January 2017

Banking: a strategic industry

The inauguration of Donald Trump in the United States, a presidential election in France, elections in Germany, Brexit negotiations, and so on: 2017 will be a year unlike any other, with a full store of changes and uncertainties - all involving big stakes for the French banking sector.

As the year begins, allow me to make a wish - that those called upon to serve in public office are aware of the banking industry's value for the French economy and that they take action accordingly.

The OECD has pointed out that banking is one of six major assets that the French economy has going for it. It is a strategic industry, given that financial sovereignty is of basic importance to a country. And French banks are committed to supporting France's economy.

The French banking sector is solid. Essential decision-making centres are located in France. Four of the euro zone's nine largest banks and five of the largest European banks are French. Paris has many reasons for affirming its role as continental Europe's financial capital.

Banking is a strategic and forward-looking sector that fuels growth and jobs in the French economy. France is the euro zone's champion in bank credit, for both businesses and individuals. Loan volumes are rising far faster than GDP. 93% of SME investment loan applications are approved.

Banks are involved in the digital universe. France in general is not a leader in digital technologies, but this is not true of its banks, which are at the forefront in terms of investment, innovation and ability to mobilise the fintech ecosystem.

For France to get the most out of this trump card, her banking industry must be recognised and supported or at least must not be undermined.

We do indeed have to stay alert. Profitability, which is the bedrock of the banking sector's good health, is under pressure in an economic environment of low, even negative, interest rates, with the constantly expanding burden of regulation, more stringent capital adequacy standards, and excessive taxation (an average, four-year tax rate of 51% and special taxes such as the wage tax). Some very daunting regulatory challenges loom ahead in 2017.

Let's not make things worse. Rather, let's give French banks the environment that allows them to realise their full potential.

Yes, that is the wish that we can make as the year begins: that public officials are aware that a solid and competitive French banking industry is the hallmark of economic sovereignty and a key to prosperity for France.

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

Tweeter : @FBFFranceTweeter : Linkedin

Our Positions

All together to make a success of account switching!
Beginning 6 February 2017 it will be even easier to change banks. The new bank account switching mechanism adjusts a service implemented by French banks since 2009. This makes things even simpler for banking customers. A signature and a bank identity card are enough to transfer the domiciliation of all transactions safely. The banks are ready! For simple account switching to be a success everyone will have to get involved - banks, of course, but also issuers of direct withdrawals and transfers, whether public authorities, private-sector companies or associations. To bring all these parties up to date, French banks have put together a complete communications kit, including a mini-guide for changing banks, educational files for individual and business customers, and a video explaining to companies their new obligations.

In their own words

Speech by Danièle Nouy, Chairman of the ECB’s Supervisory Board at the WHU’s business school’s New Year’s Conference, on 18 January 2017 in Koblenz, Germany
“European banking supervision enhances the stability of the banking sector and makes future crises less likely. It is therefore an innovation that creates value for all citizens in the euro area.”

FBF and the media

Revue Banque, January 2017 – Philippe Brassac, FBF Chairman: “The French banking system is an island of stability in a world of uncertainty.”


Philippe Brassac discussed the highlights of 2016, including increasing low and negative interest rates, the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit referendum, and, lastly, the fear of even tougher regulations imposed by the Basel Committee, whose main victim would be the European economy’s financing model. His main observation: “We have in France a solid and stable banking system that finances the economy to a greater degree than the rest of Europe and at very low interest rates for borrowers.” He also discussed the coming challenges in 2017, including the banking union and the designing of a true strategy for financing the European economy. And the challenge of restoring a yield curve that is “necessary for the proper functioning of the European banking system, and that also provides decent incentives for savers”. He also mentioned the challenges of sector digitalisation: “this acceleration is an evolution, not a revolution”.

Revue Banque, January 2017 – Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani, CEO FBF: "Market entrants must be subject to proper diligence obligations"


In 2016 regulations to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism were made far more stringent. This will also be the case in 2017, with a genuine true operating impact on banks. Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani discussed the innovations contained in the Urvoas Law and the principle of "appeal to vigilance", which allows Tracfin (the French finance ministry’s AML-AFT enforcement arm) to require enhanced diligence from banks on certain individuals or transactions in certain geographical regions: "Of course, banks have long been committed to preventing and detecting money laundering … this new measure shifts the direction to top-down and is potentially very useful.” She noted that fintechs and other market entrants (payment aggregators or initiators) must comply with these diligence rules. “Any security breaches – even outside the banks – would cast general discredit on the sector … We ask that the authorities ensure they subject everyone who practices this same type of activity to the same type of obligations and effective supervision."

Le Figaro, 6 January 2017 – “French banks: concerns about jobs”


The revolution underway in banking is no cause for concern. Rather, it can offer new opportunities. As of the end of 2015, the French banking industry employed 371,600 persons. In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro, Béatrice Layan, head of the Banking Professions Observatory, pointed out the opportunities available for young people. “The sector is still hiring, especially young people with four- or five-year university degrees as wealth-management advisors, and advisors to small business and corporate customers.”


25 - 26

Paris Fintech Forum: “PSD2, towards a new ecosystem?” (speech by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani)


CPME (French smaller companies employers’ association) national conference – morning conference on SME financing: “SMEs, how to finance your business?” (speech by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani)

26 - 27

Eurogroup and Ecofin


Conference on law and competitiveness, Paris, workshop on “uberisation” (speech by Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani)


Higher Judicial Committee of the Paris financial market: findings of the working group on negative interest rates


Brussels: 5th SRB Banking Industry Dialogue Meeting


FBF press conference: Observatory on household lending


26th Parliamentary conference on savings and investment


Informal E-27 summit

Tweet of the month

Figure of the month

79% of French people enjoy access to #banking #services through various channels (#branches, web, #mobile...) #Figureoftheweek

0.7%: that’s how much of their budget French households spend on banking services