"Family businesses have a better-structued strategic vision"
As France's leader in international commerce, Societe Generale has a long history of close partnerships with family businesses that export. It supports the international activities of nearly a third of all French companies, financing exports and providing advice and security tools for banking transactions. Pascal Augé, Head of Global Transaction and Payment Services, answers 3 questions.
In your view, what do family businesses need most when they plan to begin exporting?
Pascal Augé: Often, companies that have products or services with export potential do not make the leap because they lack information. They need to know where their potential clients are, and when they've identified a target market, they need to know about local tastes and practices, regulations and institutional constraints and how these should be managed. They have difficulty expanding outside the European Union. And although they find it easier to make medium- to long-term plans and have a better-structured strategic vision, they also require the most guidance.
How do you respond to this need for information and guidance?
P.A.: We have several tools to offer them. First of all, our network of nearly 150 international trade experts in France works daily with our 800 specialists around the world. Then there's our website dedicated to importing and exporting. Thanks to a partnership with Ubifrance, the site offers a wealth of information on the international markets, such as Societe Generale's services, economic indicators, industry-specific information, country risk, local contacts and more. It also allows entrepreneurs—wherever they are—to send their questions to an International Trade representative. They obtain a response within 24 to 48 hours. They can also make contact with other companies thanks to our numerous local events. It is important to be able to communicate with other business leaders who share their concerns. What we want to achieve through these various forms of assistance is to educate and make information accessible in order to take the mystery out of going international and help them take that step.
Once they've taken that step, do they still require assistance?
P.A.: We don't leave them to muddle through on their own. First of all, they need help securing their transactions. We have a number of security solutions to offer them, from documentary credits to international financial guarantees and currency risk management services, and we were the first to develop a partnership with Bpifrance. [...] We also offer them export factoring to secure shipments of goods to foreign countries and reassure their suppliers by guaranteeing payment for imports. Additionally, our expert network's presence in more than 50 countries—and partnerships with local entities in countries where we don't operate—ensures that the company always has a local contact.