In a detailed interview in the "Zeitschrift für das gesamte Kreditwesen", the Chairman of the Management Board of Hamburg Commercial Bank, Stefan Ermisch, is confident despite the uncertain and challenging macroeconomic and geopolitical situation. He sees HCOB as currently very well positioned and strongly capitalized. Ermisch's key statements at a glance.
The cruel war in Ukraine, a weakening economy with rising insolvency risks, and enormous inflation rates: The current situation for banks is more than challenging. This makes it all the more impressive how the HCOB CEO assesses the overall situation in an editorial interview in the May issue of the "Zeitschrift für das gesamte Kreditwesen" (Journal for the entire banking industry): "We have to cope with every situation; you can't choose the general conditions." Ermisch continued: "We don't know whether there will be stagflation or even a recession, which would lead to painful losses of prosperity. It is simply not possible to plan reliably at present. In this respect, we are also managing the HCOB on sight for the time being."
... the current business situation:
"HCOB is currently in a very good position due to its business profile. The asset classes in which we are active have so far been little to no negatively affected by the impact of the war. There are even sectors where things are going very well at the moment, such as global shipping."
... the mainstay of project financing:
"Our second mainstay, project finance, is also unaffected by the war situation, particularly in the renewable energy and infrastructure segment. On the contrary, in the longer term, the pursuit of greater and faster independence from fossil fuels could offer additional prospects and provide significant impetus for the climate-neutral economy."
... the situation with commercial real estate:
"In our third and very strong core business area, Commercial Real Estate, we are well positioned and here we are maintaining our cautious business policy. According to current plans, we want to contract around 2.2 billion euros of new business in the current year in real estate alone, which is more than in the previous year."
... rising insolvency figures:
"The situation is certainly most complicated in the corporates business. So far, we have hardly seen any rising insolvency rates, but I assume that they will come at some point. However, as a specialist financier we focused on niches at an early stage, so we are not significantly affected by cyclical impacts in broad corporate banking."
... rising interest rates:
"Slightly rising interest rates are structurally good for banks. The rising interest rate will give us an additional boost. This is because HCOB's asset-liability structure tends to be geared toward rising interest rates. Therefore, we can compensate well for lost volume-based income through higher interest margins."
... the claim of the HCOB:
"Our goal is clear: HCOB should be the best bank for its customers in everything it does. And we want to create value. Our core capital ratio was almost 30 percent at the end of last year. That gives us a lot of strategic flexibility and also some security."
... the bank's targets for 2022:
"After the phase of restructuring and focusing on our core strengths, we want to return to moderate growth. Total assets of around 30 billion at the end of 2021 are now to grow again to around 35 billion euros in the coming years. The second goal is to achieve a higher interest margin. And thirdly, we are constantly looking to keep costs under control. The new, cloud-based IT landscape is helping us here in particular."