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The recipe for a true digital bank: a differentiated value approach and proactive use of data

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Luisa Gómez Bravo, Global Head of BBVA Corporate & Investment Banking, has participated in a panel discussion on the recovery of the global banking sector after COVID-19 as part of the “Female Leaders in Finance” conference. This financial news conference, with a focus on female talent in the industry, was organized by HSBC Bank.

The return to normality in the financial sector, the transformation of the industry,  the use of new technologies and sustainability were some of the major issues addressed at the round table in which Luisa Gómez Bravo, Global Head of BBVA Corporate & Investment Banking, participated together with representatives of Commerzbank, Bank of Cyprus and La Banque Postale.

The new normal in terms of returning to the office was the first topic of the panel. The speakers agreed that we need to move towards a hybrid model of work in which presence at the office is combined with remote work. On this point, Luisa Gómez Bravo pointed out the importance of flexibility and of not imposing a single model, since the needs are different according to the functions of each team. However, she did highlight the value of not returning in the same way: “The very digitization of work has accelerated many trends, to go backwards would be to miss an opportunity,” she highlighted.

Consolidation opportunities within the European cross-border financial sector was one of the topics of discussion. Luisa Gómez Bravo argued that consolidation should not only be a question of scale, but also of strategic fit and value creation for shareholders: “Cross-border mergers in Europe are difficult to envision in the short term due to the lack of progress on a true banking union and the lack of significant value creation through synergies. At BBVA we believe that, apart from inorganic growth, value can be created for BBVA shareholders by focusing on organic growth in the different countries in which we operate”.

Digitization was another of the main topics. BBVA has been focusing on its transformation for many years. Today it is a digital bank that has gone through different phases that actually coexist with each other: facilitating customer transactions through digital channels; accelerating digital sales and attracting more customers via digital channels; and finally, creating a value approach that is differential from the digital perspective, through the use of data and giving customers advice on their day-to-day financial needs.

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Luisa Gómez Bravo also highlighted the three key factors that determine the success of the digitalization strategy. First of all, the transformation has to reach the entire organization; it is not a question of creating a digital area. In the case of BBVA, the entire bank embarked on digitalization, adapting a different business model. Secondly, and in line with the first point, the commitment must be made throughout the entire organization, starting with the most top-level management and working down through all levels. And thirdly, all of this must be aligned with a cultural change in the organization, with a greater diversity of talent than we had before.

Sustainability, one of BBVA’s strategic priorities, was also one of the main topics addressed by the panel. The bank has defined sustainability as one of its six strategic priorities with the aim of helping its clients make the transition to a more sustainable future and the Pledge 2025 announced in 2018, to mobilize €100 billion in green finance, sustainable infrastructure, social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, is key to this. In response to a specific question about the bank’s role as issuer of sustainable bonds, Luisa Gómez Bravo stressed that BBVA has been one of the most active green bond issuers in recent years, not only in terms of the number of issues but also the innovation element of these issues. BBVA was the first financial institution in the world to place a green AT1 bond, the first institution in Europe to issue a COVID-19 bond in senior non-preferred format, and the first issuer of a gender bond in Turkey.

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