Société Générale: Why we chose Luxembourg
French bank Société Générale Bank & Trust is the oldest foreign banking institution in Luxembourg. We sat down with Véronique de la Bachelerie, CEO, Société Générale Bank & Trust to find out more about the bank’s history, activities and long-term strategy.
For how long have you been based in Luxembourg and what is the role of the bank within the financial centre?
Société Générale Bank & Trust (SGBT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Société Générale Group, has been present in Luxembourg since 1893 and is the most long-standing foreign banking institution established in the Grand Duchy. For 125 years, we have contributed to the industrial development of the Luxembourg financial centre as a commercial and retail bank.
Through the years, we have played a key role in the emergence of the Luxembourg financial centre and developed know-how in securities services and UCITS. We have developed the expertise of a multi-specialist bank, offering services to business customers, institutional investors through our Securities Services and to high net worth individuals through private banking and built an active trading room in support of all our client groups.
What are the benefits of being located in Luxembourg?
First of all, as an international financial marketplace, Luxembourg is located at the heart of Europe. This strategic location matches well with the international dimension of Société Générale in Luxembourg and suits our needs.
We can rely on a favourable ecosystem with a stable political and economic environment coupled with a multilingual and multinational labour market as well as regulatory institutions that have a deep sense of business and highly developed sense of responsibility as well as an open-minded approach to innovation. This responsive and proactive approach to business is perfect for our activities and underlines the success of the securities industry in Luxembourg.
This ecosystem supports the long-term strategy of Société Générale group and SGBT, known as “Transform to Growth”, which reflects our identity as a trusted partner for our clients, committed to the positive transformation of our society and economies.
What activities are you involved in and how have you developed them?
We have two activities as our core business. The first is our Private Banking services where we assist international entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals in their development. We offer our clients the benefits of a long tradition of private banking services in the eurozone’s leading centre for international private banking. SGBT is a major asset for Société Générale Private Banking’s setup.
Secondly, through Société Générale Securities Services network, we provide a full range of securities services that are adapted to the latest financial markets and regulatory trends ranging from clearing services, liquidity management to fund administration, fund distribution and global issuer services.
In addition, we have developed a series of additional activities such as corporate services and structured finance. The bank is a significant liquidity provider for key institutions. We also play a key role in supporting sustainable and positive impact finance and the financing of projects in emerging countries.
Our innovative trading room has become the centre of expertise for structured products for the entire Société Générale Private Banking network.
To develop these services, we rely on the diverse and solid ecosystem of Luxembourg but also on the Group and its international network.
How does the Luxembourg ecosystem support your business?
In Luxembourg, public authorities, private players and business associations are ambitious to follow and develop a sector that is evolving rapidly.
We are lucky to be able to rely on a supportive and open-minded regulator keen on innovation.
There is also a constructive cooperation between the authorities and civil society to promote and develop the country. We work with major financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), and business associations such as the Luxembourg Bankers Association (ABBL) and the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI).
In addition, we rely on government initiatives and contribute to private-public initiatives set up to support the country’s development such as the Luxembourg Sustainable Development Finance Platform.
Finally, we collaborate with internationally recognized actors such as the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and the EIB for financing new development models.
How do you attract talents and create a work environment able to sustain employees?
In Luxembourg, we employ 1,400 people in total making us the 4th largest employer of the financial centre.
Our first concern for our staff is to preserve their work-life balance. We were the first employer from the financial centre to develop telecommuting initiatives to cut down on commuting time.
We continuously invest in our talent and help them grow personally, professionally and together as a team. This includes setting up initiatives such as flex desks, telecommuting and a large range of sport and cultural activities.
All of our employees are also equipped with a laptop while collaborative workspaces or “silence” rooms are available to improve flexibility and collaborative work.
All these initiatives are based on our leadership model and corporate culture to favour the sense of commitment of our employees, their team spirit as well as innovation and their creativity.
What do you need to develop further your activities in Luxembourg?
Attracting new international talent to Luxembourg and sustaining them is of primary importance to our company.
To do so, the high level of quality of life found in Luxembourg is a key factor. However, there is still some work to be done such as adding even more international schools to welcome expatriate families. Continuing efforts to promote the image of Luxembourg abroad will also be key to attracting new talent.
Digitalisation has become a key challenge for the financial industry. What we need is additional support, allowing us to adapt successfully to this change and facilitate the transition to the digital world for all our employees by means of specific training and programs to prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs.
Additional initiatives towards more flexibility and telecommuting will be needed to facilitate the transition towards a world in constant change and improve the work-life balance of our employees.
What do you appreciate most about living in Luxembourg?
Connectivity is available at so many levels.
First of all, the connectivity with Paris and thus with our group. Paris to Luxembourg takes only 2 hours 10 mins on the TGV, which is fantastic.
Then there are the easy connections with our peers thanks to business associations such as the International Bankers Club for example but also the open-mindedness of decision makers.
Finally, the large offer of cultural events and institutions, for example the Luxembourg Philharmonie, which offers a wonderful program and makes life in Luxembourg very vibrant. I also have the honour of presiding over the cultural association Victor Hugo, which serves as a bridge between France and Luxembourg.
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