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Once upon a collaboration: BBVA San Antonio utilizes bank pillars in a unique client situation

Two of the pillars, “The best and most engaged team” and “Improving the client’s financial health,” were on full display during a recent particular client interaction.

When the bank rolled out its vision for the new decade, the words were strong, focused and dedicated to creating opportunities across its U.S. footprint.

Now the action has been taken.

The following is a unique story of a family-owned business in San Antonio, Texas that was in need of a specialized service - and a group of BBVA teammates who together oversaw a complex process; a joint-effort that ultimately led to a monumental success for both the client and the team itself.

Pictured: The Weston Centre, which houses BBVA's local San Antonio headquarters, undergoes a signage change during the bank's April 2019 brand unification.

The key players:

  • Whitney Blair, BBVA USA Senior Trust Specialist
  • Josh Collins, BBVA USA San Antonio Global Wealth Executive
  • Ricky Maldonado: BBVA USA San Antonio Commercial Banking Executive 
  • Jane Vevea, BBVA USA Insurance Specialist 
  • Mark Menendez, BBVA USA Global Wealth Financial Advisor
  • Jerry Daniel, BBVA USA Global Wealth Private Banker

The situation:

The collaboration started when Josh Collins and his San Antonio Global Wealth team identified life insurance as a huge opportunity with limited penetration in the San Antonio market in early 2019. As it turned out for the local operation, there was an opportunity with a client that already had a solid relationship stretching back years with Ricky Maldonado.

The San Antonio Global Wealth team then equipped Maldonado and the Commercial team with enough information to begin discussions with the company about the prospect of bolstering its life insurance plan. After a quick review of the company owner’s existing policy, it was determined that there were deficiencies, and a custom, improved plan could be provided by the bank. The bank’s Commercial and Global Wealth team then began to serve in a consultative role to make sure both the owners and the company had the appropriate level of protection.

Enter Whitney Blair, Jane Vevea, Mark Menendez and Jerry Daniel, who were all pulled into the equation to collaborate and come up with a tailored solution for the client. The team credited Vevea for producing the creative and custom solution that covered every base for the client. According to the team, this solution “opened their eyes and provided a story to think through” and share with other clients that were in similar situations.

According to the team, instead of simply making an introduction and stepping away, all lines-of-business stayed involved throughout the process and leaned on their longtime relationship with the company and CFO to bridge any potential communication gaps and keep the momentum going.

The Commercial, Global Wealth, Insurance, and Trust/Estate Planning teams took a joint approach and met continuously throughout the process to make sure they were serving the customers needs to the best of their collaborative abilities. The unified process, the team says, kept the transaction moving and showed the customer the bank’s greatest strength: The one-team, holistic approach.

The takeaways from three team members:

Part BBVA USA’s six pillars is “Improving the client’s financial health,” - how could this apply, in your words, to this situation?

  • Josh Collins: A key to the pillar of financial health is for our team to collaborate together to bring the full strength of our offering to our clients proactively as advisors. We are able to truly advise our clients when we are evaluating their needs and solutions from all perspectives of our collaborative team.
  • Whitney Blair: These clients were in a position to purchase insurance to pay for some of the estate tax liability that would be incurred due to the value of their interest in the family business. They were also in a position to gift shares of the business due to the high estate tax exemption amount, allowing the shares to appreciate estate tax free. These bolstered the clients' financial health as well as their beneficiaries by protecting those beneficiaries’ wealth and not unnecessarily paying estate tax.
  • Ricky Maldonado: In this scenario, financial health not only applied to our existing commercial banking customer but also to the owners of the company. We contributed to the financial health of our customers by encouraging difficult conversations with the owners regarding life insurance and planning for an event of death. We found that many owners put so much into their company and employees that they often put their own financial health on the back burner. Our collaborative approach ensured that we took care of the financial needs of everyone at the company from the corporate entity itself to the ownership and executive team.

Another part of the bank’s six pillars is implementing “The best and most engaged team” - how can your peers engage more with their own teammates in their particular markets?

  • Blair: I’d advise my peers to visit their teams, be around them, get to know them, learn from them, respect them, and promptly respond to their requests.
  • Collins: We are only as good as our team members when we work together to bring the full BBVA offering to each and every client. Learning the strengths of our teammates and leveraging each other through the planning process keeps our team engaged in what they do best and delivers our best efforts to our clients.
  • Maldonado: My advice to my commercial banking peers would be to be intentional about meeting with your wealth management partners to identify potential opportunities and stay engaged throughout the process when an opportunity is identified to allow the customer to feel our collaborative approach to banking.

What would you have done differently?  

  • Collins: Many people have called this success story "textbook." We did not do everything perfectly, but we trusted each other with every step. For this reason, there is not anything that I would have done differently.
  • Maldonado: I would have introduced our life insurance solutions to the company sooner. Most customers don't associate life insurance expertise with banking and even most bankers don't actively think of life insurance as a topic to bring up with customers and prospects. I was certainly guilty of that until Josh and the Global Wealth team highlighted this product as an area of opportunity.
  • Blair: This was my first team meeting with a client of this magnitude and it was impressive the way everyone listened and asked thoughtful questions. It was equally impressive to learn about banking and insurance expertise in the room. I am of the opinion that to have done anything differently would have not improved the meeting.

Bottom line, what can people in your industry learn from this situation and how can they apply it to their relationships with their own clients? What advice would you give them?

  • Maldonado: Have detailed conversations with your wealth management partners about the companies and people we bank in commercial to help identify opportunities. Once the introduction is made, stay engaged in the process not only to help facilitate the transaction at hand, but also to help give you a better understanding of the bank's offerings for future conversations with other prospects and customers. Also, after providing your customer with a positive banking experience, ask for referrals.
  • Blair: First, get to know your clients by asking questions and listening to them. Then, while reviewing their answers and situations, consider how you can help them with areas/issues that were revealed.
  • Collins: Trusting others can be inherently difficult. Trust is built when there is a clear picture of every person's role on the team and accountability for each team member during regular team strategy update meetings. When the communication is clear for the entire team at all times, the team can trust that everyone is giving their best effort for the solutions for the client at hand. Trust is compounding when the team is collaborating together for a common purpose. This client interaction has led to a much higher level of trust in our team and will build momentum into other client interactions.