ANNUAL REPORT ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF NLB GROUP FOR 2019
NLB Group is a system-wise important financial institution, and as such aware of its responsibilities
Statement of Blaž Brodnjak, President of the Management Board of NLB d.d.
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘home’? If you ask me, I confess that I would probably first think about the green hills of north-eastern Slovenia, but I would soon realise that was not completely true. Neither for me nor for NLB Group, home is not just a spot on the map – home is where the people who mean most to us are, who make us feel good, full of energy, and who inspire and support us so that we can achieve our goals.
NLB Group wants to evoke such feelings in the entire region in which it operates, starting with our employees. Our employees and their knowledge, experience, and dedication are the key to the business success of our Group and consequently the region. That is why we intensively invest in their development and well-being and encourage them to exploit their potential and efficiently balance their professional and private lives.
More specifically, dedicated and motivated employees make it much easier for us to achieve our social responsibility mission, particularly in the area of promoting entrepreneurship and the transfer of knowledge through mentorship.
In most countries in which we operate, we are considered a system-wise important banking and financial group, our brain and the sense of responsibility tell us to take care of financial literacy, while the heart, on the other hand, tells us to promote and support sports – particularly in young people – along with humanitarian projects and the protection of cultural heritage and the environment.
NLB Group is far more than just a financial group; it is not just numbers, a balance sheet, or financial results that create value for our stakeholders and contribute to economic development. We are people who know and understand the branch in which we operate, develop innovative products and services, feel with the environment and the region in which we live, and wish to contribute to improving the quality of life.
For us, south-eastern Europe is not just a spot on the map. This is our home. This is where we face challenges with ardour, joy, and energy. This is where we are preparing for anything that might cross our path.
Blaž Brodnjak, President of the Management Board of NLB d.d.
NLB Group provides financing by following the carefully drafted principles, guidelines, and procedures. NLB Group does not finance illegal activities, manufacturing and trade in weapons, political parties, political forums, and religious communities.
NLB Group is a system-wise important financial institution, and as such aware of its responsibilities. In addition to successful operations and sound financial results that contribute to the economic development, it also wishes to contribute to better quality of the life in the entire region.
“South-eastern Europe is our home. This is where the head and the heart of NLB Group are, and this is why we will put all our efforts into making this region successful. As a system-wise important player, we accept this challenge with pride and huge responsibility – towards the employees, the customers, and the environment in which we operate,” emphasised Blaž Brodnjak, President of the Management Board of the NLB.
Retail banking in Slovenia
The main pillar of the operations of NLB Group is Retail Banking, where the Bank has a leading position on the Slovenian market, offering comprehensive services. NLB d.d. in Slovenia excels by its strong presence and large accessibility for clients through its ramified network of 93 branch offices and 549 ATMs across Slovenia, and its Contact Centre operating 24 hours a day providing top quality services to customers. The Retail operations in Slovenia achieved excellent results in 2019 despite the many challenges on the NLB Groups’ banking markets in 2019. The Bank has a social responsibility towards its clients, its employees, and the society in general, and carries out its important mission of improving the quality of life of all citizens.
Corporate banking in Slovenia
In the area of corporate banking in Slovenia, NLB d.d. has a leading position as the key advisor to Slovenian companies. The strategic emphasis of the Bank’s operations is on the development of appropriate solutions based on true understanding of the clients’ needs. The Bank constantly develops its partnership relations and is therefore a reliable partner in all corporate segments. It offers its clients the full spectrum of financial services and consulting services on capital markets, and provides support using the traditional, electronic, and mobile banking solutions.
Strategic foreign markets
NLB Group Strategic foreign markets comprise five countries of south-eastern Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Kosovo, and North Macedonia, which are domestic markets of six banks of NLB Group. They are distinguished by professional services, profitable operations, strong capitalisation and self-financing, a good reputation and recognition for their state-of-the-art and flexible products and distribution channels. All of this facilitates the banks’ growth potential in the region. The market shares of four of those banks exceed 10 per cent on their respective markets. All daughter banks follow the strategy of sustainable growth on local market with reasonable connecting at the level of NLB Group. The Group’s distribution network in the markets of the south-eastern Europe comprises 225 branches and supplies 1.14 million active clients.
Non-core subsidiaries of NLB Group
NLB Group is still in the process of controlled gradual termination of the non-strategic part of operations. Various measures have been undertaken in this respect, which were considered the most suitable for individual companies, such as selling companies, portfolio, and assets, as well as the collection of the restructuring of individual receivables and the closing of subsidiaries in the liquidation process.
NLB Group has an important socially responsible mission which it shows through its attitude towards all its stakeholders: its employees, clients, owners, and suppliers. In line with the Corporate Social Responsibility Policy at the level of NLB Group which was adopted at the end of 2018, the activities in the area of socially responsible projects and simplification of the process of monitoring and deciding about sponsorships and donations continued last year.
In addition to meeting the goal of business performance, NLB Group also strives to improve the quality of life in the region, also through socially responsible projects. The key pillars of socially responsible operations of NLB Group are the care for its employees, compliance and integrity, promotion of entrepreneurship, mentorship, support to professional and youth sports, humanitarian activities, and the protection of cultural heritage and the environment. In 2019, NLB Group successfully completed 352 projects in various areas of social responsibility.
In 2019, special attention was paid to the deaf and hard of hearing, and their equal inclusion into everyday life. The purpose of the NLB Group’s project Theatre Interpreter is to enable the deaf to have access to the theatre arts. In the scope of this project, 12 Slovenian theatres signed the commitment to include at least one performance with a Slovenian sign language interpreter into their next year’s programme. Furthermore, NLB Group adjusted its offer to this vulnerable group of people and has, since August 2019, enabled the deaf and hard of hearing to perform the basic banking services via the video call that has been upgraded with the presence of a sign language interpreter.
NLB Group also supports other vulnerable groups, helps children, and donates funds to hospitals. For 11 consecutive years, it has supported the NLB Wheel wheelchair basketball tournament, and in 2019 it also started supporting the handball team of the Paraplegics’ Association of Slovenia. Old tolars were collected for a good cause and donated to the association Europa Donna, and funds were raised in the branch offices for new equipment for URI Soča.
With the financial and entrepreneurial workshops, NLB Group supported the programme ‘My Company’ under the auspices of the Institute for Promoting Entrepreneurship among the Young which takes care of the development of the business among the young, and also helps detect the potential and create possibilities for independent life. NLB Banka Sarajevo supported the new cycle of lectures in the framework of the Entrepreneurial Academy. As the general sponsor, NLB Group supported the business forum Kopaonik in Serbia with around 1,300 participants – businessmen, representatives of the state institutions, and non-governmental institutions.
NLB Group expanded the financial literacy workshops and presented them not only to the children and the youth, as in the past years, but also organised them for the deaf and the hard of hearing, providing for the presence of the Slovenian sign language interpreter.
The foremost concern of NLB Group is the well-being of employees at the workplace. NLB d.d. is proud of the prestigious certificate “Top Employer” which it has received for the fourth consecutive year in 2019, making it one of the best employers in the world. The “Family Friendly Company” certificate enables the employees to efficiently balance their career goals and their family life. With the oldest training centre in Slovenia, it allows the employees to grow both personally and professionally. In addition to internal training, the employees of NLB Group are also able to gain knowledge at external training at home and abroad. In 2019, the NLB Family Day was organised for the first time; the employees’ response was very positive and the tradition of bank sports games of NLB Group continued. In Bosnia and Herzegovina NLB Banka Sarajevo became the second most successful employer in the financial sector and ranked among the top ten employers in the country. NLB Group also employs successful woman managers, one of them being the President of the Management Board of NLB Banka Sarajevo Lidija Žigić. In 2019, she received the reward for the most successful manager in the banking industry for 2018 “Golden BAM” awarded by the editorial board of the financial and business magazine Banke i Biznis to the most successful banks in the region.
In 2019, NLB Group continued to support professional athletes. NLB d.d. was thus a proud sponsor of skiing, handball, football, table tennis, and sailing. NLB Banka Prishtina financially supported the men’s rugby championship and the chess tournaments at the local and national level. NLB Banka Podgorica combined the support to sports with the humanitarian activities and the project “Small steps changing the world for the better,” supporting the victories of the Budućnost basketball team by donating funds to the Montenegrin maternity hospitals.
Special attention is also paid to young athletes in the framework of the Youth Sports project. In the digital era, NLB Group aims to encourage young people to do sports, learn how to win, but also how to lose with dignity. All over Slovenia, it encourages young recreational athletes to exercise and lead a healthy life. It financially supported 36 local sports clubs which train young enthusiastic players in football, handball, skiing, and table tennis. In addition to the financial support, it also organised workshops for the young players to teach them about finance. In the framework of the football qualifications for the 2020 European championship, it took 2,000 children included in the Youth Sports project to see the Slovenia vs. Poland match.
NLB Group participated in the financing of the largest wind energy project in Kosovo, which will significantly increase the capacities for the production of green energy from renewable sources in the region of south-eastern Europe that will account for around 10% of the country’s energy capacity.
In 2019, NLB Banka rewarded the best projects in the area of organic food production and processing for the eighth consecutive year in the scope of the “NLB Organic” campaign. It supports family businesses and sustainable development, takes care of the environment, and people’s health. NLB Banka Sarajevo joined the cleaning campaign “Let’s clean the town in one day.”
NLB Group is currently preparing the ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) Strategy in which the corporate social responsibility activities will be upgraded with the activities related to the natural environment. In the framework of the privatisation process, the company undertook to implement the EBRD requirements relating to the environmental and social topics.
In 2019, NLB d.d. continued with the organisation of exhibitions in the Avla Gallery and events in the area of culture and initiated the activities for the establishment of the Slovenian banking museum. NLB Banka Belgrade opened the exhibition of the works of fine arts created by the artists from the Artists’ House Pygmalion.