Roberto Setubal, president of Banco Itaú, participated in the fifth edition of Lidercom, an initiative of Aberje – Brazilian Association for Business Communication which brought together the leaders of Corporate Communications in Brazil (from companies such as Brookfield, Avon, Natura, Microsoft and Braskem) to discuss the relationship between companies and their stakeholders. The event was held at the Espaço Cubo (Space Cube), an innovative hub created in a partnership between the bank and Redpoint Ventures as a non-profit initiative to promote startups.
While speaking to a group of journalists Mr. Setubal focused on the processes and policies that have enhanced Itaú’s reputation around the world. Some of the salient themes he touched on during his speech were: transparency, consistency, organization and governance.
According to Setubal, ”as the bank grew, it became apparent that transparency was essential. Today, the bank has 90,000 employees. It’s not possible for a company of that size to hide this or that. We have to be forthright and act with transparency. Credibility is essential. A bank lives on credibility, and it is built every day.”
For the president of Itaú, transparency and concern about what is said and done every day is more important because of the role of the Brazilian press. “The media in Brazil thrives on sensationalism,” he said. “I understand that there is a need to sell newspapers, but often the coverage does not adequately reflect the events as they are. This is often true with headlines. Unlike US newspapers, this is what draws the most attention here. They are more balanced in the US, especially in regards to headlines. “
Setubal believes that “transparency and consistency are the basis of communication. What is good for one area is not necessarily good for the bank as a whole. The bank is larger than its individual sectors.” Consistency is not easy but it is essential and important for success in the long term. And this consistency is also an important feature in the communication actions of the company. We do not take a trip that is not ours just to be fashionable. Of course we are adapting to the times, but in fact we communicate what we are.”
All this is only possible because of the governance installed in the bank, which Setubal believes to be the great legacy he will leave to Itaú. According to him, decision making should be made in a well organized manner, and it is an important element of management. Every decision is made in a very rational way, based on facts and data, rather than intuition.
Over time, Roberto Setubal has relinquished his direct involvement with many of the issues related to communication. He does, however, take part in the approval of major sponsorships, as was the case with the World Cup in 2014 or soccer at Globo, because they involve major investments. But because everything is done technically with calculated risks, and the media allocation is based on data analysis, the issue of governance returns to the forefront, demonstrating that with the right fundamentals and leadership all areas of the bank will work as expected.
These principals of organization are reflected in the social and cultural projects of the bank as well. Setubal noted that with the growth of Itaú, there was a space, or even a need, to interact with the sectors that do not traditionally maintain a dialogue with the bank. For this reason, programs like Itaú Cultural were created. “Cultural and social activities were in the DNA of the founding families, and now they have become part of the company’s DNA. When a seed is well planted, it bears fruit. What was once an individual action then becomes an institutional issue and acquires its own life. We decided that if we are going to do something, we would do it well. So we always get the best people. All of this without losing sight of the fact that in the end we are a bank,” said the president of Itaú.