The CEO of Banco Sabadell in Portugal, Santiago Tiana Tous, successfully led the complete banking implementation in Morocco and later in Portugal. His international background has allowed him to contribute to Banco Sabadell the different ways of working in the countries and cultures in which he has been. Now at the head of the Group in Portugal, among its main objectives is to accompany Spanish companies in their internationalization.
What key points would you highlight of your professional career?
My career and professional growth go hand in hand with the growth of the Banco Sabadell Group and its internationalization. I would highlight my specialization in Trade Finance and Corporate and Investment Banking.
Almost half of my professional life has been spent outside of Spain and the last 10 years between Morocco and Portugal.
How have you influenced Banco Sabadell and what is your work philosophy?
I consider myself lucky to have brought to my personal and professional backgroud the different ways of working from various cultures and also from various countries. I like to work as a team and learn from the team.
Having the responsibility to direct any project is fascinating, but when this project involves starting and creating something from scratch, it gets even more exciting.
Moving forward firmly, but at the same time cautiously, are two fundamental characteristics to guarantee the success of the mission. This is where the team becomes more relevant and essential. The saying is true that the team is much more than the sum of its members. I have been fortunate to have the Group’s trust and always work with an excellent team of professionals whom I thank for all the value contributed.
I am sure that without them we would not have achieved the objectives.
What opportunities does Portugal offer for Spanish companies and what tools and solutions does Banco Sabadell offer?
After almost 140 years in activities related to international trade, accompanying companies in all their internationalization processes continues to be one of Banco Sabadell’s main objectives.
Within this internationalization, Banco Sabadell has been present in the Portuguese market since 1994, we know it widely and we aim to provide banking services to companies and corporations, taking advantage of the recognized excellence of the market in international business, accompaniment in value-added products such as the financing of companies’ investments with bilateral, structured, syndicated, recourse and non-recourse operations.
What is Banco Sabadell’s commitment to renewable energy?
Our entity’s commitment to the implementation of a renewable energy model fits in with the Principles of Responsible Banking and the fight against climate change that is precisely being debated these days at COP25 or the Climate Summit that takes place in Madrid.
Banco Sabadell adhered in June 2019 to the Principles of Responsible Banking and is one of its founding signatories, so the entity is committed to strategically aligning its business with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change .
Since 1992 Banco Sabadell has experience in financing renewable energy projects, either with the application of regulated rates or market rates.
Portugal opened in 2019 an auction process to finance renewable energy projects that has generated a lot of interest from international investors. At Banco Sabadell Portugal, we want to take advantage of the experience of the Sabadell Group, leader in the financing of renewable energy projects in Spain and with other projects in geographies as disparate as Colombia, USA, France, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and UK, to make it a lever of growth in this country. Already in 2019 we signed some projects and for this 2020 we have others that remain in the pipeline.
With the Coronavirus crisis, how does banking deal with telecommuting? Do banks use CRM or ERP systems to improve productivity and customer service?
The challenge of the consequences of the coronavirus for teleworking has been a test for many. As an exam of any student. Surely the student who leaves the exam preparation for the last day will most likely not succeed or if he succeeds, he will do so with worse results.
I consider myself passionate about new technologies and I recognize that Grupo Banco Sabadell, through different pilot tests, has been preparing and successfully implementing telework for years. Personally I have been following all the improvements and implantations
At Banco Sabadell Portugal and as a result of this preparation that comes from afar and during these last weeks we have successfully managed to carry out all the administrative and commercial tasks from our respective addresses. We have access via CITRIX to all corporate applications, to all network resources and through the different standardized tools we can communicate and coordinate with the rest of the team in Portugal or the teams in Spain and other geographical ones.
All this with the maximum guarantees of security and access.
What role does online banking play? Are you planning to push it further now? What advantages does it have for users?
Banks are undergoing a profound paradigm shift. Digital transformation is one of these changes. Clients are multichannel and we have to provide an excellent experience. Their comparison of experience is no longer between their various bank providers, but they compare us like any other digital experience they may have online.
“Clients are multichannel and we have to provide an excellent experience. Their comparison of experience is no longer between their various bank providers, but they compare us like any other digital experience they may have online”.
The latest studies indicate that in Spain around 30% of banking products are already contracted through digital channels. Banco Sabadell is the leader in customer experience in Spain.
Also in Portugal we have our own personalized platform with direct access to local services.
SMEs and the self-employed are the sectors most damaged by this crisis. Are you going to launch any initiative for this sector?
Our activity in Portugal is especially aimed at the Portuguese subsidiaries of Spanish companies as well as the “corporate” segment of companies with “non-Spanish” capital. This is the main reason for Banco Sabadell’s implementation strategy in Portugal.
After different stages and types of presence in Portugal, in April 2019 we re-inaugurated our own activity through a branch in Lisbon. Since then we have developed our own business plan having closed 2019 above the expectations initially expected.
During this year of activity we have focused and prioritized starting relationships with the most relevant groups. It is for this reason that our penetration in the SME segment is not significant. At BS Portugal, we do not work with individuals.
The Portuguese Government and like most Governments have promoted a public aid plan to confront and minimize the liquidity crisis for companies derived from the collateral economic consequences of the COVID health crisis19. From Banco Sabadell Portugal we are accompanying companies in the implementation of these aid measures.
What future challenges awaits the banking sector?
It is true that you have to be prepared for the different challenges, from the most immediate, the medium term, and also have a strategy to anticipate and face the longer term challenges.
Among these challenges are to improve return on capital (ROE), increase efficiency, strengthen solvency and continue with the digital transformation of the sector.
These objectives exist and continue to be in force, but currently a new challenge has arisen unexpectedly: minimizing the impact of the consequences derived from the economic crisis caused by COVID19. It is a huge challenge that we have neither precedent nor models to lean on. The way out will depend largely on the scientific response to find a solution to the health crisis that all countries without exception are currently suffering.
However, it should be noted that the banking sector faces this new challenge with a very different solvency than in 2008 and also with sufficient liquidity to do so with guarantees of success.
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