Bank Interview: João Carlos Gomes da Silva, Bradesco

Published: Oct 2012

From supporting sporting initiatives to a real focus on sustainability, in this interview, João Carlos Gomes da Silva, Head of Cash Management at Bradesco outlines the bank’s strengths, strategies and future plans.

João Carlos Gomes da Silva

Head of Cash Management

João Carlos joined Bradesco in 1981 and became Head of Cash Management in 2011. He is currently responsible for the development of cash management products as well as cash management sales. He has vast experience in retail banking and the middle market, and has held several roles within the bank. João Carlos has a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from FAE – São Paulo, MBA in Business Management and MBA in Business Management with an emphasis in Banking from FGV – Fundação Getúlio Vargas and an MBA in Corporate Finance from USP – Universidade de São Paulo.

What are the major challenges corporates face when setting up treasury operations in Brazil?

Brazil is a country with continental geographic dimensions. There is great ethnic, religious and cultural diversity which, in a certain way, is reflected in the way Brazilians do business. Brazil’s dimensions demand a robust and diverse financial and regulatory structure. The Brazilian taxation system, for example, comprises of three different levels – federal, state and municipal – as well as other direct and indirect taxes and contributions. I believe that understanding this structure is crucial for corporates to effectively manage their cash and provide the necessary capital to keep their treasury up and running. It is also essential to note that corporates will find a positive macroeconomic environment here based on the country’s stability.

How can working with a local bank help to overcome these challenges?

There are many potential advantages that corporates could get by working with a local bank. Only local banks can provide a massive national footprint. Currently, Bradesco has more than 85,000 points of presence in Brazil, including branches, on-site branches and ATMs. This extensive country coverage enables us to be close to our corporate clients and to provide their financial supply chain with suitable banking solutions. In terms of tax collection, for example, local banks such as Bradesco (which has several agreements in place with government institutions) can offer a more comprehensive coverage for federal, state and municipal taxes. This enables us to collect different types of taxes in almost 100% of the country. Equally important is our deep knowledge of the Brazilian market, not only for banking, but also for the legal aspects of the market and business infrastructure.

Which corporate treasury areas do you think will be the main focus in the near future?

An increasing number of corporates with shared service centres (SSCs) and payment factories across the region have been looking for system and operational standardisation. Most of these corporates are looking to implement a SWIFT connection as it enables corporates to automate and standardise financial transactions, thus lowering costs, reducing operational risk and eliminating inefficiencies in their operations.

Cash management is another area that has been gaining importance in the everyday work of corporate treasurers. I believe that its importance will only increase in the near future given that optimising cash and improving flows of payments and collections, as well as enhancing the quality of financial information received from banks, has been a constant concern for treasurers operating both locally and regionally, or indeed globally.

Portrait of João Carlos Gomes da Silva

We offer a varied portfolio of products and services that cater to different needs on a personalised basis, including payments, billing, payroll, bank reconciliation, credit cards, investments, credit facilities, and many other solutions.

What competitive edge does Bradesco have in terms of cash management solutions?

Bradesco is one of the market leaders in cash management services, mainly for the local market. We have partnerships with bakeries, pharmacies and other small shops in very far flung regions of Brazil like Acre and Amazon in order to provide them with facilities – Bradesco Expresso is the name of this initiative.

In addition, we offer a varied portfolio of products and services that cater to different needs on a personalised basis, including payments, billing, payroll, bank reconciliation, credit cards, investments, credit facilities, and many other solutions. Most importantly, this is all done electronically and securely to further facilitate our customers’ everyday business. This is an extremely important feature for our corporate clients.

Following the trend of increasing globalisation, Bradesco has partnered with 33 international banks that also specialise in cash management. Moreover, we are the only Latin American bank to join the Connector, an international network of banks providing cash management services. The network currently has 15 banks covering all five continents, with more than 30,000 branches.

What is Bradesco’s strategy for serving global customers?

As we are essentially a local bank, we do not have a global footprint as such. However, the primary objective of Bradesco’s strategy is to track income growth, adjusting its business model for continuity and renewal practice, while encouraging the creation of new sources of prosperity. Our presence reaches beyond Brazil’s borders and out into the world of globalisation.

Internally, Bradesco is a Brazilian bank par excellence, but internationally it is a kind of compass pointer for internationalising our clients’ business ventures. Our presence in New York gave rise to Bradesco America; in Luxembourg, to Bradesco Continental Europe; in London, to Bradesco United Kingdom; and in Hong Kong, to Bradesco Asia. We also have partnerships with international banks for both foreign trade and cash management.

The secret lies in our founding philosophy: being close to your customer. Big banks want to be strong in their home countries and have global reach, but the strategy for achieving this is to always support your customer. Historically, this has been the method for ensuring harmonious relations between training qualified personnel and technological development.

A recurring topic of discussion in today’s world is sustainability. How can you ensure continuing growth with sustainability? And how important is sustainability to Bradesco?

The first commitment to sustainability is made with the bank’s balance sheet. Since the numbers are increasingly healthy, sustainability has spread to all the business in which Bradesco has a presence. This is where our recognition comes from.

Today Bradesco acts as a benchmark for sustainability as one of the six Brazilian companies in the select group of 318 global companies comprising the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, thanks to our economic, environmental and social results.

We gained this recognition in 2006. Bradesco has also been rated AAA + by Management & Excellence, a reputable research firm based in Madrid, for meeting global standards of sustainability, corporate governance, social responsibility, ethics and transparency.

Previously, the bank’s commitment to sustainability was reflected in the inclusion of Bradesco’s initiatives in the BM&FBOVESPA Corporate Sustainability Index, the UN Global Compact, and the Equator Principles, which analyses and monitors the working conditions and the community and environmental impacts of projects, following Brazilian legislation and International Finance Corporation standards and criteria. These achievements are associated with quality management.

The practical equivalence of sustainability principles is crucial for Bradesco’s business. The overall premise is that there are three pillars of sustainability: sustainable finance, responsible management and social and environmental Investments. These are the cornerstones of Bradesco’s increasingly extensive presence and the growth of our customer base, quality loans, and products and services.

What are the basic competencies required to reach this level of sustainability?

It is important to emphasise financial education initiatives, using suppliers that practice responsible social and environmental management, and the proposal to grow along with Brazilians. In general, the greater the bank’s presence, the greater the concern for ensuring best practice in business and in society. At the most basic level, an essential competency is communication with staff, which involves building a centre for sustainability across different departments.

This is a crucial factor for success, since it guides the bank’s initiatives for different consumers, and different products and services. In short, sustainability is synonymous with responsibility. We never fail to take into account the financial challenges that many areas of Brazil face.

Portrait of João Carlos Gomes da Silva

Bradesco’s position has always been one of believing in Brazil and in the strength of the Brazilian people, so much so that we will be one of the major sponsors of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

In the next few years, Brazil will be hosting major sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. A lot of investment is likely to come into the country from abroad. How is Bradesco preparing to meet this demand and what are the main challenges?

I believe Brazil is already tackling the challenges of hosting these major sporting events. The main challenges are to put adequate infrastructure in place to host the events and welcome the thousands of tourists who will be coming here for the World Cup and the Olympics.

Bradesco’s position has always been one of believing in Brazil and in the strength of the Brazilian people, so much so that we will be one of the major sponsors of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. These events have the potential to leave a priceless legacy for our country. It is very gratifying to know that Bradesco is part of this project. An important point to add is that we are already seeing several companies coming to Brazil to cater to the demands arising from these high profile events. Many of them are already working with us around the Cup and the Olympics. Even more importantly, they are building partnerships with Brazilian companies. We believe that everyone stands to gain, if the events are well structured.

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