Bancolombia is the largest bank in Colombia, and its distinctive headquarters-building complex is located in Medellín near the Industriales metro station.
The company opened its headquarters complex in late 2008 because of a need to combine around 4,000 employees into one office complex who were working from 14 different buildings in the city.
At the time the construction of the new headquarters was announced, Bancolombia disclosed the cost as about 300 billion pesos (which is about $117 million U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate).
When the headquarters was built, the company had about 10,000 employees in Medellín and the employees who moved to the new headquarters were selected based on interviews with department heads.
The two-building complex is a sizeable landmark in the city. The two buildings total over 800,000 square feet, which includes seven levels of office space, five levels of parking, a conference center, a fitness center and cafeterias.
The buildings were designed to be modular, which permits the conversion between “open” and “enclosed” areas to occur at any point in the building. The buildings also use an under-floor system to distribute power, data cables and air conditioning.
The Bancolombia headquarters project was recognized by Interior Design magazine in 2009 with the Best of Year Award in the Large Office (greater than 50,000 sq. ft.) category.
LEED Gold Certification
The Bancolombia headquarters project also received LEED Gold certification in 2012 from the US Green Building Council, becoming one of the few LEED Gold certified buildings in Colombia.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings.
LEED is intended to help building owners and operators be environmentally friendly and use resources efficiently.
The LEED system includes rankings from lowest to highest: LEED, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. A LEED Gold building is rated “greener” than a LEED Silver building, for example.
The Bancolombia headquarters project earned a score of 73 out 110 after analyzing it for various aspects of sustainability. The Bancolombia headquarters complex is one of only 18 LEED Gold certified buildings in Colombia. A number of other buildings are pending certification.
Both Google and Homecenter have Platinum certified buildings in Colombia, which received scores of 80 points or higher.
More About Bancolombia
Bancolombia is Colombia’s largest bank with about a 19.5 percent market share in the banking sector in Colombia in terms of deposits and 24 percent market share in terms of loans.
The bank offers a range of financial products including checking accounts, investment products, debit and credit cards, pension plans, mortgage loans, as well as consumer and commercial financing.
Bancolombia has over 1,000 branches and over 4,500 ATMs. A Bancolombia branch can be found almost all the larger malls in the country.
In addition, the Bancolombia Group owns El Salvador’s largest bank Banagrícola, plus BAM in Guatemala, Banistmo in Panama, offshore banking subsidiaries in Panama, Peru, the Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico, as well as an agency in Miami, Florida.
Some Colombia Banking Statistics
The following are some interesting Colombia banking statistics recently disclosed by Bancolombia:
- 68 percent of the adult population has a savings account
- Only 5 percent of the adult population has a checking account
- 23 percent of the adult population has a credit product
- Only 3 percent of the adult population has a mortgage
With these statistics, it is easy to see why Colombia is such a cash-based economy with cash used to pay many bills.
There is a huge room for growth of the mortgage market in Colombia. Mortgages in Colombia, even for the Colombian citizens, are difficult to get and are quite conservative.
Typically mortgages in Colombia require a minimum of 30 percent down payment, terms of 5 to 20 years and established credit history including proof of acceptable income.
For foreigners, mortgages are extremely difficult to receive, as the banks aren’t set up to handle mortgages for foreigners.
Banking at Bancolombia
Foreigners can open bank accounts at Bancolombia, but this requires a cedula (Colombian ID card), which you can receive if you have a Colombian visa.
The process of opening an account at Bancolombia will be covered in a future article on this site.
How to Get There
The Bancolombia headquarters building is very easy to get to, as it is located next to the Industriales metro station. Every taxi driver will also know how to get there, just tell the taxi driver – “oficina central de Bancolombia cerca Industriales.”
Thanks for this article Jeff.
So, how colombians do for buy an appartement ? the younger ? I understand those who have rich fathers can have money from them… but others ?
Many Colombians have to rent as they don’t have sufficient funds to buy and it is not easy to get a mortgage in Colombia. Some Colombians with good jobs can get a mortgage. While others decide to buy in lower estrato neighborhoods where costs can be much less.
With the improved exchange rate, I believe many more foreigners would be buyers if they could get mortgages in Colombia. Foreigners can get mortgages in Panama so I hope that banks in Colombia start offering mortgages to foreigners.
I wouldn’t count on that anytime soon, at least for US citizens. With the FATCA tax reporting and withholding requirements, Colombian (and many other foreign) banks have no desire to do business with US citizens. Heck, we are fortunate that we can have savings accounts. There are banks in other countries that have terminated all business with US citizens.
There is at least one U.S.-based bank in Colombia – Citibank – that perhaps might eventually be willing to offer mortgages for foreigners in Colombia. I understand Citibank does in Panama. If there is a market someone will likely eventually fill it. Colombia is way under-served with mortgages – only 3% of adults with a mortgage means the banks are ultra conservative in Colombia. There is a big opportunity for someone. And with the 30% down-payment typical in Colombia, there is not so much risk.
Unfortunately, Citi does not offer mortgages in Colombia to anybody, Colombian or not.. I was considering financing options a few months ago and discovered that they are not in the mortgage business here. In any case, mortgage rates are so high in Colombia (12% and more annually), that it’s just as well to get a personal loan from a USA bank at 9 or 10% even if you have to forego the mortgage deduction.
The statement above applies, of course, to people who bank in the USA. I have little knowledge about what the situation would be for people from other countries.
TO GIVE YOU MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MORTGAGES, AND HOW TO BUY A PROPERTY, AND OBTAIN IT QUICKLY, IN COLOMBIA. BEST IS TO BUY A PROPERTY THROUGH PLANS, AND UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THE PRICE WILL CHEAPER, THAN A REGULAR PROPERTY, THAT HAS BEEN ALREDY BEEN BUILT. I KNOWN PEOPLE WHO ACQUIRED PROPERTIES THROUGH THESE COMPANIES, AND WILL HELP YOU WITH ALL THE LOOPS AND BANKS LINGO…THROUGH VIVENTA, AND COLPATRIA. I KNOWN PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT APARTMENTS 2 BEDRROM, CLOSE COMPLEX, SECURITY, PRIVATE POOLS, GYMS, PARKING, AND INFRONT OF THE BEACH IN CARTAGENA, WHICH IS THE CITY WITH THE MOST EXPENSIVE REAL STATE IN COLOMBIA FOR 178 MILLION PESOS, WHICH NOWADAYS IN DOLLARS WE ARE TALKING $60,000. THE REAL STATE NOW IS HIGH SO ADD ANOTHER 20 OR 30 THOUSAND DOLLARS SO WE ARE TALKING THAT WITH 80 OR 90 THOUSAND DOLLARS, YOU CAN GET A 5 TARS APARTMENT WITH ALL THE WORKS. THE BEST BANK FOR FINANCING IN COLOMBIA, IS BBVA. SINCE BANCOLOMBIA’S RATES ARE VERY HIGH, DEPENDING ON THE BUYERS CREDIT, AND SOURCES, OF INCOME. SO MY SUGESTION, IF YOU ARE PLANING TO ACQUIRE A PROPERTY IN MEDELLIN. GO THROUGH, VIVENTA, COLPATRIA, OR COMPANIES, THAT ARE DEVELOPRES OF BUILDINGS, AND ARCHITECTUAL PROJECTS, YOU WILL SAVE MORE MONEY, BUYING IN FUTURE PLANS, THAN REAL PROPERTY.
Nice. I work in the south tower. Really nice building with a central view of the entire city.