(1) CIC London has had a branch in the City since 1895. Back then, it was one of the first overseas banks to establish a presence in the UK. How has the company developed over time?
CIC London was initially set up as a branch to help clients of the bank to access the UK market and the London financial hub. Over time, it extended its operations to stand-alone UK and European customers by providing Global Markets and Corporate Lending products. CIC London continued to expand with a focus on corporate clients, while the Global Markets segment was consolidated in Paris. Today, we offer these services to over 600 large and mid-market UK and European corporates out of CIC London.
(2) What is the wider Crédit Mutuel Group Strategy?
Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale is one of the largest cooperative banks in the world; it is also one of the largest banking groups in Europe. By our very nature, we are owned by our customers and therefore our raison d’être is to serve them in the best possible way. In order to reaffirm the relevance of our mutual model in these challenging times, we have recently decided to become a Benefit Corporation (“Entreprise à Mission”). This is defined as a company whose social and environmental objectives are aligned with its purpose and are set out in its Articles of Association. As part of this process, we have defined some key ESG metrics in order to deliver our purpose. These include targets like gender equality in senior management positions, carbon footprint reduction and lending geared towards climate friendly businesses. Recently, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale has joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.
(3) What is the one lesson you learned from the pandemic?
Back in March 2020 when COVID19 started spreading exponentially, no one could have predicted the scale of this pandemic. We knew that the risk of a pandemic was always out there, but recent history did not show us quite how global such a phenomenon could become. As things are gradually getting under control with the various vaccination programmes, the key lesson we have learned is that we need to adapt to a constantly changing environment by acting in the moment rather than just trying to anticipate any potential future risk. Adaptability and agility have become essential leadership qualities when faced with large-scale disruptive events.
(4) Where do you see opportunities as we gradually come out of the pandemic?
The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already in motion previously, whether it is the move towards the digital in the way we work and trade, or the urgent need for environmental transition. I expect these changes to create more business opportunities post-pandemic. For example, when it comes to the environmental transition, one important topic to consider is the current weak level of energy efficiency of thousands of older buildings in the UK and their urgent need for renovation. At CIC London, we are doing our fair share by helping our clients to gradually become net zero emission businesses. Over the past years, we have put in place various initiatives like targeted sector policies, “green” financing facilities with ESG metrics-linked pricing as well as the direct financing of clean energy projects like offshore windfarms in the East Coast of England and Scotland.
(5) What is your vision for CIC London?
In a world where uncertainty is the new normal, we have an opportunity to reset, redefine who we are and become even better at what we do. We are doing that with the roll-out of our Group Strategy as outlined above, including the way we serve our clients, how we look after our staff and the environmental and social impact of our business. Whilst we do not pretend to solve every issue the world is facing, we definitely want to play a positive role in society beyond the one of being a bank.