Meet Javier Rodríguez Soler: President and CEO of BBVA USA and U.S. country manager for the BBVA Group.
I first introduced Javier to you all through Tech Tuesday in November of 2019 – his first year on the job as President and CEO of BBVA USA. Since then, he has found himself navigating the U.S. subsidiary of global financial services group BBVA through an unprecedented global pandemic, even as he launched a new five-year strategic plan to guide the bank’s growth.
In this next installment, I wanted to catch up with Javier to get his thoughts on the state of digital and banking during a global pandemic, how his first 18 months on the job have gone, and why he believes that the bank’s new strategic direction is more relevant than ever.
#TechTuesday Highlight #66: Javier Rodriguez Soler, BBVA USA President, and CEO
How/why did you get into your space?
BBVA is one of the most international banks of the world. Most banks just operate in one country while BBVA operates in 30 markets and in 10 of them as a full-fledged universal bank. Having spent 10 years at the helm of mergers and acquisitions for the bank, I have had the privilege of knowing all our franchises around the world, and as a result, was in a good position to give new vigor to our bank in the USA, while connecting with our headquarters in Madrid and with the rest of our banks in Mexico, Europe, and Latin America.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
I started in the tech ecosystem about a decade ago when I came to San Francisco to interview a few individuals who were working and investing in the space that was later known as fintech – a term that did not exist at the time. As a result of that trip, BBVA hired Jay Reinemann who went on to become the founding partner of the VC fund known then as BBVA Ventures and now is Propel Venture Partners. At that time, BBVA opened an office in San Francisco, knowing how important a role the city plays in technology, and from that office, we have centralized many of our partnership and innovation initiatives.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Technology has impacted nearly every aspect of the financial industry, from the rise of online banking to mobile banking and disruptors who have come in and taken pieces of the traditional banking value chain. When fintech first began in earnest, I think it took many in the industry by surprise – who were these upstarts pulling customers from banks – and in large numbers? But, this revolution that has been impacting the industry for decades at this point, has been hugely beneficial because it made the industry understand that customers have a preference, and those that come in and focus on delivering the type of experience for which customers are looking, will be the winners in the long term. Banking today, especially today, is not the same as banking five, ten, and fifteen years ago – and as we all work through the implications of the pandemic, it will likely make yet another shift. In that, the customer wins.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
Data, no doubt. We are living a true revolution in the possibilities that AI and data usage may give to individuals and companies. Have we always had data? Yes, absolutely. But, with the advent of technology, we are better able to leverage the potential of these mass amounts of data in ways that will benefit customers and provide them with the ability to make good decisions about their money, and in the process achieve their goals.
Our Chairman Carlos Torres Vila has spoken and written about this, and we believe fully in customers right to their data, and further, their right to say how and when it is used. Data, and the use of data, represent the next big opportunity for both a revolution and a way of better serving customers.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into your space?
While I wrote this response last year, we cannot deny that the importance of digital and technology is more important than ever in serving customers. The pandemic – and the new ways we are all interacting – have made that abundantly clear. So, I maintain that it’s so important for those who want to be part of the revolution happening in finance through technology to never forget that everything we have been talking about, from technology to data and innovation, has a single purpose – serving customers better. Today, the proper use of new technology allows banks like BBVA to serve all individuals – including those in low- and moderate-income segments – and all companies, from the smallest to the largest, in ways that previously only the biggest and wealthiest corporations could just five to ten years ago. Technology has become the great equalizer, and with it, we can serve all people better than ever before.
Anything else we should know?
BBVA has been at the forefront of the digital transformation of the industry for many years, and I couldn’t be happier to have a seat in front by being at the helm of the US bank in a market with so much potential and so many forward-looking thinkers.
Have thoughts on this week’s trends or questions for me or Javier? Post your thoughts in the comment section or share them on Twitter. Please include the hashtag #techtuesday and mention me @ScarlettSieber! Until next week. 🙂
You can connect with Javier on LinkedIn.
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