What have you helped to change in Costa Rica regarding financial systems?
As chairman of CONASSIF, I have worked to make the financial regulation clearer and more technically robust, always keeping in mind the welfare of the financial consumer. In detail, I have been passionate about the strengthening of the corporate governance of all financial regulated firms. However, there is still a long way to cover on this topic.
What is the feedback from your private sector experience?
A large part of my life was spent in the private sector. Public and private participants can work together, within known PPPs. This is an excellent platform to develop business in Costa Rica. For example, some of the country's greatest needs are related to infrastructure such as roads, trains, and airports, and financial-economic PPPs can help to match funding in order to create new products and achieve common objectives.
What are some barriers in making the above happen?
Bureaucracy, which is often found in the mid-level of organizations, is one key barrier. We have to do our best in order to change this mentality. If we bring suitable people with innovative views and attitudes to public and private institutions, then we can advance quicker and go further.
Which sectors are contributing to financial growth for the country?
The four sectors that we supervise—banking, securities, pensions, and insurance—contribute to financial growth. Nonetheless, the banking assets represent a figure close to 100% of the country's GDP. In addition, the insurance sector shows consistent growth, although it is a recent—less than 10 years—competitive market in the country.
What would you like to achieve at CONASSIF?
I would like to see a country that facilitates new business. I would like to attain clearer legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as more opportunities from financial institutions with the same conditions as international suppliers. We have been given valuable factors in Costa Rica, such as education, health and financial-economic stability, and these elements act as a great base to invite business into Costa Rica.
How can the country's financial system be brought closer to international best practices?
The private sector has to play a relevant role. If the government is the only one trying to make this happen, it will not work. The private sector has an important role to play, not only in the financial sector. We are in a great position in the Central America region, with comparatively strong economic conditions to develop financial-economic opportunities. One of our greatest challenges is how to change ingrained mentalities to seek that one plus one be more than two. Moreover, private and public education has to change as well; the situation today is different than what it was 40 years ago, and the curriculum needs to be updated. Our legal framework also has to modernize; some of the legal and regulatory framework is old and needs to be updated to the 21st century. Finally, the financial system needs to be able to find, train, and keep suitable professionals to grow and make valuable things happen.