Miami’s movers and shakers came out in force in late October for the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce annual gala, where BBVA Compass was given the chamber’s Company of the Year award.
The Miami office is one of the largest outposts of the Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit recognized by the Spanish government that’s dedicated to enhancing business and commercial ties between the two countries. More than 400 Spanish firms — including BBVA — operate in South Florida, which is reportedly home to 30,000 Spaniards.
Miami is an exceptionally important market for us, and not only because it’s a gateway to Latin America and BBVA has such a strong presence there. It’s also important to us because it’s a city of the future
“We’re standing especially tall tonight knowing that we’re the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce’s Company of the Year in Miami,” said BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez. “Miami is an exceptionally important market for us, and not only because it’s a gateway to Latin America and BBVA has such a strong presence there. It’s also important to us because it’s a city of the future. That makes Miami a smart play for any bank, and we’re just proud to play whatever part we can in its success.”
In his acceptance speech at the chamber’s 36th anniversary gala dinner on Oct. 28, Sánchez gave the audience — which included Mayor Tomás Regalado of Miami, Mayor Carlos Giménez of Miami-Dade County as well as Inmaculada Gutiérrez, Spain’s trade commissioner for the Southeast U.S., and Spain’s Consul General for Miami, Cándido Creis Estrada — a short history of BBVA’s presence in the U.S. It began a little more than a decade ago when BBVA started building its presence in the Sunbelt.
“We’ve muscled our way into the top 25 banks in the country as our industry has been undergoing immense change — fundamental, at-its-roots change,” Sánchez said. “And we did it methodically, by focusing on being the kind of bank you needed us to be and wanted us to be, for instance, never taking a penny of bailout money.”
He noted that BBVA Compass didn’t invest in subprime mortgages, for instance — the sector of the mortgage industry that collapsed after borrowers with blemished, subprime credit records started defaulting on their loans at staggering rates. Florida faced one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates after the subprime-mortgage crisis.
Instead, Sánchez said, BBVA Compass focused on keeping its own house in order and leaning far into the future. Just a few years after the crisis hit, Sánchez said, when other banks were still looking backward trying to figure out what went wrong, BBVA Compass debuted a $362 million new core technology system, becoming one of the first U.S. banks with a system that could process real-time transactions.
This award from the chamber is a milestone for us. We’ve worked hard to make our names here, to win your business and to help do what we can to make sure Miami’s future stays bright
Since then, BBVA Compass has won several industry awards for its digital innovations and grown its market share across its footprint. It started its business in Miami in 2011 with one employee — its current South Florida market president, Roberto Muñoz — and now has nearly 50 who work out of a 17,000 square-foot office overlooking the ocean.
“So this award from the chamber is a milestone for us,” Sánchez said. “We’ve worked hard to make our names here, to win your business and to help do what we can to make sure Miami’s future stays bright.”
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