A New Bank for a New Decade
by Pierre Fersztand, Global Head of Cash Management, BNP Paribas
The acquisition of Fortis Bank by BNP Paribas is one of the most significant events in recent banking history, a positive outcome of the crisis, both for the bank and for our clients. The two banks brought distinct but complementary strengths before they were combined; the new bank continues the strongest traditions of its predecessors, and by creating new synergies, brings new opportunities for its clients.
To support the needs of our corporate clients both across Europe and globally, we have established four new competence centres in Brussels. Three of these centres act as strategic and operational hubs, combining thought leadership, processing capability and customer support to both mid-cap and large corporate clients, Global Cash Management, Trade Services and Global Factoring. The fourth, Corporate & Transaction Banking Europe, provides comprehensive services to our pan-European clients. In addition to these centres, a significant differentiator for our clients is our network of over 120 business centres across more than 20 European countries. These centres cover our home markets, in France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, and the local needs of our multinational clients in the locations in which they need our services.
The combination of four competence centres and our unrivalled pan-European network creates a highly attractive offering for our corporate customers, with the expertise, processing capability and product scope that they require, together with the personal service and relationship focus that our local support network can provide. While a particular strength is our pan-European presence, we have also developed our network, expertise and processing ability into Asia, India, and to the European Mediterranean region, such as Turkey and the Middle East.
The investment in our geographic presence is strengthened further by our comprehensive suite of cash management products and services, leveraging the combined capabilities of BNP Paribas and Fortis. This brings considerable advantage and opportunity for our clients in a variety of areas. Some examples, in complement to our full global offering, include:
Our breadth of product capability enables us to provide flexible, tailored cash management and liquidity solutions to support the specific needs of our clients. BNP Paribas has considerable strength in physical pooling techniques, while Fortis was a pioneer in innovative notional pooling, including cross-currency, cross-border notional pooling.
SEPA will be a reality for every company in Europe and has the potential to bring significant benefits, particularly for companies operating cross-border. Companies positioned to take maximum advantage of SEPA are those that work with a pan-European cash management bank, to rationalise cash and liquidity management, and that has robust processing capabilities for SEPA payment instruments. Fortis has developed a strong pan-European payments platform, including the new SEPA Direct Debits, which forms the basis of our payments business.
As one of the pioneers in bringing SWIFT connectivity to our corporate clients, BNP Paribas has the expertise, experience and technology to support our combined client base to leverage the advantages of SWIFT connectivity for reliable, secure, scalable communication based on recognised industry formats. As an indication of our long-term commitment to supporting our clients’ communication needs, BNP Paribas has more of its clients connected to SWIFT FileAct than any other bank.
The new BNP Paribas combines the skills, experience, commitment to client satisfaction, network and product strength offered by our predecessor banks, BNP Paribas and Fortis. But the new bank is not simply a sum of its parts, it presents new opportunities and a new vision for companies across Europe and beyond. Trusted relationships, with a presence in the locations where our clients need us, and pan-European products and services are central to the commitment we make to our clients, and will form the basis of our ongoing success.