What are the main strengths of the fiduciary services industry in Colombia?
Without a doubt, the industry's main appeal is its maturity, which is what makes our clients trust us and feel safe. On the other hand, having robust regulations that cover tax, financial, and advertising issues, and set clear rules for us as managers have a positive impact and protect the interests of our investors. Our industry is monitored by the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia, which also promotes excellent practices. Currently, assets managed by trust companies account for about 60% of the country's GDP and play a key role in many types of projects nationwide. Finally, the industry has been evolving and adapting to global trends, especially in terms of the digitalization of financial products to facilitate access and optimize processes. These features make the sector competitive and prioritize end consumers.
What are your thoughts on Colombia's economic situation and the opportunities for Fiduoccidente in that regard?
In 2019, Colombia's economy performed well overall, with GDP growth of 3.3% amid a global and regional slowdown where the global economy grew at its lowest rate since the 2008 crisis. Investments in our country grew by 4.6%, a figure not seen since 2014. Measures such as the Tax Reform and the Development Plan involving 4G roadworks exceeded expectations, and the imports of machinery and construction equipment led to excellent results in terms of investment. At this time of strong economic outcomes and significant demand for development in infrastructure and other sectors, Fiduoccidente plays a role as a highly mature partner with the experience and credentials necessary to set up a highly favorable environment for investors and developers intending to bet on one of the driving industries in the Colombian economy: infrastructure.
How did Fiduoccidente evolve in 2019?
We significantly increased our assets under management in our mutual funds (FIC) by 25%. This increases our investors' confidence and is proof of our ability to meet our clients' specific needs and help them reach their goals. Additionally, we doubled profits compared to 2018, increased revenue by almost 15%, and established ourselves as one of the leading players in the private equity fund management industry in the country. We also strengthened our new strategic approach by market type, which allowed us to focus on clients over products. This strategy led to a 15% increase in our client base and the consolidation of an integrated business model with Banco de Occidente, our parent company. Through our digital transformation projects, we managed to position ourselves as a leading trust company. We achieved this through product launches, which included Fiduinversión, a digital platform that allows clients to trade between their funds and accounts. Finally, we obtained the ISO 27001 certification, which is vital in matters of client information security. We are the only financial institution in the country that has it.
What are Fiduoccidente's plans for 2020 and the upcoming years?
Our plans are to dream big and reach high-impact goals alongside individuals and businesses. We aim to increase the size of our FICs by about 10% and reach COP3 billion in assets under management in our private equity funds. We launched three unique new funds for the market that operate under a multi-fund structure. These funds, in turn, invest in other local or foreign funds. With this model, we can diversify the portfolio even further and offer access to different alternatives through a single product with interesting returns. In 2Q2020, we will launch the first digital initiative developed in Aval Digital Labs, which will allow clients to join us without the physical intervention of our sales team and without having to fill out any documents. In short, our plans for 2020 are to continue delivering our value proposition for our partners while strengthening it through new disruptive tools that involve an improvement in the experience and service we offer.