Mauricio Toro on pension and insurance funds in Latin America | Proteccion | Video

World Finance interviews Mauricio Toro, President of Protección, on the future of pension and insurance funds in Latin America

January 27, 2014

Pension and insurance funds have long been considered integral to Latin America’s economic growth. Mauricio Toro, President of Protección, talks about his organisation’s work in the region, and its disciplined approach to corporate governance.

World Finance: Mauricio, how is Protección promoting a culture of sustainable saving in Latin America?

Mauricio Toro: Colombia decided more than 20 years ago to move from a defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution system, where AFPs started offering services to customers in order to create their savings for retirement and even for severance. During these 20 years, Protección has been working very hard promoting the culture of savings, giving advice to our clients, employers, employees, and creating products and services that could help them create their wealth and their savings for the future. That has been a very interesting, very challenging process. And on the other side, we have been working strongly promoting the capital markets, the professional investment processes, so I think it’s the task we have been doing here in these last 20 years or more.

World Finance: Latin America’s pension and insurance funds are particularly important to the area’s economic growth, so tell me what has Protección’s impact been in this area?

Protección is now a very important player in the capital markets

Mauricio Toro: Well Protección is now a very important player in the capital markets, and through our investment processes we have been supporting companies to invest throughout the country and even the region, and some companies are starting to invest in different continents which has been a very important support for Colombian growth, because Colombia’s economy is very well diversified, the quality of our management is very good, and companies have the opportunity to access capital markets and grow through the country, and this has been very important. We have even been working with the government, supporting the government’s financial needs, and it’s part of a virtuous circle, where savings are invested in a productive way and the companies, the government, private sector, and public sector could reach their goals, financially speaking.

World Finance: Good transparency is a vital facet of doing business in the pensions sector so what procedures do Protección have in place to ensure you maintain trust with your stakeholders?

Mauricio Toro:  Managing pension funds and severance funds is basically a fiduciary process, a fiduciary activity where you have to put the interest of your clients first, and you have to work in an environment of good transparency, where the interests of different stakeholders could be taken into consideration and respected. Protección is the only listed company of the AFPs in Colombia, the only administradora a pensiones listed on the stock exchange. We have been working with our corporate governance code, considering the interests of different minority shareholders, customers, employers, employees, providers, all the stakeholders we have nowadays, so the transparency in the information, the treatment they receive from the company, from the board, the management and all the areas of the organisation is a very important process. We are very strict in complying with it, and I think it has been very useful in order to have the consciousness throughout the company to respect everybody’s interest in our different processes.

Additionally we plan to support the needs of the government of the country in terms of the infrastructure development

World Finance: Finally, what are Protección’s plans for the rest of the year?

Mauricio Toro: Our most important goal for 2013 is to consolidate the merger with ING Colombia, our largest shareholder, Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana, both the ING assets in pensions and savings in Latin America, and after that we decided to merge Protección with ING Colombia. Now we are merged, and Protección is the brand we adopted for the integrated company. Although the process was a success in terms of the opportunity, the quality of the services we continued offering to our customers, the operations continuity we could achieve which is very important challenge in this process, we need to consolidate the culture, we need to adapt our services to the best standards of the industry, and to continue growing in the Colombian market. So that’s our most important challenge for this year. Additionally we plan to support the needs of the government of the country in terms of the infrastructure development, and in the areas of investment, the support of Colombian companies in the process of consolidation throughout the continent.