Year: 2021

Winner: Banco de Bogotá

Alejandro Figueroa Jaramillo has worked at Colombia’s Banco de Bogotá’s since 1973 and has been its president since 1988. He says that if he has learned anything from 33 years at the helm of the bank, it is that Banco de Bogotá will not be the same institution in 2022.

“Making decisions swiftly is indispensable if a company wants to survive over the long term,” he says. “The key has been our capacity to adapt. This allowed us to respond quickly to the pandemic, the worst crisis we have faced as a bank, relying on our human talent, infrastructure and technology.”

Banco de Bogotá’s ability to change has allowed it to be a leader for more than 150 years and perform above expectations for its clients and shareholders during the pandemic-fueled crisis that began in March 2020 and continues today, albeit at a less deadly pace. Its response and across-the-board positive numbers won it the Bank of the Year award for Colombia.

The bank’s total loans increased by 2.9% in the 12 months ending in June 2021. Deposits were up by 7% during that period, while total assets grew by 1.6% and new profits were up by a strong 12.7%. This final number compares to a 22.8% drop during the same period a year earlier.

Past due loans were 3.3%, which is quite good given that 36.4% of its customers with outstanding loans took part in one of the credit relief programs the bank offered during the crisis. Banco de Bogotá also stepped up to work with the government in its “United for Colombia” relief program, providing 60% of the government-backed disbursements to more than 7,000 medium and large companies, and 17,000 small companies and microenterprises.

“At Banco de Bogotá we designed measures to mitigate the economic and social impact caused by Covid-19,” says Figueroa Jaramillo. “Innovation and experience combined to make our response successful.”

Banco de Bogotá expects the changes implemented during the pandemic, as well as Colombia’s economic recovery, to help it continue to build its brand in the coming years.

Colombia’s economy shrank by 6.8% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Fund is forecasting a rebound of 7.6% this year, and 3.8% for 2022.

The Colombian government anticipates growth above 4% in 2022, according to its annual budget for next year. The budget was approved in late October by the Senate. Moody’s Investors Service forecasts a solid performance next year. The agency reaffirmed Colombia’s Baa2 rating in early October, pointing to the recovery in 2021 and stating that “growth will remain robust in the coming years.”

Figueroa Jaramillo says that if the economy grows by 4%, Banco de Bogotá should see growth at 9% or above.

The bank anticipates strong growth in housing, with mortgage loans growing by double digits. Part of this is a result of the recuperation, but part is also Banco de Bogotá’s low stake in the market. It currently has around 6% of the mortgage market.

In addition to mortgages, the bank also has new products for builders, offering lines of credit with preferential rates for buildings with sustainable certification.

Growth will also come from technology. While the bank had embarked on digitalization prior to the pandemic, the upheaval spurred it forward. Over the past year, 65% of the bank’s clients conducted a monetary transaction digitally.

The newest endeavor is dale!, a fully digital platform launched in 2020 by the bank’s parent company, Grupo Aval. Banco de Bogotá will begin promoting it widely for electronical payments and deposits.

“We do not want to be a bank with digital products, but a digital bank,” says Figueroa Jaramillo.

“Making decisions swiftly is indispensable if a company wants to survive over the long term”  Alejandro Figueroa Jaramillo, Banco de Bogotá