PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Colombia 2019 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Alianza is investing in technology to take advantage of a growing Colombian financial sector that is set to see the emergence of more sophisticated investment products.

Gabriel Uribe
BIOGRAPHY
Gabriel Uribe holds a degree in economics from the Universidad Javeriana and a PhD in Banking from Universidad de los Andes. He has previously served in leadership positions in top firms in the sector including Banco Santander, Bancolombia, and Megabanco.

How has 2018 been for the company?
It has been a good year, and the company has experienced double-digit growth in both managed assets, collective investment funds, and trust assets. Our generation of EBITDA also continues to experience double-digit growth, and this is a trend that we have maintained steady over the past five years, which is a huge achievement. On the other hand, it has not been a good year for the industry as due to the country's political situation, the economy has been showing signs of overheating. At present, we feel that the business climate is waking up again. Overall, 2018 has been a good year considering the circumstances. Alianza has taken advantage of a slow year to lay the foundations of transforming its business.

What do you mean by “laying foundations"?
The asset management business in Colombia is a business that is still incipient at a general level. The assets under management of collective investment funds in Colombia represent around 9% of GDP, while in developed countries it exceeds 50%. This means that the evolution of the channels of attention we use to reach our customers, the way in which we relate to them through digital means, and the type of value on offer are things that have to change. They have to change in an accelerated way for collective investment funds to grow exponentially, growing the appetite of our target market. To this end, we are starting a series of transformations within the company, and we are striving to make change constant. According to our analyses, the demands and our customers will multiply in the coming years, and we must be prepared for that.

How do you evaluate the growth of human capital in Colombia's financial sector?
Colombia has great human capital. The competitive advantage we have compared to other Latin American markets is the quality of people who work in Colombia. The Colombian labor market is still global, so there are people in our investment tables who have had experience in JP Morgan in New York as well as experiences in large consultancies in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico. Human capital is just as globalized as the supply of products and demand; therefore, retaining human capital is a growing challenge.

What is the profile of companies that come to Alianza for their financial needs?
We have a profile of companies that range from large multinationals to whom we provide investment services, cash management, foreign trade, to small local companies for whom we provide the same range of services but modulated in terms of what type of operations are carried out. The interesting thing is that all modern companies are consuming the same services and have been driven by the evolution of competition and regulation, which is why the same range of services are consumed regardless of the size of the client.

How has Alianza evolved with respect to technology?
According to our vision, the digital world will handle 90% of the relationship with the client in the next five years. What we are doing is investing significant capital to carry out a project that will allow Alianza to lead the market in the next two to three years.

What can we expect from Alianza in 2019 and the following years?
Sustained growth based on an excellent offer of value for our clients in the different lines we operate, and an improvement in the digital offer for our entire range of clients. If we aim to double the size of the business between 2018 and 2023, similar to what we did between 2014 and 2018, Alianza has to be at the top of the table.