Ana Luiza Franco Forattini – Inter
Many company leaders say the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge they’ve faced the past few years.
While Ana Luiza Franco Forattini would agree with this, she’d also mention a challenging transaction she helped lead for Inter. As general counsel and compliance officer, she helped the Brazilian financial company enter the U.S. market and get listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Inter, a platform with over 22 million customers, provides digital banking and investment services, as well as the option to shop online through its app.
“Regarding the Nasdaq listing, my favorite thing was working on a transaction that hadn’t been tested in the Brazilian capital markets,” she says. “We had to design it from scratch and come together strategically as a team to make it happen.”
After two years of working on the transaction’s executive steering team with Inter’s CEO, chief financial officer and VP of finance, Franco saw the listing go live in June 2022. Between designing and structuring the complex deal and familiarizing herself with the U.S. market and its issues, she had to “do a deep dive” on legal matters and regulations that were new to her, she says.
With help from outside counsel, she and her team provided all legal advice for the deal and presented matters to shareholders for approval. They also worked closely with investor relations, advisors and with employees in several areas of the company to ensure compliance and analyze risk.
“Being able to lead a multitalented team of this size and engage different areas in the company was a great challenge,” Franco says. “It’s helped me grow as a lawyer, executive and as a team leader.”
Learning the market
In addition to sparking the interest of potential investors, Franco says the Nasdaq listing will allow the company to expand internationally. In fact, a few months before the deal closed, Inter acquired its first U.S. company—USEND, a money remittance company, which has been rebranded as part of Inter.
Franco, who also handles the legal aspects of mergers and acquisitions, is part of the integration process of acquired companies, too. This is especially important, she says, because it helps her and her team design and ensure governance, legal and compliance adherence.
“My team is formed of very talented and nice people,” she says. “I feel so fortunate to work with them.”
When she joined Inter in 2015, it was a small credit bank and she soon helped it become the first digital bank in Brazil, operated solely through an app. The legality of this was new to her, as it was for many others in the company and for regulators.
Business progress quickly, she says, and in 2018 Inter was listed in the Brazilian Stock Exchange (b3). It did three additional follow-on offerings in the years that followed, while launching several products and services, including its SuperApp, which has banking, investment, marketplace and insurance functions.
“Inter is an innovative and fast-growing company and I feel fortunate that I’ve been part of structuring that growth,” Franco says. “I’ve seen myself grow as the company has grown.”
Investing in herself
Franco says Inter has given her and other women opportunities to lead and advance within the company.
“I have three children and I absolutely love being a mom and spending time with family, but I also fully enjoy my job and the things I have accomplished in my career, which also allowed me to grow as a person,” she says. “It can be a great challenge to balance all this, but it’s doable if you have discipline and a company that supports you.”
Franco enjoys talking with other women from Inter about their challenges, career opportunities and gender issues. She also talks with the human resources department about developing more ways for women to lead. Franco says the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion discussions also involve supporting gender equality.
After earning her LL.M., she started her career at a law firm based in Houston, Texas, working primarily on capital markets and M&A deals, before returning to her home country of Brazil. She spent the next decade working at law firms in Sao Paulo in those same areas of expertise.
Franco took her first in-house role in 2012 at an investment fund also in Sao Paulo, as head of corporate risk management committees and legal advisor for its portfolio companies. These roles, she says, exposed her to a strategic oversight of the business beyond legal, such as HR, risk management and general business practices.
She came to Inter in 2015 as a legal and administrative superintendent, earning a couple promotions in the past several years. She was appointed to the C-level team in 2017 while on maternity leave, which she says is indicative of how Inter supports women.
While at Inter, Franco has continued her education and has taken leadership and other courses at accredited institutions in Brazil and the U.S.
“You have to like what you do and dedicate time to invest in yourself,” she says. “Every day is a good opportunity to learn and understand opportunities for self-development.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.
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