Banker of the year: The unstoppable Francisco González
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BANKING

Banker of the year: The unstoppable Francisco González

BBVA’s executive chairman has thrown himself into every challenge he has faced in a career spanning more than 50 years. Now Francisco González is focused on what that future will actually be. ‘Platform as a service’ does not trip off the tongue as a killer phrase to describe the future of banking, but the visionary that other bank CEOs flock to for insights into the transformation of their industry sees it as the destination for winning banks.

BBVA Gonzalez-400

Illustration: Andrew Archer

As 600 senior bankers at Euromoney’s 2016 awards for excellence dinner at the Tower of London digested each other’s views on the likely fallout from Brexit last month, it fell to Francisco González, executive chairman of BBVA, to remind them of a much bigger, more profound and pressing concern than the short-term volatility of sterling, the capital needs of Italian banks or the status of London as Europe’s financial capital.

Picking up Euromoney’s award as banker of the year for 2016, one bestowed in large part for his relentless drive to put BBVA in the vanguard of the digital transformation of banking, González reminded his peers that deploying new technology is much more than a differentiator between winning banks, with the cleverest apps and most robust back offices, and the laggards. 

It is now an existential question for the whole industry: will banks even survive? González thinks that the industry will – at least in some form – but that many of today’s leading banks will not. Those that fail to adapt to the world of big data, artificial intelligence, robotic software, cloud computing, blockchain, biometrics and the rest, will die, he told his audience.