Miguel Artola

Director of Asset Management, Bankinter

“There should be vehicles that specialize more in business financing. They don’t exist in Spain, but you do find them in more developed economies such as the United States”

Is bankization of the Spanish economy excessive at 90 percent when compared with other countries, where the norm is around 70 percent?

The level of bankization is very high in continental Europe in general, so this isn’t something exclusive to Spain. It is a fact that banks are the main mechanism for channeling investor savings, and the size of our economies has a lot to do with that. In the most developed economies such as the United States, which has a greater critical mass, other mechanisms are possible. There is no immediate solution.

Are investment funds the only alternative for financing for many enterprises?

The problem is that, due to its design, the investment fund is a vehicle that has to have a great deal of liquidity. This goes against long-term business financing, above all in the case of vehicles that don’t have liquidity. There should be vehicles that specialize more in business financing. They don’t exist in Spain, but you do find them in more developed economies such as the United States.

Is venture capital underdeveloped in Spain?

Yes, it is underdeveloped. There is also an issue to do with size. One of the fundamental factors is the creation of a single European capital market to build critical mass, ensuring that there is enough money to invest in it.

Do we need to promote the now anemic alternative fixed-income markets such as the MARF and the MAB?

The alternative markets have had a great deal of success in the United States and the United Kingdom, but once again they have been more limited in continental Europe, mainly because of this lack of large investors. The fact that there aren’t sufficient savings in financial capital in Spain and in continental Europe to be able to meet this kind of demand is an endemic problem. A tax system more favorable toward pensions would be very useful in the sense that investment in pensions is by definition long term, which would make it easier to be able to take on this kind of risk and lack of liquidity.

What challenges and opportunities does the creation of a single capital market in Europe pose for your sector?

Given that this would lead to much more integrated financial markets, the creation of a European single capital market would be an enormous advantage in terms of liquidity, size, and synergies. The challenge would be competition. Each country’s management entity has some very clear advantages in their own country, but they would have to be capable of competing with large international entities on the European level.

Can an economic and monetary union be built in Europe without pan-European banks?

No. But we should go slowly. It is clear that we need pan-European banks in order to fully integrate capital markets.

Has technology done away with barriers to entry in the banking sector?

When it comes to everything related to payment methods, some very powerful competitors have emerged on the Internet, and clearly that’s a space where there is already a great deal of competition. In contrast, in other activities such as the allocation of credit, it is very rare for people without the sufficient experience to be able to compete. In this case, experience is extremely important and, in principle, this barrier cannot be broken down with technology alone, even though technology has almost limitless potential.