WE CAN DO IT ON OUR OWN

Panama 2015 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Aimeé Sentmat de Grimaldo, President of Banistmo, on the health of the financial sector, e-banking and other new services, and market challenges.

Aimeé Sentmat de Grimaldo
BIOGRAPHY
Aimeé Sentmat de Grimaldo has over 20 years of experience in the financial sector. She holds a degree in Finance from Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University. Before assuming her current position, she worked at HSBC as Chief of Commercial Banking.

What are the main features of the financial market in Panama?

The finance sector is a key player in the national economy of Panama, a country that plays a leading role in the region. Current figures and data show that this is a robust and solid finance sector. The sector has the capability of supporting the development of the country regardless of the fact of not having a central bank. In a way, this has been an advantage, for we have been a conservative sector and such an attitude has paid off. As there is no such institution developing monetary policies in Panama, this is something the sector does on its own. The non-performing loans ratio is below 1.2% in a sector with over 100 players and 49 banks having general licenses, figures unmatched region-wide. Having a well-capitalized sector is important within the current development perspective of the country. Growth expectations are highly positive for Panama. After years of fast growth, expected rates are higher than the region average, and certain players in the finance sector are growing at larger rates than the national economy.

What are the challenges ahead?

The ongoing globalization of markets and economies represent a challenge for developing countries such as Panama. Our standards have to be highly competitive in order to integrate fully into global markets. Our goal is to become the leading finance industry in the Latin American region. To succeed, we need to change the rules of the game. As we bring standards up to international levels and accommodate public policies, Panama looks to become a financial hub for the region, attracting investment from new players. YoY the Panamanian economy readily meets new challenges and implements more robust risk controls.

How much is the bank investing in e-banking to improve the efficiency of its operations and consequently to enhance the quality of its service?

Human resources and new technologies play a key role in our strategy. During the first 18 months of activity in Panama, we focused on having control over the operating platforms of Banistmo. In 2015, we started offering new services such as e-platform to our clients. Our strategy is to be more available to our clients wherever they are and to meet their needs. We continue working to innovate to provide the best solutions and services.

As a leading universal bank, what specific sector are you targeting to consolidate your presence and to widen your share in the local market?

We are a universal bank; therefore, we focus on all sectors. However, we now prioritize provision of services and products with high added value. For example, we are offering banking products to teenagers, and we wish to support their professional development and personal growth as clients of Banistmo. We also have high levels of market penetration in retail, however; there are still improvements that can be made in the SME sector. We have a strong sense of social responsibility and we invest in nature preservation. We aim at developing a sustainable business operation by promoting a saving culture amongst young citizens. We are ready to work closer with all the key economic sectors in this country.

What are your main short-term objectives?

Our goal for 2015 is to continue implementing the strategy we set up last year; to continue supporting national development and the advancement of its main economic sectors such as construction, agribusiness, Free Trade Zones and commerce. Our target is to provide the support the country needs to keep improving its competitive levels.