Banco de la Producción S.A. (Produbanco) has been serving primarily commercial customers in Ecuador since 1978. After Promerica Financial Corporation (Grupo Promerica) acquired a majority of the bank’s shares in 2014, it was consolidated with Banco Promerica Ecuador. (Grupo Promerica operates nine banks across Latin America.) Produbanco prides itself on being one of the country’s most successful banks, having earned outstanding risk ratings and international recognition. Excellence in customer service is its trademark, and it is guided by its value statement that “our essence is the customer”. It is diligently actualising that standard through its ongoing digital transformation, which began in earnest in 2014. Building memorable experiences for customers through their interactions with the bank’s physical and virtual channels is embedded in its day-to-day operations.
Through its commitment to innovation, Produbanco has established its position as the undisputed leader of Ecuador’s corporate market, despite some challenging times for the nation’s banking sector as a whole. Produbanco’s success can largely be attributed to its focus on the six pillars of its long-term strategic plan, which include “cultural transformation to assure the success of its digital transformation” and “commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility”.
The bank is certainly well on its way to fulfilling its vision to be the best of the best and to transform people’s lives. International Banker recently welcomed Produbanco’s chief executive officer, Mr. Ricardo Cuesta Delgado, to discuss the bank’s successes and plans.
Mr. Cuesta, thank you for being with us today…
Between November 2018 and November 2019, Produbanco experienced a healthy growth rate of almost 6 percent in net profit. What factors underpinned this growth?
As an organisation, we want to develop a customer-experience strategy to manage interactions with our product, brand and service, how it generates a memory in the customer and how this memory affects their future decisions—with the ultimate goal of improving customer experience and impacting business results, focusing on the elements having the greatest impact on the customer, supporting the achievement of strategic objectives, and increasing loyalty and permanence.
Produbanco is arguably best known for our unwavering commitment to serving our customers. Our desire to provide the highest possible standards of customer service continues to remain unrivalled in Ecuador. The lengths to which our various teams go in order to cultivate the best and most fruitful relationships with each individual customer are admirable. All available resources are utilised to facilitate this mission—from employing many of the top banking professionals in the industry to the smart use of the latest technological resources.
Moreover, through the strength of such customer relationships, Produbanco offers a remarkably diverse suite of products, each of which has been meticulously designed to satisfy the most pressing needs of specific customer segments. We have tailored products for Millennials, environmentally conscious clients and frequent travellers, among others.
We were awarded for the third consecutive year the Golden EKOS 2019 award—First Place in Quality of Service, Large Banks category—granted by the EKOS Corporation to companies in various sectors.
Produbanco ratifies our commitment to excellence in service and the generation of memorable experiences, which comprises an integral part of our institutional culture. And as one of our attributes states, “Our essence is our customer.”
One of the pillars of Produbanco’s long-term strategic plan is “cultural transformation to assure the success of its digital transformation”. How have you been changing the bank’s culture?
At Produbanco, we implemented an Innovation Centre Unit where we work with multidisciplinary teams that, in addition to fostering a crosscutting culture of innovation, apply swift methodologies such as design thinking, Scrum and where the voice of the client is collected in stages going from ideation and prototyping by using various market-research techniques, such as neuro-marketing and user-experience studies, that allow us to ascertain user tastes and preferences to develop financial solutions appropriate to his/her needs and thus implement projects with a different vision to the traditional one. This allows us to generate a cultural change of which all employees form a part and live it in their day-to-day activities.
Produbanco’s high-level executives, through the Innovation Committee, directly ascertain, define and prioritise innovation projects that leverage strategy and digital transformation. We continuously execute entrepreneurial programs in which all employees have the opportunity to participate so as to provide the bank with new ideas and projects that can be implemented into our operations. In addition, we maintain strategic alliances with several fintechs, start-ups and academia to constantly be on the innovating and renewing end.
In which specific areas within the bank do you see big data having the most significant impact?
Big data has generated high levels of efficiency when it comes to exchanges with external organisations, thus reducing operational tasks and allowing functional experts to focus on the development of new initiatives based on analytical processes along with the benefits generated by reliable data. The project has generated a permanent control and administration of the various financial indicators that allow making timely decisions that are data-driven. It has allowed users to have access to data in various formats through the development of tools that fit their needs. This allows them to keep track of their goals and to create their own strategies.
The project has generated sustained growth in the various business segments by contributing knowledge acquired through models that use artificial-intelligence techniques to identify new business opportunities, which has allowed us to know and profile our customers in order to make the best recommendations based on predictive and prescriptive models and thus grow and build loyalty. The use of data and analytics in the processes of prospecting and generation of placement and recruitment campaigns has comprised a relevant factor in achieving our goals.
We have incorporated GeoAnalytics as a strategy to better position our branches. Currently, the organisation uses recommended models for opening branches based on the knowledge generated by the various layers of information through internal and socio-demographic variables in the form of readily available public information.
One of the projects recently initiated to further strengthen our position in the provision of seamless digital-banking solutions is the implementation of the SAS Customer Intelligence platform. This platform will enable us to align data, analytics and insights on existing and prospective customers. Creating a relevant and individualised approach is essential to engage with customers right when it matters the most. SAS Marketing Automation will allow Produbanco to build meaningful campaigns in an automated, traceable and highly repeatable fashion.
In November, Produbanco introduced the digital tool Ahorro a Tu Gusto, which represents an exciting new way for customers to save. How does it work?
Ahorro a Tu Gusto is a digital tool designed to suit the clients, helping them to reach their financial goals in a flexible, simple and efficient manner through a variety of fixed or incremental saving modalities (daily, weekly, and monthly) with total flexibility in amounts, or by type of consumption with a card. It operates through digital channels such as its webpage (produbanco.com) or through the mobile app and is located in the My Savings option next to the functions of the programmed savings product called Meta Savings. Ahorro a Tu Gusto has a simulator that recommends the ideal type of contribution according to the financial situation of each person, even establishing incremental-savings options along the way.
November also saw Produbanco open its Business Centre Branch. What do you hope to achieve by creating such an initiative?
It is the first initiative of its kind in the country and represents an inspiring space to strengthen businesses, generate relationships, network and obtain financial advice while accompanied by a great cup of coffee. This innovative concept integrates within a banking branch collaborative co-working spaces, financial advice and a full-service cafeteria.
Another interesting pillar of the strategic plan is “commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility”. How specifically is the bank becoming a more sustainable institution?
The bank has joined as one of the founding signatories of UNEP Finance Initiative’s Principles for Responsible Banking by ratifying its strategic commitment and aligning its sustainable business approach with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. By adhering to the Principles for Responsible Banking, an innovative global partnership, Produbanco shares the view that “only in an inclusive society based on human dignity, equality, and sustainable use of natural resources can our clients and businesses prosper”. These principles establish the role and responsibility of the banking sector in shaping a sustainable future aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.
What is the single most significant way in which Produbanco is currently reducing its environmental footprint? Has the bank expanded its exposure to green projects?
The Ecuadorian financial system has been on this route towards sustainability and has led the way as a predominant stakeholder in this ecosystem. Produbanco has been a long-standing benchmark and shares the vision that only in an inclusive society based on human dignity, equality and the sustainable use of natural resources can its clients prosper and do business. Therefore, sustainability goes beyond statements; it is a fundamental strategic pillar in the management of the entity. With the formal incorporation of the “commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility” among its strategic pillars, Produbanco has incorporated sustainability both inside and out.
In this manner, Produbanco promotes internal practices such as in its environmental management or through its responsible banking culture. It carries out its carbon-footprint measurement every year and develops reduction plans based on saving energy and paper along with other facility-improvement initiatives as measures to make the institution more efficient and to help the environment.
As a complement and as a measure to streamline resources towards the urgent challenge of financing sustainable development, the Green Lines Program aims to finance activities with positive impacts on the environment. To date, more than 200 projects have been supported with a disbursement of more than $150 million. The program focuses on financing the efficient use of resources, sustainable production, efficient and environmentally clean technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable construction and efficient agricultural technology. A fundamental characteristic of this channelling of resources is that it must have impacts that are verifiable and that are effectively contributing to the environment.
In line with this program, and thinking about the community committed to the environment, the Produbanco Green Account aims for the funds raised to exclusively finance projects focused on environmental care and thereby to contribute to a more sustainable society. During the less than a year since its launch, more than 5,400 accounts of this green community committed to the environment have already been opened. In addition, Produbanco has initiated a process of promoting changes in a crosscutting manner throughout its value chain in order to promote sustainable consumption behaviours and options.
Produbanco has promoted and spearheaded transcendental changes not only for the financial system but also for sustainable development. It is essential to work as a society towards cultural change; it is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
So far in 2020, three Produbanco products and services have launched: Mobile Office, Child Account and Young Adult Account. Please highlight some of the key features of each.
As part of our strategy to be at the centre of our client’s needs, we presented two new digital accounts aimed at children and young adults in order to incorporate them from an early age into the dynamics of the financial system, to promote savings and to generate financial capacities, as well as to learn to manage their finances. These types of savings accounts are opened in a completely digital manner by the parents or guardians of the child, who can create them directly through Produbanco’s digital channels.
Produbanco implemented its first Mobile Office, an innovative banking office that will be mobilised to different points of the city of Guayaquil to bring financial services closer to citizens, offering personalised financial advice and digital assistance channels to make transactions with comfort and security. It is a novel way to provide a new experience in which the bank approaches customers by adapting to their needs.
This initiative was born out of an internal innovation contest that Produbanco promoted among its employees with the objective of developing new service concepts that fit the new needs of the clients to provide them with memorable experiences. Specialized teams from various areas implemented the winning idea, and thus we were able to create our first Mobile Office with the capacity to serve 14 people simultaneously, thus offering Produbanco’s services more closely.
It’s evident that Produbanco is sold out to its mission of putting the customer first. Thank you very much for your time today, Mr. Cuesta.