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MX23_FI_AINVEST_marco

MEXICO - Finance

Marco Antonio Soto

Managing Director, Abanca Mexico

Bio

Marco Antonio Soto has extensive experience in the design, development, and execution of commercial strategies aimed at attracting new clients through incentive and leadership models. He previously worked as deputy general director at Banco Sabadell and regional director for the metropolitan area at BBVA Mexico. He studied business administration and has a master’s in marketing from the University of Anahuac.

"Everyone is talking about a digital world and technology; however, the specific business we are in continues to be personal and close to the client."
Looking to invest in the local tourism and agricultural sectors in particular, Abanca Mexico has big plans for the country in the medium term.
What is your outlook for the current state of the banking industry?

Mexico has always remained attractive to the world; this has not changed. An important part is that businesses, bankers, and financial institutions continue to invest in the country. We support their growth and are growing together with them. Abanca has a great vision of both organic and inorganic growth. The important bet now is with the launch of Abanca Mexico. We intend to become an important bank in the world. Specifically, in Mexico, with the investment we want to grow by MXN10 billion in the next three years. In the first year, if we manage to grow the first MXN3 billion, we will have taken a solid first step.

In what ways is Abanca Mexico focusing in agriculture and tourism?

The banking sector in general has made a significant commitment to the tourism industry. The most powerful nation in the world is Mexico’s neighbor, and Riviera Maya receives 70% of its visitors from North America, who spend in dollars and are charged accommodation rates in dollars. The tourism industry is, therefore, a wise choice. We are also big fans of agriculture. To work on this, we need to start forming relationships with other organizations such as Fira, Nafin, and so on. There are many opportunities here; for example, 95% of watermelon produced by local producers that is sold in the US is not found in Mexico. There are sweet and delicious Mexican watermelons sold in the US that no one in Mexico is aware of.

What is your primary differentiator or added value from other players that provide comparable services?

Everyone is talking about a digital world and technology; however, the specific business we are in continues to be personal and close to the client. I am about to celebrate 30 years as a banker in this country, and solid relationships with clients and the advice we give them are all extremely important. All that adds true value. We do not intend to compete with any bank; on the contrary, we view them as our partners. The client’s confidence in the lender is crucial. Customers will at least be aware of our lifetime bankers if they do not know who Abanca is because we only started the business in early 2022. This framework, which has been on the market for 30 years, has made things slightly easier for us. We have partners in other banks that help us with this; however, competition is not our aim. We want to engage in a market that is as big as the players.

What will be the primary focus for 2023?

If we manage to convince companies in the first year, we can make the first MXN3 billion. It will be a strong sign for our parent company. That will mean more support and growth in the coming years. In our case, things are going great, and we expect the coming years to be better and see rapid growth. Many of our team members helped launch Sabadell in the first year of business banking, the goal was to place 2.5 million, and we placed almost 5 million. In the second year, we had 9,000. We are in a different moment with a different economy. But the market is there to support such growth. Today, there seem to be significant obstacles ahead. Such as the exchange rate in dollars growing. However, despite all that, the country remains attractive. Our company and all other companies share one intriguing trait. It is a fact that without a team-based foundation, no organization or business can flourish. At Abanca Mexico, we genuinely have a team that has risked and has ventured. We are group with the goal of expanding together with the organization. In the end, getting everything to work the way we want it to depends on the team.

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