by Alain Papiasse, Group Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Pierre Fersztand, Global Head of Cash Management, BNP Paribas
It is now nine years since BNP Paribas launched its flagship Cash Management University, most recently in Paris in June 2016. This year, however, marks a step change. On one hand, the range and complexity of challenges with which treasurers are faced, are on a scale that have not been seen since the global financial crisis. On the other hand, there is an unprecedented range of tools and opportunities to overcome challenges and create value in new ways. In this environment of challenge and change, treasurers need their banks to demonstrate resilience and stability, and support them across the markets in which they operate with solutions and services that meet their current needs and future aspirations.
Stability and certainty
Economic growth over the past year has not reached levels that were hoped for or expected, with the IMF constantly reviewing predictions downwards. While the United States is probably now over the worst, emerging markets face a more difficult situation. Volatility in commodity prices and structural changes in China, the world’s largest buyer of commodities, is key to this, as it transitions towards becoming a services and consumer-oriented economy. In Europe, while there have been some positive signs in GDP growth, it is difficult to see how the cycle of low rates, low growth, low inflation will be broken. Furthermore, the recent result of the Brexit referendum in the UK further exacerbates uncertainty across the continent and beyond, which is likely to have far-reaching ramifications across the medium term.
Reinforcing our commitment
Supporting customers’ cash and treasury management objectives during times of growth and times of uncertainty is a vital strategic objective for BNP Paribas. Banks need significant investment capability to deliver effective transaction banking services, including a sustainable capex programme and robust infrastructure, rather than relying on a correspondent banking that involves different service levels and systems. Not all banks are in a position to make or maintain this investment, particularly given the growing costs of regulatory compliance, which has resulted in a series of market exits.
In contrast, we recognise that offering robust, scalable cash management services across our customers’ geographic footprint that allows them to manage cash on a pan-regional basis, including more challenging countries, is key to building and deepening long-term relationships. As a result, we have continued to invest in a worldwide network designed to offer our customers the depth and breadth of solutions, presence and expertise that they require. This has included reinforcing our cash management presence in Asia, the Gulf States, where BNP Paribas has the largest presence of any international bank, and Africa, particularly French-speaking countries, in addition to a branch in South Africa. We have also invested in, and integrated our CIB platform in the United States with Bank of the West, our regional corporate and retail bank.