April 2016

Actions speak louder than words

French banks made financing the economy, and especially SMEs, their strategic priority. Are they meeting their commitments? For those that still have doubts, that question can be answered much more effectively by a few figures than a long-winded account.

The reality is that French banks have never financed the economy and lent as much to companies. Outstanding loans increased by 4.1%, in 2015 and the trend continues at the start of this year. We have just reached a new threshold of loans to individuals and companies amounting to 2100 billion euros, a record high. Looking specifically at SMEs, year-end outstanding loans amounted to €374 billion, a 2% increase in one year. The vast majority of loan applications are approved - 94% of investment loans and 84% of short-term loans. France is number one in the euro zone for corporate loans ("Financing the French economy"). A sign of the times is that corporate loan mediation, which was introduced in 2008 at the height of the crisis, was at an all-time low last year at just 3,000 cases for a French economy with some three million companies of all sizes.

Although we should be celebrating because this shows that the banks are fulfilling their responsibility of serving the economy. The contribution of the banks should also be measured based on the quality of the relationships that they have with companies. Their remit also involves constantly working to improve the essential dialogue between banks and business leaders. Commitments have been made in this area, which are being met, but an ongoing effort to continuously improve should be omnipresent.

Our Federation is also playing its role, particularly in terms of education through its dedicated site aveclespme.fr and the publication of practical guides for business professionals. In the field, our 105 regional committees have significantly increased the number of meetings with SMEs and VSEs. These meetings are an opportunity to listen to these companies and encourage them to visit their bank when they need funding for projects. In this way, the battle for funding the economy is won every day, at the grassroots.

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

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Our Positions

Low interest rates highly risky over the long term
Concern is beginning to emerge: what if the European Central Bank's soft monetary policy is a step too far? This question may seem incoherent at a time where its benefits are starting to be felt, in particular with the recovery in the credit markets of countries which had suffered the most during the crisis, such as Italy and Spain. Credit has returned to positive territory since last summer in the euro zone as a whole and this is an encouraging sign for future growth. For the member States, this policy of exceptionally low interest rates also has immediate effects: they can secure financing under better conditions and improve their budgetary positions. But what if all this is nothing more than a smokescreen? Such a monetary policy is not intended to continue indefinitely. And Mario Draghi himself, from the outset, associated this policy with State-led structural reforms which have yet to be implemented. For the financial sector, these low, or even negative, interest rates are not without risk in the long term. The same holds true for savers, and even companies.

In their own words

Danièle Nouy, Chair of the ECB's Supervisory Board

Spoke at the European Banking Federation's SSM Forum, Frankfurt, 6 April 2016. "The markets seem to worry less about capital, and more about profitability. Supervisors share the concerns about profitability: banks urgently need to adapt their business models.".

FBF in the media



The debate between the FBF and Finance Watch

Invited to discuss the theme “Are we heading towards a new banking crisis?” with Christophe Nijdam, Secretary General of Finance Watch, Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani refutes the idea of a crisis similar to that of 2008. Stock markets’ reaction at the beginning of the year can be explained primarily by global factors (plummeting oil prices, investor fears of a slowdown in world growth and specific factors relating to banks: low interest rates and regulatory uncertainty). Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani also highlights the effectiveness of stress tests and the specific measures applicable to systemic banks, such as the TLAC. “It is important not to confuse the size of a bank and the risk”; “In France, the large banks did not pose a problem during the financial crisis”.

L'Agefi Hebdo


Banks at the heart of the payment industry

On the occasion of the 2016 Pay Forum trade fair which was held on 16 and 17 March in Paris, Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani reaffirmed the banking sector’s central role in the development of payment methods. In an interview with L’Agefi Hebdo, she underlined the fact that “banking has a tradition of innovating to serve customers. Digital has accelerated the process”. As for the competition likely to be represented by GAFA, she reiterated that “they do not have the same role as the banks. They are not subject to the same regulations or to the same standards and controls. Neither do they want to assume the regulatory or investment costs associated with payments, which have historically been borne by the banks. (…) The payment process is included in operational risks: the banks hold capital to deal with this situation”.

Le Parisien


Managing your money? Child’s play…

As part of the initiative, “I invite a banker into my class”, Philippe Moron, the director of 21 bank branches in the Val-d’Oise region, went into a classroom at a school in Persan. After explaining his job to the pupils, he organised a board game together with the teacher where the pupils were split into teams. During a little over an hour, the children answered questions about savings as well as the management or use of payment methods. At the end of this entertaining initiation into financial education, the teacher made an initial assessment: “The children often have a fairly distant relationship with money. They have lots of desires and do not understand what these sums represent. Here, they realise that spending means making choices”.



“Ethics or Conduct” Revue Banque conference: speech by Frédéric Oudéa, FBF Chairman and Marie-Anne Barbat Layani, CEO


Bank of France publication “stat info” on access to credit for businesses (Q1 2016)


BCE: “Euro area Bank Lending Survey”


First Single Resolution Board Conference "Charting the course: making bank resolution work", Brussels


Fintech Summit, Paris – speech by Benoît de La Chapelle Bizot, Director General Delegate FBF


First conference of finance schools organised by the Centre des Professions Financières in Strasbourg, speech by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani

Tweet of the month

Figure of the month

The overall level of #payment #security must not be lowered by new entrants

1.97% in March 2016, the interest rate for residential mortgages in France at a historic low (source: Observatoire Crédit Logement, March 2016)