The European leader is boosting its growth by relying increasingly on a socially responsible business approach. Charlotte Dennery harmonised the business activities of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions with collective growth. This long-term vision of sustainable growth guides in equal measure the equipment finance solutions offered by the company and its internal organisation.
For the Ensae and Polytechnique alumnus, the goal is clear: the equipment finance activity (where the bank owns the equipment and the user pays a rental fee to use it) must contribute to the Usage Economy, to not only preserve the planet, but also to better respond to the needs of businesses that require assets equipped with the latest technology. The impressive growth of the company she has been leading since 2015 seems to validate this approach: the total number of annual contracts – the customers mainly being dealers and distributors of equipment – rose from 10.1 billion in new production volumes in 2015 to 13.5 billion in 2018, an annual growth of more than 10% against a market average of 8% to 9%.
After having worked in the BNP Paribas Group’s major business lines like BFI, investment, insurance, in France and North America, Charlotte Dennery took charge of the leasing activity with a clear vision: she is convinced that the Group can and should promote equipment re-use, and subsequently the Circular Economy. A partnership with a Finnish company, specialist in life cycle management of technological equipment, was recently signed. “We will finance equipment that will be managed and maintained by our new Joint Venture with 3 Step IT, who, at the end of a lease, will recover and refurbish them to be put back on the market in 97% of the cases,” says Charlotte Dennery. BNP Paribas, on the other hand will bring to the table its risk analysis expertise and its capacity to finance the requests.
The alliance will be effective across 20 European countries where each of the partners is present. And since the equipment have more than one shelf life, the financing model evolves with the depreciation of the asset. “We’re contacted by companies of all sizes who want to adopt these solutions, from SMEs to the larger groups, whose share continues to increase among our direct customers,” says Charlotte Dennery.
The responsible approach is also extended to the management of 3,400 employees. Charlotte Dennery therefore took the shifting of the central teams (1,400 employees) from Puteaux to Nanterre, in February 2017, as an opportunity to improve on the working environment. “The layout of the building in the flex-office mode, with large spaces for formal and informal meetings, has made the way the teams work much more dynamic and convivial,” she says. The employees participated in the floor plans and homeworking was put in place. We’ve noticed an increase in productivity of the employees.” All measures have been implemented to onboard the teams to a more collaborative environment. “We must give the business a meaning and a vision so that the employees feel a real sense of pride in contributing to its growth,” says the CEO, who directly oversees the Human Resources, Finance and Communication departments.
Dialogue and cooperation are omnipresent at all levels, starting with the top where Charlotte Dennery created a four-member Executive Board, which meets every Monday for two to four hours to reflect on major strategic decisions. “A project needs to be analysed from all angles, this committee allows us to benefit from collective intelligence,” says Dennery. She does not hesitate to schedule once or twice a year brainstorming getaways of three to four days. “The Executive Board works in an extremely collaborative manner, with discussions on all subjects, in good faith,” explains Pascal Layan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, in charge of the management of the three business lines that finance logistics equipment, technological equipment and assist the customers of the BNP Paribas Group’s banking network. We address operational matters such as the five-year plan we need to continue being the industry leader in Europe. Wolfgang Pinner, Chief Operating Officer, who has been in the Group for 30 years, is responsible for Country Supervision while Delphine Roché has been Director of Transformation and IT since the beginning of the year, after having worked for 12 years in the UK business. “I have dealt with the transformation of leasing in each of my previous posts, be it as the Head of the Process Improvement Program or as the Head of a Business Unit,” says Delphine who was previously at an N-3 level post.
The Executive Committee has 14 members and the goal is to make it more gender-balanced, through a mentoring program for women supported by members of the Executive Board. “To increase female representation, especially in the Executive Committee, is a long-term job,” said Charlotte Dennery.
Among the major strategic projects monitored in the Executive Committee, the digitalisation of the bank’s intervention chain is a priority. Response times for funding requests have been reduced from three days to approximately two hours. “Speed has become the norm and I wanted the business to adapt to these new market expectations,” says Charlotte Dennery. After a positive answer to the financing request, it is necessary to follow through with automatic pay-outs to the dealers and automatic debit of the rental fees. “Our teams in the countries are experts in the local fabric and the international ones assist them constantly in improving their skills,” explains Pascal Layan. The goal is to simplify the financing process as much as possible for all types of customers. Accepting finance requests in less than thirty seconds requires a lot of expertise! “
And that is the key to business development. “We are going to appoint managers to improve the end-to-end digital journeys of our partners and customers,” says Delphine Roché. We need to review the processes from the customers’ standpoint.
The challenge is also to retain employees by allowing them to continuously upgrade their knowledge and skills. “It is essential for the employees to know how to use the latest tools. A program of Reverse Digital Mentoring was therefore introduced so that those who are comfortable with these tools mentor those who need help, with the top management leading by example by being mentored themselves,” says Delphine Roché.
All these projects help promote the development of new types of equipment, such as those that support energy transition, and geographical expansion of the company, in China, for example, where the Group is the only European player to break through on a large scale. “We have negotiated a partnership with a local partner who hosts our team of 80 people,” said Wolfgang Pinner. Employees who deal with the clients of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, however, form a separate team. The United States, Switzerland and Scandinavia are also part of recent as well as promising progress in terms of sustainable development.
1988 : Ecole polytechnique
1991: High-level government officer Insee then Ministry of Finance
2001: BNP Paribas, Head of Strategy and Development, BFI
2002 : Head of Strategy, United States
2004: Head of Asset Management and CFO, Cardif
2009: Managing Director Operations, BNP Paribas IP
2015 : CEO, BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions