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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

BNP Paribas targets Germany's rich with 150 new hires

BNP Paribas looks to boost its annual revenue in Germany by about 8 per cent a year to reach 2 billion by the end of 2020

BNP’s private bank had about 50 people in Germany at the end of last year, mostly in partnership with its mobile bank there. . / AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT
BNP’s private bank had about 50 people in Germany at the end of last year, mostly in partnership with its mobile bank there. . / AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT

BNP Paribas plans a major hiring spree in German wealth management, seeking to become a leader in one of Europe’s biggest markets.

The Paris-based lender wants to add as many as 150 staff to its private-banking operations across German cities over the next three years according to Vincent Lecomte, co-head of the bank’s wealth-management business. That will about quadruple the unit’s existing staff there. It’s targeting assets under management in the country in the “strong double-digit” billions of euros by 2022, compared with a “single digit” figure currently.

“We want to become a top private-banking player in Germany. We are focused on Mittelstand entrepreneurs,” Mr Lecomte said in an interview, referring to Germany’s medium-sized export-driven companies. To do that, the hiring push includes relationship managers as well as plans to beef up credit and products & services teams, he said. The growth strategy will rely on BNP’s existing investment-banking, lending and real-estate presence.

The wealth-management push is part of a bigger drive by BNP Paribas to boost its annual revenue in Germany by about 8 per cent a year to reach 2 billion by the end of 2020. The recruiting drive will help the bank reach out to clients with a net worth above 5 million euros, including “mega-wealthy” with more than 100 million euros, Lecomte said.

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BNP’s private bank had about 50 people in Germany at the end of last year, mostly in partnership with its mobile bank there. In Europe, BNP Paribas’s main private-banking markets include France, Belgium, and Italy, while it also operates retail-banking and wealth-management operations in Switzerland. Lecomte declined to estimate the cost of the German expansion plan.

The business with Germany’s family offices and rich entrepreneurs is highly competitive and several other banks have said that they will cut jobs in the market. Other banks such as Oddo BHF have been building up personnel.

BNP Paribas Chief Executive Officer Jean-Laurent Bonnafe last month ruled out growing via any large transactions involving rivals such as Commerzbank.

“Organic growth remains our priority,” Lecomte said when asked about acquisitions in wealth management. Still, BNP Paribas in February agreed to buy ABN Amro Group NV’s Luxembourg private-banking and insurance assets. The acquisition is expected to close during the summer and it will add 5.6 billion euros in customer assets, bolstering BNP’s leadership as a wealth manager in Luxembourg.