Jabier Badiola, managing partner, Dentons Spain: ‘The banking sector is increasingly sensitive to environmental issues’

In addition to being forced to the address the issue of sustainability, financial institutions are also having to increasingly apply technological solutions to traditional banking services, says Dentons Spain managing partner Jabier Badiola

Posted Thursday, January 28th 2021
Jabier Badiola, managing partner, Dentons Spain: ‘The banking sector is increasingly sensitive to environmental issues’

Jabier Badiola, managing partner, Dentons Spain

LEADERS LEAGUE: What have been the biggest developments in the banking sector in Spain in the last year? 

JABIER BADIOLA: The key trend cannot be viewed just by looking at the last year. In my opinion, the banking consolidation process caused by capital adequacy requirements introduced by European Union directives is the most significant long-term development in the European banking sector. Though this process culminated in Spain with the ongoing merger between Caixabank and Bankia, it started before the global financial crisis and has been ongoing during the last 10 years.  

The implementation of the relevant measures by the banks in order to comply with the aforementioned capital adequacy requirements has also facilitated the entrance of new players (including funds, insurance companies, and direct lenders) into the finance sector, which has, in a real way, altered the status quo.      

How have these developments impacted on the demand for legal services? 

The arrival of new players, as well as the requirements resulting from the capital cost of arranging finance transactions, have had a significant impact on the way legal services are provided in the finance sector during the last few years.  

The traditional nature of legal advice, based on a lawyer-client relationship, is mutating into a partnership where both parties work together on arranging and implementing financing structures that take into account the existing opportunities in the market and the banks’ and new players’ needs. This collaboration, usually driven by a need to improve credit risk, has triggered the implementation of new financing products and structures during the last few years.     

"Banks are deploying a lot of resources to develop fintech solutions to improve the way their services are provided"

What do you think will be the biggest trends in the banking sector in the coming year? 

In my opinion, the biggest trends in the banking and finance sector in the coming years will be those related to capital consumption and technology. 

The need to minimize the capital consumption from certain banking and finance products may force banks to implement innovative and more structured and sophisticated solutions for their clients’ needs. On the other hand, players with less aggressive, or even no applicable capital consumption regulations, will be replacing banking institutions with regard to the provision of traditional products that were provided by banks in the past. 

The pandemic has also accelerated the efforts of financial institutions in terms of applying technological solutions to traditional banking services. Banks are deploying a lot of resources to develop fintech solutions to improve the way their services are provided.  

The banking sector is increasingly sensitive to environmental and sustainability issues. This concern has led to the adoption of policies that have started to impact the banking sector and legal services.  

Finally, like most sectors during the last year, the banking and finance sector has been affected by the impact of Covid-19. It is quite likely that the finance sector will have to go through a significant refinancing and restructuring process in the coming year. 

You recently took over as Dentons' Spain managing partner, what plans does the firm have for the future? 

The intention of Dentons Europe is that our Spanish offices continue with the European growth and specialization plan that was proposed a couple of years ago. This plan encompassed other offices such as those in Italy, Germany and Holland, which are further along in this process, so implementing this plan has become a priority for the Spanish offices.  

Our growth strategy in Spain will mainly be focused on the core areas for the firm (that is, energy, mergers & acquisitions and litigation), without neglecting growth and development in other important areas for the firm, such as intellectual property, restructuring and insolvency and competition, for example.