Juan Carlos Escotet was born in Madrid in 1959. Escotet, one of eight immigrant children from Spain, first began to work doing errands for a bank in Venezuela in 1976. He was in night school while working full-time at Banco Union. He later earned a master's degree in professional management science from the University of Miami.
Following his schooling, Escotet worked as an executive for Sociedad Financiera Latinoamericana, working towards his own financial group. In the 1990s, Escotet gathered enough money to buyout Venezuelan financial institutions going through the banking crisis and set up his own Panama establishment. Escotet founded Banesco and in 2000, merged Banco Union with his company. He owns other branches in Miami, Panama, Colombia, Curacao, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In 2015, he acquired Abanca in Spain.