The banking jobs: Co-Head of Digital
24.08.2018 | Careers
From project management to communication and product strategy, Edouard Legrand brought a 360° vision of marketing to BNP Paribas before expatriating to New York to become co-head of digital at BNP Paribas Asset Management. Today, he works at the heart of a subsidiary that is undergoing a full digital transformation.
Could you tell us about what you do at BNP Paribas Asset Management?
I co-lead a team of 20 people based in Europe and Asia. All are digital specialists: product owners, developers, and UX designers. Our mission is to define the digital strategy of BNP Paribas Asset Management and guide its business transformation for the benefit of its clients. This happens through the implementation of specific tools like mobile applications, internet sites, learning platforms and wallet simulators. We hope to create “assisted pathways” for our advisors, in order to help them better promote our products to their clientele. We are also working with data scientists and data visualization specialists to develop internal tools that process and present strategic data, such as sales trend analyses.
You manage BNP Paribas teams across several continents. Why did you move to the United States?
I had been working at the Group headquarters in Paris for nine years when my wife was transferred to the US. I spoke with my manager about the possibility of expatriating and he agreed to move my position in order to make it happen. I then passed from adjoint director of product strategy at BNP Paribas AM to co-head of digital. BNP Paribas completely supported my move, both in terms of administrative and financial logistics. I have been in New York for three years now, and will be here until 2020. Working remotely is entirely compatible with my job: I do it intensely, serving as the internal bridge on digital questions. At BNP Paribas, a collaborator can really diversify their experience to accommodate their ambitions or personal situations.
Can you give us some examples of the projects you work on?
For Gambit, our subsidiary that specializes in automated financial consulting, we are currently developing tools that leverage our knowledge in asset management. The tools will help advisors across the different networks of the Group—retail banking, private banking, etc.—to implement their asset allocation strategy. We have also developed a mobile reporting application for one of our external clients, a Hong Kong insurer for which we created investment funds.
Improving the client experience is a priority for the Group. How does BNP Paribas Asset Management contribute to this?
Around 70% to 80% of our projects are linked to digital transformation initiatives, in line with the Group’s strategic plan for 2020. The role of BNP Paribas Asset Management is to develop tech solutions to inform about the full range of BNP Paribas products and services, in order to help our advisors and their clients better understand our offers. Improving the client experience also requires a change in workplace culture. That’s why we teach new, innovative methods to our advisors that we’ve sourced from leaders in digital and fintech. We also actively encourage employees to take risks and allow for mistakes. Finally, we organize Digital Days devoted to digital training and integration for BNP Paribas employees.
our role is to develop tech solutions to inform about the full range of BNP Paribas products and services, in order to help our advisors and their clients better understand our offers.
“ the REQUIRED qualities for the job? Curiosity, above all, because that’s what allows one to adapt in a perpetually changing world. This position also requires very strong technical skills and an excellent knowledge of asset management. As a planner, the digital director must also know how to convince and rally others behind A project, and keep them focused on their objectives. ”
co-Head of Digital - BNP Paribas Asset Management
You joined BNP Paribas in 2007 as an intern market analyst. What attracted you to the Group?
I was attracted to its position as a market leader, its soundness, as well as the professional perspectives offered to its advisors, especially at the international level. It’s actually at BNP Paribas Asset Management that I did my end-of-studies internship. While there I developed a taste for financial analysis. I was then recruited to a strategic marketing analyst position. Over the course of my 11 years in the Group, I changed jobs several times all while remaining within the domain of asset management. That’s what I enjoyed about it, as well, the diversity of career paths at BNP Paribas.
You have worked in the US for nearly three years. What is professional life like on the other side of the Atlantic?
There are several cultural differences, especially in terms of communication, as Anglo-Saxons are much more direct in their approach… and much less partial to meetings! On a personal level, joining a smaller structure after several years at the Group’s headquarters allowed me to see the company from a different, more local angle. This understanding has helped me to better adapt and frame global corporate issues to the local level. In any case, expatriation is a very enriching experience that I strongly recommend.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
My biggest challenge is to reconcile three daily imperatives: promote a client-centered approach, improve internal agility to reduce time-to-market to a minimum, and conceive of robust and sustainable solutions for our services.
Do you have an anecdote that you can share with us?
I’m often asked if I’m an engineer or IT expert, even though I went to business school and specialized in finance. These two worlds – finance and digital – are now inseparable. A pioneering Group like BNP Paribas allows its advisors to progress and acquire new competencies. Ten years into my career, I am unable to shake digital!