With You Across Europe Baudouin Prot, CEO of BNP Paribas, examines the continuing success of the Cash Management University, and explains how it is informed by the cash management needs of BNP Paribas' clients.

With You Across Europe

Extracts from the introductory speech given by Baudouin Prot, Chief Executive Officer, BNP Paribas, at the 2010 Cash Management University

Encouraged by feedback from previous years, BNP Paribas is, once again, delighted to host the Cash Management University (CMU) as a forum for corporate treasurers and finance managers to debate industry issues, share experiences, and tackle common challenges. This year’s CMU, the fourth that we have hosted, boasts over 250 delegates from around the world, including Asia, Europe and the Gulf.

Baudouin Prot delivered the welcome address at the 2010, 4th Cash Management University in Paris, France, to over 250 delegates. This article is based on his presentation.

Resilience and reliability

BNP Paribas successfully weathered the financial crisis, remaining profitable and solvent throughout, whilst consolidating and expanding its presence in Europe and beyond. Our return on equity and profitability over the first three quarters of 2010 tops the industry, with a bolstered tier 1 capital ratio of 9% up from 6% two to three years ago. This financial strength has enabled us to continue lending to our growing customer base, with our corporate clients increasingly recognising the range and quality of services that we are able to offer at a time when not all banks were ‘open for business’. We have, furthermore, ensured balance across our activities with around half of our business in retail, one-third in corporate and investment banking, and one-sixth in investment solutions. This business mix not only provides the bank with robust revenues but enables us to offer our client community, be they corporates, financial institutions or retail customers, a full service offering. 

Local, regional, global

The integration of Fortis into the BNP Paribas family was a major step for us, and has enhanced our ability to service the needs of our corporate customers, particularly in Cash Management, which is an important part of our business. We were already very active servicing corporate clients in Europe and beyond, notably in our two domestic markets in Europe (Italy and France), however we needed to develop our footprint and depth of offering, which Fortis enabled us to do.Over a year ago, leveraging Fortis’ expertise, we set up four global competence centres in Brussels, namely Corporate & Transaction Banking Europe, Cash Management, Global Trade Solutions and Global Factoring. ‘One Bank for Corporates in Europe’, our offering officially launched in February 2011 this year, embodies this expertise and our ability to serve the needs of corporates via our network of 150 business centres across 23 countries.

We believe that this solution aimed at European mid caps and multinationals, is unrivalled in terms of its depth and breadth. These competence and business centres enable us to deliver co-ordinated services across all geographies with a high quality product suite that reflects our clients’ changing needs. By adopting such a local and global delivery model, we place our clients’ local, regional and global needs at the centre of what we do, with the aim of demonstrating unparalleled integration, intensity and quality of service. 

Excellence and differentiation

Our clients’ needs are continually evolving, and we cannot be complacent in the way that we support these requirements. Consequently, BNP Paribas recently conducted an in-depth review of our local offerings in each country to identify areas of further growth potential, resulting in a €2bn investment plan to reinforce our offerings in both Europe and Asia. In Cash Management, like other corporate offerings, we aim to be best-in-class across Europe and beyond. We were, for example, in the fortunate position of being able to select the best of Fortis and BNP Paribas when designing the new Cash Management platform- we adopted Fortis’ SEPA engine across our business, and BNP Paribas’ Connexis electronic banking platform. In a largely commoditised business like Cash Management it is often difficult to recognise differentiation. However, based on the work we have done to achieve our strategic objectives, and the continued support and feedback from our clients, BNP Paribas’ proposition in cash management is clear: an unparalleled product portfolio; extensive network; client-centric business model, and fully-fledged global offering. Indeed, it has been an honour to be recognised by our clients and the wider industry for our success in satisfying clients’ cash management objectives, including TMI’s Award for Best Cash Management Bank, Europe, 2010.

Client-centric cash management communication

We recognise that timely, accurate and value-added communication with our clients is key to a successful relationship and service delivery.Our electronic banking platform, Connexis, is recognised by customers and wider industry alike as providing superior capabilities. With frequent new releases anticipated over the next two years, the solution will continue to deliver the breadth, convenience and quality of services that our clients demand. In addition to our proprietary tool, we are committed to communication using bank-independent channels such as SWIFT, and we have invested significantly in skilled resources to enable our clients to leverage SWIFT connectivity.We are now the top bank globally for the volume of customers using FileAct. Consequently, we were recently recognised by readers of TMI as the Best Bank in Europe for SWIFT Corporate Access.In addition, we are pioneering new initiatives that help corporate treasurers and their banks to communicate more effectively and create efficiencies such as eBAM (electronic bank account management).

Building long-term relationships based on trust and open dialogue is critical to the way that we operate.

Investment in excellence

Our clients’cash requirements are local, regional and global, and we are committed to delivering cohesive solutions at all levels to help achieve their operational and strategic requirements. With the ability to service payment and cash management needs in more than 50 countries across Europe,Asia and the Americas, we will continue to expand our customer-centric business model in the regions where our clients need our services. We are leveraging BNP Paribas’ strength in Europe to offer global and regional solutions to clients that fit their need, supported by a significant and ongoing investment plan, notably in Asia, for our Cash Management activities as well as our other banking competencies.

 Building long-term relationships based on trust and open dialogue is critical to the way that we operate - understanding our clients’ challenges and opportunities, and devising solutions accordingly. To be successful in this requires attention to detail, superior products and service and of course the proximity to clients in all the countries in which they require our services. With six domestic markets (including Turkey and Poland), access to every European payment system, and harmonised solutions across all core geographies, we have the capability, vision and passion to fulfil, and exceed, our customer expectations.

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