The Bank Association of Slovenia (BAS) is helping to spur on the development of the Slovenian banking sector. Now with 22 banks and 12 leasing companies as its members, the BAS provides a number of essential services for the financial sector.
Dušan Hocevar, Managing Director, explains that the BAS issues a monthly bulletin on banking news, organises around 130 specialised courses per year for local banks, hosts networking events, and lobbies for the banking sector with the government and the central bank. The BAS is a full member of the European Banking Federation, the European Banking Training Network, Lease Europe, and ACCIS, the European credit bureau association. The BAS is 100% financed by its members, and membership is voluntary.
Slovenia’s banking sector is still dominated by domestic banks, but more foreign banks (particularly from Austria) are entering the market. Dušan Hocevar says, “Foreign banks have around a 30% to 35% market share. The total assets of the Slovenian banking sector are around €50 billion, so we are still quite small, but assets grew by more than 30% between 2007 and 2009 and the sector was not hit as hard by the financial crisis as some European banking sectors were. All our banks are universal. We are looking for new opportunities in the future.”
Mortgage bonds a growth market
Mortgage bonds represent a growth market in Slovenia, Dušan Hocevar believes, especially since the necessary legislation for this activity has been in place for several years. He points out, “Some banks have already started to make preparations to ensure the minimum volume. Mortgage funds would help promote long- term banking stability and would also help to attract more foreign direct investment in the banking sector. FDI in Slovenia is now around €10 million, or 35% of GDP, and has been growing quickly since Slovenia entered the EU and adopted the euro.”
Slovenia’s economy has excellent growth potential, and the banking sector is ready to support it. Dušan Hocevar says, “The banking sector will play a role in the country’s future development, I am sure, but the main thrust must come from industry and the government. Slovenia’s economy is dominated by small and medium- sized enterprises, which gives us more flexibility and adaptability, and our work force is skilled. This flexibility and ability to produce a variety of good quality products and services mean a bright future for Slovenia.”