The bank for a changing world

Understand everything about ISO certifications

  • Jacques Petit
  • 13.07.2016

Jacques Petit, Manager of the ISO Expertise Division at BNP Paribas Consulting, help us to understand well ISO certifications : What is their purpose? Do they apply to banking? How does a company get certified? What is the state of certification at BNP Paribas?

What are ISO standards?

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a global standards entity created at the end of the Second World War to develop standards “ISO standards” in order to stimulate the recovery of international trade. There are certified ISO standards which are monitored through an annual audit to ensure compliance with requirements and non-certified standards, which serve as compendiums of best practices dedicated to a specific issue. From the size of a bolt to quality management within a company, today there are more than 50,000 ISO standards.

Are there any ISO standards that apply to banking?

A common misconception people have is that ISO standards only apply to manufacturing. On the contrary, service-centric industries, the banking industry in particular, are also concerned with issues like quality, environment and information security, for example. So, yes, ISO standards do apply to banking.

What is the purpose of certification?

When our commitments to quality, security and the environment are certified by an external observer such as the ISO, that provides peace of mind to our customers.         Many banks simply develop an internal charter concerning environmental or quality issues. At BNP Paribas, we agree to submit our operations for inspection by a certified audit entity. Not only is this the responsible thing to do, but it is becoming an increasingly necessary action: some customers now require this certification. 

our commitments to quality, security and the environment are certified by an external observer such as the ISO, that provides peace of mind to our customers

Certifications held by BNP Paribas

ISO 9001: Quality Management System
ISO 14001: Environmental Management System
ISO 20000: Service Management System (IT services)
ISO 27000: Information Security Management Systems
ISO 26000 (non-certified): Guidance on social responsibility (CSR)

What is the state of certification at the Group?

No banking group currently holds more certifications than BNP Paribas: more than 115 certifications and Labels worldwide. Among these, we have 70 ISO 9001 certifications, “the” essential standard and the “mother of all standards.” We also have 27 ISO 140001 business certifications. It’s not only industrial manufacturers who need be concerned by this standard: within the Group, our editorial staff still produces 300,000 mailings a day. Streamlining the printing process by applying an environmental standard just makes sense.We also have 7 ISO 20000 certifications, a special standard for IT services, an area in which we have played a pioneering role. And let’s not forget our diversity label. Similar in design to an ISO standard, it is a label created by AFNOR. BNP Paribas is the 1st bank to obtain the label (and still remains one of the few certified companies), obtaining it across 7 of its major business lines in France: all branches in France, BNP Paribas Cardif, BNP Paribas Factor, Arval France, Personal Finances, etc.

 BNP Paribas's certifications


certifications and Labels worldwide


ISO 9001 certifications


ISO 140001 business certifications


bank to obtain the diversity label

How did BNP Paribas acquire its competitive edge in matters of certification?

BNP Paribas was ahead of its time when in 1997 we created the ISO expertise division. The division functions as an autonomous entity serving all of the Group’s business lines and subsidiaries. We lend support to all of our entities in carrying out their certification procedures, we perform continuous standards intelligence, we offer training sessions, and more. We are always in high demand: my agenda is booked for the next year! 

In 20 years, we have developed strong expertise internally, which we have put to work all around the world. Today, certification is a fundamental part of our corporate culture and has become a state of mind. At first I had to work hard to find “customers,” but now they come to me.

How did you gain internal buy-in?

In the banking world, we are used to working in an extremely rigorous way. Oftentimes, certification simply puts a label on a working method that an entity has already adopted. So I just said that the certification process amounted to “putting their qualities on display for customers to see.” 

the certification process amounted to putting their qualities on display for customers to see.

How is certification awarded?

We start with a diagnostic audit, where we outline the steps we need to take to obtain certification, and an action plan to make it happen. If the entity decides to commit to the procedure, we provide support for about 9 months, including a half-day per week, to assist in carrying out the action plan. Next, we perform a pre-certification audit, to make sure that everything complies with the standard’s requirements. Then, we can schedule an appointment for an external certification audit

How do these standards support the Group’s CSR policy?

First, there is the ISO 26000 standard, which “translates CSR into ISO language.” We have integrated all of the standard’s requirements into our BNP Paribas Way commitments: that way, we can make sure our commitments remain pertinent. But there are other certified standards that also recognize our CSR efforts: ISO 14001 for the environment, ISO 9001 for customer relations, and more. 

What is the ISO Division’s current composition?

It includes four people, all with the dynamism and enthusiasm of young startup creators! Certification may seem tedious at first glance, but it becomes exciting once you get started. Over the years we have trained 350 internal auditors worldwide to promote ISO culture throughout the Group. Let’s also remember that the ISO Expertise Division was selected to support and audit the French Banking Standards Committee (CFONB)

Certification may seem tedious at first glance, but it becomes exciting once you get started.