CFI.co Meets the CEO of Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz: Alberto Valdés Andreatta
Mr Valdés Andreatta, CEO of Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz (BMSC), was born on March 21, 1966 in Bolivia’s capital city La Paz. After finishing high school in 1983, he attended Utah State University (USU) in Logan, Utah where he obtained a BS degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. From here Mr Valdés Andreatta went on to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, Pasadena) to pursue a master’s degree. He graduated in 1988 with honours (cum laude).
From the beginning of his professional life, Mr Valdés Andreatta has worked in both the public and private sectors. During the late 1980s, and in the first half of the 1990s, he was employed at different governmental agencies dedicated to the building and maintenance of the country’s infrastructure. Later, Mr Valdés Andreatta was appointed vice-minister at the Ministry of Planning and Finance.
During the latter part of the 1990s, Mr Valdés Andreatta joined Banco Mercantil as the manager of its La Paz branch. From here he went on to become the bank’s finance manager. In 2006, Mr Valdés Andreatta was named chief financial officer (CFO). From this perch, he coordinated the merger process resulting from the acquisition of Banco Santa Cruz.
In 2009, Mr Valdés Andreatta was appointed CEO of the Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz he had helped shape. Now at the head of Bolivia’s largest bank, Mr Valdés Andreatta has permeated his personal values of hard work, coupled to integrity and a highly developed sense of ethics, throughout the entire organization.
Currently, Alberto Valdés continues to lead the bank as not just the largest but also the strongest and most financially solid financial institution in Bolivia. However, challenges remain such as the implementation of an open door culture that will further improve customer service. He also is charged with plotting the expansion of the bank’s reach to include the more remote rural areas of the country.
Mr Valdés Andreatta seeks to keep his bank at the forefront of technological innovation without the institution losing sight of its human dimension in the process. He is confident that Bolivia’s recent spurt of economic growth and development can be sustained over time. This confidence is shared by the bank’s more than thousand shareholders who recently agreed to boost its capital in order to better respond to the opportunities ahead. Over 75% of the bank’s profits were ploughed back into the business to bolster its capacity to respond to the economic upswing.
Though coming from behind, Bolivia is fast catching up with macro-economic numbers that warrant optimism and have never before been seen in the country’s history. The government recently succeeded in eliminating all deficit spending and is now moving toward a budget surplus. The trade balance is in the black with the country’s exports increasing to $8 billion contributing to record levels of foreign reserves – some $12 billion held at the nation’s central bank. GDP growth amounts to 5% while inflation was largely kept in check.
“We are now poised for economic take-off with a government that is fully committed to a growth agenda. At BMSC we are uniquely positioned to contribute to this accelerated growth and reap its benefits,” says Mr Valdés Andreatta.
Rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s awarded BMSC their highest score of AAA for the bank´s domestic operations. Internationally the bank cannot outscore its home country’s rating which recently was notched up a few steps to B+. “This improved rating now enables us to attract foreign clients who are looking to do business in Bolivia and need a serious partner to do so. In Bolivia, we are by far the best and most experienced and agile partner any business could possibly wish for,” assures Mr Valdés Andreatta who predicts good times ahead and, indeed, for the foreseeable future.