Dare to Be Boring

Banco Santander is a risk-control freak that also uses sophisticated software to manage its customers. No wonder the company made so much money during the recession

Illustration for TIME by Peter Arkle

Correction Appended: Jan. 8, 2010

Banco Santander's no-nonsense headquarters sprawls across a dusty hilltop a little over 12 miles (20 km) from downtown Madrid. But it seems a world removed from Spain's capital, with its long naps and midnight dinners. Santander City's squat, red-brick bunkers don't try to make any lofty architectural statements, and its workers would be too busy to notice even if they did. Travel between buildings is underground on white shuttle buses. Cigarette breaks don't last long; the leafy inner courtyards have no place to sit. "This is a place to work," says a spokesman...

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