Raluca Popescu is Head of Corporates of UniCredit Bulbank and Member of the Management Board of the bank in Bulgaria since November 2019. She is also member of the Supervisory Board of UniCredit Leasing. She has been working in the banking system for more than twenty years, taking different positions within UniCredit Group – Head of Italian Corporates Desk and Head of International Center at UniCredit Bank Romania and UniCredit Bank Hungary.
Financial institutions over the past years are under constant pressure to upgrade their
processes and services. Where does UniCredit Bulbank’s strategic focus lie in this respect?
As the market is really dynamic and moving faster than ever before in most of the industries, we at UniCredit Bulbank are dedicated to the constant improvement of the internal processes resulting in the enhancement and speed up of the services to the customers. This is a constant endeavour and it entails relevant investments and focus on a few aspects – the digitalisation, internal simplification of processes and growth of our most important asset – our people.
One good example would be the focus we have put over the last years on the lending speed-up process, the so-called “time to decision” and “time to cash”, in order to address as fast as possible and in the most professional way the needs of our corporate clients. I am confident that the numerical evidence that we have internally is also perceived by our clients and proven by their feedback on the customer experience with us. And we are continuously focusing on this next year.
Another example is our focus on digitalisation of our daily banking services via Bulbank Online, where we continue to add new features and services, beyond the traditional banking services, supporting our presumed leading Fintech position on the Bulgarian market.
We are aware that the business appreciates a financial partner who understands the needs, is well aware of the risks and is responsible for the provision of proper financing quickly, looking forward for adding value and innovative services for their daily activity.
What key goals do you want to achieve and what would that mean for your clients?
We listen to and value the voice of our customers and proactively ask them for their feedback in order to elaborate and face together the expectations to the maximum possible extent.
Nowadays, we can say that more than 95% of our customers are actively using Bulbank Online and they are one of the main guiding forces for the enhancements we do every day.
What that means for our customers is precise and fast service, customised financial solutions and digital banking with Bulbank Online as the main digital service platform for the overall communication with our corporates. Moreover, it is the platform, which we envision to evolve into an ecosystem for exclusive financial customer experience and future value creation.
In July, we launched a new functionality, embedded in the digital products menu in Bulbank Online – a digital financial analysis of the companies. Our corporate clients can compare their company performance with that of other participants on the market in their industry or in other industries. In this way they can have relevant information about their competitors, find relevant vendors and partners, as well as get a better understanding of the environment.
We focus on mastering customer experience and differentiating even further from traditional banking and from the other players on the market.
We aim to maintain a strong brand for all our stakeholders and further empower our customers to grow.
Last year, UniCredit Bulbank launched e-signing for business clients. What has been your clients’ response to this new service?
It is one of the streams of our digitalisation strategy. Now the legal entities can digitally sign, i.e. approve and send documents using QES* or the mobile app Evrotrust. In this way we simplify and accelerate the process, being more operationally effective, paperless and maintaining a better traceability and archive of the documents.
What we see is that e-signing is valued by the companies and they are using more and more this option to simplify their daily business activities and work with the bank. E-signing saves time for physical visits of the bank locations and provides the opportunity for online archive of the signed documents and better monitoring. It is easy, secure and time-saving.
What new financial instruments and products do you have in the pipeline for 2022 and 2023?
In the first half of 2022 we see a more dynamic increase in the number and volume of lending deals, accompanied by high liquidity on the market. Recently, we witnessed developments on the local and global markets, related to the growth of the commodity prices, significantly increased delivery times and disruptions in the supply chain. This, combined with the unpredictable development of the geopolitical situation and further limitations in the upcoming months, is extending the unforeseen situation for the companies, so they have to react fast and also expect from us quick and customised solutions.
Our primary objective is to continue offering the best in class services to our corporate clients. We are glad that today we look towards more complex financial structures, hedging instruments, investments and important projects for the local and Central and East European markets.
We provide extensive number of opportunities and programmes for financing with the main European and local financial institutions. Just to mention some, the European Investment Fund EGF Uncapped, FMFIB Recovery, the European Bank for Recovery and Development Risk Sharing Framework, Risk Sharing Scheme provided jointly with the European Investment Bank, First Loss Portfolio Guarantee for Microcredit, Documentary Finance Facility guarantee scheme, and more.
We structure these solutions with the understanding of the business needs of our clients and we have a dedicated European Funds team which is available to support them in structuring their requests.
With ESG having become a central concept for businesses over the past years, what are your priorities in this area?
At UniCredit, sustainability is part of how we do business and support our clients, communities, partners, and the industry at large by financing the transition to a low-carbon and more inclusive economy. ESG factors are integrated across our business with concrete targets and monitoring from lending to risk management, and the long-term incentive plans of our top management.
We have a long-term commitment to sustainability both internally and externally, embedded in our values and culture. To support the sustainable market and always match our clients’ needs, we continue to expand our ESG product and service offer, including: Social Impact Banking, sustainable financial instruments and advisory, energy efficient loans and sustainable investment products and advisory.
Furthermore, UniCredit is a leader in sustainable finance and issued its inaugural Retail Social Bond and Senior Preferred Green Bond in 2021, further underlining our strong commitment to sustainability and the strategic importance of ESG for the Group.
ESG helps us live and deliver on our values and continually grow our impact in the community.
We are also focused on fostering an environment of equal opportunities and inclusion internally. The Group is investing 100 million euro towards closing the gender pay gap by 2024.
*Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) is issued by a certification service provider in accordance with the Electronic Document and Electronic Signature Act A list of certification service providers is available at