The relatively low – and narrow – fiscal base will compound the challenge to mitigate the depth of a coronavirus recession, but advances in regional growth in recent years give grounds for optimism. Where previously all countries tended to look outside the region (and mostly north to the US) for growth, intra-regional commerce has been spurred by the development of regional banking groups.
The largest of these regional banks is still BAC International Bank, the winner of the region’s best bank award again this year. The bank, led by chief executive Rodolfo Tabash, is a leader across markets, competing strongly where it doesn’t dominate, while its performance in aggregate is the benchmark for the other local banking groups.
The development of the bank’s strategy in 2017 has led to greater integration, beyond its new consistent branding: the deployment of a single digital platform has leveraged development costs throughout the markets in which it operates.
The strategy continues to evolve. Last year the bank worked on 16 pan-regional harmonization projects and rolled out its new branch concept in three countries.
BAC retained its position as the largest bank in the region, with total assets of $24.5 billion (a 71 basis point increase in market share), a loan portfolio of $17 billion (up 86bp) and total deposits of $17.6 billion (141bp).
The bank grew its pre-tax profits by 17.3% in 2019 (on a currency adjusted basis) to $578 million, and since the turn of the century it has grown earnings by a compound annual growth rate of 11.1%. In 2019 the return on equity was 14.9%, while return on assets was 1.8%.