Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) is expanding its small and medium-sized business operations. Sources inform ''Globes'' that the bank, run by president and CEO Reuven Spiegel, has begun opening special commercial branches for small and medium-sized businesses.
Discount Bank may open 12 such branches. In the first stage, the bank plans to open six branches by the end of June. "We're converting ordinary branches into commercial branches in main business districts," Discount Bank SVP and head of banking division Yuval Gavish told "Globes". He said that, in January, the bank opened commercial branches at Ramat Poleg in Netanya and in Haifa Bay. Four more branches will be converted in the coming months, including in Petah Tikva's Kiryat Arie.
"Globes": Why did you decide to open special business branches?
Gavish: "We believe in a professional focus on the customer's needs. We've also developed special computer systems for this clientele, and the commercial branches' business hours are different and suit enterprises' operating hours."
In the past year, small and medium-sized businesses have become an important target market for the banks. At a time when tycoons are loathed, especially with regard to the granting of credit, it appears that the new trend is to support small businesses. Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) has already marked this business sector as a strategic objective and expanded credit to it. Credit card companies have also recently decided to focus on this clientele: Israel Credit Cards-Cal Ltd. (ICC-Cal) (Visa), a unit of Discount Bank, has established a customers club for small and medium-sized businesses. American Express has done the same.
It now seems that Discount Bank has also marked the small and medium-sized business as an important target market and creating special commercial branches for it along the lines of the format used by Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI).
Gavish, who has been head of Discount Bank's banking division for two years, has executed several other measures, including the establishment of ten investment centers for wealthy customers who have investment portfolios worth more than NIS 700,000. He says that these investment centers currently manage several billion shekels in assets.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 19, 2013
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