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A good Baltic bank born out of a banking crisis.

Parex Banka collapsed at the back end of 2008. As the largest bank in Latvia the collapse triggered a savage downturn in the Latvian economy threatening to bring down the country. Bailed out and propped up the bank needed to be reborn as a good bank - a bank of and for the people. 

Citadele was the result - winning back trust by doing good.


Parex Banka was a powerful symbol of excess in the middle of a crisis. Opulent offices, legions of private hairdressers, crowns everywhere. Its collapse triggered not just an economic collapse but a crisis in confidence.

The bank could not survive in its current form - nobody trusted it. Everyone was desperate to take their money out.

What was needed was a new bank that clearly discarded all that had been bad about Parex but which built on the good. 


For the people

Defining and shaping the bank around the needs of the local people was a joy. It aligned everyone around a common cause - the staff, the (newly returning and first time) customers, the politicians who had bailed it out, the new management and the new shareholders.

The speed with which the new bank was adopted was a powerful demonstration of how a "local champion" could work, which goes to the heart of the Good Growth operating model.


What we did

We worked very fast.

In 6 weeks we developed the foundations for Citadele by identifying what Latvia needed right then - a champion for local entrepreneurs - and those aspects of Parex that supported that ambition - a "let's do this" attitude.

The strongest part of the bank was the staff - ordinary Latvians who identified with ordinary Latvians. Stripped of its regal nature the new bank could become a true champion of the people.

In a country whose banks were largely Swedish or catering to the wealthy and absent that was a powerful proposition


What happened

A decade on and Citadele continues to go from strength to strength. In a sense it is a place brand - named after the road its offices are on, and symbolic of the underlying strength of the Latvian people in dealing with crisis.

Now one of the leading banks in the Baltics Citadele is a strong example not only of how to rebuild something out of a mess, but also of the enduring strength of a brand that genuinely has the interests of the community at heart.

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