Crèdit Andorrà Group: We Speak to CEO Xavier Cornella Following a Record-Breaking Year
Crèdit Andorrà is a market leading global financial services group, based in Andorra, with a presence in other major financial hubs in Europe and America such as Spain, Luxembourg and Miami. On an international level, it offers a personalised and specialised private banking and asset management service. In 2022, Crèdit Andorrà Group won the Global Banking & Finance Review awards for Best CSR Bank and Best Digital Bank in Andorra.
2021 was a landmark year for Crèdit Andorrà Group, closing the year for the first time in excess of 20 billion euros in business volume, reaching €20.888 billion, a year-on-year increase of 19.57%. When CEO Xavier Cornella spoke to Global Banking & Finance Review editor Wanda Rich, he reported that this success is owed in part to the gradual implementation of its 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. This plan, according to Xavier, is based on “the development of strategic alliances, on specialising in products and services that provide a competitive edge and added value, and on digital transformation and innovation.”
He explained that it has enabled Crèdit Andorrà to consolidate its leadership in Andorra and to grow consistently and sustainably in all countries where it has a presence. “2021 was a significant year for Crèdit Andorrà, from both a corporate and business standpoint. By complying with our roadmap, we were able to deal with the complex economic situation of 2021 and obtain very solid results. It should be noted that more than half of the Group’s business volume was for international business, which saw a significant increase of 33.63%.”
The implementation of the plan is ongoing, allowing the organisation to strengthen its leadership in the principality, consolidate its presence in the private banking sector, and improve its value proposition to customers, its recent acquisition of Vall Blanc being one such example. “The Group continues to commit to the development of strategic agreements that will promote growth in different business areas, provide more added value to our stakeholders and generally benefit economic and social progress,” Xavier said. “Specialisation, the digital transformation and innovation are the strategic drivers in this process, and in achieving a competitive edge in the future.
“We are also working to continue growing in the other markets where the Group operates, such as Spain, where last year we reached an agreement to integrate the securities agency GBS Finanzas InvestCapital A.V. into Creand Wealth Management (Banco Alcalá, SA), the Group’s private banking entity. This operation has allowed us to strengthen our approach to comprehensive customer services that engage with and reflect customers’ needs and interests.”
The Group also completed the process of unifying its new Creand brand internationally in order to generate synergies and gain competitiveness, and Xavier confirmed that it is taking the next steps to implement it in the Andorran market. “Elsewhere, digitalisation and sustainability remain two fundamental pillars for the development of the banking sector in the future,” he said. “We prioritise the continued improvement of customer service through innovation and digital transformation, and commit to sustainability as a central tenet of the Group’s business and management strategy.”
Xavier expanded on how the digital innovation elements of the Group’s strategy cater to the growing needs of customers. “Finance and technology have embarked on a common journey, and we want to move forward in the search for synergies with the entrepreneurial, innovative and technological network for the benefit of customers and the business,” he asserted. “We are leaders in the digital payment revolution in Andorra, and we are now working together with the main players in this new digital economy to remain at the cutting edge of the financial sector, in the specialisation of products, services and projects that have a direct impact on the digital transformation and a differential offer for customers.”
He added that promoting the use of online banking has led to increased operations through this channel. “We are improving the omnichannel offer with new mobile mobility and payment applications, and creating tools that facilitate remote customer service and contract signing.
“We are also working to embrace the new digital economy through businesses and technology. This is demonstrated by initiatives such as the Innovation Hub, a project we are working on to guide customers through the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and our commitment to the fully consolidated Scale Lab Andorra business hyper-acceleration programme, which invests in startups and guides them through their growth.
“In addition, in the academic field, the renewal and adaptation of the Crèdit Andorrà Chair of Entrepreneurship and Banking at the IESE Business School reflects our desire to address the new reality of companies with an approach in which value generation goes beyond purely corporate concerns.”
The delivery of seamless customer service across all aspects of banking is the objective for many a financial services provider. Xavier outlined how Crèdit Andorrà’s strategy is targeting maximum efficiency in this very area. “The digital transformation is a real challenge and has been one of our distinguishing features, setting us apart as a pioneering bank in products, services and customer processes. We rely on usability to facilitate and improve the customer experience, and on security, which is essential to offering a trusted service.
“In the current scenario, we are working to implement and improve new digital services to facilitate online and remote banking, simplify customer operations and respond to market needs while improving the customer experience and the efficiency of our service.”
He also reported how the Group will continue working to further specialise its products and services while promoting digital solutions based on sustainability. “The aforementioned Innovation Hub is one of the bank’s major projects for the future. It’s a pioneering project to generate knowledge between companies and startups in the country that allows different agents, professionals and companies to join together with a similar goal: to innovate through the network and generate new businesses.
“Similarly, the bank’s investment team are working on creating new alternative investment products in order to expand the portfolio of investment vehicles that the bank offers its customers. This is a complex market environment that requires new solutions so that customers can find options to preserve their capital and obtain returns based on their investment profiles and needs. We are also working to adapt and integrate ESG criteria into the investment portfolio so it can promote social and environmental projects.”
Sustainability is not a recent addition to Crèdit Andorrà’s agenda; Xavier pointed out that it has been incorporated as a key element of its management across the organisation since its inception. “A good example of this is the fact that it was the first company in Andorra to sign the Principles for Responsible Banking of the United Nations (UNEP FI), an institution we have been collaborating with since 1998,” he said. “By doing so, the bank reinforces its commitment to integrating sustainability into all its business areas and takes a crucial step forward, mindful of the responsibility of financial institutions to be a driver for change towards an economic model that incorporates environmental, social and good governance criteria. Another step in this long-term commitment was the adoption of the 2030 Agenda to further the sustainable development goals. Crèdit Andorrà also pioneered this initiative in Andorra.”
He concluded by emphasising the fundamental purpose of these commitments: to provide support for the country’s economy, its business landscape and its people through projects that have a direct, positive impact on the country. “This commitment is expressed through multiple channels, such as support for the snow and skiing sector from different perspectives (business, federative and competition), economic, cultural and sports sponsorships, and through the social action of our Foundation.
“In all, this is a notable initiative in corporate responsibility that promotes economic and social progress, the advancement of knowledge and environmental advocacy.”
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