Santander chief flies flag for integrated European market

Juan Rodriguez Inciarte, director general of Spanish banking giant Group Santander, says Abbey will win confidence with the public and intermediaries by offering more choice, better prices and products they really need.

Speaking at Mortgage Strategy’s Mortgage Summit in Jerez, Spain, Rodriguez Inciarte told delegates: “The way we can achieve this is by having more integrated and competitive mortgage markets in the EU.”

Santander’s objective in the UK is to increase competition in much the same way it has done in Spain.

Flying the flag for further EU integration, Rodriguez Inciarte went on to say European mortgage market integration would lead to more housing stock, lower interest rates and higher private consumption.

He refused to be drawn on whether the UK should join the euro, saying that while integration would benefit the financial services industry, it wouldn’t necessarily benefit the UK economy.

The Santander chief says the UK has a strong and healthy mortgage market but that Abbey could learn things from Santander in the same way that the Spanish bank could assimilate some practices from the UK company into its operations.

Spain has the highest number of bank branches per million inhabitants of any country in Europe and Rodriguez Inciarte says the reason for this is that Spanish customers see banks as a one-stop shop for all their financial needs. This lessens the need to go through different brokers for different products.

He says: “The UK mortgage industry is highly fragmented in terms of the number of channels available to obtain services but that is part of the tradition in the national market.

“Wherever we operate we try to be local and apply methods and processes that are suitable for that market.

“We want Abbey to be the number one lender in the UK both for consumers and for the intermediaries that deal with us.”