Fatia-Fatma Balit and Patricia Fouqueray headshot


BNP Paribas Asset Management

NEVER DONE podcast
NEVER DONE podcast /
Episode description:

Fatia-Fatma Balit, Chief Technology Officer of BNP Paribas Asset Management, discusses with Patricia Fouqueray, Managing Director, Aladdin, the importance of technology in BNP’s continuous transformation, posture for the future, and her advice for women at the start of their careers.

Fatia-Fatma Balit, Chief Technology Officer of BNP Paribas Asset Management, discusses with Patricia Fouqueray, Managing Director, Aladdin, the importance of technology in BNP’s continuous transformation, posture for the future, and her advice for women at the start of their careers.

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[PATRICIA FOUQUERAY] So, we’ll switch in English. So, to start our discussion this morning I wanted to talk a little bit about 2022 because it has been a challenging year for the industry due to the market conditions, so I wanted to hear about BNPP AM and how the technology was supportive to go through the storm.

[FATIA-FATMA BALIT] You're right, the year was very tough. I think it was one of the toughest years after the COVID, because actually the COVID was again tough. Maybe before I answer your question, I would like to reposition technology as being one of the key enablers for the BNP Paribas Asset Management 22-25. This would give you already a kind of sense of how important is technology within BNPP AM. Now back, how technology is supporting or how it helped us to move in this market and this pressure that we are living, volatility. Thanks to technology, and data as well, BNPP AM was able, first of all, to anticipate I would say the movement, to have enough information to analyze what's going on, to predict some of the actions, and we were able to implement a number of tools allowing us to make the right decision in terms of investment as an asset manager.

So, without technology, we would be able maybe to go or to move within this environment. But thanks to technology we were very quick and more performant in the way we managed the volatility.

Thank you, Fatia. And maybe we can step back in terms of BNPP AM and technology, just to talk about your transformation journey to reach that step where you are fast and efficient, so, could you tell us a little bit about the journey?

Yeah, of course. If we take one step back, until 2015, BNPP AM was a merger of a number of entities. Each of them with its own identity, with its own information system, with its own processes, working in silos and being in one way “un handicap” as we say in French, for growth and a quick growth and not being a facilitator for scalability.

We launched the program called “Back in the Race”, over 2016 to 2020, with three main objectives. The first one is to harmonize our processes. Second one is to have the right foundation to support scalability. And the third one is to remain competitive and distinctive on the market. I'm happy to say that we are proud of what we achieved because we are where we wanted to be, meaning having a normalization of our process, facilitating the collaboration worldwide across all our teams from front to back, implementing a robust setup to support our ambition as an asset manager, with BlackRock Aladdin in the front to back chain, with Salesforce in the CRM, and transversally DataHub as a data platform. Along with that, we were able to decommission more than 60 applications, which is quite huge for an asset manager, and we are today really in a situation where we can grow very quickly with a limited impact from an IT perspective. So, we are where we wanted to be.

Thank you, Fatia. So, you're definitely back to the race now.

And we would like to stay...

One of the hottest topics I would say in Europe is sustainability, and I know that for BNPP AM sustainability means a lot because it's in your tagline. I think that it could be great if you could expand on what it means within BNPP AM when we're talking about sustainability.

Yeah, sustainability is now the buzzword in the environment. I would be proud to say that BNP was a leader because we were thinking about sustainability and it was in the heart of a number of investments we were doing, even in the beginning of 2016. So, it's not something that is new for us, but we continue to invest in it. Sustainability for us is part of our DNA. It's not only about tech, it's about tech, it's about processes, it's about what we do in day-to-day and in all we do in day-to-day with human people, with technology, with data, and with regulations. So, it's really for us in the heart of all what we do on a day-to-day.

Wow, it's very amazing. I think I would like to touch base to what we said at the beginning about how technology helped you, especially in 2022. Maybe could you give us a concrete example of how, you know, you mentioned scalability and growth - do you have a concrete example where Aladdin helps you in terms of growth enabler?

Yeah, of course there are numbers. I will select only one. Back, end of last year, we launched a new product, a new structure of product called AGI, which is really a complex structure with external asset managers and thanks to Aladdin, we were able to deliver this project with no new IT tools. It's leveraging Aladdin and all the interfaces with Aladdin to make it real and live for our clients and to our fund managers as well.

That is a great example. So, I will switch to something a little bit personal.


So, you and I, we are senior female leaders in technology and we're very proud to have a female leader like you being a CTO of a large asset manager. What would you, I mean, if you think about you being younger, what would be the advice you would give to young female talents working in your team, for example?

I will say something that can be seen as bullshit, but it's a reality. If I have one advice to give to young women or women in general or girls: please keep believing in your dreams, girls. And don't wait to have all the skills to ask for a promotion. Even if you have only half, don't hesitate. Take the risk, move on and you will see that you can succeed.

[FATIA-FATMA BALIT] And you Patricia, what would be your advice?

[PATRICIA FOUQUERAY] Oh, so as we say in French, “l’arroseur arrosé”. So, I'm definitely aligned with you. I think when I look at technology, it does bring so many opportunities that male and female, everybody can definitely take the challenge. I think if I look at me being younger, I was not as bullish as you are Fatia. So, I think for me, what was very helpful was to get mentors, male mentors by the way, to push me to be a little bit more aggressive and believe in my dream. So, I definitely align with your tagline. We need to believe in our dream.

[PATRICIA FOUQUERAY] So maybe just to, to conclude, if you look at the future and the bigger picture moving ahead, what are you looking forward for the two or three next years?

[FATIA-FATMA BALIT] It’s a complex question. I will try to answer it in the easiest way. I think we will continue on the tech transformation. It’s started and it will never end. But if we stop looking only over the coming two three years: cloud transformation remains a challenge for all of the companies including us as BNP Paribas. The second one is clearly, I would say, the regulations. Regulations continue to be a big challenging domain for asset management especially, and we need to continue investing in it. The third one is all the innovation, all the new technologies in terms of blockchain, AI, machine learning.

We need to be sure that we don't lose the focus. And to be sure that we invest where we need to invest while we optimize our cost. And transversally cybersecurity will remain the heart of all what we do, because it remains a very important point in terms of vulnerability and cyberattacks, and we need to continue investing on it. Just to mention those ones, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of others, but that will be my main takeaway.

Great takeaways. I think we need to remain focused in the coming years. Thank you, Fatia. Merci beaucoup.

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