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Miami: The Operational Financial Center For A Growing Latin American Market

Miami: The Operational Financial Center For A Growing Latin American Market

Posted by Juan Gavasa on March 14, 2015

Latin America often gets ignored in business and banking, as it does in American foreign policy, but it is made of many economies which are growing and developing a large and  prosperous middle class.  The economic problems — Venezuela and Argentina — often are the only countries that get much attention from North American publications so it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn from bankers and banking technology vendor what an attractive market the Latin American nations are proving to be. Not only are they buying sophisticated technology, they are also developing new technology and running hackathons. A tech demo day in Brazil, which organizers expected would draw 15 entrants, drew 236, and 200 of them were very well qualified.

French President Charles de Gaulle, returning from a state visit to Brazil, supposedly said “Brazil is the country of the future…and it always will be.”

In technology and finance, that future appears to have arrived, although the progress is not uniform across countries or without occasional setbacks. But compared to the no so distant past where brutal military dictatorships were more common than not, Latin America has come a long ways.

Although stable economies in several countries have made local wealth management and investment attractive, Miami is still the headquarters for many of the banks and technology companies conducting business in Latin America.

“Miami is the unofficial capital of the hemisphere,” said Alex Sanchez, president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association. “Ever since Clinton did a summit in Miami and all the presidents came, it has been known as capital of the hemisphere.”

It is also the banking and business capital.

“A lot of companies from the hemisphere, or America companies that want to do business with the hemisphere have regional or South American offices here,” Sanchez added. “It is sometimes easier to fly from a Latin American capital to Miami and then to another Latin American capital than it is to fly inside Latin America. In addition, people from Latam and Europe and Asia feel comfortable doing business here, and it’s a great home.”

“Geographically, Miami is well located,” agreed Enrique Riley who was born in Mexico and manages the Latin American banking business for Temenos, a financial technology with headquarters in Geneva. Temenos started its Miami operations by following its European bank clients who moved to Miami as their base to serve Latin America.

“Latam is a huge territory — it’s a 10 hour flight to Brazil,” said Riley. “But from Miami you can fly easily to and from any capital. If we were based in Mexico, flying to Colombia could require a stop, but from Miami you can fly to any capital, and sometimes you can get in and back on the same day.”

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