Article first published in Forbes Monaco October/November 2021 issue.
Monaco’s ‘Best Bank’ is investing in social responsibility.
Three years ago, Mathieu Ferragut stepped into his current role of CEO at CFM Indosuez Wealth Management, the largest banking institution in Monaco with 400 employees and the largest job provider within the financial sector. Aside from the sanitary and economic hurdles everyone has been facing in recent months, Ferragut says the biggest challenge for a head of a leading bank has been “to find the right quality of service and the optimal value proposition for a Monaco-based clientele that is highly sophisticated, very demanding and largely exposed to the world.”
He continues, “The Covid crisis has accelerated pre-existing trends such as the search for yield in a low-rate environment, the growing interest for private assets and the curiosity for new asset types and new investment opportunities like Socially Responsible Investments.” Ferragut points out that client expectations are also changing rapidly. “Banks must adapt and widen their scope of action in order to propose a more holistic offering through financial, wealth and legal advisory services, structured financing solutions, corporate finance and private assets investments. In this regard, aside from our growth and the solidity of our results, CFM Indosuez’s most noticeable successes were landmark transactions such as a large LBO financing, a few structured real estate acquisition financings and a mergers & acquisitions deal.”
CFM Indosuez’s majority shareholder, the Credit Agricole Group, is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, rated AA, with a Tier 1 ratio above 17%. And so for Ferragut, the image of Monaco as a financial center must constantly improve. Under the leadership of the local banking association AMAF, Monaco banks are committed to permanently enhancing their capabilities and quality of service. “Within the value proposition of the Principality such as security, health, education, culture and environment, the role of banks is increasing as the proximity they offer to residents allows them to manage their wealth and related needs within a footstep.”
Like all banking institutions in Monaco during the Covid confinement of 2021, CFM Indosuez Wealth Management had to transition its technology services. “Our clients have been offered online banking services for over 20 years and access through a mobile application since 2018. When the pandemic broke out, the bank was ready to ensure business continuity and clients kept a close tie to the institution through the use of the digital and legacy channels. However, I would add that the pandemic has not modified our approach in the search for the highest quality of service but it has accelerated digital investments that were already underway.”
As a result, the use of remote services by their clients increased. “Looking back, this acceleration in the use of digital channels has not significantly changed our strategic view that the winning model for banks remains 100% digital and 100% human. And, in Monaco, we all know how everyone values human interaction and proximity.”
During lockdown last year, CFM Indosuez Wealth Management teamed up with AMADE and Fondation SFR to provide resources like free internet access for 168 young people living below the poverty line. “Our action in favor of vulnerable people is focused on young individuals and children. We have been working in this area for many years together with AMADE who do wonderful work with young people experiencing difficulty,” Ferragut highlights. “Those 168 disadvantaged youths were at risk of dropping out of school when remote learning was imposed during the pandemic but they were able to maintain a link with their education thanks to AMADE's direct support.”
“Moreover, our commitment is no longer just that of the bank, but also that of our employees, who are involved in CFM Indosuez’s Citizen Days to help troubled youths.
This joint commitment between the bank and its employees gives it a strength and influence that we are keen to develop even further.”
In Monaco, CFM Indosuez remains committed to the community and partnerships. The bank donated €130,000 to the Oceanographic Institute and continue to support the Monte Carlo Ballet. “Through these commitments, CFM Indosuez, being the only Monaco-based bank with local shareholders, specifically 30%, wants to be both a player and a partner in the local and global outreach of the Principality. Our action focuses on three areas— supporting vulnerable people, supporting culture and acting for a sustainable future.”
The UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 14— conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development— is the center of strategy at CFM Indosuez. Together with the Oceanographic Institute, experts and clients, the bank wants to mark its local leadership in Blue Finance through education and innovative investment solutions. “Regarding the donation to the Institute we made jointly with our clients, this recent action was the translation of our strong commitment within the space of socially responsible investments.”
Named this year’s Best Bank in Monaco by Global Finance magazine, for the fifth year running, and winner of the Wealth Briefing Award for best wealth management business in Monaco, CFM Indosuez Wealth Management will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022. “I count on all our trusted clients and partners to come and celebrate this year of events with us,” says Ferragut.