CEO answers questions on U.S., EU financial crises


Marisa Vasquez

CEO of BBVA Compass Bank Manolo Sanchez, right, discusses issues of ethics and public image with business school dean Thomas Gilligan, left, Wednesday evening in the UTC. Sanchez hopes to improve society’s negative view and mistrust of banks.

Samuel Liebl

The McCombs School of Business brought a major figure in global banking to campus Wednesday to address recent financial crises and their affects on his bank.

BBVA Compass CEO Manuel Sanchez spoke to students of all majors as part of the business school’s VIP Speakers Series. Business school dean Thomas Gilligan said BBVA Compass is a strong partner with UT and that the bank has made over half a million dollars in gifts to the University. The company also hires many UT alumni, he said.

The purpose of the series is to allow students to learn from role models of business success, said Olivia Luko, a management information systems senior who helped organize the event.

“This is a really crucial event because all UT students can see an image of what they have the potential to become,” Luko said. “Mr. Sanchez is a role model for any student that’s hoping to achieve success in the corporate world.”

Sanchez spent the first half of the hour-long event answering questions asked by Gilligan. Sanchez spent the remaining time responding to students’ questions.

Sanchez spoke about the effects of the financial crisis that gripped the United States in 2008 and 2009. He said the crisis damaged the reputation of all banks, even if they were not involved.

“Society lost its faith in the banking industry, and all banks have been thrown in the same bag,” he said. “People can’t tell which banks are good banks or bad banks.”

Sanchez said banks are a force for good in the economy, providing liquidity and funneling financial capital to great ideas.

“The question is how did we get to this, the pits we are at now,” he said. “There were some banks that were not straight, not following principles that they should have been following. What they did was legal, but it was not moral.”

Though BBVA Compass did not receive a bailout from the American taxpayer, it is currently working to improve its public image and demonstrate its social value, Sanchez said.

“It’s the theme of the century — people want to know that an organization has a soul,” he said.

When a student asked Sanchez about how the unfolding financial crisis in Europe effects his bank, Sanchez said his bank is somewhat immune from the turmoil.

“BBVA Compass is a very strong institution,” he said. “What happens in Spain effects our profitability there. But we’re making up the difference elsewhere in the world. Those are the benefits of diversification.”

Sanchez said the European crisis would be resolved, but only at a very slow speed.

“This crisis will be resolved at a European speed,” he said. “The European Union started with the Treaty of Rome, and we’re here 50 years later. Some countries are entering into a fiscal union, and that’s the next step. But that treaty will have to be approved at European speed, and when you think about it, that will take a long time.”