Features

Viviana Alvarado – Sura Asset Management Mexico

Sweeping changes

In the 70 years Grupo Sura has been entrusted with other people’s money, it has prided itself on investing for the future and ethically insuring clients.

Now, in the wake of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s sweeping anticorruption measures aimed at cleaning up the way government and corporations do business, Sura’s Mexico City-based subsidiary is making sure that money stays where it belongs.

The corporate and anticorruption commitments run deep for Viviana Alvarado, the legal and compliance executive director for Grupo Sura’s subsidiary, Sura Asset Management. The division, founded in 2011, does business in Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru and Uruguay as well as Mexico, managing $129 billion in assets for 19 million people.

As new opportunities abound for investment and growth throughout those regions, Alvarado also sees the need to ensure the organization’s work reaches even higher standards.

“When the laws came into effect, it was like music for Sura’s ears,” Alvarado says.

Rooted in doing it right

Established in Medellin, Colombia, Sura has been insuring, handling pensions, and investing for clients in South and Latin America for more than 70 years, guided by a steadfast commitment to transparency and promoting social good.

The new Mexican anticorruption regulations and enforcement brings the nation closer to global standards, and Alvarado says that compliance is both achievable and welcome.

For her that means revising and standardizing agreements and contracts to align with new regulations and oversight and beefing up security measures and best sales practices to protect client accounts, data and personal information. The job is ongoing, and has no deadline for completion, Alvarado says.

“The regulator’s main concern is the customer. Our main goal is to satisfy and protect customers’ interests,” she adds. “It will be necessary to work hand in hand with the regulatory offices to give visibility to these new digital changes.”

What’s new for investors

With the company’s portfolios and operations changing daily, Alvarado says she and her department of 50 are upgrading the technology to make adherence and compliance easier.

In terms of innovation for investors, Sura Asset Management introduced a digital platform and app in July 2019 that allows clients to sign up for and manage pension and investment accounts—one way Alvarado says Sura is meeting the demands of younger clients using high tech in their lives.

“The user is living a new experience, with the information security protected by processes and tools based on the latest technology,” she says.

Internally, Sura is working to make its sales staff more efficient and developing policies to allow staff to telecommute, an example of the company’s concern for employees as well as customers.

“Sura’s a company with very solid ethical principles,” Alvarado says. “The company focuses on the customer and considers its employees its most important asset.”

Where the money goes

Sura has always looked to do business with or invest in companies compliant with high ethical standards, whether through their products, how they treat employees or how environmentally conscious they are. Alvarado says the added anticorruption measures are bringing an even stronger emphasis to that mission.

“I think in general, the company is going through a transformation process in the IT environment for the benefit of its customers,” she says. “We’re working on cleaning up our portfolio; make it greener and making sure companies and projects our funds invest in are sustainable and ethical.”

Sura is lined up with U.N. Environmental, Social and Governance Principles of Responsible Investment which, for instance, make certain industries such as weapons, alcohol or tobacco ineligible for investment, Alvarado notes.

Becoming a leader

A native of Mexico City, Alvarado, 45, earned her Juris Doctor from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico in 1996 and a Master of Laws from Northwestern University in Chicago in 2001. A legal career was always her aspiration.

“I decided to be a lawyer because, as a child, I thought that lawyers did important things for people,” she says. “I wanted to transcend positively in people’s lives and help improve society.”

Alvarado, who joined Sura in 2003, has taken charge in places where women in leadership are not always welcome, but adds her work is as much about developing people and building teams as it’s about guiding Sura’s compliance, risk management and protecting customers.

Outside the office, Alvarado achieves balance in her life by enjoying time with her two children and family. She also enjoys riding her bike and practicing tennis.

Alvarado is active in several nonprofits, including serving on the board for Centro Mexicano Pro-Bono and volunteering with the Sura Foundation, which builds schools in Latin America. She has also been a lecturer for several institutions in Mexico.

During her years at Sura, Alvarado says her growth and leadership abilities have come from organization and a studious approach that encompasses knowing all the facets of the industry while being open to new ideas.

So while Mexico ushers in a new era of transparency and anticorruption, Alvarado is confident Sura is already meeting the task.

“That is something that affects us, the anti-corruption measures are on the same page as Sura, because it has a very strong ethical base,” she says.

Published on: December 8, 2019

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