April 18, 2014

Banking

Continental Drift - Changes in Florida's International Banking Sector

The new and growing role of European and Asian banks in Miami


Dario Fuentes is only the second executive from a Spanish bank to lead the state’s international bankers association.
The new president of the Florida International Bankers Association reflects the growing role that European and Asian banks — particularly Spanish banks — are playing in Miami’s international banking sector, which traditionally has been defined primarily in terms of connections with Latin America. Dario Fuentes, senior vice president and general manager of the Miami agency of Spanish bank Caja Mediterráneo, began his one-year term as head of the trade group in June.

A native of Spain, Fuentes, 34, came to Miami when he took the job with Mediterráneo in 2006. He sees himself as a bridge between European and American banking. “I think I do understand a little bit not only of the United States but Europe too,” he says.

One of Fuentes’ priorities is promoting international trade and trade financing in Florida. Trade finance, which had dwindled during the easy-credit era of the economic boom, has once again become an important part of keeping goods moving through the state’s ports, and Fuentes believes international trade is the best industry to turn around the economy. To increase both, he is organizing seminars in partnership with the U.S. Commerce Department where Florida businesses will work with bankers, the Small Business Administration and the Export/Import Bank to look for and finance trade opportunities. FIBA also plans a trade finance-related event in China late this year.

At the same time, Fuentes is not taking FIBA away from its traditional role as an advocate for the international banking community. “We have to have an open dialogue (with regulators) so that new regulation doesn’t have unintended consequences,” he says.

FIBA is also planning to expand on its professional education work, which includes its annual Anti-Money Laundering Institute Conference, the nation’s largest, attracting as many as 1,200 people every year. Fuentes will draw on his own Spanish-U.S. experience as he works on a FIBA anti-money laundering conference that will bring together U.S. and European banks and regulators in Spain next year.

Tags: Miami-Dade

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