Integrated Report 2021

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the activity and  performance of the Bank and the  Group

Since mid-March 2020, BNP Paribas Bank Polska has been actively involved in actions supporting the fight against the pandemic, taking steps to ensure continuity of services, while caring for the health of employees and customers, as well as safety of funds entrusted to the Bank.

In 2021, with the recovery of the economy, the Bank recorded increasing customer interest in banking products, both credit, savings and investment products, as reflected in rising sales volumes of investment accounts, cash loans and mortgages. The second half of 2021 reflected an increase in the activity of Corporate Banking and SME clients, which resulted in an increase in the balance of corporate loans by 11.9% y/y.

Work organisation activities (protecting employees and customers)

Remote working

Remains the recommended form of work organisation in the Bank; in organisational units where such a form of operation is not possible for entire teams, the organisation of work is based on a split-team system, consisting of dividing the team in order to separate people performing the same duties.

New models of work in the Bank’s Head Office

As of 16 August 2021, by decision of the Bank’s Management Board, 4 models of remote work were introduced – taking into account the specificity of tasks performed by individual areas and the need to ensure safe working conditions. The models provided for remote work of several to over a dozen days per month. In connection with the worsening of the epidemic situation at the end of 2021, employees returned to remote work in a larger proportion than assumed by the above-mentioned work models. In December 2021, more than 85% of Head Office employees were working remotely.

Remote work in the sales network

Enabling remote performance of duties by sales network employees is based on separate rules developed directly by the Retail and Business Banking Sales Division together with branch representatives so that this form of work does not affect relations with customers. Remote work in branches depends, among other things, on the business situation, staffing and the scope of tasks to be performed.

Customer service standards

A service model adapted to epidemic conditions is still in i.e. only current customer service may take place in the branch – one advisor serves one customer at a safe distance (also at the cash desk), while the rest of the customers wait for service outside the branch; the outlets are equipped with protective Plexiglas windows, masks, gloves, disinfectants for employees and customers.

Employee-tailored educational and pro-employee initiatives

Are continued through online platforms, and a dedicated employee section on the internal Echonet network dedicated to the epidemic is kept up-to-date. As part of the „WELL” programme, employees can take care of their health in a broad sense. Through webinars, podcasts, articles, one-to-one video and telephone support, they can benefit from the knowledge and services of nutritionists, parenting psychologists, mental development coaches and physiotherapists. In addition, webinars on the prevention of chronic diseases and the „2 hours for Health” action were held in November.

Support for social initiatives

Funds from the „Wspieram Cały Rok” programme for 2021 were donated, among others, to maintain the hotline of the „Stowarzyszenia Aktywnie Przeciwko Depresji”, which supports people in mental crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the fight against the effects of the pandemic, in December 2021 we donated meals for the employees of the Hospital – Nowodworski Medical Centre in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki worth PLN 100 thousand.

Free COVID 19 tests

The possibility for employees to perform COVID-19 tests in ALAB diagnostic laboratories at the Bank’s expense, if there is a justified suspicion that they have been infected with the virus while performing their duties.

Discounts on COVID-19

Under the agreement with ALAB, Bank employees can take advantage of a 25% discount on serological tests. Under the agreement with LUX MED, each employee who has an active medical care package (minimum Silver) is entitled to a 20% discount on serological test for IgG antibodies from blood and antigen test. The offer applies to tests performed in LUX MED’s own medical facilities.

Uniqa psychological helpline

Employees and their spouses/partners and children who subscribed to Uniqa insurance could benefit from a consultation with a psychologist or psychiatrist until 31 August 2021. People with all issues that are related to the COVID-19 outbreak and have mental health implications could make an appointment for a consultation.

Remote working allowance

Was paid to the Bank’s employees to support the effective and safe performance of their work duties remotely.

Vaccination programme against SARS-COV-2

In April 2021, the Bank joined the government’s initiative to engage employers in a vaccination programme; in June and July vaccinations were carried out in several cities (Gdańsk, Kraków, Poznań, Katowice, Warsaw) for willing employees of the Bank and BNP Paribas Group companies in Poland and their family members. Additionally, in November, willing employees could receive the flu vaccine free of charge in the largest locations of the bank’s branches (Warsaw, Krakow, Ruda Śląska) or in any of the own or partner branches of the medical operator LUX MED.

The vast majority of employees (over 80%) believe that the Bank provides a comfortable and safe working environment during a pandemic

– based on the results of the Pulse Check survey.

Measures supporting customers and digitalisation

  • Customer assistance programs – from mid-January 2021 to the end of March 2021. The Group focused on making the fullest possible use of available customer assistance programs, including granting temporary deferment of installment repayments on loans.
  • As at the end of December 2021, the number of customers to whom loans and advances subject to moratoria were granted amounted to PLN 37.2 thousand, with total gross balance sheet exposure of the Group of PLN 5,709,313 thousand, of which: PLN 2,960,346 thousand related to individual customers, PLN 2,213,339 thousand to business entities, and PLN 535,628 thousand to leasing and other receivables. Moreover, the total gross value of loans and advances covered by statutory moratoria at the end of December 2021 amounted to PLN 255 747 thousand. The balance of expired moratoria amounted to PLN 5,696,483 thousand and the balance of active moratoria – PLN 12,830 thousand.
    Detailed information on loans and advances subject to moratoria and the impact of the pandemic on risk management is presented in Note 56 Financial Risk Management in the Consolidated Financial Statements of the BNP Paribas Bank Polska Group.
  • The Bank remained a partner in the government program to support the Polski Fundusz Rozwoju S.A. (hereinafter: PFR). Under the program, in January 2021 the Bank purchased PFR0827 bonds for PLN 540 million. In total, the Bank’s exposure in PFR bonds at the end of December 2021 amounted to PLN 2.5 billion. In addition, the Bank in the first half of 2021 subscribed for PLN 387 million of bonds issued by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (“BGK”) for the COVID-19 Fund.
  • Tarcza Finansowa PFR 2.0 (PFR Financial Shield 2.0) – the Bank’s clients doing business from 15 January 2021 to the end of February 2021 could apply for support under the PFR 2.0 Financial Shield. The Bank’s share in the distribution of funds to customers is 4 thousand of positive decisions for an amount of PLN 0.7 billion. The total amount disbursed by PFR under the Shield 2.0 through the banks for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises was, as of 15.08.2021 – PLN 7,133 million.
  • Promote digital solutions that allow customers to make even greater use of mobile devices and electronic banking in their dealings with the Bank, through their further development and modification. For example, the submission of applications regarding the PFR financial shields was made available to businesses in the GOonline and BiznesPl@net (now: GOonline Biznes) e-banking systems. In addition, a fully digital and automated process for the redemption of PFR Shield Subsidies 1.0 and 2.0 was implemented. The Bank also expanded the range of services related to convenient currency exchange by offering 24/7 availability of the FX Pl@net platform. Individual customers were provided with the myID service – free creation of an Electronic Identity allowing remote identification for the needs of official and commercial matters. In 2021, the Bank’s customers made 400 thousand of authorisations with the trusted profile.

Taking into consideration adequately reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 situation in the loan portfolio valuation, the Group monitors the loan portfolio for threats related to the epidemiological situation. In particular, when determining impairment allowances, the Group takes into account the impact of macroeconomic scenarios and the specific nature of the portfolio of clients particularly exposed to the effects of the pandemic, including clients receiving public support and operating in industries exposed to COVID-19.

In 2021, as a result of improved macroeconomic forecasts, including in particular the growth rate of Poland’s gross domestic product, the Group released PLN 155,854 thousand of provisions for unrealized credit losses related to changes in macroeconomic scenarios. At the same time, being aware that in case of some customers the recognition of negative effects of COVID-19 on credit quality will be delayed (among others due to the fact that companies use public support under the crisis shields, which supports their financial and liquidity position), the Group accounted for the risk of deterioration of their financial position in the future by adding provisions in the amount of PLN 122,130 thousand. The net release of provisions related to COVID-19 in 2021 amounted to PLN 33,724 thousand.

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