Management shared views
François Pérol, Chairman of the Groupe BPCE Management Board and Chairman of Natixis’ Board of Directors, and Laurent Mignon, Chief Executive Officer of Natixis, take a look back at 2015 and give their perspective on the upcoming months.
How would you describe 2015?
Laurent Mignon: 2015 brought considerable change in our business environment and upheavals in scenarios that had been in place for over 10 years, as witnessed by the slowdown in emerging markets, the record fall in oil prices and the debilitating impact of negative interest rates on banking intermediation. The market volatility experienced since the middle of 2015, combined with increasing regulatory pressure, has made conditions for our business highly demanding.
François Pérol : Nevertheless, Natixis is solid and wellprepared to grow in this new environment. Our three core businesses fared excellently in 2015. Our revenues were well-balanced, we developed our presence around the world and strengthened our major franchises. And I would also like to emphasize that this environment brings us new opportunities and particularly encourages us to be more innovative and maintain our exemplary client focus.
The New Frontier strategic plan was launched at the end of 2013. How would you assess progress so far?
LM: We are effectively at the halfway stage of the New Frontier strategic plan and are convinced that the progress made up until now vindicates our choices.
During 2015, we continued to work on rolling out the operational aspects associated with our growth objectives and made progress in several key areas. We significantly increased the proportion of our revenues derived from Investment Solutions and stepped up the internationalization of our activities. We also consolidated our asset-light strategy by intensifying our Originate-to-Distribute (OTD) model, made new acquisitions in the Asset Management field and enhanced our M&A expertise.
How does this progress fit with Groupe BPCE’s own dynamic?
FP: Natixis is the vector for several aspects of Groupe BPCE’s strategic plan – Growing Differently – particularly regarding the Investment Solutions and Insurance businesses, and international growth. The Group is highly ambitious for the Insurance business and has consolidated all activities in this area into a single centre of expertise. Since the start of 2016, the Caisse d’Epargne banks have been offering their clients life insurance policies produced by Natixis. We are also expanding fast in non-life insurance, particularly on the health, property & casualty and personal protection segments. More generally, the close relations between Natixis’ business lines and the Group’s retail banking networks are geared to driving growth on a lasting basis.
New Frontier seems to advocate a client centric approach. Can you tell us more?
FP: Natixis is extremely attentive to client needs. Our teams out in the field with the Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne banks can see this for themselves first-hand and our clients know that every effort is made to meet their expectations. Our clients and retail networks also benefit directly from plenty of innovations, leading to new solutions, improved client experiences and cutting-edge expertise, especially in Specialized Financial Services.
LM: I fully agree. Natixis has been a growing company for many years now. We have actively developed our know-how around the world always in the best interests of our clients. Our growth is built on the belief that we owe them our success. Therefore, we are committed to deliver impeccable quality service. Their trust is our best reward.
And what are your main challenges going forward?
LM: As we have already mentioned it, the first part of our plan is in line with our objectives due to three main reasons, i.e.: preparation, the right strategic objectives, and quality execution. We will stay on the same course with the same determination demonstrated until today for long-lasting results; we will further develop the quality of our client offering while keeping our risks under control. The market environment experienced in the last few months appears to be lasting. It prompts us to step up our business transformation. The innovation we mentioned earlier is the illustration of the digital transformation of Natixis. It is part of all our business lines via interesting initiatives, such as the SPARK program*. It is now a strategic challenge that we are deploying in close collaboration with the Group.
FP: Digitization represents a ‘positive revolution’ both for our clients and the Group. Specialized Financial Services is striving to simplify our retail banking solutions in order to improve the client experience. While SFS is exploring disruptive models, we are jointly committing ourselves to new partnerships within the innovation ecosystem. Transformation is a core component of our model and, as such, has been selected this year as the theme to illustrate Natixis’ trajectory. Looking forward, I am convinced of the ability of our teams to continue growing our main business lines in a manner perfectly in synch with client expectations and thereby to contribute to attaining the Group’s strategic ambitions.
*Digitalization program of the Specialized Financial Services launched in November 2014.