João Pedro Oliveira e Costa: Banco BPI’s Compassionate Touch

The CEO of the Portuguese bank, João Pedro Oliveira e Costa, puts human values at the centre of all operations — but values AI’s contribution, too.

A company, according to the Banco BPI philosophy, is like a person, with its own identity and character, defined by its principles, actions, and objectives.

João Pedro Oliveira e Costa

CEO: João Pedro Oliveira e Costa

The Porto-based institution’s identity has been formed around the central financial and corporate culture of Banco Português de Investimento. Holding the centre are essential features such as managerial independence, organisational flexibility, teamwork, the recognition of merit, forward thinking, rigorous risk management and secure value creation.

At the nexus of all this, and pulling these vital threads together, is BPI’s chief executive officer, João Pedro Oliveira e Costa, 58. His priorities are those of the bank itself: excellence in management and services, the protection of customer and client interests, as well as dedication, loyalty, and discretion.

The CEO is a member of the executive committee of the board of directors. Before his appointment to the top job in 2020 — at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic — he was responsible for the individuals and businesses section. With 33 years of experience at Grupo BPI (now Grupo CaixaBank), he led private banking and investment-centre positions.

He also held the post of non-executive director of Companhia de Seguros Allianz Portugal, and of Sociedade Gestora BPI (Suisse).

Leadership Style

With an easy-going manner and a ready smile, Oliveira e Costa is a leader with a capacity for taking the initiative. He recognises the value of teamwork, and despite his personal convictions he retains the flexibility to adapt to circumstances and change a decision should the evidence point him in that direction.

The launch the bank’s private banking service took place in 1992. Today, BPI is the national leader of the private banking sector in Portugal. During the CEO’s tenure as board member, he has been responsible for retail business. “I love working with people,” he says, “and I have been able to meet, in person, thousands of employees in our branches across the country.”

That gave him what he calls “an incredible insight into the business” — and into the country itself. “I met extraordinary people who were the real driving force of the business.”

Social Responsibility

BPI has one of the largest corporate volunteering programmes in Portugal. Created during the CEO’s initial mandate, it gives current and former employees the chance to support charitable projects, voluntarily contributing their personal and professional skills for worthy causes. Three of every four of the bank’s employees are registered on the volunteering platform and participate in hundreds initiatives, ranging from mentoring young people at risk of social exclusion to supporting refugees and collecting food for citizens in dire need.

Future of Banking

BPI makes regular and significant investments in technology. “Given the growing importance of AI and innovation in financial services,” says Oliveira e Costa, “at the beginning of 2022 we created two competence centres focused on bringing new capabilities and technologies to these areas. These boosted evolution and integration throughout the bank.

“We’re getting closer to what we call the ‘omnichannel model’, in which the customer has at their disposal a service platform common to all available channels, remote and face-to-face, supported by AI and other technologies.”

Artificial intelligence makes it possible to better understand customers’ needs and preferences, the channels they prefer to use, and the best times and contexts for making contact.

As far as personalisation is concerned, AI makes it possible to greatly improve customer service. “Instead of communicating in a ‘forced’ way, displaying all the products and services available to the bank all the time, it makes it possible to understand specific client needs.”

All the technological and transformational dimensions are aligned with BPI philosophy, and focused on people. The ultimate aim is to intensify relationships with customers and increase employee empowerment. “This generates a wealth of information that justifies the use of AI,” says Oliveira e Costa, “a structural investment for business development.”

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