January 2016

Make sure we have the right priorities in 2016

On behalf of the French Banking Federation, I would like to offer you our warmest wishes for New Year 2016. If we had just one wish for our industry, it would be for banking regulators to finally put funding the economy back at the top of their priorities. The lessons of the crisis have been learned and the financial security agenda is now quite full. In the eurozone, the Single Supervisory Mechanism and Single Resolution Mechanism for banking crises are operational. The financial structure of banks has been significantly strengthened. Governments and depositors can rightly be assured as to the strength and resilience of the banking sector.

So let's make sure we have our priorities straight in 2016. Banks need to be able to fully focus all their efforts on serving their customers. Brussels' new priorities, economic growth and employment, mean we have to let go of some outdated concepts, namely the plans for bank separation and the financial transaction tax. There is one simple reason for this: if they come to fruition, these plans will prove completely counter-productive for our economy, our businesses and employment.

Let's look at bank separation first. The issue of banks that are "too big to fail" is resolved by the new international prudential requirements, known as "TLAC", so there's no reason to separate corporate and investment banking from retail banking activities. Even worse, by imposing new constraints on capital market activities that apply only to major European banks - if not French - we are headed straight for a financial Europe without European players capable of funding the economy and providing comprehensive and competitive services to their customers internationally. Is that really what the European Parliament wants? It is now its responsibility to stand up against such a strategic mistake for Europe.

Now a look at the Financial Transaction Tax. Ten countries, including France, still back the FTT. It is sold on the illusion that, in a globalised economic world, imposing a tax within such a limited scope will not have disastrous consequences for the businesses and the financial markets in question. This is a monumental error in judgment at a time when funding our businesses, as the regulators themselves favour it, calls increasingly for use of the capital markets. Continental Europe - and France in particular - cannot deprive itself of robust and competitive financial markets.

In today's persistently uncertain economic environment, these choices are fundamental. Yes, it is truly imperative that we have the right priorities in 2016.

Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani
Chief Executive Officer of the French Banking Federation

Tweeter : Make sure we have the right priorities in 2016Tweeter : Prime Time

In our opinion

An even more secure banking system
With the Single Supervisory Mechanism now in place, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), in force as of 1 January 2016, marks a new step toward a more secure banking system. To weather potential difficulties, banks are required to have sufficient resources at their disposal to continue carrying out activities deemed essential to financial stability. The new scheme sets up resolution funds to be financed by the banks themselves, removing any risk of using taxpayers' money or customers' bank deposits to bail out banks.

Read more

The “Digital Republic” must guarantee a high level of security
The "Digital Republic" bill goes before France's National Assembly. This bill is key for the protection of personal data and transactions, issues of major importance to the banking sector. The FBF took part in public consultations for the draft law. Regarding the bill's proposals to facilitate SMS payments, the FBF emphasised that these solutions should not come at the cost of lower security for consumers. On the contrary, in order to maintain consumer confidence, they must guarantee a high level of security.

French banks mobilised in the fight against terrorist financing
The Paris attacks have once again turned our priorities on their head, and French banks are determined to effectively contribute to the fight against terrorist financing. Drawing on 25 years of experience and cooperation with the public authorities, they have rallied their forces and are ready to take action. They also stand alongside their customers, especially in sectors impacted by the consequences of the attacks: it means something to be a community bank!

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FBF and media



The proeminent names in the economy share their thoughts on Wansquare

Like every year, the Wansquare business website asks figures from the world of economics, finance and industry about their own experience of the past year and what they anticipate for 2016. For Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani, the key event for the French banking sector in 2015 was “the European Council's adoption of a proposal on the separation of banking activities, which creates new constraints on market activities applicable only to major European banks, including French banks”. “Are we headed toward a financial Europe without European players?” she asks. “It's now up to the European Parliament to take a stand against this strategic error.” What does Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani hope for in 2016? “For bank regulators to focus on the financing of the economy. The lessons from the crisis have been learned, and the financial security agenda is more than full. Banks must now be able to focus on their clients and the digital challenge.

Le Parisien


Fluctuating future for fixed rates

Are fixed-rate mortgages in danger? The threat is real. Daily newspaper Le Parisien echoes the concerns of real estate professionals about the Basel Committee's proposals on interest rate risk management. When asked for comment, the FBF responded that “real estate lending—an abundant and attractive option—is characterised in France by a fixed-rate system, which customers appreciate because it provides them with a lot of security." Hence the difficulty understanding the logic behind a reform that would burden borrowers with the risk of fluctuating interest rates, which until now have been effectively kept in check by banks.

L'Agefi Hebdo


Finance emerging from the shadows

On regulation and shadow banking: “The question arises because if they go with fewer constraints, this could distort competition,” Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani explains in a feature appearing in L’Agefi Hebdo. “New players are emerging, in financing but also in the payments arena,” she explains, and “the issue of information and the protection of clients is crucial.” She continues, “it's in the collective interest to ensure their protection.



French Central Bank / BIS Symposium: Ultra-low interest rates & challenges for central banks


Publication of the ECB's Euro area bank lending survey


Participation by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani in the Euronext Annual Exchange Conference: “Innovation at the heart of financing”.


Davos World Economic Forum


Participation by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani in the Paris Fintech Forum


Publication of 2015 results by the Household Credit Monitoring Unit (Observatoire du crédit aux ménages)

Tweet of the month

Figure of the month

Growth in #Corporate loans in France accelerates in november: +4.5%

0.7%: the share occupied by financial services in the budgets of French households (reference to cost of banking services fact sheet)