Mr. Xirouhakis’ interview in Kathimerini 12.08.19

Over the last twelve years, tons of ink have been spent worldwide to explain the multiple and complex causes of the unprecedented failure of all stakeholders (shareholders, investors, management, supervisors, advisors, academics, etc.) to predict the upcoming financial and determine, even post mortem, its true generative cause.

This bitter failure has led the global banking sector to, among other things, an over-regulation regime imposed by local supervisory authorities (European Central Bank, national central banks, etc.) in an effort to prevent (or even if they make it difficult) the inevitable, ie the repetition of a similar crisis in the future.
This situation has put the banks’ boards in an unprecedented and particularly difficult position. To constantly try to balance between the business needs of their organizations and at the same time the expectations of the shareholders but also the requirements of the supervisory authorities for full compliance with a number of regulations and restrictive provisions.

Especially for the boards of directors of Greek banks this was something unprecedented. It is a common secret that in the past the corporate governance in Greece had in several cases, among others, some kind of decorative character. The suggestions of the executive were seldom consulted or challenged in practice by the non-executive members and even more rarely were rejected.

All this, of course, changed violently to some extent in 2015 when the amendment of law 3864/2010 drastically changed the conditions and criteria for the participation of natural persons in the boards of directors of banks and consequently their composition, philosophy and mode of operation.
Successful boards manage to build, among them, shareholders and other stakeholders, long-term relationships of respect, mutual trust and cooperation to achieve the common goal, which includes in addition to achieving long-term sustainability, mainly as a product of sustainability, the corporate social responsibility of the organization.

In today’s reality, one might say, without exaggeration, that board members, in their quest to carry out their duties, are moving very fast on dry edge. With the obligation of loyalty to the bank they serve to be legally strong, the independent or non-members are obliged to listen to the voices of all stakeholders and to make decisions, combining, if possible, the views and legal pursuits of all stakeholders (shareholders, employees, depositors, supervisors, investors / creditors, etc.).