Teaming up with local businesses

The point of view of Laurent Goutard, Head of Societe Generale Retail Banking in France.

Supporting businesses has always been the core purpose of Societe Generale, founded more than 150 years ago with the aim of "supporting the development of trade and industry in France." Today, more than ever, we are continuing on this path to help support the return to growth in France, in step with business leaders and their needs. This means being ever more receptive, responsive and professional, offering more flexible solutions and rapid decision-making. Staying close and providing quick and agile expertise!

For over two years now, we have considerably enhanced our service, focusing on proximity and expertise to better meet the needs of businesses. We have created 250 Commercial Assistant positions in our branches, staff who are more specialised and able to understand businesses and provide solutions for the day-to-day management of their cash and investments. We have also vastly improved our Private Banking services for regional business leaders, so as to better meet their wealth management needs.

Today, more and more mid-sized companies and SMEs are placing their trust in us, and their level of satisfaction has increased significantly. They especially appreciate how well our advisors listen, honour their commitments, explain things clearly and seek to earn their trust. Nearly nine out of ten clients say they would recommend us. And our loan origination for businesses (of all sizes) and not-for-profits saw significant growth in 2015 for Medium-Long-Term Loans (+60% at the end of September 2015 compared to the same period in 2014), which demonstrates the trust that businesses and Societe Generale have in each other.

I am delighted with these positive results, which motivate us and are the source of a great deal of pride for our advisors. In 2016, we will be making a €23 billion envelope available to this sector for the financing of their operating cycle and investments. Yet, in addition to our indispensable financial commitment, it is also the quality of the relationships that we have with these businesses that creates trust. I see it every time I travel around the regions, every time I meet with business leaders: close relationships and innovation make the difference in our ability to offer the best solutions, selected from the broadest possible range of services.

Illustration 1: International. Businesses need to develop outside of France to capture new growth drivers, but they tell us that they find accessing international markets so complicated... and that's why we pay special attention to supporting them with international trade services and cash management. Our experts in international trade are able to advise them locally and then connect them with the whole wide world. Illustration 2: Access to investors for financing growth. The growth of direct financing through the markets is causing SMEs and mid-sized companies to increasingly turn to the expertise of our Corporate and Investment Bank. How else can they access this locally unless they are connected with top-quality expertise in bond debt, public offerings or merger and acquisitions?

Being prepared to support local businesses at all the key moments in their development, both professionally and privately, combining close working relationships with access to the numerous areas of expertise of a large international universal bank. This is the commitment we are making today with our new full and integrated offer, "Societe Generale Entrepreneurs": Teaming up with local businesses and putting all our expertise and agility into serving their growth.