HolaBank launch in Marbella

GUEST BLOG By Chris Chaplow
I was interested to attend the launch of a new bank last week - HolaBank by La Caixa. The event, held at the Don Pepe Hotel in Marbella, was attended by around 400 customers, as well as lawyers and estate agents.

First to speak was Victorino Lluch, director of Eastern Andalucia for La Caixa (Almería, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Málaga and Melilla), who set the scene by telling us that La Caixa has 13.8m clients (the highest number of any bank in Spain) and 6,000 branches. In Andalucia La Caixa has a 16 % share of the banking market.
HolaBank is a new programme (rather than an actual bank) aimed at international clients who have bought or are renting property in Spain, whether residing in the country permanently or just for part of the year. These can fit a number of profiles: families who have bought holiday homes, investors, business people, professionals or retirees. They are often European, but may also be from elsewhere in the world, and have moved to Spain for business or leisure purposes.
We were shown a video where foreigners were being interviewed about what they wanted from a bank, with answers across the scale, from interesting to unpredictable. English-speaking staff, security, no fees (which got the biggest laugh), and service, service, service.
We hear complaints from foreign tourists and residents about service levels in Andalucia all the time, but strangely this never appears in published Tourist Board marketing audits. Interesting that La Caixa have picked up on it.
Juan Antonio Alcaraz was introduced as Director General of HolaBank. He is also Chief Business Officer at CaixaBank. He explained that “La Caixa had identified a group of clients with important characteristics and specific needs - this is why we set up Hola Bank.”
As the press release says, “CaixaBank currently serves 375,000 clients in this segment, generating business volumes standing at 6 billion euro (figures as of February 2015). By setting up this business line CaixaBank aims to secure market penetration of 25% among international customers over the next four years, in line with the bank's 2015-2018 strategic plan.”
HolaBank will have 16 special branches in the Malaga province, starting with Manilva, Estepona, Marbella and in other provinces: Alicante (16), Murcia (5), the Balearic Islands (38), Las Palmas (12) and Tenerife (13). These chosen branches will be rebranded to ensure they are easily recognizable to clients.
So what will HolaBank customers get for their money? Specialised customer service provided by multilingual account managers in the branches, supported by documentation available in several languages. The account managers can explain both banking services and financial products. The bank account will be called a HolaBank “living solutions account”.

Under the meme “Ways to make your life easier”, a living solutions plan includes a series of concierge-type services, legal advice (including unlimited telephone queries), online access to translations and interpreters, handyman service, household staff service, removal service, service bureau (ie gestoria), and medical appointments
After a speech on great Marbella by Mayoress Angeles Muñoz, Vincente Morato @vicentemorato, a lawyer and economist from Martínez-Echevarría, gave an interesting presentation on the economics of the foreign investor.
Currently 70% of Spain’s foreign investment is in Madrid concentrated on industry and insurance. The foreign investor in Andalucia is individuals or micro-empresa, while most of the private investment is in inmobilaria (real estate).
HolaBank is not only concentrating on inmo, but also on small business. Foreigners buy companies, and not just bars or hotels. Recent interesting contracts Vincente has seen include a finca of cranberries and a spring water operation.
Vincente spoke about house building and purchase statistics, saying “We can confirm today that the point to inflection has been passed. Real estate transactions in Malaga are more than five years ago.”
Malaga is the fourth province of Spain for house purchases, and for foreigners Malaga is number one, with Marbella being purchasing capital of Malaga.
The presentation finished with a lighthearted chat by Leopoldo Abadia, an economist and guru who has written a number of popular economic books and papers, all in layman’s language. A good choice of speaker to finish a banking conference.
Find out more at holabank.es
Blog published on 28 March 2015