FCI has a new chairman: Patrick de Villepin

Friday 23 August 2019

If you are to lead and inspire an organisation that counts members nearly 400 global financial institutions as members from some 90 nations, growing up in Venezuela, the USA and Italy established a firm grounding for preparation for such an exciting opportunity. If that organisation specialises in facilitating the finance of international trade then a career in one of the world’s largest global banks, accomplishing different management responsibilities on a path to becoming chairman of BNP Paribas Factor France, completes the proposition.

Patrick de Villepin, an ENA graduate, who joined FCI in 2004 and who has never missed a subsequent annual meeting, combines his deep experience as a banker and invoice financier with infectious enthusiasm.

Given that he sees FCI’s role as the UN for receivables finance this will be an essential quality in encouraging FCI’s Secretary General and Regional Directors to shoulder more initiative and greater autonomy along with increased responsibility for developing those essential new relationships that become members and maintain the momentum within FCI.

We are not just talking about new members either. Some old friends from the UK and France were conspicuously absent during FCI’s 51st annual meeting held in Vietnam this past June. Given that between them the UK and France generate over €640bn in volume annually, representing the 2nd and 3rd largest factoring markets in the world, the vacuum created by their absence is quite noticeable.   

Compensating for the loss of this influence places a heavy burden on the shoulders of any chairman and boundless enthusiasm can only do so much. It is not just the lack of the two most powerful Western Europe nations either. The USA has much to offer as well and next year’s FCI 52nd Annual Meeting in Washington DC offers us great opportunity to shine a light on this spectacular growth industry in a market where the modern era of factoring was founded over 200 years ago. The CFA, shortly to change its name, now called the Secured Finance Network (SFN), attended the UK Finance Festival in Belfast and was at pains to discuss the figures its members had compiled. If the IFA can be persuaded to join the Washington DC gathering as well we may learn even more. Certainly nothing can be lost by working more closely and much more could be gained. “Speaking with one voice”, as Patrick described it and we also discussed the vital role played by the EUF in ensuring the endless desire by governments to legislate and regulate does not prove harmful to the invoice finance sector.

The agreement signed with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation on the first Monday of the 51st FCI Annual Meeting may prove to be a historic day in taking the world of global trade forward. Patrick is acutely aware of the need for FCI to embrace the worlds of carbon neutrality, equality and diversity too. He expects and has empowered his regional directors to exercise autonomy in their spheres of influence, drawing in new members without the physical presence of the executive board leadership though he will seek regular reports as to the progress being made: animating FCI’s thrust through key performance indicators. He would like to see more women taking leadership roles too (he appointed two women to help him lead FCI, Mrs. Sun Jianbo, General Manager, China Construction Bank and Mrs. Daniela Bonazanin, International Manager, Banca IFIS and CEO of their Poland subsidiary, as well as past Chairman of FCI) and he is passionate about the need for education to ensure that standards are maintained, even raised.

We live in times of change and of challenges. Patrick clearly relishes the task of equipping and leading FCI members in encountering and overcoming them.

If his predecessor looked to his sporting and competitive instinct to take FCI forward, Patrick will bring his long experience, enthusiasm and finely tuned awareness of an evolving world environment to the task.

This news is an extract from Business Money July-August Edition written by Bob Lefroy, Business Money Group Editor.