Title Frequently Asked Questions
I started to work in 1980. I was 25 years old when my father invited me to work, it was actually in 1981. I had been studying for my masters’ degree and after concluding my studies I started to work in the United States. All my friends were making a considerable amount of money in Mexico, this was during the 1980s. I came back and within a short time, after the devaluation, I wound up earning half of what I was making in the United States.
As a son it is always flattering, always a welcome move, that they invite you, but it was always very clear to me that I had I had to work outside of the family company for a good amount of time in order to build my own career, my own life, and end up contributing something, not just as the boss’ son but as someone who knows something. And I expect that this will also be the case with my sons’ paths in life; that they are very successfully building their careers and carrying out their endeavors and then later they can work here. I believe that it is very bad for children to enter the family business right from school because their only credentials are being “the owner's son”, and this doesn't help.
Elektra was very small in the 1980s; we had 50 stores, and it was always financially very weak. It was not until we went through that terrible devaluation when we were forced to adopt a model that handled large volumes, low margin, and everything paid up front. That changed Elektra’s life; we stop giving credit for many years.
At the present time in Mexico there are many opportunities. Many people are not having their credit lines renewed, and this is a great opportunity for the banks that have money to lend and for people to spend, as in our case in Banco Azteca.
Many people think that the United States is a very rich country; however, like any nation, there is stratification; the base of the pyramid in the United States is very big. I am talking about the most recent figures, I am speaking of approximately eight million people who do not have access to banking services in the United States; there are many opportunities.
At Banco Azteca we have more than 12 million credit holders, with an average credit of more or less P$6,000. How can 12 million people be deceived? This is cannot be done. People who are with us do so because they know that it is the best option in the market, it is the best option, and they vote with their wallet.
Some people have stated that I am opposed to the entry of new competitors into the financial market; however, this is not the case. No one in Grupo Salinas is opposed to competition. We only demand that the new participants receive the same treatment that is given to Mexican companies.
Well, you have to be very careful. I have seen that this has happened before in Mexico and in other places. The populist discourse that says “we will protect the poor from the abusive bankers” is very pleasant sounding and there is something of truth in this. Nevertheless, we should be very cautious, because these “do-gooders” eventually affect people's capacity to access credit.
I believe that Banco Azteca is the most solid bank in Mexico. It is a bank for low-income sectors of the population that does not charge any commission. It has managed to attract more than 12 million depositors with an average of more or less P$6,000 per account. Our assets, the portfolio, what we have lent, is all short term, the average maturity of the portfolio is 45 weeks. In general, banks in Mexico are doing well and ours is doing much better than the others.
One sees needs and immediately thinks about how to better and more efficiently satisfy them. What I saw is that the auto sector in Mexico is very oriented to high price cars and there is the very large sector of the population that cannot buy them.
Television is a very complex business. Of all the businesses that I manage, television is undoubtedly the most complicated because its raw material is energy and people. And what we produce travels by air, arrives and enters through the windows into your home. It is completely permeable, it arrives everywhere. It is like a guest that arrives at all homes. Then there is the audience’s need to be entertained; is very important and they tell us about it. We, the television companies, are possibly one of the most democratic institutions that exist, because every day we face a vote, minute by minute.
It was a long process that took several years to complete. First there was talk that the government would get out of the television business; then they were just talking about Channel 7 and they would maintain Channel 13, and then that they would get rid of Channels 7 and 13, the newspaper, and some cinemas, and some movie studios. In the end, they presented a media package.
There are still those who make the mistake of considering Azteca as part of a duopoly. Our television company has 168 stations and relay channels out of a total of 733 in the country. That is, the company has 22.9% share of the television stations, which would hardly be considered a decisive stake in the industry, and this is without considering the hundred of pay TV channels that exist in Mexico.
There are external factors that will have an impact on Mexico’s economic growth, such as the fall in oil prices, exports of manufactured goods, foreign direct investment, remittances, and tourism.
I believe that the excesses in the credit markets were an American, even European, phenomenon, but I do not see this occurring in either Asia or in Latin America. We have quite good economies and they are doing well. Of course in the specific case of Mexico, much depends on exports to the U.S. market and the tourism industry, which has been severely harmed due to the panic caused by the swine flu outbreak, which was exaggerated.
The change in the conditions is totally valid, but it is much more valid for citizens to be able to defend ourselves from the authorities when the rules are changed, when they go against our freedoms. There are those who assert that the electoral reform cannot be characterized as “legalized robbery”, as an “expropriation”, because the publicity issued by the Federal Electoral Commission (IFE) and the political parties is transmitted during the time slots allotted to the government.
We as a society have to rapidly seek alternatives to the traditional political parties. I believe that we should involve ourselves much more in the social organizations, in some way, in the NGOs, and from there to pressure and place demands on the political parties. Leadership also plays a role here, in having independent thinking, not just following the rules. And being honest means complying with the rules and being consistent.
Freedom is the essential characteristic which distinguishes human beings from any other species. However, efforts to restrict it have become systematic in many countries of the world. According to Daniel Dennett, freedom loses little by little, is an amputation that does not hurt but hits us in our essence.
A program known as the Aztec Businessman Association, in which we try to provide protection and support for small businessmen. This association holds conventions in different parts of the country, more or less one every three months, and we bring companies and lecturers to talk with the businessmen. We also set up Banco Azteca display booths to show how we support young entrepreneurs in their activities. But, more concretely, if someone has an idea, excellent, we’ll review it.
I believe that working and studying is a better combination. If you are good in selling, you already have more than half of the problem solved, because believe me, buying is easier. Selling, that is what is most difficult. And you can spot a good salesperson, because he has a way with words, he has a presence, he pushes, he is not intimidated. That’s why I say that it is difficult to teach this. Work pays you two-fold, it pays you in experience and it pays you in money.
Everything is tied together. All businesses have to do with a need. The essence of the businessman is to buy something and to sell something. Need is the first criteria; if there is no need, why do we launch a company? And if there is need, but it is not profitable, then we are no longer talking about the field of business, but rather of social action.
I believe that the first big step is to be aware, that is, for you to be conscious that there is a problem and to begin to consider, each person from their own vantage point, and from your position in the workplace, what can be done. But if you are not aware then it is very difficult to take action. Believe me, there are so many things to do in the country, so many things that are lacking, that it is truly a pity not to do anything.
It is magnificent not to lose; in any business, much is won by not losing. What I have seen when people screw around in business, is that that they entered a bad business and lost huge amounts of money and when they want to fix the situation, it is very complicated to do so. What happens is that when you are successful in something that you do and suddenly you have more than enough money, the first thing that people think of is to invest it, rather than putting it to work.
The problem with young people is that they have a life ahead of them, as opposed to an older person, 50 or 60 years old, who are suddenly left without a job; this is undeniably a very unfortunate predicament. My best advice is that it better to be safe than sorry. It is necessary to anticipate things before they occur and to act on that basis. Many people when they have a job for the time being do not value what this means and think that they have the right to this and that, and they do not consider the responsibilities that having such employment implies. Then, normally when there are cutbacks, the companies make a selection, with some employees remaining and others leaving.