Innovation Through Client Collaboration - BNP Paribas CIB
Monday 04 April 2016

Philippe Denis, CDO at BNP Paribas Securities Services, highlights different examples of co-development led by the bank jointly with the clients.

Creating innovative, relevant products and services for our clients is a critical business practice for us. Our experience has taught us that by working closely with clients in the construction and development phase, the more successful and applicable they are.

A Project Prototype

 In 2002, our Investment and Performance teams delivered a high quality client document detailing performance, breakdown of portfolios and attribution outcome of fund managers for institutional clients. This is a normal practice for a custodian, but what made it special, was the close collaboration with our clients in order to specify, develop and deploy bespoke reporting. This included adaptation to their own brand, logo, colors, fonts and style. Not only was the output highly valued by our clients, but they used the result as marketing and communications document to their own clients - highlighting the value add of the fund manager.
Based on this success, BNP Paribas Securities Services set out to deliver the same service to a wider range of clients and further develop sophisticated and bespoke documents for our clients. Clients were contributing to these developments and the concept of "client paid project revenues" was created - supported by finance and integrated in the IT budget.

"Chateau" and "Dungeon" Sessions

Whilst working with clients on fund onboarding projects, sometimes there are cases where a significant number of funds have sophisticated reporting requirements. In cases where the reporting requirements were complex and when the deadline was close, we activated what we called a "chateau session" or "dungeon session" - depending of the side of the English Channel you lived. The concept was quite simple: in order to deliver the specifications on time, all the relevant parties from the client and from us, were sent to a "chateau" session and were 'released' only when the specifications were validated and signed off by all the parties. We activated a significant numbers of these sessions successfully - unfortunately, not in a chateau. However, the joint effort towards a common goal generated a unique team spirit between the client and us.

Data Visualisation

 Simplifying complexity of investment data through data visualisation was an important step for us. In February 2013 one of our largest clients in global asset management set us a challenge. They sent us an email and the following sentence caught our attention: "...we [the client and BNP] should be starting to explore some of the more creative solutions for measuring and validating the accuracy of our overnight valuations."
Four weeks later we presented a prototype to our client. We received an amazingly positive reaction from our client. I am pleased to say that their dissatisfaction with our on-line reporting was completely turned around and they are now an advocate of our service.
During a client event in November 2013, one of our clients, Head of Fund Administration shared the following: "This solution has transformed our opinion internally regarding BNP Paribas. We used to think that our other provider was leading the pack with innovation, now we see BNP Paribas leading..." This prototype was developed within a two weeks period across countries, utilizing coaching and guidance to further improve our ideas.
After sharing the original prototype internally and externally, making minor improvements and testing different solutions. Many new ideas were progressed. These ideas now form a longer-term product roadmap for our Data Navigation Analysis solution.
The solution is undoubtedly innovative, but it is the approach that led to its development that has been adopted as blueprint in our organisation. The insight gained from working together with our clients and getting exposure to their internal operations along the way was significant. They showed us how they monitored our data using spreadsheets. Through creative sessions with our clients we developed some ideas on a virtual whiteboard (using our own iPads). We first demonstrated that we understood the clients' problem... and then, we solved it!
We moved quickly and developed working prototypes. These were then shared and adjusted as we learnt more from our clients and internal feedback. Our innovative approach of client engagement, creating a product prototype, collecting internal/external feedback and then industrializing (via the classic engineering and IT process) is now being shared more widely with our colleagues in other locations. We used existing technology and created a whole new approach to solving the operational data challenges of our asset clients who outsource investment operations. The simplicity of our solution is testament to our deep level of understanding of our clients' needs. We have received universally positive feedback from our various asset manager clients. 

Biz Hackathon

Given the success of previous co-client development, we were keen to work more with clients on future progressions. Regulatory impacts, new business models and digital transformation such as big data, blockchain and augmented employee 2.0 are key market topics. Over two day biz hackathon, we discussed the design for a disruptive data meshing platform, and the creation of new business models for financial instruments distribution -leveraging Big Data, Block Chain and Employee Augmented 2.0.
Hackathons drive open innovation through a new way of collaboration. Developers, start-ups, scientists, small businesses and creatives are invited to take part in order to solve a problem or design a new product. They work in small teams and develop solutions using the data presented to them and by bouncing ideas off each other. Our biz hackathon topic - "The Big Data Distribution Platform of the future" gathered a very diverse group of people: asset managers, distributors, clients, experts from the industry, startups. It makes business sense to make it possible for these people to come together, exchange their knowledge, thoughts and views, and collaborate!
The full value chain of the business was analyzed. The participants brainstormed on how it could be changed or modified in the future by digital tools.. BNP Paribas Securities Services' next step is to create a Digital Club to enable participants to continue to work together as a team on the vision they created. So far the road to innovation with our clients has led us from document specification, to reinventing the value chain through data visualisation, and then to a new way of looking at the future of our business models through a multi-client approach and a digital club. Stay tuned for the next working together client innovation...

Philippe Denis
Chief Digital Officer at BNP Paribas Securities Services

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