The bank for a changing world

“The world is going too fast to take time over your invoices”We talk with Sarah Roussel, who heads BNP Paribas Factor

  • 09.10.2019

Factoring has become all the rage, carried by new services that are popular with very small enterprises and self-employed professionals. Sarah Roussel was appointed as Managing Director of BNP Paribas Factor on 1 April 2019. It’s a fast growing business. We take a look at her executive career and inspiring work.

After more than 20 years at BNP Paribas, you were appointed as Managing Director of BNP Paribas Factor at the start of 2019. How did you arrive in this position?

Immediately after I’d graduated from ESSEC, I signed my first trainee contract at BNP Paribas. I began as an auditor at the General Inspectorate: excellent training when you’re starting your career in banking. After six years, I studied further and got an MBA from INSEAD. When I came back, I worked for nearly ten years in financial management in Paris, before I took over the financial management of BNP Paribas in London. I then returned to Paris to become head of management control at CIB. In 2013, I joined the Domestic Markets division as Financial Manager, a job that I really enjoyed because of its strong strategic dimension. Then, after this long stint in finance, I felt like taking on a more operational role as Managing Director of a subsidiary.

Why BNP Paribas Factor?

I was interested in this subsidiary for two reasons. On the one hand, it has a human size (we are 430 staff members in France). On the other hand, it brings together all the functions of a company: trade, HR, compliance, IT, and operational processes. I like the fact that it operates like a proper company within the bank. We enjoy the agility of an SME and the support of a large group: the best of two worlds.

Photo : Sarah Roussel

What is your role as Managing Director?

My role is to steer our subsidiary and enable us to succeed in the challenges that we face in a constantly changing environment. Our customers’ expectations change, and so do their uses. It’s a fascinating field we’re in, directly in touch with the real economy. Supporting company managers in their growth is a day-to-day challenge. I oversee the management this daily reality together with the people of BNP Paribas Factor. My team and I are also drawing up an ambitious growth strategy for the coming years, based on the dialogue we maintain with all stakeholders. 

Our customers’ expectations change, and so do their uses. It’s a fascinating field we’re in, directly in touch with the real economy.

Could you explain to us what BNP Paribas Factor does? What is the purpose of “factoring”?

every year, nearly a quarter of company bankruptcies is caused by late payments. Cash management is the lifeline of a company

Factoring provides short-term cash management for those who need it in order to become bigger. Why? Because every year, nearly a quarter of company bankruptcies is caused by late payments. Cash management is the lifeline of a company; it’s what enables them to develop, innovate, export or simply fulfil their orders. Concretely speaking, at BNP Paribas Factor, we guarantee payment of invoices in less than 8 hours, we manage reminders to customers, and we offer a guarantee against unpaid bills.

Who is your primary target?

Everyone! Contrary to what people think, factoring is not just for companies that are in trouble. Our role is to support companies’ growth, regardless of their size and structure. Each of our offers responds to this objective. For large companies, we’ve for instance designed advanced offers based on optimising their cash management and performance.

We enjoy the agility of an SME and the support of a large group: the best of two worlds.

How does your job help companies to grow?

Factoring allows company managers to retrieve the liquid assets mobilised in their operations so that they can invest them. They can also shed the administrative tasks associated with customer service. It is through services like these that BNP Paribas supports companies in their innovation efforts. We can for example finance a research tax credit (CIR) before it is paid out by the Government, to enable the company to get started with their R&D as quickly as possible. 

How does BNP Paribas Factor innovate on the factoring market?

First of all by offering an optimised customer experience, especially on mobile phone. For example, we launched a mobile app called MyView, which allows our customers to manage their accounts and invoices from a distance. To respond to a growing need for immediacy, we are able to finance invoices in less than 8 hours, and all of it electronically. We also innovate by letting our offers evolve and bringing them increasingly in line with our customers’ actual needs.

To respond to a growing need for immediacy, we are able to finance invoices in less than 8 hours, and all of it electronically.

What role do fintechs play in these new business lines?

Fintechs started positioning themselves on this market in 2010. Most of them developed solutions that are aimed mainly at very small enterprises: different offers, of which some are complementary to our offers. They can be partners with whom we can team up to co-develop innovative solutions. It all fits in with the overall strategy of BNP Paribas, which puts a great emphasis on open innovation and co-building with start-ups, to anticipate and support new ways of consuming financial services. 

How do you see your services by 2030? 

Easier and easier for our customers. This can be done by improving the management of invoices and reminders, analysing the customer service through data, more immediacy in funding thanks to blockchains... The possibilities for developing are endless! 

Crédit photo header ©Halfpoint

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