Peter Krenn, Bendura Bank

Bank Bendura is Unique

Today we have an interview with Peter Krenn, CEO of a Bendura Bank in Principality Lichtenstein. Tradition of private banking, framed in the latest digital facilities, Asian shareholder and focus on clients from the CIS, Asia and Eastern Europe - Bendura bank knows how to move ahead with both harmony and drive.

Peter, you have been CEO of an agile, still traditional vehicle in the Swiss/Liechtenstein financial space – Bendura Bank, for almost a year now. Your Russian is nearly as good as mine. You’ve been with the bank many years before you took on this role, and you know it inside out. Where are you taking the bank now, what significant changes in the past can be marked as important milestones for future development, and what will you take from the bank’s history into the future?
Olga, it is a great pleasure to be here and thank you for the invitation to this interview. Indeed, I have been with the bank for over a decade now. Taking into account that the bank was founded 24 years ago, one can say that it’s DNA has also become mine. In this time, the financial centre but also private banking in general has undergone massive transformations. The milestones this bank has set – under these circumstances – are having risen from a one-time minor representative office to a now fully-fledged boutique bank with ca. 150 employees, a growing client and asset base and most importantly a sustainable business model. What has always distinguished this institution is how much we cherish excelling at service and that’s its core asset I will be also taking into the future. This is reflected by the fact that our relationship managers speak more than a score of languages and that we maintain our marketing appearance in a dozen of them. Our future journey will also be characterised by an enhanced customer experience – something that has already been boosted by recently introducing our home made state of the art e-banking application. We are continuously emphasising further comparable projects in order to fully take advantage of the possibilities digitalisation is offering us while at the same time maintaining our high level of customer orientation. Finally, we can proudly announce that we have brought this bank on track for further growth. By next month, we will finalise the construction of our new office building which will accommodate a staff of 150 people followed a few months later by the opening of our highly modern multi-storey car park equipped with photovoltaic panels and aimed towards electric mobility. Both buildings constitute the basis for our future expansion.

When you talk Bendura Bank to your potential customers – what features of Bendura’s facilities (or a unique combination thereof) are the main attraction/benefits?
For starters, Liechtenstein’s AAA credit rating underlines the country’s reliability as an international financial centre. When it comes to Bendura Bank, we have always maintained a conservative economic profile and are hence displaying very sound financial ratios. Clients chose us for the risks we avoid, not the ones we run. I have already outlined our attitude towards service: Our core aspiration is providing best in class client services and bespoke investment solutions.
Our employee participation programme allows us to stand out from the crowd in particular. By becoming the bank’s shareholders, it gives our key performers the possibility to participate in the bank’s results and thus to be entrepreneurs of their own. This spirit is highly esteemed by our clients, as the better part of them are successful entrepreneurs themselves.

I know you have a very strong focus on international clients, with expertise in clients from Eastern Europe, China and the CIS. Is that a historical legacy, coincidence or a deliberate strategic decision?
It is certainly a mix of legacy and deliberate strategical repositioning. When the bank was founded in 1998, emerging markets were on the rise and yet to be discovered by private banks in Liechtenstein and Switzerland while the mature markets like the U.S. have already been served for decades. Over the years, we have developed an in-depth expertise in our core markets and are constantly enlarging it. In 2018, we have built a new strategic focus by setting up our representative office in Hong Kong to benefit from the dynamics in the Asian markets. It offers a real-time gateway between Asia and Liechtenstein to explore financial markets in Greater China and the rest of Asia and concurrently building our knowledge on Asian markets as well.

You are CEO of a relatively young bank with ca 20 years of history. What do you now see as the advantage of being a young bank as opposed to an old traditional bank?
From a client perspective, the major difference between working with a young, dynamic versus working with an old, traditional bank is certainly the role of a brand. While we can’t offer centuries of history we come up with a fresh, dynamic team and a highly entrepreneurial mind-set. I personally thrive in such an environment and so do our key performers.

How does Bendura define itself among Liechtenstein banks working with offshore clients?
First and foremost, we have never seen ourselves as competition to our local colleagues but rather as a completion of the offer the financial centre is making internationally. Secondly, we’ve ceased to address our client base as “offshore” due to historic connotations that have been made. We have completed the transformation to a fully transparent banking world and distinguish ourselves by the quality of the services we’re rendering and the stability and security of our jurisdiction.

Your e-banking platform is known for being very new and customer friendly. The variety of languages is also impressive – from Chinese to Azerbaijani.
Your shareholder structure is quite unique. The main shareholder is a Hong Kong listed company in the jewellery and luxury industry, which holds about 85%, and the remaining 15% is in the hands of the bank itself and those of your employees in Liechtenstein. How sustainable is it in your eyes as well as how is it perceived by your customers?

The idea of the majority shareholder is to focus on HNWI regardless of the given industries. What our customers appreciate highly is the fact that two scores of our employees are among the bank’s shareholders. A fact that allows to talk from entrepreneur to entrepreneur.

To what extent is the main shareholder involved, interfering or controlling the operational activities as well as the strategic development of Bendura Bank?
Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group has never interfered with our operative business and we value that as a clear gesture of mutual trust. Just to give you a few examples: The executive management has been recruited internally. The bank does not run accounts for other entities within the group, nor does it finance any of them. What is more, we have never placed any products out of the group in our clients’ portfolios. This allows us to have greater leeway in making strategic decisions and to help shaping the future of Bendura Bank.

Do you see this as a confirmation of the current global trend, such as the expansion of Asian capital to Europe to participate here – real estate, production facilities, financial institutions?
Indeed, Citychamp Watch & Jewellery being our majority shareholder reaffirms our long-term strategy to additionally service and focus on HNWI clients from Asia. We are taking this fact as an opportunity to further grow our business.

What kind of clients do you traditionally serve with confidence and success and what services have you added recently, basically what are new types of clients that you are now working to attract?
As previously mentioned, we focus on HNWI clients mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, the CIS and Asia. Our typical client is the entrepreneurial family with a need for bespoke wealth management and customised investment advisory services. Since the mid-2020, we have been integrating ESG in our investment and advisory processes and expanded the client base we serve. Fund management services have been completing our offering for more than a decade now. Besides, we have positioned ourselves as one of the leading paying agents, i.e we facilitate the issuance of bonds and shares and support our customers with listing their securities on international stock exchanges.

Olga, thank you very much for having me today and for the fruitful exchange.