How Blankfein Inspired BTG’s CEO to Try Out Social Media

  • BTG is seeking transparency in aftermath of Esteves crisis
  • Sallouti says the bank aims to be a ‘faceless’ institution

Lloyd Blankfein

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

For inspiration on how to rebuild the embattled brand of Banco BTG Pactual, Chief Executive Officer Roberto Sallouti looked to Lloyd Blankfein.

The Brazilian investment bank, whose fallen chief Andre Esteves once joked its initials stood for “better than Goldman,” is using social media to be more open and to ensure its messages reach clients with fewer intermediaries, Sallouti said at an industry conference in Sao Paulo.

“We had this reputation of being a secretive, closed institution and we wanted to change that, to be seen as transparent, communicative. And the way to do that was through social media,” Sallouti said late Thursday. “To our surprise, it’s been working really well.”

Sallouti, 45, has been publishing almost every week on his LinkedIn page, with posts ranging from praise for BTG’s team for its quarterly performance to inspirational comments from Tony Robbins. BTG also has Facebook and LinkedIn profiles highlighting the work of employees and explaining its funds.

Sallouti said his role model for a social media strategy was Blankfein, the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who unexpectedly appeared on Twitter in early June, joining U.S. corporate leaders in responding to the Trump administration’s decision to ditch the Paris climate accord. Blankfein said in an interview on CNBC that month that he learned in the financial crisis to speak out when the bank or its employees may be threatened.

BTG executives know intense scrutiny too.

Corruption Case

At the event, Sallouti revealed that while BTG’s leaders expect Esteves, 49, will soon be acquitted in a corruption case, he won’t be reinstated to run the firm. The sudden arrest in 2015 of Esteves, the charismatic billionaire founder of the firm who was once ranked among the nation’s most prominent bankers, shook the company, putting its survival at risk. Esteves has always denied wrongdoing.

Read more: Billionaire Esteves won’t take helm of BTG if acquitted

Sallouti was among the top partners who had to step up as Esteves spent three weeks in Rio de Janeiro’s Bangu prison. Sallouti has grown visibly more comfortable with the public roles of a CEO, including speaking before crowds. He’s even shed a few pounds. Sallouti told the rapt group that BTG had been wrong to rely too much on Esteves as the bank’s public face. Now, he and other senior partners will take their turns under the spotlight, Sallouti said.

“Our goal is that BTG becomes a sort of faceless institution, controlled by a group of people who give their clients a high-value service,” Sallouti said.

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