Virtually unknown in the sector a few years ago, marketing is now well-entrenched in banks’ administrative functions as an indispensable tool. In a recent address to the Hellenic Marketing Academy, National Bank Deputy Chairman Andreas Vranas said the liberalization of financial markets according to EU directives had made a decisive contribution to the their development by sharpening competition, while the sector still has a lot of dynamic growth potential. «In Greece, private sector borrowing represents 62 percent of GDP, compared to a 97 percent eurozone average; lending to households represents just 22 percent of GDP, against a 47 percent eurozone average,» he noted. A further important factor in sharpening competition was the increased amount of capital that financial institutions obtained through mergers, allowing them to plan new products and differentiate interest rates. Vranas believes marketing also facilitates monitoring the quality of the services provided and their continuous improvement. «The desired quality level depends on three main factors: ability of staff, efficient infrastructure systems and the degree of clarity with which clients themselves state their needs and demands,» he says. He thinks the most appropriate strategy for modern banks is to categorize clients into groups and develop an integrated client-oriented system based on «multiple networks,» at the expense of the traditional «branch-oriented» client; they also have to ensure that the client enjoys a high level of service in any network used.