INTERVIEW: Xavier Tornos, one of the 148 founding investors of 11Onze, and one of the owners of Instaltop, a carpentry and parquet flooring company located in Montcada i Reixac. After learning about the creation of 11Onze, he decided to join the initiative. For him, the most important thing about the project is the ethics and the reinvestment of money in the country’s economy as a tool to carry out personal and business projects.
Why did you decide to become a promoter of 11Onze?
It was very easy for me. Six months ago, Natàlia Cugueró, the current director of the bank, approached me because we have known each other for 20 years. She explained the 11Onze project to me and I immediately saw that it was a very innovative, revolutionary and necessary entity. I was so excited that it was very easy for me to say yes and participate directly.
What struck you most about this project?
Basically, the innovation that the arrival of an ethical and innovative bank in terms of its structure and organisation represents in the banking sector. I was particularly excited by the group of people behind 11Onze, which for me is a very important factor to take into account.
I also think that it is necessary for the structures of a country to be very close to the end user. That is why I think that 11Onze is something necessary to place the structures, in this case financial structures, close to their users: SMEs or private clients who need financing to carry out their projects.
How do you think users and customers will react to the emergence of a bank like this?
I think they will react well because of all the characteristics that 11Onze has. It will be an ethical bank and this is very important because we already know the type of investments that traditional banks make and what we represent for them, which is basically nothing. 11Onze, in order to have this ethical component, attaches great importance to investing its profits in the growth of the Catalan economy and that of its community. In the long run, however, I do not rule out the possibility that it could grow and open up to other markets in Spain and Europe. I think we can do very well and that other people value this aspect.
One of the most important pillars of the bank is the concept of “community banking”, how would you explain this spirit of 11Onze?
I think that when you create a bank that is very close to the people and that provides services to SMEs or individuals, you end up knowing the idiosyncrasies of our country’s society. For example, knowing what we want, how we want it and when. At the end of the day, the bank’s function is to transfer money from investors or savers to borrowers, and if it knows the market for both, it is easier for this community to grow and help the economy of the people who participate.
Why do you think we need a Catalan bank in our country right now?
Because we need it. Every country needs state structures and one of these structures is the financial one, and this is where banks come in. We need a bank in Catalonia because we need to be able to decide what we do with our money and how we invest it in our own country’s economy. In fact, I believe the management of 11Onze will have to set the conditions for people to benefit from the services provided by the bank, so that the economy can flow and our personal and professional projects can move forward.
And in terms of investors, what do you expect from 11Onze?
To live up to expectations of everything I have seen, been told and verified. The other day I was lucky enough to go to the campus and talk to the first batch of 11Onze agents; I was amazed by the enthusiasm they have, by the coexistence of different generations… A tremendous enthusiasm to start providing service and doing things well.
On the subject of ethics, and I am convinced of this, I hope that they will reinvest the money in social projects that, in general, benefit us all. I think we have had enough of this savage capitalism that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. We have to stop this now and I think we can do it through the bank.
What strengths do you highlight about Xavi Tornos as an entrepreneur?
It is difficult to talk about the good things about oneself. I consider myself to be a very planful entrepreneur and I think this is very important when it comes to growing a company. I also believe that I am very customer-oriented in everything I do. Likewise, I like to know that they are happy, and so do my employees. At the end of the day, they are the ones who are the face of the company, and it is important that they are happy with their work because they will pass it on to the customers.