Darin Peshev is a financial professional with more than 13 years of banking experience in Bulgaria and SEE. He started his career in the field of FX, IR and commodity markets after obtaining a master’s degree in financial risks management from CEDERS Mediterranean University Aix-Marseille 2, France, following a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Strasbourg. He has built extensive experience in the markets and corporate treasury sales field, private banking and investment strategy, corporate foresight and products in the SEE region, working with private banking offices in eight countries. He gained experience on capital markets and our region’s economic and financial environment, at the same time serving high-net-worth individual (HNWI) clients. Since April 2020, Peshev is Director Private Banking in UniCredit Bulbank.
Unlike other large banks, the private banking of UniCredit Bulbank is sitting under the same roof with the corporate investment banking and the asset management. Could you tell us more about this exclusive service model and the tailor-made solutions you provide?
UniCredit Bulbank is really different from other banks with the fact that private and corporate banking are very closely connected. This allows us to be as operational and efficient as possible when serving our customers and to offer value to clients – for their individual needs and for the needs of their companies and employees.
We work together with partners such as Amundi and Allianz to offer tailormade products for private individuals. In addition to Amundi funds, we offer life insurances suitable for clients who are risk-tolerant and willing to probe different strategies and investment fields and explore the megatrends. Alongside our UniCredit Group investment strategy, we have customised solutions tailored to the specific needs of even the most sophisticated customer, we strive to find the right solutions and products, according to their needs and expectations.
Can you give us more details about the private banking customers’ profile? What is UniCredit Bulbank’s focus in this niche?
I find it hard to describe the private banking clients with a common profile but there are certainly similarities between them. I can say that they are people who have achieved a lot in their professional life and often contribute to the society and the community we live in. They own successful businesses or hold senior management positions in large companies. In order to meet the needs of all our customers, we look for a perfect balance. We take into consideration whether the client prefers to have direct contact with the relationship manager from the bank or wants to be more independent and bank remotely, using the bank’s various digital channels. In some cases, when it comes to more complex situations, the direct contact with the bank is inevitable in order to make the right decisions. This hybrid service model allows us to be a flexible and reliable partner to our client.
Globally, Ultra-High-Net-Worth (UHNW) clients have been increasingly bypassing traditional financial institutions and doing private deals directly. Are you witnessing a similar trend in Bulgaria and for which services the private customer perceives you as a preferred partner?
In the last few years our clients tend to be more eager to invest. Some of our clients have high investment culture and they prefer to research the market themselves and to make riskier decisions. Recently, we launched a new investment and markets module in Bulbank Online – Securities trading. It is a significant step towards the digitalisation of this service and allows the customer to invest 24/7 without having to be physically present at a bank location.
Despite the fact that our clients prefer to be independent when it comes to investing, many of them rely on us for information and support for the decisions they make, especially when it comes to asset classes and geographical strategic allocation together with features of various best-in-class products – in this way they feel safer and the process is smoother and easier for them. For several years now, more and more mutual funds and direct investments contracts are signed as our clients strive for a diversified portfolio.
According to a recent report co-written by Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman, the coronavirus pandemic is set to wipe $3.1 trillion off global HNW wealth in 2020. What effects do you expect this to have on private banking in Bulgaria?
There is no denying that this crisis can be defined as economic, as well as corporate and social. But every situation has two sides – good and bad, positive and negative, threats and opportunities and banks are part of the solution. The current emergency state has pushed us even further towards what the whole world has been striving in the last few years – digitalisation. In the past few months both customer behavior and customer needs have massively evolved in this direction. The percentage of people using digital options has risen significantly and our digital channels were helpful during the pandemic. We have made a great progress in a short period of time, building more optimised processes. Change is definitely an opportunity and the speed of embracing it is now even more important than before.
In your view, how will banking union membership (ERM II) affect the private banking sector in Bulgaria? Can you comment on the current regulatory framework and its expected development?
I expect the membership in the banking union to certainly make us even better financially and a more reliable trading partner of the Eurozone countries. What I can say about the SEE region is that I expect the business cycle to be even more deeply synchronized with the rest of the euro area, achieving a higher degree of convergence, which we will see in the increase in overall local incomes.
How would you define the strategy for the future development of the private banking service in UniCredit Bulbank?
Our strategy relies on our values, which help us to be a preferred partner for some of the wealthiest people in Bulgaria. We are well aware that in order to be successful, you must be able to adapt quickly, and this is exactly the situation we are facing now. In this ever-changing world, technology is the most evolving sector. Our teams are constantly working on inventing new digital solutions, as well as optimising all existing processes and products. We are focused on massive simplification and better speed of the services. Moreover, we plan to expand our online platforms aiming to give customers more independence while managing their wealth.