Opinion |  Banking returns to pre-Covid levels with a model in decline

In the end, the Government carried out its threat and has even gone to the kitchen at BBVA and CaixaBank. Both the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Economy have decided to act and become directly involved in the Employment Regulation Files (ERE) of both banks. I work by sending two letters to both entities and to the representatives of the workers in which it requires the two banks to be “strictly respectful of the formalities and, especially, with each of the contents set forth in the applicable regulations.”

The objective is to reduce the number of layoffs that, between the two companies add about 11,500 exits.

These types of actions are atypical, and can create a precedent at least unusual, since until now neither of the two entities have violated, it is assumed, any rule in their negotiation process to carry out their respective ERE. Another thing is that the ministry, as well as the staff, as well as society in general, the number of dismissals at one stroke may seem very high, but that is another story.

It is also surprising that it interferes in a matter that corresponds to private companies, although some justification can be found in the case of CaixaBank, an entity in which the State controls 16.1% of its capital and is the second shareholder. It may also be partly justified by the surprising number of planned departures, 8,300, which would be reduced by 500 if the proposal to relocate this number of employees to group subsidiaries is accepted.

But in the case of BBVA, the warning is more shocking. And with this I do not mean that CaixaBank is accredited.

El Corte Inglés is given another two months to decide on the future of its debut in the investment fund business

The bank chaired by Carlos Torres is the first ERE that he carries out. It affects 3,800 employees, a number that can be reduced by 350 due to the offer to relocate these employees to the group. Layoffs are also high, but recently another large financial group launched another similar ERE, and no one raised their voice, and this entity in question already has practice in making adjustments. Of course, the compensation paid by this last bank is much higher than the one proposed on this occasion by BBVA and CaixaBank.

In addition, the departures are totally voluntary and carried out mainly with early retirement from the age of 50.

Economy has also entered, and fully, in the Caixabank adjustment process and has led by example. The economic vice president of the Government, Nadia Calviño, has been criticizing these EREs for weeks, and the high salaries that bankers receive, especially in times of lean cows for the sector. And said and done. The FROB, a body dependent on the Economy and holder of 16.1% of CaixaBank’s capital, voted on Friday at the entity’s meeting against raising the salaries of the bank’s board, including that of its new President, José Ignacio Goirigolzarri.

Of course, this vote is consistent with Calviño’s criticisms, but I do not know if with his attitude in the CaixaBank boards on which he is sitting and in which these proposals for salary increases had already been discussed some time ago. Perhaps the FROB also expressed its refusal and perhaps even before Calviño. Can. In fact, according to speculation, the FROB would have abstained in the votes of the council in which it submitted the remuneration for approval.

But changing the subject. The results of the first quarter of the banking have confirmed the recovery of the Covid sector. Even mortgage marketing records have been broken and consumption has started to pick up, albeit still tentatively overall. Spending with a card has surprisingly hit an acceleration that has surprised the odd banker. Precisely one of these executives commented last week that a few days ago he had seen how the payment with cards had skyrocketed, so much that it already far exceeded its use before the pandemic. “And that there are still confinements and that the expense that foreigners make in Spain is not included because there are hardly any tourists,” he stressed.

The bank is also recovering ground on the stock market. There are entities that are exceeding the most optimistic forecasts, as is the case of Sabadell. It seems that these companies have overcome the pandemic and have already been immunized against Covid, well, at least for a season, because the truth is that the sector and the Bank of Spain do not tire of repeating that uncertainties remain. It is not known how the elimination of the government’s palliative measures may affect the productive fabric in time. If companies fall, and especially SMEs, delinquencies will skyrocket and hit the heart of the financial system. But let’s hope this doesn’t happen.

What is happening is the change of model in banking. The current one is out of date, or so the experts say. You do not need so many offices, and that not even half of the ones that were a decade ago remain. Digitization is imposed. So much so that there are traditional banks that recognize that they either renew or die, and renewal means transforming into a gigantic platform that offers a wide range of products and services worldwide. The ‘Amazons’ of banking.

The Bank of Spain already warned on Thursday in its annual report about the increasing danger of competition in banking from ‘big tech’. Goirigolzarri did the same at the shareholders meeting on Friday. He said that already in 2019 40% of financing in Europe came from non-bank competitors. BBVA, meanwhile, assured a few days before, in the presentation of its results, that more than 50% of its operations were carried out in Spain digitally, and office sales had fallen in the same proportion in two years. The revolution is served.

And while, El Corte Inglés, has chosen to delay two more months its decision on the business partner that seeks to manufacture investment funds that they would distribute.


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