Coronavirus crisis management

The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge that companies have faced in recent decades. It developed unprecedented momentum in a few short days and weeks, bringing with it new risks that required rapid action. 

VP Bank successfully mastered this crisis situation through the establishment of efficient crisis management, swift development of infrastructure for enabling work from home, provision of new online services, and going on the offensive in its information and communication policy. Through courageous and single-minded action, it was possible to effectively achieve the primary goal of protecting our clients and employees.

VP Bank Group responded in a manner that was prompt, prudent and appropriate to the threat posed by the ­coronavirus. For Group Executive Management, the duty to ­practise due diligence and the responsibility for preserving the safety and health of the employees and clients enjoyed the highest priority from the very beginning. 

That is why VP Bank went into crisis mode already at the beginning of March 2020, making it possible to effectively handle the crisis situation and the specific issues of the crisis. To do this, a special management structure in the form of the Group Crisis Board and Group Crisis Management was introduced alongside the operational management structure. Under the chairmanship of CEO Paul Arni, the Group Crisis Board assumed overall responsibility for all measures related to the coronavirus crisis and made fundamental decisions. The fast-changing situation made it necessary for the crisis team to meet regularly every two weeks to analyse the situation and promptly make necessary decisions. In this way, we were able to deal with the crisis issues in a targeted and focused manner. 

For VP Bank, the topic of working from home was a key safety measure for containing the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it was an important tool for ensuring and maintaining operational readiness. By the end of 2020, an average of up to 75 per cent of employees across the Group were working from home. Our experience in this regard has been consistently positive, and we can build on a very solid and flexible infrastructure going ­forward.


Online solutions

In our core service, namely the provision of personal ­advisory services, we were affected to a large extent by the applicable restrictions in 2020. The personal exchange we usually engage in with our clients was no longer possible at the same intensity as before the crisis. Executive Management therefore took the decision to expand our operational distribution processes in a targeted manner with the introduction of new online ­solutions. Here, the focus was placed on digital technol­ogies that promote interactions with clients, providing them with real added value and supporting our distribution activities in achieving acquisitions and sales. As a new service, video consultations were rolled out as an additional communication channel for clients, creating the option to continue to maintain a direct, personal and visual connection with our clients despite the coronavirus restrictions. 

Timely and transparent information and communication were particularly crucial in this crisis mode – internally in regard to the Bank’s own employees, but also externally in regard to clients and the public. As a central internal information platform, we have set up our own coronavirus news ticker and other coronavirus information pages on the Group-wide intranet. We also established an e-mail inbox for Group Crisis Management as a central point of contact for all personal questions that employees might have in connection with the coronavirus. Numerous leaflets and notices were prepared on specific topics, including travel and hygiene rules. The Group Crisis Board used internal e-mails to provide information on a regular basis in regard to the current status of the company and necessary safety measures. 

The internal coronavirus mood barometer survey was developed to explore the needs and state of mind of the employees in dealing with the crisis situation. The response rate to this online survey was very high, and a great deal of constructive and useful feedback was ­provided to the crisis managers. By conducting the survey several times, it was possible to identify additional need for action in order to further optimise VP Bank’s corona­virus measures.

The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of relevant information being made available quickly. It was therefore of particular importance to us to always keep our clients informed and not to leave them in the dark in a time of crisis. For this reason, we used our online presence and the electronic client portal to regularly provide information externally on current topics ­relating to the coronavirus. This coronavirus information was published on all websites of our locations in tailored announcements, and in response to specific events and reconciled with the country regulations applicable in each case. On this basis, we succeeded in promptly informing our own clients about important topics, demonstrating that VP Bank is always available to them as a reliable ­partner even in these trying times.

We made a special service available to our clients with ­ the development of the VP Bank Corona Crisis Barometer. It analyses and demonstrates how the restrictions of the coronavirus crisis affect the economy. The VP Bank Corona Crisis Barometer is updated regularly and published in the newsroom on the VP Bank website.

In order to further meet our clients’ high demand for ­information in times of crisis, we used web conferences to hold our VP Bank Experts events in 2020. This made it possible for us to provide our clients with well-founded facts and data on the financial markets and economic events.

VP Bank registered a high level of media interest in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. The many media enquiries regarding VP Bank’s assessment and handling of the coronavirus pandemic were responded to in an open and transparent manner in the form of written ­statements as well as interviews with the crisis managers and CEO Paul Arni.


Successful measures

At VP Bank Group, the primary focus in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic was on offering clients and employees the best assistance possible in finding their way through this unprecedented crisis situation. 

The measures that VP Bank took in 2020 were successful, showing that we are well positioned and able to respond flexibly to new challenges even in a situation like this. We owe this to the high degree of flexibility and exemplary dedication of our employees. We have adapted our conduct, developed new skills in a very short period of time and built up the infrastructure appropriate to the challenge.