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Opinion 22 July 2019

Welcome to THE PULSE

Carlos Torres Vila analyzes in 'The Pulse', an internal blog in BBVA, how his first months as BBVA Chairman have been.

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Pulse, a new forum for everyone at BBVA. Approximately once a month, Onur and I will use this space to discuss current issues and topics that affect the bank, and we encourage you to participate by sharing your comments.

To kick off this blog, I would like to share with you how my first months as BBVA Chairman have been.

Some things haven’t changed much, like the frequent trips to visit teams in the countries in our footprint. Seeing the work people are doing in person is still the best part of the job, without a doubt.

I also travel to meet with authorities and participate in international forums, perhaps more than I expected. These have been very rewarding encounters, and I have enjoyed them. Not only has my role representing the bank increased, I also have more opportunity to address long-term issues and to reflect on our strategy and help drive the transformation process.

The most important change stemming from my new role is that I have had to step back from the day-to-day management of the business. As you all know, we tackle numerous issues on any given day, and they require a lot of energy because usually they are not easy. Therefore, it is comforting to know that this day-to-day management is in the best hands with an outstanding leader like Onur. It’s impressive how quickly he has learned Spanish: he understands everything! He and the rest of the team are doing an amazing job. It is a dynamic team that has been made more diverse after the appointments -most of them women- announced at the beginning of the year.

What stands out the most for me in these first few months is everything we have achieved together.

Starting with the unification of the brand, now we are all BBVA—one team with the same brand. A brand that is focused on the future of our customers and prepared for the digital world; a brand that represents the great opportunities we bring to our customers with our global value proposition; a brand with a new, simple, and modern logo to take us into the digital age, as we said at Live@BBVA.

In 2019, we are forging ahead with our digital strategy. Most of our customers interact with us through digital channels, our digital sales have almost quadrupled in just two years, and we are leaders in net promoter score in seven of the ten countries in our footprint. All this is reflected in our income statement, making us leaders in efficiency and profitability.

To advance our transformation, initiatives such as the AI ​​Factory, which we launched barely a month ago, are vital. This center, made up of a multidisciplinary team of 150 people, will be key to driving the development of global solutions for clients based on data analysis and artificial intelligence.

When it comes to understanding the role banking can play in society, especially around one of our core banking pillars – sustainability – we are also increasingly being seen as a role model. We are convinced that “the future of Finance is to finance the Future.” In fact, we are already the most active Spanish bank in the issuance of green and social bonds (in June, we issued our second €1 billion green bond) and we are also one of the global leaders in sustainable loans. In the last year and a half, we have mobilized around €22 billion in financing for sustainable development, in line with our Pledge 2025.

In this area, the work of our foundations also stands out. The BBVA Microfinance Foundation helps the most vulnerable people in society start their own businesses with microcredits. It is already the private non-profit initiative with the greatest social impact in Latin America, which I had the opportunity to see for myself during my visit to Colombia in April. I would also point out several initiatives that the BBVA Foundation carries out to promote innovation and cutting-edge research, among them the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, which we presented a few weeks ago in Bilbao, Spain.

The market recognizes these great achievements, both in digital leadership and sustainability. Recently, Forrester once again named the BBVA app in Spain the best in Europe (for the third year in a row!), and it ranked BBVA Garanti’s number two. The prestigious magazine Euromoney gave us the award for Best Digital Bank in Western Europe and the Best Bank in the World in the Financial Inclusion category.

To wrap up this first post of The Pulse, I would like to thank you all for your excellent work. All these achievements have been possible thanks to this amazing team that I am proud to be a part of. I am confident that we will continue to achieve our goals in the second half of the year.

Thank you very much, and to those of you in the northern hemisphere, I wish you a happy summer!