Universal banking: reconciling growth and security

A universal bank brings together the full range of banking activities under one roof

These activities cover everything from retail banking to corporate and investment banking, including asset management, private banking and even specialised financial services.

A balanced model

A universal bank serves a wide variety of clients: individuals, professionals, SMEs, multinationals, and even other financial institutions, thus contributing to all facets of the economy.

An examination of the effects of the 2008 crisis does not reveal any particular weakness in universal banking compared to other models. In France, there was no resounding collapse, no recourse to taxpayer euros, no cost to the government, and above all no disruption of financing to households and businesses – a feat made easier by the temporary liquidity mechanism implemented by the government in 2008-2009.

Generally speaking, the universal banking model has emerged stronger from the crisis.

The financial crisis demonstrated the need to strengthen the security of banking activities

Stricter rules are a fact of life in Europe, where regulation now covers a large number of domains in order to set out a consistent, protective framework for financing activities. The implementation of Basel 3, strengthening banks' safety buffers relative to their risks, and European decisions on market operations constitute structural changes. There is probably still room to improve the way financial markets are organised and operate to make them secure while allowing banking clients to benefit from the services they need.

Societe Generale has established itself as a universal bank since it was founded in the 19th century. The universal banking model and resulting synergies are at the core of the Group's strategy, which focuses on our relationship with our clients in order to best serve their interests.