KBC Group: Best Bank Governance Europe 2021


Thanks to solid contingency planning, KBC Group was well-prepared when the Covid pandemic hit. The company slipped smoothly into crisis mode, with its 41,000 staff transitioning to remote working and daily virtual meetings of executive committees to keep operations on track. It experienced no downtime and expanded its Group executive committee with the CEOs from its core countries to actively monitor the local situation during Covid. The group’s long-term vision and stable liquidity allowed it to set aside €800m for contingencies and cut costs in the second quarter by six percent (€160m). KBC stands out in operational performance. Its pre-emptive actions to write off potential impacts in 2021 and 2022 have contributed to investor confidence, paved the way to pay out dividends – and caused a rise in KBC stock. CEO Johan Thijs has been thrice nominated in the top 10 of the world’s best chief executive by the Harvard Business Review. Data scientist Thijs looks to other industries to drive innovation in banking. His leadership has helped the group to achieve a number one global ranking in terms of innovation and digital operations. Products and services are tailored to proactively meet changing customer needs. The latest development – KATE, an Al-driven tool – can understand and solve 90 percent of customer queries. Within the next two years, KATE is expected to reach 100 percent capacity. The CFl.co judging panel is impressed, and announces repeat winner KBC as winner of the 2021 award for Best Bank Governance (Europe).