Pioneers of the modern banking system
At the beginning of the 19th century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the intense commercial movement was financed by promising bankers, who would one day become legends, such as the Rothschilds in Europe, the Rockfellers later in America, and the Safra family in the Middle East. These bankers laid the foundation for a modern banking system, based on improved communication and the growing demand for trade between cities.
and gold tradition
This movement caused the emergence of an intense exchange of goods between ports and cities in Europe, such as Paris, Nice, Marseille, Madrid, Barcelona, Naples, Trieste, Genoa and Venice, with cities further to the East, such as Alexandria, Athens, Istanbul, Beirut, Damascus, Alepo, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And it was in this region of the Middle East that a Jewish family, known for a long tradition of dedication to gold financing, became so famous that its surname became the Arabic word to refer to the color of the precious metal: Safra.
Alepo and jacob safra
One of the main trading centers of the time was Alepo, a city in northwest Syria. It was there that merchants and goods from the East and the West converged. The city was also home to the Safra family, which, with its cosmopolitan vocation, financed trade and exchanged currencies from different countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, including the “for” of the Ottoman Empire, the “zecchini” of Venice, as well as precious metals like silver and gold. In Alepo, Jacob Safra, the family patriarch, was known for his exceptional ability to mentally calculate the conversion of various currencies and the financing costs of each of his clients.
Safra frères et cie and the expansion
In the mid-19th century, Jacob founded Safra Frères et Cie in Alepo. The institution quickly gained fame and prestige across the Middle East, building a solid reputation. The strong expansion of Safra Frères led the family to open branches in Istanbul, Alexandria and Beirut. In the first half of the 20th century, Beirut was chosen to be the headquarters of Banco Jacob Safra. With his foundation, the patriarch started a new generation of successful bankers. After the Second World War, Jacob Safra expanded his business to Europe and, later, to Latin America and the United States.
Legacy under construction
With the growth of the businesses, their children followed their vocation and expertise in the banking sector, with emphasis on the banker Joseph Safra who built the J. Safra Group, an empire composed of Banco Safra, Banco J. Safra Sarasin, Safra National Bank, in addition to participation in Chiquita Brands International and investments in real estate in Brazil, the United States and Europe.
Today, ASA Investments is another company that continues the family tradition, maintaining the precepts of generations and prospering the name Safra.
Source - Based on the text: The Origins, Safra National Bank