FRENCH INTERVIEW: Driving through efficiencies

Bruno PrigentBruno Prigent, head of Société Générale Securities Services, outlines his firm’s plan to become more integrated and competitive. “My approach for securities services is not about focusing on one market. My target is to offer a global approach to the main markets in Europe,” says Bruno Prigent, head of Société Générale Securities Services (SGSS). While his firm has its roots firmly in France, Prigent is overseeing a programme that will offer one platform for all the major fund domiciles in Europe. In 2014, SGSS initiated its competitiveness plan as part of a wide-ranging set of reforms that are split into three pillars. The first pillar concerns products and geographies. “We want to provide the same product for multiple countries – collateral management outsourcing services, for example – leveraging on expertise and a broad securities service offering. For clients with the same needs in different countries, we provide one unique solution for every country,” says Prigent. In terms of geographical spread, the firm has recently made moves into UK and Germany, two of the main markets in Europe. As Prigent explains, Germany is a distinct market due its spezialfonds regime, essentially investment funds that are designed specifically for institutional investors. Prigent says that the firm wants to build a large set-up in Germany and while today it has a strong franchise in fund administration and asset servicing, the target is to complete this offering with enhanced custody services through SGSS’s future pan-European custody platform. The second pillar concerns the firm’s IT platform: it has launched a new custody information system, which is one unique platform for the whole of Europe. If the firm wants to add another country, it can do so in a relatively short space of time, from six to nine months according to Prigent.  The firm has invested a large amount in this system and Prigent describes the roadmap to rolling it out. One of the first main steps is to go live in the German market in spring 2016, followed by the UK in early 2017. Prigent says that by the end of 2017, the platform will be active in France, Germany, Luxembourg and the UK. The final pillar is about being competitive regarding the cost of doing business, an element that is becoming more salient as regulations continue to burden both asset managers and asset servicers. “If you want to be in the competition, you need to work on your costs. Operational efficiency, the target is to have a good process with more efficiency,” says Prigent. SGSS has an offshoring programme in place in India, where it has a wholly owned subsidiary performing fund valuations for French funds, Luxembourg funds, German funds and Italian funds. This is an ambitious project, Prigent says. “At the end of this plan, we will have 3,000 funds in India providing fund valuation services to those [global] funds. Globally we have 4,000 funds, so 75% funds are in India.” One element that differentiates SGSS from its rivals is the firm’s desire to integrate itself into the overall banking group. For instance, in Luxembourg, the firm has integrated its fund valuation services inside its bank. In fact, in the Luxembourg market the firm has all the security services within the bank. Prigent sums up the reasoning behind these initiatives. “The main target is to simplify our client’s lives,” he says. These efficiencies also seem to be paying off in terms of business, with SGSS in the UK recently winning an investment outsourcing mandate from PSG Wealth, a South African wealth management firm. ©2015 funds europe

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