In a world turned upside down by the pandemic, the Monaco Business Centre of the Caisse d'Épargne is strengthening its services and staying close to its customers. Interview with Loïc CHOLLET-VERGÉ, Director of the establishment.
What defines the Caisse d'Épargne in Monaco today?
More than ever, the Caisse d'Epargne is present in Monaco for its customers in the business and real estate sectors, two sectors that are still our core business today. We proved this during the pandemic, by accompanying our clients in sometimes difficult times, whether they were in Monaco or in France, by developing our own solutions and by offering, of course, Loans Guaranteed by the Monegasque or French State.
Can you give an example of how this support has materialised?
During the pandemic, many of our clients had to reinvent themselves, especially those who had a physical distribution business. We advised them to add a string to their bow: the ability to sell via an e-commerce site. Our solutions cover a wide range of clients, from simple packages to tailor-made proposals to support the smallest to the largest company. We have helped our clients a great deal to provide a secure digital storefront platform. This last aspect is fundamental, and we mobilise our dedicated experts to set it up. Sometimes our clients have their own partner to design the site. In this case, we add our secure payment solutions. We also have a partner who can, if necessary, design the whole website and the sales part for them.
So you are very dynamic in terms of digitalisation?
Indeed, the BPCE group, of which the Caisse d'Épargne is a part, has acquired several Fintechs to accelerate its development, including one in particular that develops very innovative solutions for securing e-commerce and accelerating sales.
Furthermore, internally, during the first lockdown, we were very responsive: within two weeks, the teams were equipped with secure laptops. Customers need us and in order to comply with the instructions we were asked to give, we were able to work remotely very quickly, while respecting security and confidentiality standards.
During the pandemic, some of your clients were less affected and continued to develop and invest?
We helped them to finance their investments and some of their strategic operations such as company acquisitions. We have been by their side to support their development, even in periods when visibility was reduced on the future. After understanding how these acquisitions would increase the added value of their groups, we built their business plan with them, integrating financing that was bearable for them.
The Caisse d'Épargne Monaco also has a new branch?
Yes, we have continued to invest in better customer service. We already had teams that supported the entire spectrum, from small traders to institutions, including large companies. We have strengthened the scope of the traders, craftsmen and young companies by recruiting a dedicated person, and by creating a new fully automated branch at 22, boulevard Princesse Charlotte. We have decided to offer our customers the most modern solution possible, with almost 24-hour access so that merchants, craftsmen and small businesses in particular can come and deposit their cash and cheques, or make change.
The Caisse d'Épargne is also the bank for real estate?
We support property dealers and developers, but also wealthy investors who wish to purchase property in Monaco or when they are Monegasques in France. We have just experienced a very irregular period in terms of activity in real estate, but despite this we have been present and some of our clients have made very good deals. Our system is solid, reinforced by diversification and new services. For example, in addition to real estate financing, we are able to finance boats. It turns out that our bank in France has opened a branch specialising in the nautical and maritime fields, the NautiBanque business centre, which has the ambition of becoming the preferred banking contact for the sector, in all its diversity. We can call on the expertise of their staff depending on the needs of our Monegasque clients. They are specialised in financing boats and moorings, and work with ports or boat maintenance and renovation companies, to enable clients to live their passion for the sea to the full.
In terms of diversification, we have also assisted Monegasque clients in the development of their vineyards, with the support of Vitibanque, an expert in the wine industry. Our experts set up efficient farm management services, a complete system to ensure financing needs and solutions to develop the business, including internationally.
Do you work a lot on your clients' assets?
It's a diversification that stems from our support for company directors, who then trust us for more personal investments... such as their second home, their boat or their vineyard estate. Perhaps one day we will become their private banker... but today, the Caisse d'Épargne Monaco is proud to be the banker of real estate players and company directors.