Yazid Allal is Head of Global IT Solutions and Services at BNP Paribas Group. In this capacity,...
The banking jobs : Legal Manager Distribution and Digital/Data
Working closely with the bank’s business end and other activities, the legal manager at BNP Paribas Cardif supports the creation of new insurance policies for banking partners and other insurance brokers. Expertise, adaptability and an open mind are the keys to success in this demanding position. Solenne Prigent has passionately practiced this role for four years.
What position do you hold at BNP Paribas Cardif?
I am a legal manager and I lead a team of six legal specialists within a cross-department service. The service was created two years ago from the merger of two departments—distribution (a department specializing in insurance distribution law, covering the terms for the sale of insurance policies by brokers) and digital/data. We can view this merger as both strategic and organic, because digital is everywhere—insurance policies are sold mainly on digital interfaces.
What is your role?
Like any legal specialist, my role is both complex and exciting! I serve as a business partner and take an active part in controlling legal risks within my field. My team of legal specialists play a key role in supporting business within BNP Paribas Cardif.
They notably deliver legal insight and support on all projects for negotiating partnerships, creating digital platforms, etc. In general, legal specialists may take the lead on developing and negotiating partnership contracts. They also help to ensure that contracts comply with new regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD). The entire legal department also has a hand in training employees (and not just legal department employees!).
I serve as a business partner and take an active part in controlling legal risks within my field
Can you give us an example of the type of projects you lead?We are now wrapping up the roll-out of a strategic agreement with Orange, for which we set up insurance policies for mobile phones sold at Orange stores and online. On the digital/data side, our biggest project right now is of course ensuring compliance with the GDPR.
Underway since 2017, this involves training Cardif employees (in France, as well as all subsidiaries and branches throughout the European Union), updating policy terms, updating and negotiating subcontracting agreements for personal data processing, participating in industry meetings (notably within the French Insurance Federation) and supporting the legal specialists at our subsidiaries with their compliance projects. The legal department is very active and involved. We work in close collaboration with the Group legal function’s IT/IP Practice and with the team surrounding Cardif’s Data Protection Delegate.
Personal data management is a particularly sensitive topic in finance—and insurance, too?
It is even more so in insurance because we work with sensitive personal data, notably for borrower or funeral insurance policies. We are extremely careful about the nature of the data we collect, the purpose of data processing, the duration of data storage and the security measures implemented to protect the data of our customers and partners.
digitization has become the key to transforming legal services.
What changes has digital brought about in the banking and insurance industry, notably in legal activities?
The digital transformation impacts banking and insurance on two levels. First of all, digital has radically altered habits both in terms of demand and supply. Our customers and partners want policies they can buy directly online through an intuitive and dynamic customer journey, without having to go through a complicated navigation process. The difficulty arises from the fact that we must ensure these sales processes comply with a growing list of French and European regulations, which make it impossible to take out an insurance policy in just one click!
Our goal is to disseminate a digital culture and integrate digital tools into our working methods
Furthermore, digitization has become the key to transforming legal services. Our Legal Director, Frédéric Devilliers, has grasped the importance of this movement, even as it extends beyond the need to transform our working methods by incorporating a full panel of digital tools (RegTech and other LegTech, which have sprouted up in the past four years). He initiated a reflection on what we call “the future legal specialist” and “the augmented legal specialist”.
Our goal is to disseminate a digital culture and integrate digital tools into our working methods to execute certain tasks and free up time that can we can then devote to more valuable efforts. To this end, Frédéric Devilliers ensures that my team presents on a topic in digital law and/or personal data law at every legal luncheon. Ultimately, the entire legal department will have an initial legal overview of these topics. This first step will be expanded considerably through the DLC2 training program. Launched this year by the Group’s legal function, the program will allow me to train my fellow legal specialists on issues pertaining to digital.
The legal department is also testing a new tool called Viasema, which compares Word and PDF documents to facilitate the process of updating contracts. This will save us an enormous amount of time. In the short term, we also plan to develop an electronic signature and digital archiving platform for contracts.
digital has radically altered habits both in terms of demand and supply
How did you become a legal manager?
I earned a Master’s degree in insurance law and responsibility, which I completed through a work-study program. I notably completed my apprenticeship in the legal department of a Cardif subsidiary (AEP). I learned a lot there, because they gave me real legal specialist assignments: writing legal memos, training employees, etc. After that, I worked as a legal specialist for another insurer, and then for the regulator of the Control Authority. I joined the legal department at Cardif in 2014, where I still work today.
What qualities does it take to exercise this profession?
First of all, it takes a fairly wide range of core business skills. A legal specialist for insurance must know how to handle insurance law, as well as digital law, or at least know the basics in this area. Next, it takes drive and commitment. Regulations are undergoing more frequent and complex changes. You always have to read up and stay informed. Lastly, you have to know how to put things into perspective and reevaluate yourself. Our profession is changing, and our working methods along with it, so we have to adapt quickly. Legal specialists should be able to work in an agile way, and in collaboration with coworkers from other departments (marketing, actuary, sales, etc.). Good legal specialists can communicate clearly to all these partners.
Do you have any advice for people hoping to enter this profession?
My first tip for young people is to learn English. It’s a requirement for joining the legal services of major groups like BNP Paribas. In the Cardif legal department, it’s almost the official language! We often have meetings, in France, which take place in English using English materials. Of course, you have to have a strong legal background, but that goes without saying.
Legal Manager Distribution and Digital/Data Nanterre
"In addition to my previous advice, I would add that it’s important to have an open mind. Don’t limit yourself exclusively to legal circles and try to move beyond law textbooks. In our daily tasks, we may work with marketing, actuaries or sales. These are enriching interactions because they allow us to understand the needs of our industry, and these are the people we work to support every day. We are by no means confined to our legal silo, so stay curious!"