Reinforce the old guard - Future Banking Dining Club briefing

7 December 2016

At a recent Future Banking Dining Club briefing in Warsaw, Poland, held in partnership with Hikvision Poland, Rafał Łupkowski, director of physical security and crisis management at Raiffeisen Polbank, discussed the evolution of bank security over the past 20 years and how he sees the sector progressing. Kimberley Hackett reports.

Security has always been a top priority for banks, and despite the increase in cyberthreats, physical security is still as relevant as ever.

With budgets getting tighter and equipment developing at a rapid pace, knowing what to purchase to keep your bank, staff and customers safe and secure can be a challenge.

However, on 27 October at Hotel Bristol in Warsaw, Poland, delegates from across the country joined forces for the roundtable discussion: ‘The Evolution of Bank Security in Poland over the Past 20 Years’.

Hosted by the Future Banking Dining Club in partnership with Hikvision Poland, security mangers from some of Poland’s biggest financial institutions, which are part of the Physical Security Forum of the Polish Bank Association, were treated to an evening of fine dining to coincide with the discussion.

Rafal Lupkowski, director of physical security and crisis management at Raiffeisen Polbank, and the evening’s keynote speaker, addressed the changes Poland has witnessed, what it is going through now and how security can be improved.

Lupkowski spoke of his personal journey working in Poland’s banking security sector, and how important he thinks it is for banks and security firms to work together to purchase the right equipment, and implement the correct site-specific strategy.

Move with the times

As technology evolves, it can be overwhelming for banks to know what to choose. Lupkowski sees this as one of the biggest challenges for the service.

“Very often, the sellers are not interested in what we need,” he said. “The focus is on the excellent solution that the camera is and how it is the greatest on the market. Some sellers aren’t interested in my worries about the system or my challenges.”

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as banks all have different needs. Lukasz Lik, technical manager from Hikvision Poland and supporting speaker, did admit that sometimes “it can be hard to set the production line to meet unique requirements, and hardware changes can be expensive”.

“But, regarding software, we have a lot of conversations in the early stages of projects with the investors, so we can find a solution,” he continued. Lik also said that success comes from listening to the end user’s requirements.

20 years ago, we often had one security officer working for the bank. Now, we have professional security teams and divisions.

As Lupkowski highlighted in his speech, banks have transformed over the years and security, therefore, has had to adapt. The customers and staff were once kept separate with bulletproof glass and there wasn’t a supervised CCTV monitoring station connected to bank branches.

Now, the customer and staff are sitting together. “It is a much friendlier environment,” Lupkowski observed.

No ‘I’ in team

The structure of security teams has also changed. Long gone are the days where the security officer was a lone ranger, single-handedly battling crime. Team work, according to Lupkowski, is where security needs to go in such a demanding job.

“20 years ago, we often had one security officer working for the bank. Now, we have professional security teams and divisions,” he said. “It means we should start thinking about looking to the future, analysing and discussing our previous experiences. With these partnerships forming, there should also be coaching and learning.”

Education and communication surrounding security measures was paramount and all attendees agreed on this. Implementing this learning frame isn’t just necessary for the security officers but also for senior bank managers. Collaboration between security and higher management is essential for the safety of the premises, staff and customers.

However, this physical security mind-set that delegates believe higher management needed to adopt was currently being overshadowed with cyberthreats.

“We have had more cyberthreats and fewer physical robberies in recent years,” observed one delegate. “On the Polish market, our role is very important but it’s hard to prove. The security systems and products cost a lot of money, and we can’t prove they work if there aren’t any robbery cases.

“With cyberattacks, you have proof that money is being lost,” he continued. “Our role is to make banks aware that robbery cases are still more dangerous than cyberthreats, because of the bank’s reputation, and the physical issues the employees and customers could potentially face.”

With security budgets being pulled in different directions, there was a feeling among delegates that, at times, physical security was being compromised.

Another delegate said: “Funnily enough, if it’s an alarm system, we are obliged to have it and maintain it, at least on a quarterly basis. But what about the CCTV?” he asked.

“Management says that seven-year-old systems are still good enough. There’s a thought we are only using CCTV for police queries, complaints and some compliance. None of these are actually helping us save money, and this is the main problem when speaking with the board.”

Communicating with management is the only way to explain the importance of investing in up-to-date security systems and proving that they are not just a cost. If a robbery were to take place, some attendees felt that CCTV was simply a tool that was used to hand over footage to the police.

However, other delegates suggested that the strength of CCTV was that “it is often seen as a deterrent in the first place”. This is one way to prove its worth when discussing security systems with the board.

Although it seems that the level of CCTV varies in Poland, as one delegate said: “Remember that, outside the city branches, the police departments have huge problems finding usable footage.”

This is why, according to Lupkowski, the relationship between the security team, provider and management board is so important. The police’s role has become increasingly important to banks in Poland recently.

“Since last year, we started to cooperate with police departments, closer and more efficiently than we did before,” Lupkowski added. “We started exchanging experiences and ideas, and this has been absolutely vital. I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the market but they always care about banks [in Poland].”

Match pace with technology

As technology has progressed, Lupkowski feels that the quality of the security officer as an individual could still improve.

Banks may be in competition with one another, but security is probably the only area where they cooperate and don’t compete.

“My point is that we have had to transform from what we used to be 15 years ago. Now, we need to think about risk analyses, costs and processes,” he said.

The future of physical security for banks in Poland is definitely going to have a new outlook. Not only will technology evolve but the relationship with the police force will also develop. Lupkowski also believes that the government’s increase of minimum wage will be better for physical security guards and the security sector in general.

The Physical Security Forum of the Polish Bank Association, the representative structure of physical security with the framework of the European Banking Federation, is becoming more prominent and successful. As chairman of the forum, Lupkowski praised the “excellent cooperation with the police, prosecutors, Polish National Bank and the government security centre”.

Banks may be in competition with one another, but, as Lupkowski said, “security is probably the only area where they cooperate and don’t compete”.

This roundtable discussion highlighted this in abundance. Opinions were at times divided but the focus was always on making sure banks’ physical security was never compromised.

Eyes will be fixed firmly on next year’s Future Banking dining clubs as they continue to address topics that are relevant to banks across Europe.

Future Banking’s Sanjeev Dole moderates a discussion among the delegates.
Attendees shared some thoughts with each other before the discussion began.
Rafał Łupkowski of Raiffeisen Polbank delivering his keynote speech.
Delegates listen attentively on matters regarding cooperation with regard to banks’ security.