María Victoria Martabit of Banco de Chile describes how the bank’s social commitment goes beyond the numbers
In a globalised world, new threats can arise from anywhere and affect us all. This has been cruelly demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted every nation on the planet. We are currently witnessing an unprecedented public health crisis and it remains difficult to quantify the long-term social and economic effects. As in previous crises, the banking industry has a fundamental role to play as events unfold.
During 2019, Banco de Chile continued to lead the Chilean banking industry despite the complexities and uncertainties of our political, economic and social environment. However, achieving economic stability and financial strength requires an ecosystem that goes beyond numbers. It also involves the community, our political system, younger generations and their unique way of perceiving the world, and entrepreneurs with their growth-driving determination.
At Banco de Chile we understand this equation and have incorporated it into our business model. Each element of our strategy – customers, efficiency and productivity, and commitment to Chile – has supported our leading position in the local banking industry. This strategy has also enabled us to build strong foundations to operate sustainably, which is reflected in our results as well as in our ability to face difficult situations and maintain competitive levels to achieve our social objectives.
It was with great satisfaction that our sustainable business model was highlighted once again by The European, in the magazine’s Global Banking & Finance Awards 2019. We were recognised in three categories for Chile: “Bank of the Year”, “Innovative Digital Bank of the Year”, and “Best Bank for Financial Inclusion.” These awards acknowledge the relevant progress we have made in digital transformation and its contribution to our business.
As part of this transformation, we are transitioning toward a new service model that aims to support and add value for our customers, who are at the centre of everything we do. This process includes maximising efficiency, improving the customer experience and expanding our offering by facilitating access to a diverse range of products tailored to our customers’ needs. Furthermore – in line with our commitment to go beyond our core business interests – we actively promote inclusive initiatives among individuals who struggle to access the labour market, while working to increase female involvement at an executive level. Such initiatives reinforce our sustainable business model and represent our wider commitment to Chile.
Protecting small businesses
Against the current backdrop of change and uncertainty, the efforts that we must make as a bank in order to maintain Chile’s financial health have become far greater. This is partially reflected in what we have already achieved with small and micro enterprises throughout Chile, which have been especially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These efforts are especially important as nearly 97% of companies in Chile are SMEs and account for nearly 60% of total employment.
We are deeply committed to supporting Chile’s entrepreneurs – they are the driving force of the Chilean economy and need support to recover. We are determined to contribute to society in this challenging environment and are proud to have been the first bank to implement a national support plan for our retail banking and commercial customers. This plan includes a series of special measures to support our customers so they can cover their most urgent financial needs.
Using the word “Chile” in our brand name is an honour, and it commits us to work hard every day for the progress of this country. In over 125 years of history, we have witnessed Chile’s tremendous progress and are proud to be a part of its development in times of both economic prosperity and crisis. ν