The banking community is in a state of delirium.

No, Virginia. It’s not due to the clinical syndrome of “FliRT,” the newest COVID variant that health authorities believe has the ability to evade immunity despite previous vaccinations.

Just a vignette on the etymology of FliRT. While it’s a bit of an interesting tag, in all seriousness, it is based on science. It’s a portmanteau of single initials “for certain mutations that occur.” The FLiRT strains are a result of convergent evolution, 

According to quoting Andrew Pekosz, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the “FLiRT variants have two mutations – ‘F’ to an ‘L’ and ‘R’ to a ‘T.’ And so, someone just threw a little ‘i’ in between, and you get ‘FLiRT.'”

Delirium may be too harsh a word, but seriously, the banking community, including of course, the equities and currency markets, are in frenzied moment and perhaps with reduced ability to focus, sustain or shift attention with numerous events unfolding.

As BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona Jr. aptly puts it: “the market has the culture of Marites,” a colloquial term often used to refer to a person, typically a female, who is excessively talkative, chatty or gossipy.

For one, there’s the ghost at the Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas (BSP) and its attendant impact with Monetary Board Member (MBM) Bruce Tolentino out of the bag and the question of another MBM possibly going out. Second, who are the candidates? And third, though, not much of a headline hugger is the development in the management of BDO.

This corner will just leave the first topic as it is right now. Simply because it’s out of the hands of Gov. Eli with eyes and ears shifted to the Malacanang, the appointing authority.

Relative to this, however, is the list of candidates. Nosing around the Palace ground, my wide ears gathered that the personalities being considered are “more of the same.”

Top of the list is again, former Socio-economic Planning Secretary Dante Canlas, who has been rumored in the recent past to be joining the policy-making body of the BSP.

Another familiar name is former BPI President Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola. This seasoned banker turned educator was in 2022 the forerunner in the list of candidates as the new 501 (the room of the BSP Governor) resident.

I’ve reached out to Mr. Gigi for his take but opted to take the silent path. The Rottweiler spirit, in this particular case, left me. This is in the context of his previous answer to the same query if he’s interested. “My focus now is more on education,” he said, which I truly respect and fully understand as the head honcho of Far Eastern University.

There’s a third one in the list but in deference I vow to the request of not mentioning the candidate. The hint, though, is that the third candidate is “relatively, a homegrown BSP official.” My wide ears heard that this top tier BSP official is rooting for Mr. Dante.

Now on BDO, the banking community is in a guessing game on who would be the successor of president Nestor V. Tan following the appointment of Joseph Albert L. Gotuaco to BDO Private Bank with the retirement of Albert Yeo.

Mr. Joseph is an experienced banker, having been with JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA in Columbus, Ohio as Risk Manager-Fixed Income Products, Managing Director & Partner by Imprimis (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

 Previous to joining BDO, he was the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. To the banking watchers, he was tagged to be the understudy of NVT, the industry’s term of endearment for Mr. Nestor.

From this corner of the banking corridor, I believe Mr. Joseph’s appointment of

BDO Private Bank is part of going through the entire gamut in banking operations of the country’s largest bank.

 It could be paralleled to the experience of Mr. Gigi, who was executive vice president of then BPI President Xavier Loinaz and at the same time the president of BPI Family Saving Bank, before taking the helm of the mother bank.

 As the wheels of banking and politics continue to grind, this avid market chronicler will continue to share the vignettes behind the narratives.


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