Liana DeBattista is Chief Strategy Officer of APS Bank, playing a critical role in defining forward-looking growth strategies for the Bank and leading its overall strategic planning process. Here she talks about the Bank’s corporate strategy, its sustainability agenda and the way forward for women in finance.
The role of a CSO is primarily geared towards a company’s long-term future, sustainability and profitability, developing corporate strategy and guiding the company through the strategic planning process. Can you detail your role as CSO and your background within the Bank leading to this position?
My role is as varied as it is detailed. In addition to spearheading the Bank’s corporate strategy, my mission also includes product development, customer intelligence, CSR, culture, voice of the customer and marketing. Very recently, I was also entrusted with the relatively new function of ESG. Much of my time is also spent in a highly organized business planning process, based on a three-year horizon. This is how we stay responsive to emerging trends and market changes.
My journey at APS began when I held a junior marketing position at the Bank, just after finishing my university studies. As my interest in banking grew, I made the rather unconventional transition, at the time, to auditing, taking every opportunity that came my way to work with the various areas, thus developing my knowledge in banking. When I finally landed in the strategy function, I was ready to put what I had learned over the years to good use and, of course, continue to grow professionally. This career path, which I hope also helped to change the cultural perception of being a male-oriented industry, is what led me to my position within the Bank’s C-suite.
Our forward-looking growth strategy is here to serve and benefit the Bank’s stakeholders, from employees to clients, shareholders to partners and ultimately the community at large.
APS is known as the community bank in Malta. How does APS integrate the community into its culture and overall strategy?
To be the community bank is the global vision of APS, and we make sure to integrate this ambition in all aspects. Since its creation, the Bank has defended projects of an inclusive social nature to help people in need or those who suffer from a form of financial exclusion. Our forward-looking growth strategy is here to serve and benefit the Bank’s stakeholders, from employees to clients, shareholders to partners and ultimately the community at large. A good example is the capital development plan currently in its final phase. By going to the market to apply for listing of shares, the Bank strives to diversify the stakeholder base, one that encompasses different segments of the community, while providing more capacity for future growth. .
Do you think authenticity and customer centricity will become increasingly relevant in the coming year?
Authenticity is one of the Bank’s core values and at the heart of everything we do. We try to reflect this in all of our services, to keep our products and terms and conditions simple, to be inclusive and the first to bring sustainable products to market. One of the features the Bank has in place, VoC, is literally the voice of the customer, ensuring that customer views and feedback are heard. This is dedicated to improving the customer experience and processing complaints independently of the Bank’s branches, for a more transparent service. The feature also leverages in-depth market research, providing us with relevant data on how to be proactive.
How important are the pillars of sustainable banking, ESG and green finance for APS Bank?
The Bank’s longstanding commitment to sustainable development has guided its actions throughout its trajectory, prompting it to co-create and launch several environmental, social and governance (ESG) products, among which the social loan, Equity Sharing Scheme, Home Deposit Scheme, New Hope Guarantee Scheme, Lending for Church Schools Initiative, Green Finance, Eco Loan products and APS Green Home Loan. APS Bank has also taken the initiative to promote the debate of this conversation, by creating the Malta Sustainability Forum, which supports the Bank’s objective of raising awareness of the theme of sustainability and the need to empower citizens to take conscious decisions towards a more sustainable lifestyle. alive.
A dedicated ESG committee, on which I also sit, has been set up, again local leader on governance structures. This helps ensure good governance with the Bank’s assessment and strategic implementation of its ESG principles in its regular operations, both internally and within the community. Through this committee, we manage the execution of related initiatives, ensure that progress is steady and that ultimately everyone is aligned with the common goals of the Bank.
Liana DeBattista joined APS Bank in 2003 and has held roles in several areas including strategy, internal audit and marketing. His main areas of expertise are business planning, corporate strategy formulation, product development, research, performance management and ESG. She was promoted to Head of Strategy & Proposals in 2020 and appointed Chief Strategy Officer in 2021. She sits on the Environment, Social and Governance Committee and the Executive Committee. She holds a BSc in Business and Computing and a BCom (Hons) in Management, both from the University of Malta, and a first class M.Sc. in corporate finance from the University of Liverpool.
APS Bank plc is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority as a credit institution under the Banking Act 1994 and to carry on investment services business under the Investment Services Act 1994 investment. The Bank is also registered as a tied insurance intermediary under the Insurance Distribution Act 2018.
The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of APS Bank plc.
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