French banks: youth in power

Within a month, two of the main French banking groups have named their next number one. Société Générale will entrust its general management to Slawomir Krupa in the spring, BPCE has just appointed Nicolas Namias as its Chairman. Two strong choices that allow, after a smooth succession process, to send clear messages internally and externally.

The change of generation is the most visible signal. Slawomir Krupa is 48 years old, Nicolas Namias 46 years old. The two new strong men will be able to register for the long term, as their predecessors Frédéric Oudéa did and Laurent Mignon, arrived at the command post in the wake of the great financial crisis. The board of directors of Société Générale had decided in advance to put the youth in power, by retaining two forties in its last selection. That of BPCE left until the end the possibility of appointing Daniel Karyotis, 61. But his appointment, according to the current statutes of the mutualist group, would have reopened in barely three years a new round to find him a replacement at the end of his term.

Strong corporate cultures

Both groups have, in fact, followed advice from Frédéric Oudéa, which had drawn up in June the robot portrait of the ideal successor: a leader who has time in front of him, and who is preferably from the ranks of the intern. If Société Générale examined external candidates at the start of the process, the option did not cross the minds of the directors of BPCE. The idea of ​​an in-house solution naturally imposed itself. Banks bring together a collection of complex professions, corporate cultures are strong, forged as much in successes as in crises. The management of these liners requires an intimate knowledge of the financial technique as well as the political balances in place.

Another point in common is that both Slawomir Krupa and Nicolas Namias have spent most of their careers in investment banking. A natural profile for Société Générale where these activities have always weighed heavily, more surprisingly at a BPCE, where the power of the Caisse d’Epargne and Banques Populaires networks could legitimately crown a regional baron. Both groups have played it safe and chosen captains experienced in handling financial storms, as the prospect of a recession and unstable markets cloud the outlook. Conversely, retail banking activities see better days thanks to the rise in interest rateseven if the challenges related to digital transformation remain unresolved.

Glass ceiling

There remains a lack: the total absence of women among the serious contenders for the supreme office. It only reflects the very masculine composition of the management committees of French banks, in particular at the head of the major businesses. their turn come, BNP Paribas and the Agricultural creditwhose bosses are over sixty, will they push modernity to break the glass ceiling?


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