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In Changing Banking Scene, BNP Paribas Expands Its Reach

Tom Burroughes

2 May 2024

is continuing to build out its business in the German-speaking side of Switzerland and in Germany itself. This development started before Swiss banking was upended by the UBS takeover of rival Credit Suisse last year. (BNP Paribas Wealth Management has had a local presence in Switzerland since 1872.)

As Europe’s banking sector adjusts to Switzerland now having one universal banking group following the UBS-Credit Suisse “shotgun wedding,” rival banking groups are working out how to position themselves at a time when some HNW clients are considering adjusting where they deposit funds.

But beyond any such adjustments, the German-language market buildout of Paris-listed BNP Paribas has been taking place for some time. This news service interviewed the lender back in 2018 about its ambitions, and updated on progress in 2023. In March, WealthBriefing sat down in the bank’s Marylebone offices with Pierre Ramadier, CEO Wealth Management International Markets, and a member of the wealth management executive committee. Appointed to the role in February, his remit includes Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Monaco, and the Middle East. Before this, Ramadier was the global head of entrepreneurs and families.

The German-speaking side of Switzerland is a target for the bank, Ramadier said. “We definitely want to further address this part of Switzerland,” he said. 

In French-speaking Geneva, BNP Paribas already operates, and the city is an important booking centre for clients from the Middle East, for example, he said. 

Other countries under his remit, such as Luxembourg, are important hubs. Dutch business, for example, is booked in the Netherlands, as is business from fellow European Union nation, Spain.

“We also have a very strong connection with our domestic markets in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg,” Ramadier continued. 

And Germany remains such a key market, Ramadier said. 

“I’m absolutely impressed by successes of entrepreneurs who have benefited for years from an environment in terms of society, and tax…they have invested their money into the companies and are worldwide leaders in many sectors,” he said.

The bank is having “lots of conversations” with families in Germany, he said, and is “rapidly attracting clients. Twenty per cent of the 200 richest German families are our clients.” Ramadier reiterated a point made previously by the bank: the importance of HNW clients, and family offices (such as FOs with €25 million to €100 million in assets). 

Recent results have been broadly positive. Last week, the lender's wealth management business segment said that in the first quarter of 2024 it logged €8 billion ($8.57 billion) in inflows, particularly in commercial and personal banking and with high net worth clients. Wealth revenues rose 5.2 per cent to €431 million. Separately, asset management revenues rose 2.6 per cent. 

Across the board
Another familiar point is that BNP Paribas’ wealth arm works closely with the corporate, commercial and asset management arms of the bank, making use of expertise in areas such as real estate investing – an important draw for family offices' clients, for example.

It appears that BNP Paribas, along with its peers, is keen on ramping up business in the Gulf region of the Middle East. The French banking group has been present in the Middle East since the early 1970s. It has more than 600 employees across Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

“Our major historic clients have been entrepreneurs, local and old expat families, notably large families from , and non-resident Indians. According to their needs, the “OneBank” approach allows us to offer specialised services provided by other parts of the bank, including real estate, global markets and others,” Ramadier said. 

“With the increasing number of generational wealth transfers, tech entrepreneurs and family offices, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, we are witnessing more activity in succession planning. This paradigm shift led us to dedicate a global programme called `the NextGens Experience’ to familiarise the next generation with the intricacies of wealth management, business succession and entrepreneurship using coaching by experts, tech experiences and peer-to-peer discussions,” Ramadier concluded.