To great evils, great remedies. The BBVA has decided to look for a communication and image consultant to improve its reputation, damaged by the hiring scandal of Villarejo to carry out alleged eavesdropping. It is the first time that the bank takes a measure like this to address a problem of its own. In other cases, he had advisers for general judicial problems, such as floor clauses. On the other hand, the employers' association of banks and that of old savings banks, also seek another adviser to improve the reputation of the sector.
On January 24, BBVA sent a list of conditions for the hiring of a communication agency. The process is still open and the most relevant firms in the sector have been presented since it is a contract of great importance. The entity chaired by Carlos Torres asked for the service "of a communication agency specialized in the protection of the brand and reputation".
The 15-page sheet does not specify the specific problem of the bank, which is awaiting an investigation begun more than eight months ago to try to find out if they committed criminal acts when hiring the services of former commissioner Villarejo under the presidency of Francisco González, current president of honor of the entity. BBVA has recognized payments of more than five million euros to Villarejo from 2004 to 2017, although it says that, "for now, it has not discovered" charges for illegal acts. The ECB has urged BBVA to clarify as soon as possible the relationship he had with Villarejo. "Time is of the essence," ECB vice-president Luis de Guindos said a few days ago to the entity to resolve the crisis surrounding the eavesdropping
Avoid criminal acts
The winning agency is obliged to comply with the code of conduct of the BBVA group and must guarantee that "it does not have any data that leads it to suspect that its participation takes place through a fraudulent or criminal act by persons related to the provider and with the BBVA group. "
On this matter, the president of the CNMV, Sebastián Albella, indicated that he follows the case of BBVA "with great attention" to ensure that the "adequate explanations" are given if there are "patrimonial or reputational responsibilities, which must be correctly explained to the market". This was indicated by Albella in a meeting with journalists after the conference Spanish Funding organized by the Association for the Financial Markets of Europe (AFME).
Among the communication agencies, there were doubts about the real capacity of the bank to take on the problem and make relevant decisions that can improve its reputation effectively. Image experts consulted comment that they found it surprising that President Torres publicly bet on González's innocence and to say that it would not take any decision (request the resignation of the former president) until the investigation is concluded, which can last more than two additional months.
Improve the image of the sector
On the other hand, the financial sector has come together to address the same problem: the bad reputation. Santander, BBVA, Bankia, Sabadell, CaixaBank and Kutxabank, as well as the bank employers' association, AEB, and the old savings banks, CECA, are also looking for an image agency. This process does not mean having a single spokesperson, but gathering ideas to help them improve. It is not the first time that the sector tries. In the past, the difference of criteria between the entities has taken force to these initiatives.