Mercantile Discount is an Israeli bank that plays a very important role. It serves the local economy, as well as all sectors and strata of the community, placing an emphasis on servicing the financial needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Over the years, it has developed the expertise to provide efficient, tailor-made banking services.
David Maymon, vice president and director of the bank’s Retail Division, explains the advantages of working with Mercantile Discount Bank: “I would describe ourselves as a community-oriented bank. We locate our branches in a community and study the needs of potential business and personal clients and adapt our services accordingly.”
Q: How are your services to households and families reflected in your community-oriented branches?
A: By ‘community-oriented,’ I mean a branch that is integrated into the surrounding community. We are part of that community, and we study the residents. We learn about their needs and their problems. When a resident of the community requires credit or a mortgage, we know the person’s family and social circle, and that helps us assess him or her financially. This is especially important in regard to mortgages because the amount of the loan is large, and the repayment period is long. If we know the people beforehand, it is easier for us to evaluate them and offer a mortgage adapted to their needs and at the lowest interest rates possible. For clients for whom every shekel counts, that is a big advantage.
We are also deeply involved in real estate. Not only do we cater to the financial needs of the buyers, but we also cater to the needs of the developer.
What is the main challenge that Mercantile Discount Bank faces at present?
The biggest challenge is the rapid advances in technology. It is not only our bank that is facing that challenge but the entire banking industry worldwide. Banks have to adapt their activities to the new technologies and, more importantly, so do the clients. We know this is not easy for clients, so we try to help.
In contrast to other banks that are closing their branches left and right, we’re opening new branches when necessary, such as our recent branch in Beit Shemesh. We allow our clients to choose the type of banking they prefer, such as banking through the automatic remote control machines or personal banking at their local branch, That is why we aren’t closing branches.
We are also making it easier for our clients to communicate with us via telebanking. To the best of my knowledge, some banks don’t permit direct telephone access to their branch but transfer the calls to a central exchange. We, on the contrary, allow our clients direct telephone access to their branch, as many people prefer talking to a staff member they know rather than to some anonymous voice on the other end.
What is the nature of your involvement with small and medium-sized businesses?
We have been financing small and medium-sized companies for quite a number of years, and I pride myself in saying that we are one of the most expert in that field. For the past 20 years, we have consistently been chosen by the Finance Ministry to administer the government funds dedicated to promote small and medium-sized companies. Our being chosen proves that we are good at what we do and that the ministry believes that we are doing a good job in administering those funds. In that context, we are also involved in financing small home-based businesses in the haredi community.
I also want to point out that we came first in the friendliness ranking for banks by the Ministry of the Economy and Industry.
Your bank recently purchased Dexia, which specializes in financing local government bodies. Why so?
The merger with Dexia was a sound strategic move. It will serve to expand our potential client base. It will increase our business with local authorities and those individuals and companies that have business contacts with local authorities. This includes the tens of thousands who are employed in local authorities and their families, the suppliers of goods and services to local authorities, etc. Overall, it will create new circles of potential clients.
This article was written in cooperation with Mercantile