– Paris EUROPLACE is in charge of developing and promoting Paris as an international financial center. Our organization brings together the different players of the financial industry, being corporate issuers, investors, banks and financial intermediaries, as well as the lawyers, accountants, consulting firms and the financial market authorities. Altogether more than 500 members, with a growing participation of international banks and investors which are developing their activities in Paris, in the context of the Brexit.
Paris EUROPLACE is the core body, which promotes working groups to push reforms in France to improve the Paris financial center attractiveness, as well as to develop international relationships and to promote Paris on a global basis. Other activities of the group related to financial research developed by the “Institut Louis Bachelier”:
· Sustainable finance carried out by “Finance for tomorrow”
· Regulatory dialogue executed by the “AEFR”
· Fintech developments with our Fintech cluster called “Finance Innovation”
· Boost new innovative asset management companies, with our “Emergence” program (1 billion euros under management).
We carry out studies and regular reviews via Think tanks and Working groups to enhance the Paris financial services business regulatory and global environment, by supporting reforms and initiatives that improve the attractiveness of the Paris financial center. Items of study include: Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, financial market Derivatives, Digital currencies / Crypto assets, Equity growth, Infrastructure financing, Issuers new developments (SPAC, IPO), Microfinance, Regulatory environment, with representatives of Corporates, SMEs and the whole financial industry, as well as the Market Authorities.
Paris EUROPLACE participates to European working groups and consultations on European financial markets developments, via regular communication with the European Commission and the Parliament. At a further international scale, we cooperate and develop dialogue, create close ties with emerging financial centres through the signature of MOUs and the organisation of international financial forums.
Paris EUROPLACE acts as a prominent financial center in the development of Fintech, in the most innovative fields such as new payment solutions, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, risk management, asset management, Insurtech, digital platforms etc. Most recently, our Sustainable Finance initiative contributed to mobilize the Paris market players towards a sustainable and low carbon economy, in line with the Paris Agreement.
– Maybe you can describe the work of Paris Europlace in the Eurasian space, over the past, present and what you plan for the future?
– Paris EUROPLACE has gathered more than 600 international participants – including our contacts from the Eurasian zone - to its 2021 Paris EUROPLACE International Financial Forum (IFF) held on 29 June virtually. This edition discussed the features and the next steps of the future of finance, more specifically Green & Sustainable Finance and New Technologies, and what the Paris financial center offers in these different fields. The event gathers each year French and international investors, as well as representatives of Banks and Corporates, and Policy makers. Over the years, it has become one of the most important financial events in Europe.
That is why we firmly believe on the role of financial centers to accompany our societal challenges that need financial culture, expertise, synergies and investment capacities. It is in that context that we cooperate directly with international financial centers, including Russia and the Eurasian area.
Paris EUROPLACE has triggered a multiyear cooperation with Russia and Moscow as the Russian key financial center. The first MOU had been signed between Paris EUROPLACE and the City of Moscow in 2010, with the presence of Christine Lagarde, at that time Minister of the Economy and Finance of France.
It has been followed by numerous initiatives in Paris and in Moscow: Participation to some dedicated F I N T E C H f o r u m i n M o s c o w, organization of several joint financial seminars with the Ministry of Finance of Russia and the participation of high level representatives of the Paris financial centre, participation in the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), several interventions in Sochi with the Russian banking association, sharing academical programs with the Russian university of Finance. In those challenging days, cross fertilizing experiences is key to adapt the proper compatible balance between global and national strategies and the proper level of regulation together with adequate supervision frameworks.
Moreover, recently, contribution to the Greater Moscow in its completion of the first Russian local authority RUB 70 billion, 7 year Green Bond issue (780 million euros) listed on the Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX). This first Green Bond issue is a great example how Paris EUROPLACE can give support in innovative instruments and bring investors to new financial places, having worked closely with the Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Vladimir Efimov and Maurice Leroy, ex Minister in charge of the Greater Paris and now advising the Mayor of Moscow. This new financing will allow the development of more than 400 electric buses in Moscow in 2021, adding to the current 600 in circulation and reaching 2300 by 2023.
Paris EUROPLACE has signed an MOU with Kazakhstan to develop cooperation with Astana as an international financial centre. Contacts have been built between French and Kazakh Fintechs. Furthermore, Paris EUROPLACE attends regularly the AIFC International Forums.
On t h e o t h e r h a n d , Pa r i s EUROPLACE participates to the World Financial Center Alliance (WAIFC), from which Kazakhstan is also a member, to develop contacts and cooperation between international financial centres and to produce specific works on different topics, concerning the future development of the financial centres.
A great example of our cooperation and best advice given in the Eurasian sphere has been the participation of a French Investment bank, Natixis, on two occasions. First, bringing its Capital Markets expertise to the Uzbek National Bank issue last October of its first Eurobond (300 million dollars, 5 years); Second, advising UzAuto MOTORS in a similar manner with a 300 million dollars, 5 years issue last May. In order to further its involvement in the Uzbek capital market, Natixis will participate to the next Uzbek Economic Forum (UEF) at the end of the month.
It is our firm intention to work more closely with the FBA EAC members states like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia or India… more specifically in terms of Sustainable Finance and Green Bonds, as well as for the financing of the Infrastructures.
Paris EUROPLACE has developed a long term cooperation with China, starting with the signing of the first MOU agreement in 2007 with the Municipality of Shanghai, followed in 2010 by the signing of an MOU with NAFMII – the National Association of Institutional Investors – to support the development of bond markets in China. As well as the regular organisation of French Chinese Financial Forum in China and France.
More recently, Paris EUROPLACE worked on the internationalisation of the Renmimbi (RMB) and put in place the adequate infrastructure for banks and French companies, to develop their commercial transactions with China. To date, Paris is the leader in the Euro zone for the RMB. Our objective is also to assist companies in Africa in their financial transactions and relations with China. In 2015, on top of the already existing cooperation engaged with Northern African financial places, a new dynamic was given with the creation of the «Cluster Finance Africa-France».
And Paris pursues a strong relationship with the Chinese institutional investors, as well as the Chinese banks, more than interested to develop their activities in Paris in Global trends EURASIAN FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC HERALD | #3 (14) 2021 33 the context of the Brexit and the new leading position of Paris in the EU27.
– What do you see as major challenges that financial places are facing now?
– Finance must be a major instrument to spur growth and employment. It must drive individuals’ savings to the real economy and go towards performing investments that have long-lasting effects to the economy, the society and the environment.
In 2015, Paris held the COP21 with the organisation of the Climate Finance Day. Together with EURONEXT, the Paris EUROPLACE continue its efforts towards Sustainable Finance and aims to have Paris the major financial centre for Green Bonds. I would like to point out that the Republic of France is currently the third biggest Green Finance Bond issuer in the world, not far from the US and China. And Europe has now reached cumulatively USD 500 billion worth of green investments.
As an example of such a success, La Société du Grand Paris (SGP) has been issuing since 2018 through its Green Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) EUR 16 billion representing half of its financing for the Grand Paris Express. The last issue in 2020 assembled 230 investors on the 40 year Bond and 185 for the 10 year Bond, showing interest for EUR 18 billion versus a 6 billion offer.
Bank of China’s Paris entity has also benefited from the Paris financial centre’s expertise in Green bonds, issuing 700 million euros of 3 years, 500 million dollars of 5 years and 1 billion renmimbi of 3 years bonds.
Another challenge for financial institutions and its related partners, is the Digital transformation, a major revolution using technologies that concern all the activities of Finance. Everyone is and will be impacted, from new channels of distribution, payments, Big data, Blockchain, Robo-advisors, to Insurtech just to name a few. I firmly believe that this financial revolution represents a major challenge and yet a marvelous opportunity to have a better Finance, more international, cleaner and wiser.
In response to the 2020 European Commission’s public consultation on a new digital finance strategy for Europe, Paris EUROPLACE have identified several obstacles which prevent the opportunities of innovative technologies in the European financial sector to be fully reaped. For example, it is difficult to use AI in KYC processes, as technologies (facial recognition, digital identity) are not recognized at European level. Also, the lack of a European ID prevents to seize the opportunities of innovative technologies in the EU financial sector. Regulators do not share a common vision on this issue; as a consequence, financial players have to fulfil the different requirements set out by the Member States.
Moreover, regulations such as MiFID2 and GDPR are implemented in different ways throughout the EU (e.g. the notion of legitimate interest gives rise to different interpretations). The health crisis demands that some of the GDPR rules be revisited. More generally, the implementation of a sectorial approach to these issues (GDPR, EU ID) rather than a horizontal approach, seems detrimental. In our opinion, the competence of regulators (in terms of skills and resources) in Innovative technologies should be increased, with the objective to reach a harmonized level of regulation and supervision throughout the EU. It would also be worth strengthening the role of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) based on the example of the US NIST, and clarify its articulation with that of regulators and national agencies.
And we believe that the digitalisation of the financial sector can bring significant benefits to consumers, in particular in terms of price. It can result in more attractive rates and fees, as it can reduce compliance costs and remove legacy costs. It will also be more convenient. Digitalisation can also contribute to seamless and intuitive user experience, better online experience and functionality with simple and intuitive customer visuals and journey, easy onboarding and better quality of service. In terms of access, It can ensure continuity 24/7 on multiple devices, also in terms of choice. Digitalisation can foster new offerings and last but not least in terms of community, as well as it can improve communication with and among consumers and allow customers to start discussions with the service providers, give advice to their new services to test, build trust with them. However, the Digitalisation of the financial sector may also raise challenges which need to be addressed, in particular regarding, Trust (stability, security and safety have to be ensured). A balance needs to be found between privacy and customisation.
In conclusion, I want to say that Paris EUROPLACE is determined to come and help the Eurasian financial community and work together on those two major challenges that are facing us all, Sustainable Finance and Digitalisation.
Augustin Pascal Pierre Louis Marie de Romanet, Comte de Beaune is a French political advisor and business executive, since November 2012 – the General Director of the Groupe ADP and president of Paris EUROPLACE (the organization responsible for the development and promotion of all financial institutions in Paris as a market). Member of the Board of the Center for Financial Professions, Paris Transport group RATP, French insurance group SCOR, President of the Board of the National Public Domain Chambord. Augustin de Romanet has graduated from the «Institut d’Etudes Politiques» of Paris (IEP Sciences Po) and an alumni from the “Ecole Nationale de l’Administration” (ENA). He has held many high government positions, including the post of Deputy Secretary General under the President of France. In 2012, he became CEO of the French airport operator Groupe ADP. He contributed to the opening of a museum space at Paris– Charles de Gaulle International Airport, and created a «business» space at Paris-Orly Airport that allows business travelers to meet and promote French startups. In October 2015, he announced the ADP strategic plan for 2016-2020 (Connect 2020), which envisaged the development of the brand of the French airport operator, growth in international markets and the use of Paris airports as concept stores, modernization of infrastructure and improvement of the quality of service at all Paris airports. In April 2016, Aéroports de Paris SA launched two separate brands: Paris airports now have the Paris Aéroport brand aimed at travelers, and all logistics and technical activities of the group are carried out under the Groupe ADP brand. In 2009, he was made « Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur », the highest French recognition for national duties, Real Estate personality of the year in 2009, Financier of the year in 2012 and in the same year, received «le prix littéraire” from the French press group l’Express for his book « Non aux 30 douloureuses».