|“Beyond epistemology – beyond perception, beyond flight – is the necessity for the old fashioned gift of being able to face facts squarely, which when exercised by management, tints the decision with the color of courage. A bank survives the environment by not willing beyond itself, by being frank with its clients about the limits of what it can and cannot do.”|
|- Jose B. Fernandez, Central Bank Governor (1984 - 1990)|
The third child of Jose Fernandez y Zorilla and Erundina Bartolome y Rivera, Jose B. Fernandez, Jr., more popularly known as Jobo, came from a respectable family from Laguna.
After receiving his BSBA degree (summa cum laude) at the Fordham University and MBA (with distinction) at Harvard University, Jobo decided to establish a career in financial management.
When he came back to the Philippines in 1949, he took his first job at the Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) as assistant to president, which whom his boss was Jose “Don Pepe” Cojuangco, father of the late President Corazon Aquino. He was noticed as a creative and innovative banker who always had a lot of new ideas to share.
Jobo later on rose to become the vice president of PBC. He had already established a reputation as one of the country’s financial wizard. Aside from being a banker, he also wrote for “Business Conditions”, an economic and business column in the Sunday Chronicle. Furthermore, he also served in the college faculty of Ateneo de Manila where he taught economics and finance on a part-time basis.
From the beginning, Jobo’s dream is to establish his own bank. He wanted to organize a bank whose ownership was diversified. During those days, local private banks, including PBC, were all family-owned and managed.
He waited for the appropriate time to fulfill this dream. And in 1959, with the encouragement of his friend, Washington SyCip, Jobo took the risk of organizing a truly professional bank, giving birth to the Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC). He became the youngest president of a bank at the age of 36.
Under his leadership, FEBTC grew from a fledgling commercial bank into one of the country’s biggest universal banks with a broad ownership base and multinational equity linkages.
He was a pillar of strength, an acknowledged leader in the private commercial banking sector. He was President of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) for three years (date?) and was regularly invited to attend annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank. He was also one of the pioneers in the establishment of the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC) in 1967. PBEC is an international forum that foreshadowed the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (APEC). As an industry leader, one of his enduring legacies is his immense contribution to the training of competent managers of the Philippine banking and financial service sectors.
After serving for nearly 25 years in FEBTC, Jobo accepted a call to public service as the 6th Central Bank Governor Central Bank Governor from 1984 to 1990 coincided with the most turbulent era in contemporary Philippine history. He assumed office in the aftermath of the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. which plunged the Philippines into its most serious postwar economic crisis. During a period when the credibility of the country’s economic management system plunged to an all-time low, he served both as a steadying and unifying influence that regained for the Philippines the confidence of global financial and capital markets.
Jobo was among the group who established the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in 1968. The group included a select staff from Harvard University led by Dr. Stephen H. Fuller. When the school opened, Jobo Fernandez was a member of the founding board of Trustees and served continuously until he passed away on June 1994.
On September 22, 1994, the 71st birthday of the late Central Bank Governor, the FEBTC and AIM, together with his widow, Mrs. Maria Dulce Cacho-Fernandez, established the Governor Jose B. Fernandez, Jr, Center for Banking and Finance (JBF Center), in memory of Jobo’s remarkable contribution to the institute as well as to society. The JBF Center is dedicated to research and the education of the financial managers in Asia.
--Adapted from the Far East Bank “A Special Commemorative Issue”