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On July 6th the ESADE Alumni Real Estate Club held the 17th property sector annual dinner, with guest speaker Jaume Guardiola (Lic&MBA 79), Banco Sabadell CEO.
The president of the ESADE Alumni Real Estate Club, Eduard Mendiluce (MBA 97), explained that although the economy has been showing signs of a general upturn in the first half of 2017, ''we need to consolidate the real estate sector recovery by increased professionalization and ethics, although it is true to say that we are on the right track.'' Mendiluce emphasised the capacity of guest speaker Jaume Guardiola to deal with complex settings. He explained that seven of his ten years as Banco Sabadell CEO have been characterised by economic and financial crisis, and yet the bank has trebled in size, the number of shareholders and multiplied its number of customers by six. ''The organic growth of Banco Sabadell in Spain and its international expansion have also happened in a highly regulated environment and with the luggage of its legacy,'' said Eduard Mendiluce.
Jaume Guardiola gave a presentation of the economic scenario, and of the financial and real estate sectors in Spain and explained that the GNP of the euro area is likely to grow by almost 2% in 2017 and in Spain by almost 3%. Against this backdrop, Guardiola was convinced that the ECB would adopt a new monetary focus and start to withdraw non-traditional stimuli after the summer: ''I believe that the asset purchase scheme will end in mid 2018 and that interest rates will climb at the end of that year.''
The mid-term growth outlook remains low due to the aging population and productivity rates. Hence the challenges facing Spain are low productivity, its aging population, inequality and unemployment.
The CEO said that the financial system had suffered a perfect storm and that default rates had already fallen from 14% to around 3% and returns have increased to 10-12%.
In this period, Banco Sabadell has changed its profile and doubled its core capital, correcting and balancing its leverage. This bank, over 136 years old, has changed to keep pace with the times and demands of the environment, whilst remaining true to its origins and continuing to help companies create wealth and jobs. He also said that the bank’s business management model is based on building long-term relationships with its clients with a focus on quality service, trust and commitment.
Against the backdrop of its strategy of selling off its real estate assets through its subsidiary, Solvia, it has evolved from being a retailer to a benchmark in the real estate world, and is now a service leader in the market with a growing network of stores, although Guardiola explained that in the future, the bank intends to stop being an operator and focus entirely on financing the real estate sector.
The challenges facing the sector are the need to get rid of problematic assets, interest rates, regulatory pressure and digital disruption. In this respect, he emphasised the paradigm shift that the financial sector is experiencing. According to the CEO of Banco Sabadell, a new type of consumer has appeared, digitisation has rocketed and ''banks will have to adapt.'' His attitude to new financial players is relaxed because banks have well established networks of offices and good customer relations, plus experience in risk management and regulatory compliance – something that may pose a problem for many fintech companies.
Jordi Fabregat, a professor in the ESADE Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting brought the conference to a close and began the Q&A session, which was followed by the networking dinner.
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