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Francisco González: technology and values

Francisco González is a self-made man obsessed with two things: technology and ethics/values. His greatest passion is playing golf. He likes to speak frankly, with “frankly” being one of the words he uses most commonly because he “greatly appreciates the courage of those who speak their mind.” He’s proud of the independence that has defined his managerial style – “you can either keep your distance, or you can steer your company into a series of commitments that have nothing to do with the interests of the shareholders,  the customers, the employees or the company at large”, he has said on occasion.

Today at 74, it’s his last day as BBVA Group executive chairman, the last day of a 22-year tenure as chairman of the bank –almost four with Argentaria and 18 with BBVA. But he’s not fazed by change. Change has been a part of everything he does and integral to the strategy he laid out two decades ago, which prepared the organization for the inevitable digital revolution. It was his strategy that laid the groundwork for BBVA’s transformation, starting just over ten years ago reinventing the bank and steering it to the forefront of the financial industry. His foresight and ability to prepare for the uncharted future of the industry has earned him a reputation as a visionary with his peers. His staunch ethical approach to business resonates in what has been one of his golden rules: say no to what is not legal, transparent, or morally acceptable to society.

He was born in Chantada (Lugo, Galicia, a region in northwestern Spain) in 1944. At the age of three his family emigrated to Buenos Aires. After living in several countries (Spain, Argentina, and Germany) and frequently spinning his career 180 degrees – from programmer to stockbroker; moving  from a monopolistic company to a private company; switching from employee to public servant to entrepreneur, from entrepreneur to manager of a multinational company – after all this, he describes himself as a fortunate person. He is married and a father of two daughters. It is likely that his unusual professional profile for the financial sector – halfway between technology and banking – was the key to his anticipating the impact of disruption in the financial industry.

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