If Ignacio Jaquotot had designed a career path to equip himself with the experience, insight and flexibility to head the international network of one of the eurozone’s largest banks, it would probably have looked remarkably like the one he has taken.
He joined the Legal Office of the Madrid Branch of Banca Commerciale Italiana later becoming manager of the one in Barcelona. In 1994 he returned to Madrid as deputy general manager of the branch.
After he joined the group, Jaquotot started following Italian media to learn more about the country’s politics, culture and, most of all, its banking market which was then populated by thousands of savings and cooperative banks and a few state-owned institutes. He also travelled widely and did everything he could to expand his horizons.
The Zaragoza-born manager was aware of the challenge he was undertaking.
"It was a very competitive environment in Spain at the time especially for a foreign-owned bank among a crowd of successful local banks. Fortunately, we were able to design a winning customer proposition for large corporate customers overcoming the local banks"
The long apprenticeship served its purpose because, in 1999, Jaquotot was sent to the then active Latin American operations, becoming general manager in Uruguay and subsequently in Chile and Paraguay where he restructured the operations and took a leading role in the sale of the assets.
In Italy, by 2005, the group he had joined 20 years earlier had been transformed by consolidation and had shifted the focus to emerging Europe. Jaquotot became that year Deputy CEO and two years later CEO of VUB Banka in Slovakia, Intesa Sanpaolo’s largest foreign subsidiary.
He was subsequently appointed to be head of Intesa Sanpaolo’s International Subsidiary Banks Division in October 2013 and for the first time in his career came to work in Italy.
A vast international reach
Jaquotot is in charge of an international network which provides expertise, advice and high-quality financial services through around 1,100 branches in 12 countries with 8 million clients.
The largest area is in central Europe, but Intesa Sanpaolo also has important subsidiaries in Russia and Egypt.
"In central Europe, there are similarities and we try to learn from one country what works, what is appreciated and try it elsewhere." Jaquotot says.
Intesa Sanpaolo owns a bank in Egypt that has the largest privately owned physical branch network. It has invested heavily in operating systems and infrastructure.
It has become one of the most advanced for risk management and is able to provide an innovative range of services.
The evolution of banking
Over the years, banking has been transformed by technology and this has benefited European groups looking to offer products and services outside their home markets.
The once dominant physical presence of the branch is fading fast. “It has become a different relationship with retails clients. They actually have more contact but choose how, when this will be and through which channel,” he notes.
Corporate clients have a different relationship. Intesa Sanpaolo looks to facilitate the arrival of a company in a new market whether they be Italian clients or international.
“The multinational companies want our services because of our knowledge of these markets and our capacity to maintain the stability of their businesses.”
Intesa Sanpaolo has common logo for all banks in the group so the visual identity is the same although individual subsidiaries may choose to keep the name of the local bank. “We want to be seen as a big, solid international group but perceived as a local bank for the products and services we offer,” Jaquotot points out.
He stresses the importance of what he calls “an Italian flavour” to his network’s banking. He identifies this as contact with the person in whatever form it takes and the pleasure of doing things well, a determination to uphold quality.
“Sometimes we do not realise just how much the bank is appreciated by its clients for the range of innovative products and services,” Jaquotot says.
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