Over a century ago, a group of Monegasque entrepreneurs created a bank to finance the local economy. Today, it remains the largest bank with 400 employs. But who really is CFM Indosuez, and why the sudden stepping out of the shadows?
It’s a catch-phrase that’s being echoed throughout the entire Principality: “Work Creates Wealth” coined by CFM Indosuez Wealth Management. This traditionally discreet bank, which has been well-known and respected among the local Monegasque, French and Italian communities for over a century, has embarked on a major awareness campaign to let the English-speaking community know that Monaco’s oldest and largest financial institution is also an international bank. And its values are rooted in the concept of hard work.
“Wealth can be everywhere. It can be associated with financial wealth, but also environmental, generational and cultural wealth,” explains CFM Indosuez CEO Mathieu Ferragut. “The basic story is that all of our clients have worked hard to create their wealth, or those who have inherited it have worked hard to maintain it. So, it’s our duty to work hard to help them preserve it and grow it. In the current environment, we believe the value of work needs to be brought back to the forefront.”
A bank that was created to fund Monaco’s economy
Crédit Foncier de Monaco (CFM) has a long and prestigious history in Monaco. It was, in fact, the first privately owned bank in the Principality, founded in 1922 by a group of Monegasque entrepreneurs who started the bank to finance the development of the local economy. In 1971, Indosuez, one of France’s top two investment banks, brought CFM with the objective of bringing more capital and capabilities to finance the local economy. Today, Indosuez is mainly owned by Crédit Agricole, but 30% of CFM Indosuez is floating and largely owned by its original local shareholders.
It is also one of only two institutions in Monaco – alongside the Société des Bains de Mer – to be listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.
“We call it the best of both worlds, because we have the very strong anchoring in the Principality with local shareholders and a long history, and on the other side we have a very large group that gives us the financial solidity and capabilities, which is Credit Agricole who owns 70%,” says the CEO.
A wide range of offerings
With 400 employees, including a trading room with over 40 individuals, CFM Indosuez is not only the largest bank in Monaco, it is the largest Wealth Management bank in the region. With this, says Ferragut, comes the capabilities to meet clients’ needs with a team that is always available.
“We have a holistic capacity in terms of product and service offerings – access to capital markets through our trading room, private equity, wealth structuring, real estate, corporate and structured lending, investment banking… as well as traditional banking and digital services,” explains Ferragut.
Who are the clients?
Two-thirds of the bank’s client base are Monaco nationals and residents, the remainder is made-up of non-residents. It’s local market share of residents from northern Europe, Britain and Australia, for example, makes up less than 5%.
“Being the largest bank in the territory and having English speaking clients already representing around 30% of our business, we think it’s reasonable that we gain market share on this client base,” says Ferragut.
The changing nature of Monaco residents
Mathieu Ferragut was brought in early 2019 with the aim of achieving new development goals for the 101-year-old financial institution. He says the bank’s client-base has been evolving alongside the changing profile of Monaco’s residents.
“The population of residents has been shifting, is very dynamic, and extremely active,” he says. “Everybody was telling me it is a retirement place. But that’s clearly gone. In our business, that completely changes the fundamentals and operational habits.”
He adds, “We want challenging clients. We want successful clients. We want clients that are extremely demanding because this is where the institution grows the most.”
Beyond this, Ferragut says, the international needs of clients have evolved. Many have interests in multiple locations outside of the Principality, and this where the bank is able to leverage on the Indosuez network in France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain, and Italy as well Crédit Agricole offices, which are “mostly everywhere” in Continental Europe.
Understanding the English-speaking market
Mathieu Ferragut worked in the United States for 17 years, in Asia for five, and Australia for two. He is also vice president of the Association Monégasque des Activités Financières (AMAF), which represents Monaco’s banking industry.
He says that having bilingual (French/English) staff is a key priority and, working alongside Communications Director Magali Jacquet-Lagreze, they are confident they can increase the bank’s English-speaking client base.
Investment that benefits individuals and the environment
The company’s Environmental, Social, And Governance (ESG) commitment is two-pronged.
Firstly, the company has a committed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which includes the ability of staff to take one day off a year to work for a non-profit, measuring the carbon footprint and working towards solutions to reduce the company’s emissions.
Secondly, CFM Indosuez is actively directing its clients towards green and blue finance.
“On the one side, we have the traditional SRI/ESG offerings through products and solutions such as funds and structured products,” he explains. “We also direct clients to blue finance, which is everything related to the ‘Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water’, developing financial solutions in order to gather capital and to direct that capital to precise actions related to the protection of the ocean.”
The partnership with the Oceanographic Institute, recently renewed for another three years, is at the centre of the action in this field.
In it for the long-term
The public should get used to seeing the name CFM Indosuez and its “Work Creates Wealth” catchphrase. It has embarked on a long term awareness campaign, showing that Monaco’s oldest bank has not only stepped out of the shadows, it has leapt out, and it has unashamedly set its sights on the English-speaking market.
Photo of CFM Indosuez CEO Mathieu Ferragut by Monaco Life