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How supply and demand will shape the raw materials ecosystem

April 2024

Technological innovation, climate change and geopolitical tension are arguably the three most prominent and influential global trends from over the last 12 months.

Industrialisation and subsequent rising prosperity throughout the 20th century have been intrinsically linked with fossil fuel usage. However, breakthroughs in the realm of robotics, data transition networks & storage, and economies decarbonization, will likely move the focus to achieve growth targets and to stick to environmental commitments. 

Limited supply and geographical concentration of certain resources creates an ecosystem in which certain countries or regions become key players in the global supply chains for specific products or sectors. 

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by governments, either. Over the last few years, the importance placed on certain key raw materials has skyrocketed. Europe, for instance, has been working on developing comprehensive metal sourcing strategies; the Critical Raw Materials Act of the European Commission is a good example of attempts to enhance supply chain resilience and decrease dependence on the raw material industry as a whole. 

Strategic and critical raw materials

Raw materials are fundamental in the successful fulfilment of key governmental initiatives, with the European Union a prime example. 

The failure to achieve a resilient supply of such resources has the potential to create a cascade effect, in turn negatively impacting a myriad projects and objectives on the agenda. 

Such initiatives are spread across a huge range of sectors, bringing into focus the value and scarcity of precious resources. 

Below you can find a more detailed overview of raw materials’ importance across 15 key technologies. Selections have been based on:

  • Further expansion for energy and digital transformation 
  • Likely growth of emerging technologies
  • Relevance to EU security
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European Critical Raw Materials Act 

Considering the aforementioned importance of so many raw materials, one must examine how legislation aims to maintain resiliency and diversification, particularly with reserves of so many spread far across the planet. 

A good case study for this is the European Critical Raw Materials Act, which was provisionally agreed in November 2023, aiming to increase and diversify raw materials supply, strengthen circularity and support research and innovation on resource efficiency.

Within the Act comes a number of benchmarks, in order to establish rules for the environmental footprint of critical raw materials, as well as their sourcing, along the value chain and for diversification of EU supplies by 2030:

  • At least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption for extraction 
  • At least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption for processing 
  • At least 25% of the EU’s annual consumption for recycling
  • No more than 65% of the EU’s annual consumption from a single third country 

Global policymaking and the role of climate projects on raw material supply 

With the deployment of renewable energy technologies comes the expectant result of strong demand pull for several key resources. This demand could be hard to meet with the available primary and secondary supply – the latter being derived from recycling resources. 

See how supplies are shaping up over the next couple of decades across two distinct policy outlooks, as per KU Leuven:

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  1. Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS)
  2. Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS)

This expected scarcity of supply could lead to increased commodity prices. 

Actions to reduce metal demand could also be deployed, such as technological innovation and substitution to reduce and optimise metal intensities in existing clean energy technologies, among others.

However, the shift from an era of supply scarcity to demand reduction tactics won’t be instantaneous. This means that, for corporates, bespoke solutions are still required to bridge this gap and address the immediate raw material concerns to ensure business can continue as smoothly as possible. 

Cyber security: corporate treasury’s unique leadership role in cyber resilience

April 2024

Corporate treasurers have an important and unique leadership role to play in building cyber resilience as the centre of expertise for risk management and balance sheet strength, as well as being the custodian of sensitive data related to payments.

Looking at the preparation and incident response trends of recent years, what can the treasurer do differently?

Managing up

The first thing that a treasurer can do is lobby to ensure that cyber security is part of the Audit and Risk Committee’s agenda as much as liquidity, credit or market risk. As it is impossible to totally prevent a security incident, cyber security cannot be a “one and done” and is instead better maintained as a standing item.

Embedding such ongoing strategic governance will not just set the tone that cyber resilience matters but also ensures a common understanding of what this refers to: cyber security is the way in which we reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and ensure that our organisation is protected.

Secondly, one must understand where and how cyber risk has been managed to date. A word of warning, this could well uncover a patchwork. For example, there could be mixtures of individual business units managing this for each of their operations, the General Counsel’s office as part of the adoption of GDPR, and the organisation’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) from a systems lens. 

Only by understanding this landscape of responsibility and accountability can the treasurer embed resilience.

Managing from within

The treasury and wider finance division need to have sufficient understanding to constructively engage on cyber resilience and response.

This can be achieved through a team whiteboarding session. Opening the floor to facilitate a self-assessment of processes owned by, as well as those adjacent to, the treasury team will quickly, easily and cheaply uncover the current state of understanding and preparedness.

The cyber security pillars of Defend, Anticipate and Engage can be applied as a framework to facilitate this: 


It is important to proactively manage the treasury technology stack in addition to the processes in place from IT and the CISO’s office, such as email filtering. For example, are all systems or platforms owned by treasury patched, up to date and coming with a systematic approach to on/offboarding employees? If so, when did we last test this, or verify that principle of least privilege is in place?


The key to being prepared for a cyber incident is mastering the basics and aligning with existing treasury operational risk processes. Steps such as ensuring that your response plan is backed up in a logically or geographically separate way (a backup in the same location will almost certainly be targeted in an attack) - including the specific requirements of treasury is the best way to enhance resilience.

At a minimum, this should include internal (e.g. CISO and shared services partners) and external (cash management banks and lenders) contact details, as well as the criteria for triaging payments and reconciliation of the most important transactions in a contingency scenario.


People are and always will be the best form of cyber defence. While there are likely to be organisation-wide training programmes on identifying suspected phishing emails, for example, these will not reflect the nuance that each team culture will differ.

It is important to test if the treasury department has an environment which allocates blame or extracts learning. For example, if someone uncovered a way to circumvent a maker/checker functionality, would they feel comfortable to flag this to their manager?

Managing across

To adequately defend, anticipate and engage on an enterprise-wide basis, all parts of the organisation must act in unison. The steps above will help treasurers understand where the key partnerships will be.

This may see discussions with procurement if contracts do not include supplier resilience vetting, historic HR practices concerning revised payroll processes or cross-functional learning dialogue following a near-miss. 

This leadership is a critical tool in demonstrating corporate treasury’s continued strategic value to the organisation, and central role to enterprise risk management.

Santander Corporate & Investment Banking enhances the security of both our clients and society in the online world. As a financial institution, we are actively working on adopting the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) and the revised Network and Information Systems Directive (NIS2) to build on our existing layers of security:

  • Protect: This includes tools with the primary function of preventing cyber-attacks (firewalls, antivirus, email filters, physical, hardware and software access control);
  • Detect: 24/7/365 monitoring to identify anomalous or malicious activity, including machine learning;
  • Respond: The investigation stage which could include deactivating systems or forensic investigation to prevent further infection, risk or recurrence.

In terms of enhancing resilience for our clients, as a pan-European and American leader in Cash Management, a vital component is providing a single access point for transaction processing via Santander Cash Nexus. This is an important source of operational risk reduction, by reducing the number of potential points of weakness.

We also challenge ourselves to find new ways to drive connectivity with our clients’ technology. 

What are the key market trends impacting Working Capital?

March 2024

The world of Working Capital can be a volatile one for corporates of all sizes to navigate, and with ever-more uncertainty on the macroeconomic and geopolitical stage, it’s imperative for these businesses to both stay on top of emerging trends in this space, and perhaps most importantly, find solutions.

The events that have defined the last three years have had a significant impact on global trade. In this blog, we review some of the major trends that are impacting global supply chains and Working Capital requirements. 

After a period of relative stability in 2023, characterised by limited raw materials and core component shortages and minor logistic issues, supply chain disruptions have once again come to the fore, driven by various factors such as extreme weather conditions and geopolitical tensions. 

Geopolitical tensions are expected to be a key factor in global trade in 2024, and there are increasing concerns about the long-term impacts of climate change on global supply chains.
Nearshoring has also gained considerable attention as a strategic choice for businesses seeking to optimise their supply chain operations.

Within this article we also look at changes in consumer behaviours, including the rising trend of ‘doing rather than having’ and the shift from traditional ownership-centric models to a subscription-based approach: Everything-as-a-Service

Bart Timmermans, European Head of Global Transaction Banking (GTB) at Santander CIB, said: “Despite all global disruptions and the impact on trade flows, Santander CIB continues to create new solutions to support our clients during the business transformations they go through. We have examples in all sectors, from automotives to batteries, or consumer goods to retail, in helping our clients to optimise their supply chains.”

Here are five key trends impacting Working Capital in 2024: 

Supply chain disruption is back 

Supply chain disruptions appeared to be fading in the rear-view mirror last year, as things returned to some form of normality following the pandemic – the cost of shipping, delays, availability of raw materials and other key indicators had returned to pre-pandemic levels. Now, in 2024, supply chain disruption is back to the top of the agenda, for a variety of reasons, including extreme weather events and geopolitical instability. 

The impact of geopolitical instability

Geopolitical instability has emerged as a critical factor significantly impacting the complex network of global supply chains. The Ukraine-Russia war first and the more recent Middle East conflict are having notable impacts on commercial trade.

Aside from the increase in oil & natural gas prices, and war risk insurance premiums, companies have been obliged to face higher costs and time to reroute cargos away from dangerous areas, thus continuing to add significant issues to supply chains.

Carriers have already diverted more than $200bn in trade from the Red Sea, adding about 6,000 miles to a typical journey from Asia to Europe and on average three or four weeks on product delivery times. 

The impact of weather 

Everstream Analytics’ annual risk outlook ranks extreme weather as the biggest threat to global supply chains in 2024. These extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, placing further pressure on supply chains.

Floods, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions are becoming a recurrent issue both in Europe and the US, hammering ports, highways and factories on a global scale. 

Low water levels hitting shipping capacities – for example at the Panama Canal and Rhine River - violent storms disrupting automotive industries and heatwaves & droughts affecting European agriculture (namely Spanish olive production) are just some of the ways climate change is playing a part in this Working Capital headache. 

It’s true that supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 are largely a thing of the past, however, ensuring resilience levels remain high in order to counter the increasing threat of climate change should become a top priority, with options including diversifying source locations and investing in climate-resistant locations.

To ensure a better measurement of GHG emissions across the entire value chain, companies have started embedding sustainability criteria in their Working Capital solutions. Sustainability-Linked Supply Chain Finance, for example, represents one of the best-established WC solutions increasingly requested by companies to combine the typical financial benefits of SCF with scope 3 emissions reduction targets. 

Nearshoring – the trend of shortening supply chains  

After a period of turmoil, many companies are looking to shorten their supply chains to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, in a bid to increase business resilience. 

In Europe, there has been a 29% increase in demand for industrial space, driven in large part by manufacturing and logistics – an example of this being Mercedes-Benz and BMW both announcing plans to open new production plants in Europe, as part of their long-term electrifying strategy, with lower labour, transportation and energy costs cited. 

While these decisions are often viewed, rightly, as bringing production closer to end-customers, nearshoring may also represent a key priority in a company’s sustainability agenda to reduce carbon emissions related to long-distance material transportation.  

The proximity to local markets, faster delivery times and improved responsiveness to customer demands will only see nearshoring usage increase in the years ahead. 

From a Working Capital Management standpoint, Supply Chain Finance (SCF) represents a core solution to support companies to engage with new suppliers and secure adequate payment terms to avoid increases in Working Capital requirements. Companies can leverage SCF to establish solid relationships with new suppliers, reduce procurement-related risks and potentially embed a sustainability-link, reducing scope 3 emissions.

From just-in-case to just-in-time 

Higher borrowing costs and inflation levels have led to many corporates investing resources in inventory reduction. 

It’s been reported by S&P that, since the end of 2022, global companies have been heavily reducing the quantity of inputs purchased, as well as stocks of raw materials and finished goods. In the S&P report, they noted how finished good purchasing had been on the downturn for 13 consecutive months, while finished good levels were cut for eight of the last nine months.

This has been mirrored on the production side to mitigate risks of maintaining high levels of finished goods.

The impact of this reduced consumer demand – and as a result destocking trend – has been noticeable. 

Within the chemical sector, many global players have reported notable losses, both in Europe and the US. 

The consumer industry has also, unsurprisingly, felt the strain of reduced demand, although this isn’t an all-encompassing problem, with some companies experiencing a share price uptick in the first quarter of their 2023 fiscal year, thanks a notable cut of inventories. 

From a financial perspective, the de-stocking trend is expected to have a notable impact on Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) and, more broadly, on Working Capital requirements. The return to the just-in-time approach is helping companies to reduce the levels of inventory, both for raw materials and finished goods, and decrease the time of goods on the shelf.

“Doing rather than having” – where do consumers’ priorities lie?

One major shift in consumer behaviour since the pandemic has come in the shape of prioritising experiences over material goods, characterised by high inflation and rising interest rates. 

The events industry, for instance, has seen significant growth over the last few years, and this is forecast to continue over the next few years, becoming a $2.1tn industry by 2032.

Look too at industries selling experiences – travel, leisure, entertainment – who have benefitted from a 25% rise in sales in 1Q2023. From a Working Capital perspective, companies operating in these sectors have experienced a notable increase in sales, with a consequent 10 day reduction of Cash Conversion Cycle over the last two years, mainly driven by a reduction in Days Sales Outstanding (DSO). 

Conversely, several other industries are now reporting a more negative outlook thanks to consumers cutting back on certain types of discretionary spending; the purchase of food and beverages has declined by approximately 5% since 1Q2021, with home cooking giving way to eating out in restaurants. With higher levels of unsold goods on the shelves, companies are increasingly exposed to report again higher inventory levels, increasing the importance of Working Capital management.

A shift from ownership-centric models to a subscription-based approach 

The concept of Everything as a Service (XaaS) has revolutionised the way businesses operate, representing a fundamental shift from traditional ownership-centric models to a more versatile subscription-based approach. 

Software as a Service (SaaS) or Equipment as a Service (EaaS) are established examples, although with more cutting-edge technology destined to emerge, this umbrella will only expand. 

The global XaaS market size was valued at approximately €550bn in 2022, yet is projected to reach a market value of €3tn by 2030.

The possibility of accessing strategic assets without balance sheet implications represents the main driver behind the growing demand for solutions. Moving from a Capex-intensive model to an Opex focused scheme - whereby companies will not be requested to immobilise significant amounts of resources on a single asset - can maintain access to core production facilities without impacting financial and working capital ratios.   

Beyond the financial benefits, XaaS is also helping companies re-adjust their operating models by improving their agility, so they can adapt their business to evolving market dynamics quickly and scale operations seamlessly.  

Seven key considerations for Cash Management in 2024

December 2023

Going into 2024, the treasury landscape looks set to be etched against a backdrop of challenges once again. Global uncertainty, alongside higher commodity prices, inflation, and interest rates will undoubtedly be top of mind for corporates when considering supply chain impacts and how that may translate onto the balance sheet. 

Almost four years on from the onset of the pandemic, as higher manufacturing and borrowing costs mount, sustained pressure on firms to stay profitable may lead to an increased focus on squeezing costs across the value chain. 

Forward-thinking cashflow forecasting, coupled with a joined-up global liquidity management approach will be key. Overall, a Cash Management strategy that is embedded in simplification and innovation, whilst nimble enough to respond to change at pace, will be vital. 

Below we set out our seven key considerations for effective Cash Management for corporates in 2024:

1. Investing in a solid technology stack as a long-term play

Although focus on costs is likely to be central for firms, prudent investments today in modernising technology across the fundamentals like payments processing, API connectivity or a robust ERP can prove a strategic long-term play.

Additionally, rationalisation of operations across shared service centres and sales and distribution units will be key to prime for sustained growth.

2. Unlocking the value of location strategy 

This can be done by re-examining where trapped cash may be less optimised in countries with legal and regulatory barriers, and reviewing trade and working capital programmes to ensure they continue to be commercially attractive could reap benefits.

3. Considering the breadth and depth of solutioning 

This is of particular importance when thinking about near and medium-term strategic goals, as this is integral in driving efficiencies in Treasury processes. Whether that is in embarking on a transformative project like re-imagining an in-house bank, accelerating adoption of real-time payments, or promoting APIs as central to connectivity, assessing all available options to cater to specific business models will be advantageous.

4. Giving credence to the global-local dichotomy

Opting for homogenised solutions oftentimes makes perfect commercial sense, however taking the time to carefully assess and acknowledge specific country or operational nuances will be critical to building an elastic Treasury strategy to support business ambitions. 

For firms that find themselves with sizeable cash-rich positions, this could be in evaluating cash pooling and virtual account structures to ensure they are meaningful from the bottom-up and equally across global entity structures as well. 

5. Future-proofing investment strategy

Although the themes of ESG and green investing are by no means new to the agenda, there is increased traction in this space to seriously give consideration to this investment category which speaks to corporate values whilst delivering a diversified investment portfolio. 

6. Collaborating with partners that truly value the importance of platform reliability 

In an age where speed and agility are key but very much go hand-in-hand with cyber security, taking the time to choose the right collaborators is crucial. In an overcrowded marketplace, the choice in Cash Management providers has never been greater for corporates.

However, with cyber security increasingly a top priority for the C-suite, carefully assessing to onboard a partner that shares the same ethos and cyber risk management approach will be important. 

7. Getting the basics right consistently

Whether that is in efficiently processing payments and collections or ensuring deposit income is invested to provide the most optimum returns on security, liquidity, and yield, remaining laser focused on executing the basics to a high standard in BAU will continue to come first. 

Santander CIB’s Cash Management expertise 

During these times of unprecedented market change, Santander CIB is committed to helping our clients navigate the intersection of corporate treasury transformation, effective liquidity management, and technology innovation across industry sectors. 

With decades of experience spanning across Europe, Asia and the Americas, Santander’s Cash Management practitioners are trusted partners that truly understand what it means to differentiate. 

Drawing on the strengths of our global franchise and depth of our product propositions, cutting-edge technology capabilities and utilities, we roll-out complex and integrated Cash Management solutions that are centred around a best-in-class client experience: 

  • Flexible liquidity management solutions adjusted to your treasury management needs. Our frictionless solutions are designed to inform better business decision making, risk management and reconciliations, ultimately leading to sounder balance sheet management. 
  • Scalable end-to-end payments management, including a secure online banking platform powered by a cutting-edge global payments engine, and full-range of connectivities across payments rails from the ERP to the final beneficiary.
  • An integrated collections offering enabling you to optimise your sales conversion. Supporting all major international payment methods and schemes, our value proposition is designed to accelerate time to market and expand reach. 
  • Access to state-of-the-art technology platforms embedded in innovation, simplicity and flexibility. Our unique operating model affords us the reliability of a bank with the flexibility of a Fintech.
  • With strong risk, compliance, and fraud prevention processes, protecting your data and information is paramount to us. We are constantly evolving our technology and controls to bolster cybersecurity defences and operational resilience, putting the safety and security of our clients at the core of our operations.

Eva Bueno (global head of Cash Management), says: “We are fully committed to helping our clients grow their businesses through an advisory approach in the evolving payments ecosystem, spearheading innovation and co-creating solutions together.”

Launch your career in Investment Banking with Santander

August 2023

Our international graduate programme offers you a unique experience in a global investment bank. You will join a diverse and dynamic team, that will provide learning and development opportunities to grow both professionally and personally.

We are looking for the best talent to support our growth ambition. Recent graduates or final-year students who are highly motivated to bring out-of-the-box perspectives. A strong interest in finance and solid analytical skills are highly valued. Commitment, teamwork, and excellent communication skills are also key to excel in a diverse and global environment such as Santander CIB.

Why Santander CIB?

We are part of one of the world’s leading financial services groups and a key player in the investment banking industry. With the business transformation that we started a couple years ago we have grown and diversified our franchise, and we have tightened our partnership with our clients becoming a key industry player, committed to delivering best-in-class solutions, including those required to accelerate the path to more sustainable business models.

Joining Santander CIB means becoming part of a world-class team that supports the growth strategy of major companies and institutions by providing innovative and tailor made solutions. A unique opportunity to join an international network of experts that will help you take your career to the next level. 

Applications are now open. If you are looking for a career in banking to make a difference, we would like to hear from you.

Click here to apply 

Understanding the Supply Chain challenges and strategic solutions

June 2022

Supply chain complexity is one of the biggest challenges that our clients and partners are facing today. At Santander CIB, one of our key priorities is meeting this challenge with powerful and innovative solutions. In this blog we explore key issues and how Santander is supporting our clients to not just manage the current scenario but thrive in it.

Difficulties in the supply chain is something that has been on the horizon for some time, even before the pandemic. Globalization of supply has led to significant offshoring by many globally trading companies, which requires a lean supply chain built on logistics that reduce overall costs - a model known as ‘just-in-time’ which focuses on producing exactly the amount you need at exactly the time your customers need it. Until recently this worked well because demand was easy to anticipate however, frictions in this system were already evident by the end of 2019.

The arrival of the pandemic accelerated and amplified these structural issues and underlying imbalances, which coupled with political tensions and rising energy prices globally delivered a perfect storm scenario. We’ve seen a complete change in trade flows as companies seek to diversify production and supply and the emergence of speed as the new paradigm, where traditional supply chain models cannot keep up with demand. The situation has been further exacerbated in 2022 with rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which has led to significant economic sanctions against Russia and knock-on effects for much of the world supply chain, most notably spiking oil and gas prices.

Congestion in supply chains will persist due to volatility but in an environment of rising transportation, energy and inventory costs. Likewise, ESG pressure from governments and consumers alike will continue to affect flows and transportation choices, with decarbonization creating new financial and commodity trades, putting greater pressure on the maritime transportation industry.

As a result, our post-pandemic ‘new normal’ is potentially highly volatile, and the need to be prepared for this paramount. Developing tools to manage trade operations with greater flexibility and at the lowest possible cost, will allow companies to adjust and absorb shocks, but support from banking institutions will be play a vital role especially in the context of energy transition.

At Santander CIB, we have been hard at work supporting our clients through these challenges and finding innovative solutions to help them.

Securing supply has been perhaps the most common problem we are helping our clients manage. From a financing perspective, Santander can offer support and flexibility of capital to manage this. The most effective solutions have been those that position the client as a better counterparty than the competition - for example financing advance payments or larger orders to accumulate stock and grow their inventories to manage the new supply chain dynamics and embedded with the commercial contracts to prevent any impact on the companies leverage.

Inventory solutions have been another important element, and here we are finding that the focus is very much on re-orienting sources of supply, and location of inventories and especially on finding efficient solutions when building stock buffers. In that respect We have been developing solutions to help our client unlock cash tied up as inventory and thereby helping the transition from the “just in time” to the “just in case model”.

According to Mencia Bobo, global head of Trade & Working Capital Solutions at Santander CIB, “Supply chain management is now a common challenge for all our clients. But how they are impacted, and the solution they require are unique to them. Our T&WCs team at Santander CIB are experts in their field and are able to combine macro understanding with a detailed knowledge of local markets specific to our clients to build bespoke solutions and packages to meet these challenges.” 

Diversity is not enough: how to create an inclusive work culture

August 2021

Now more than ever businesses are turning their attention to diversity and inclusion to drive their culture transformation. While this is a fantastic start, there is a tendency for the terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ to float about in meetings or conferences without turning into tangible business practices. Harnessing diversity in the workplace is only the first stage to change a company´s corporate culture - inclusion is the final objective.

So what is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Diversity integrates new perspectives into the company framework and reflects the different needs of its customers. Inclusion ensures each individual – within the organization - is given an avenue to professionally grow and succeed, where differences are respected and accommodated.

Making individuals, regardless of their background or identity, feel valued and capable of achieving their full potential rather than having to conform to an organizational status quo is the true sign of an inclusive work culture. The benefits of inclusion do not end there - it rather acts as a cycle that reaps wider business benefits:

  • Employee engagement: Brings value and purpose to the company’s individuals, seeing their unique perspectives as an asset to the organization.
  • Talent retention: Retains talent in the long-term and better meets the needs of its diverse customers.
  • Sustainability: Leads to sustainable business practices that support all sectors of society.

Enabling individuals to express themselves at work regardless of their circumstances or background goes hand in hand with sustainable company success. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, no ‘one-size-fits-all’. Businesses need to ensure that strategies in place support individuals on a one-to-one basis. Taking the extra leap to really engage and develop each employee on an equal and fair footing is essential in the modern workplace.

So, what steps is Santander CIB taking to create an inclusive corporate culture?

A key first step for Santander CIB is raising the number of women in the Group’s senior leadership positions to 30% by 2025 - but the initiative does not end there. To transform diversity into inclusion, Santander CIB is supporting various initiatives to lift equality between men and women, developing specific programs to boost diversity at a local level, aligned with Santander’s corporate culture.

While this is a fantastic start for Santander, the road to an inclusive workforce is a long and complex process. Initiatives need to be implemented on a regular basis and constantly reviewed as the employee framework expands to include a more diverse workforce.

Inclusion is all about giving employees a voice to share their thoughts and the flexibility to work in comfort, being able to manage their personal and professional lives.

At Santander CIB, the introduction of sustainable, company-wide diversity and inclusion policies is essential. In 2019, we defined diversity and inclusion principles that set minimum standards across Santander’s global markets, aiming at unbiased policies, tools and systems to improve talent management and pay equality.

Santander also runs various programs aimed at supporting SMEs led by women and entrepreneurs, providing them with networking opportunities, education and marketing campaigns.

The road ahead

There is always room for improvement but the fact that Santander achieved the highest scores of Bloomberg´s Gender-Equality Index 2020 and that it was recognized as the most sustainable bank in the world by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is encouraging. In addition to that, Santander was recently recognized as the best bank in the world for diversity & inclusion by Euromoney.

It is high time for companies to collectively create an inclusive and supportive work culture for their employees. As said, the process won’t be easy, but it is vital to bring about change in the workplace - and society at large - giving people the opportunity to feel valued, professionally thrive and ultimately, make their own contribution to society.

XXVII Santander Iberian Conference: Creating a new future for the Iberian region

February 2021

The start of 2021 has certainly been momentous for Santander with the launch of Santander’s XXV Latam Conference followed by the XXVII Santander Iberian Conference last week. Although every year the Iberian Conference provides us with key insights into the region’s economy and development, this year’s conference was particularly pressing considering the impact Covid-19 has had on the region.

Despite not being able to be held in-person, the conference still served as the key summit for Iberian issuers and main institutional investors in the region. Over the course of the conference, experts in the digital, ESG and tourism sectors discussed the economic outlook for 2021 and the path to recovery for the region.

The various panels featured top management representatives from leading companies and institutions in Iberia and the wider globe, including Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola, Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Spain, Werner Stengg, Member and Digital Policy Expert in the Cabinet of Executive, Pilar López, President & CEO at Microsoft Spain and Paul Misener, VP for Global Innovation Policy & Communications at Amazon.

While there has been much focus recently on the accelerated pace of digital transformation and the demand for more sustainable practices in light of Covid-19, an understanding of how these two factors can complement and drive each other was a key topic for discussion during the conference. Of course, both ESG and digital innovation lie at the heart of Santander CIB’s strategy, so it was extremely insightful to hear expert opinions on these topics from a range of sectors and perspectives.

An interesting view held by Werner Stengg, Member and Digital Policy Expert in the Cabinet of Executive, was that what digital transformation and the sustainable economy have in common is their focus on improved efficiency. Through digital innovation, governments and institutions can iron out inefficiencies by streamlining and optimising the processes necessary to achieving more sustainable practices, such as reaching carbon neutrality. In this sense, both the digital and sustainable transition go hand in hand.

Another important topic of discussion that many panel speakers were in agreement with was the shift in consumer behaviour during the pandemic, and the significant impact this will have on future investment decisions. The pandemic has pushed sustainability to the forefront, with customers increasingly making informed decisions about which companies to buy services from based on the business’s sustainability commitments. As certain businesses become more competitive in line with their ESG scores, retail demand will drive a revolution in institutional investment choices, where ESG investments are favoured over non-sustainable investments.

Moreover, the toll the pandemic has had on key industries in the Iberian region, particularly tourism, has forced companies and institutions to rapidly adapt their digital offering in order to retain customers. As companies and institutions increasingly cater to consumer demand for more streamlined and accessible digital services, AI and machine learning are only set to become increasingly embedded within business models.

In order for the Iberian region to leverage the digital and sustainable opportunities indirectly brought on by the pandemic, the conference showed that what will be vital is the nurturing of digital talent in the region. Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Spain, insightfully showed us that currently Spain is investing more than 1 billion euros to bolster its 2025 digital strategy, with the aim of reducing the socio-economic, digital and gender gaps in the region. Through digital innovation, the plan will also aim to provide more unity between the various territories in Spain, in addition to ensuring 80% of the region’s population have digital skills, with 50% of those being women.

Utilising digital innovation in order to support more sustainable and efficient practices is a top priority for us at Santander CIB. We strongly believe that digital transformation and ESG depend on each other for their full fruition, and the conference has confirmed that finding a way to intersect the two is on top of the agenda for many other institutions and companies across the region. Now more than ever public and private investments need to coordinate efforts to financially bolster these initiatives, and at Santander CIB we are fully committed to fulfilling our duty to the region.

By leveraging digital talent within the region and meeting consumer demand for more sustainable practices, the Iberian region is set to build an economy capable of facing the challenges of tomorrow. Of course, much still remains to be done, and we hope that by next year’s conference we will be meeting in person to share some of the exciting advancements we have pledged to achieve today.

Santander’s 25th Latin American Conference: What does the future hold for the region?

February 2021

Although the new year has been full of uncertainty and disruption due to Covid-19, an extremely important event was still able to go ahead - Santander’s 25th Annual Latin America Conference.

Even though this year’s conference was for the first time ever a purely digital event, the conference remained as relevant as its inception in 1997, uniting important leaders, figures and investment firms from LATAM’s political and economic sectors to offer valuable insights into the region’s future.

Through a series of round table presentations and one-on-one meetings, we took advantage of the conference’s virtual format to reach a far wider audience with a stellar line-up of speakers, including Hilary Clinto, former US Secretary of State; former US Secretary of State; Roberto Campos, President of Banco Central do Brasil; Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England; and Alejandro Díaz de León, Governor of Banco de México. 

Looking at key topics such as LATAM politics, ESG and digital transformation, the conference celebrated LATAM’s potential to attract greater foreign investment and boost sustainable growth despite the severe setbacks of Covid-19.

Despite these challenges, opportunities in LATAM are vast. One of the most important takeaways from the conference was that LATAM cannot be treated as a homogenous region, with each country having different realities and needs. If investments in the region are to be successful, financial bodies and investors need to be flexible and take advantage of this difference rather than see it as a barrier. As LATAM emerges from the devastating impact of Covid-19, the region will be focused on restoring its economic infrastructure, opening up a much larger need for investments from the private sector and specialist investors.

Conference speakers also highlighted that what is needed now is greater global alignment in the approach to sustainable financing. Indeed, the increasingly high level of cooperation between countries in the region has greatly accelerated the rate of digitalization in LATAM. Moreover, LATAM’s major economies maintained low inflation, allowing central banks to keep interest rates under control, and the banking sector remained resilient with ample capital and liquidity buffers. With this economic backdrop, it is likely LATAM will come out of the pandemic stronger than before.

Santander has long recognised LATAM as one of the most promising regions for investments. As one of the richest regions in terms of natural resources and food production and boasting a strong talent pool, the demand for sustainable infrastructure development in the region is extensive.

As global attention increasingly gears towards LATAM, we expect to see gradual improvements in the region’s economic management, including better social inclusion and the raising of both private and public capital to boost investment in infrastructure, innovation and technology. Brazil, a key market for us, offers enormous potential in terms of ESG investments, and Mexico’s focus on fintech and digital banking is making exciting headways for digital transformation across the region. 

Although change in the region is not linear, the progress that is taking place on all fronts in LATAM has only strengthened Santander’s commitment to play a substantial role in the region. Having commenced trading with LATAM since 1857, we now have 76 million customers in the region, 56% more than three years ago. As we continue to invest extensively in the region under the leadership of 400 senior management teams, we will also expand on the work we did during 2020 to channel money across the region, reduce fees for SMEs, expand our scholarship programme and invest in new facilities.

If the inspiring conference speakers showed us anything, it is that the current crisis can be transformed into a crisis of resilience and sustainability. Now more than ever we need to treat climate risk seriously, and LATAM is proving an ideal place to do this. We hope that by next year’s conference, which will be held in person at Cancún, LATAM’s instrumental role within the global sustainable economy will be unquestionable.