Last updated: 13:03 / Friday, 23 May 2014
Interview with Jordi Comas

Andbank Aspires to be within the Top 5 Private Banks in Latin America in the Next Decade

Andbank Aspires to be within the Top 5 Private Banks in Latin America in the Next Decade

Since 2008, when Andbank’s management was put into the hands of Jordi Comas, CEO, and Tubau Ricard, managing director, the bank has gone from being centered in Andorra to its internationalization, leading to a significant leap in Spain and Latin America, undoubtedly driven by the legislative change in the Principality of Andorra. This change has shifted Andorra from being a tax haven, with bank secrecy as its greatest asset, to becoming a low tax jurisdiction; a situation which has forced Andbank to find markets abroad in which to continue growing.

In addition to Spain, Andbank now has a presence in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, Bahamas, Miami, Mexico, Panama, Brazil and Uruguay, and it intends to continue to grow as long as good opportunities arise. It should be remembered that in 2008 only 5% of its business came from Latin America, whereas currently the region represents a third of its total business.

Last year, the bank grew an average of 30% in each Latin American country in which they are present. With a clear commitment to becoming a highly diversified bank and within the strategy set by Andorra, Comas declared that in seven to ten years time, the bank aspires to be within the top 5 private banks in Latin America, where they not only have set a goal of growth, but also to add value.

During an interview with Funds Society, Comas reviewed the banking institutions’ progress, the results achieved during the 2013 financial year, submitted at the beginning of May, as well as Andbank’s plans for 2014, when the bank hopes to continue with the growth rates registered last year. In 2013, the bank's profit grew by 13.3% in comparison to 2012; this was due primarily to the consolidation of its private banking model and to the strong development of its international business.

Likewise, clients’ assets under management grew by 22% in the previous year to reach €13,5 billion, (about US$18,5 billion). The group’s international area represents almost 60% of the clients’ resources, and the bank maintains a high solvency ratio of 20.69%.

Comas said that, despite the “dramatic environment registered at the economic and taxation levels”, 2013 was a good year for the bank and hoped to continue to grow at the same rate in the coming years.

It should be remembered that in 2013 Andbank reinforced its presence in Spain with the acquisition of Inversis Bank’s private banking business, an operation which allowed Andbank to add another €4.5 billion in one stroke to the €1 billion raised during its first year in Spain, where they arrived in early 2012 with the purchase of Medivalor, a small securities brokerage agency.

Implementing the Inversis platform model in Latin America

As for its plans for Latin America, where they’re still committed to continued and strong growth. Comas commented that they plan to implement the Inversis platform model to Latin America, where it’s difficult for the average investor to access products that are only available to the large investor and only through the larger banks. The CEO stressed that they will be paying particular attention to Mexico and Brazil, where “there’s no online platform which brings together third party products.” Comas stresses that the organization not only aims to do private banking, but also to democratize it given the region’s “very clear potential”.

As to whether they will continue with its acquisition policy and its partnerships with other firms as they have been doing in recent times, the company’s CEO clarified that they don’t regard neither of those operations as an incorporation of assets, but as a way to attract talent. “That’s why we find it so difficult to make acquisitions.”

Currently Andbank aims for continued growth in the 10 jurisdictions in which it operates and, should opportunities present themselves, Comas has no doubts that they will pursue them. "We are acquirers by nature, especially in Latin America, and especially in Miami, Mexico and Brazil, where we believe we have to make a strong commitment to growth.” It should be noted that earlier this year, the bank acquired the Miami firm, Swiss Asset Advisors, led by Michael Blank who, together with his team, joined Andbank’s Miami office.

“We don’t put a ceiling to our growth. Our limit is to find excellent professionals who want to join our project. We try to recruit the best ... Our goal is to grow soundly and with the best people,” stressed the CEO, who insisted on Latin America’s importance for the group's business.

In this respect, the CEO referred to Uruguay’s example, where they are present through a representative office in Punta del Este, which was recently joined by a team from HSBC. For Comas, the Southern Cone is a very important region because it is an area of great development, in the same way as Miami and Panama. Comas explained that a number of bankers have recently joined Andbank Panama, and the same has happened in the Bahamas, where earlier this year the bank also changed their head office, appointing Juan Iglesias, from Julius Baer as the CEO in charge.