BBVA entered the U.S. in 2005, buying a series of banks over the next four years. Its U.S. franchise now ranks among the 20 largest banks by deposits in the U.S., with $66 billion of assets and more than 700 branches.
Still, its growth in the U.S. has been slowed by problem loans it inherited in some of its acquisitions. While the unit boosted loans and profits in the third quarter, one year ago the parent company took a $1.3 billion goodwill writedown on BBVA Compass, citing expected side effects from the sluggish economic recovery.
For the moment, Sanchez, 47, is more focused on trying to grow in some very local markets, including what he calls the "very competitive environment" of Texas. BBVA Compass is the fourth-largest bank by deposits in the booming state, where it has more than half U.S. branches and has built up a commercial banking team to capitalize on the regional demand for business loans. The bank even recently funded the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's exhibition of paintings on loan from the world-famous Prado museum in Madrid.
Those efforts are paying off; Sanchez says that in Texas, BBVA is selling an average of five products to each new household that comes into the bank, versus about two products per household seven years ago. Across the company's entire U.S. business, cross-selling has improved to 3.6 products per household this year, versus 2.4 products four years ago.
Sanchez, a Spanish native now living in Houston, is quick to defend the strength of BBVA's parent (which did not receive funds in Europe's recent bailout of Spanish banks), while simultaneously pointing out how little his company relies on Europe to survive.
Spain only represents about 15% of the parent company's bottom line now, he says, whereas the U.S. accounts for about 10%. The bulk of BBVA's overall profit comes from emerging markets in Mexico and Latin America.
"Like you saw in the U.S., when there's a severe crisis it doesn't mean that all of the banks are necessarily going to be in trouble," Sanchez says.