In 1998 Grupo Bancolombia established its leadership position within Colombia’s financial services industry with the fusion of Banco de Colombia and Banco Industrial Colombiano. Today, the institution has 7 million clients and is the largest and most important financial entity in the country. “We aim to contribute to an economically prosperous, environmentally sound, and socially responsible Colombia,” says Carlos Raúl Yepes, President of Grupo Bancolombia.
In the current era of transition to a low-carbon economy, Bancolombia’s commitment to sustaining the environment is even reflected in the company’s office and building structures. Its main offices in Medellín – one of the architectural highlights of the city – was recently awarded for its environmentally friendly design, becoming the only building in Colombia to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, and the second in all Latin America.
From a more commercial standpoint, Mr. Yepes highlights Bancolombia’s support for environmentally sympathetic schemes with its distinguished product range designed specifically for green activities, saying: “We have special credit lines oriented at environmental projects, with subsidized and longer term interest rates.”
With offices in Miami, Panama, Puerto Rico and Peru, expansion continues to be a key priority in Bancolombia’s agenda. “There are many ways of being present, not just necessarily by buying banks. It can also be by giving out loans, as we are doing in Guatemala,” says Mr. Yepes.
We told President Juan Manuel Santos that if he has five engines of growth, we are the fuel.
Carlos Raúl Yepes,
President of Grupo Bancolombia
Bancolombia’s moves are strategically designed to ensure the best development results for the company. Its focus is concentrated on leading institutions in their respective markets, with good corporate governance and transparency, in countries with economic stability and a well-established legal framework.
“A company like ours must have internationalization included in its strategic agenda. We have done so. We have had an office in Panama for 40 years, our stock has been listed in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for 17 years, and seven years ago we bought Banco Agrícola in El Salvador,” says the president. Making history
Mr. Yepes considers himself an optimist, and it is with this positive outlook and drive that Bancolombia has gone down in history books. In 1995, it was the first Colombian company to enter the U.S. market and since listing on the NYSE that year its stock prices grew threefold and it is now 17 times larger.
Moreover, Bancolombia obtained $993 million following an international stock issuance earlier this year. This move was the first of its kind and dimensions ever in Latin America.
The prosperity of Bancolombia is accentuated as the financial entity’s president recalls his beginnings within the company: “I started working in this organization in 1993, and I remember that in 1995 we went to register the American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in New York. It was very difficult to register a small bank, called Banco Industrial Colombiano, Medellín, for $72 million. Today, 17 years later, thanks to the coherence of our strategy and its rigorous implementation, we are able to invest $1 billion in three hours, as we did on January 5, 2011.”Increasing competition
With an increase in Colombia’s middle class, the country is now being targeted as the destination of choice of international banking entities. This trend will undoubtedly increase competition and benefit consumers, who will have a wider array of choices and products to suit their needs. The influx, however, doesn’t seem to worry Mr. Yepes too much. “Competition is welcome,” he says. “We are prepared to receive it with open arms.”
Posiblemente el banco con más potencial de LatAm ahora mismo..