A Local Approach to Universal Banking
by Benoit Desserre, Global Head of Payments & Cash Management, Societe Generale
With corporations of all sizes seeking to expand their global footprint, it is becoming increasingly challenging for treasurers to achieve compliance with local market practices, regulatory compliance, and payments and collections culture in each market. At the same time, treasurers are seeking to support the liquidity and risk management requirements of the group. With these potentially conflicting requirements, it becomes critical for corporations to work with banks that bring local expertise, insights and depth of presence, combined with sophisticated cross-border liquidity and risk solutions, across the countries in which they do business. To address these growing challenges, Societe Generale has developed the breadth and depth of network capacity, and customer-centric solutions to meet clients’ strategic growth objectives.
Aligning strategy with client demand
We structure our client relationships and cash and treasury management around four basic principles as follows:
Integration – a priority for treasurers is that they can access cohesive solutions across the countries in which they operate, avoiding fragmentation of liquidity and facilitating economies of scale in payments and collections processing. These solutions need to be straightforward and transparent so that senior management have confidence in treasury information and processes.
Partnerships – partnerships are central to our culture at Societe Generale and inform the way that we work both internally and externally. Within the bank, we work closely across business divisions and countries throughout our network to create synergies, and share information and expertise, in order to meet client needs more efficiently and provide a more integrated service. Looking externally, in addition to our extensive direct network, we work in close partnership with leading banks in regions in which the bank does not have a presence to offer global solutions to our clients. For example, to reach 90% coverage in Africa, Barclays was the obvious choice of partner bank to provide clients with comprehensive coverage in an increasingly important key growth region.
Developing and maintaining trusted, long-term partnerships with our clients is pivotal to our culture and objectives. We listen, understand and respond to our clients’ needs, aspirations and constraints, leveraging expertise developed over many years and proven solutions to solve challenges and create new opportunities for managing liquidity and risk and doing business more effectively as our clients expand.
Security – Ensuring the security of client data has always been a priority for leading banks such as Societe Generale, requiring considerable investment in innovative technology and robust processes. With the need to guard against cyber-threats becoming ever more immediate, keeping client information and flows safe and uninterrupted continues to be a primary focus of our business.
Speed of information – The transformed post-crisis landscape combined with the challenges of globalisation means that treasurers are demanding faster access to global information than ever before. No longer is next day information enough for many corporations: instead, they require real-time information across all entities, currencies and countries to facilitate prompt liquidity and working capital decision-making.
From principle to practice
These principles have led to the development of some key innovations for our clients that have in turn strengthened our relationships. For example, over the past 12 months, we have been extending our same online platforms from western Europe across 13 countries in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) and into Asia. This is another step towards our objective to have one team, one solution, wherever in the world that a client works with us.
Mobile capabilities are becoming more important to clients as they come to expect the same convenience and immediacy as they enjoy in their personal lives. We are therefore rolling out new mobile functionality to clients, not only large multinationals but small and medium enterprises too. These tools extend our existing mobile reporting tools to mobile transaction orders and approvals, providing clients with convenient, real-time access to the bank from any location and device, without compromising information or workflow security or integrity. While some of these developments are at a more advanced stage than others, this is a major focus for the bank as we recognise and deliver the enormous potential that mobile banking offers, both for corporate and retail banking.