possible, but not a goal in itself, says CEO Marc Raisière. He is reluctant because an economic slowdown is a possibility. However, the bank currently does not see any effect of the high inflation and economic uncertainty on the loan portfolio. It is therefore further reducing its stock of credit provisions, which were built up during the covid crisis. Belfius still maintains a buffer of 160 million euros to absorb potential credit losses. Real credit losses in the first half of the year amounted to just under 30 million euros, and this remains historically low, said CFO Johan Vankelecom: “In a normal semester, you can expect 50 to 60 million euros in credit losses. The number of problem loans has fallen to approximately 1.87 percent of the total loan portfolio.” Read more under the video Last year, Belfius paid out an interim dividend of 130 million euros in the autumn. Whether it also happens this year is a matter for the shareholders, says Vankelecom, but he is already taking that into account. Last year, the Belgian state grouped its capital holdings in the financial sector with the Federal Participation and Investment Company (FPIM). Belfius’ revenues rose by 6.2 percent in the first half of the year (to 1.3 billion euros), but costs rose even faster, with 7.9 percent. Belfius explains this by saying that the bancassurance company continues to invest in people, marketing, innovation and technology. Just today, however, the group announced that it will stop sponsoring the football clubs RSC Anderlecht and Club Brugge. According to Raisière, football sponsorship does not provide enough. He will continue to bet on sports like hockey. This sport is also more in line with the target audience that Belfius is targeting for growth: the wealthy Belgians. Read more under the table Belfius is developing a separate network of offices for its wealthy clients. There should be twenty such private and wealth houses by the end of this year and about sixty by the end of 2025. These are available to the 155,000 private banking customers (from half a million euros in assets) and the 3,900 asset management customers of Belfius (from 2.5 million euros in assets). Ten branches disappear every year in the ‘normal’ branch network. “Normal banking takes place digitally”, Raisière explains the difference. “As a result, fewer people come to the branches. Those who want advice are still welcome, but more specific advice is needed for wealthy clients, which is why we give them a separate network.” Nevertheless, Belfius remains a bank for everyone, emphasizes Raisière: “We count 172,000 social accounts that help PCSWs guide the underprivileged or people in a difficult situation. We have 24 billion euros in loans for the public and social sectors . With this, schools, cycle paths, swimming pools and hospitals. have been built. We invest in massive installation of solar panels on public housing. And we offer free services to elderly customers who are troubled by digitization. For example, we again offer telephone banking. So is Belfius .” Belfius customers: ” The ECB’s deposit rate is zero percent, while we offer 11 basis points of interest and pay 30 basis points in bank tax. t that we are still losing money on savings accounts. Only if the ECB’s deposit rate exceeds 0.5 percent can you start thinking about a higher savings rate. I think that will be the case next year at the earliest.”Read more under the video In the meantime, the credit engine at Belfius is running at full speed. The bank granted 12.4 billion euros in new loans in the first half of the year. That is a growth of 18 percent The total loan portfolio has grown to more than 107 billion euros. Belfius’ relatively young activities in the capital markets are also growing rapidly. With this trading room, Belfius wants to offer companies, governments and wealthy individuals direct access to the financial markets. There’s also a bigger campaign to put Beats on the map. Beats is the combined package of banking and telecommunications services that Belfius launched more than a year ago in collaboration with Proximus. “We took the time to test everything, we made mistakes and learned. But the commercial results are promising. We are convinced of the potential of Beats. That is why we are starting a major commercial and marketing campaign this fall,” said Raisière.

Leave a Comment