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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.” 

Launch your career in Investment Banking with Santander

May 2022

We are looking to hire talent to be the future leaders of Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (Santander CIB) through our graduates programme.

Our international graduates 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.

In your first year with us, you will gain an all-round understanding of the investment banking business through immersive training, participating in an array of exciting projects and initiatives.

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 educational background in Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Finance, Business Administration or Economics is needed.

Why Santander CIB? We are part of one of the world’s leading financial services groups. 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

Applications close on 5 June 2022

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.