BNP Paribas is a leader in global banking and financial services with a presence in over 80 countries and approximately 200,000 employees worldwide.
The biggest bank in France.
BNP Paribas is a European bank with global reach. It has three core activities: retail banking, investment solutions and corporate and investment banking (“CIB”). It has four domestic markets – France, Belgium (where it has the largest share of the retail market), Italy and Luxembourg. It is rolling out its integrated retail banking model across Europe-Mediterranean and boasts a large retail network in the western part of the United States. Through its strong CIB and Investment Solutions franchises, BNP Paribas enjoys a leading position in Europe, strong presence in the Americas and a fast-growing business in Asia.
A Bit of Background
This European colossus can date its ancestry back to 1872, to the founding of Banque de Paris et Pays-Bas, from which the titular Paribas is derived. A series of mergers created the firm as it is today, beginning in 1966, when several major banks joined to form Banque National de Paris (BNP). Then, following many years of French nationalisation and reorganisation, the Paribas Group was formed in 1998, comprising of the Banque Paribas, Compagnie Financière de Paribas, and Compagnie Bancaire. Just the next year, BNP received approval from the French financial market authorities to take control of the Paribas Group. The result: BNP Paribas – the largest financial institution in the Euro zone, and indeed, one of the prime leaders in European and global banking.
The BNP Paribas expansion train hasn’t stopped there though; in 2009 the firm acquired the Belgian, Luxembourg and international banking and insurance businesses of Benelux bank Fortis, boosting its capital position and making it one of the largest deposit banks in Europe. The firm doesn’t just save its efforts for this side of the pond, it’s also emerging as a force in both the US and Asia; in fact, over 43,000 of its 200,000+ employees now operate from outside of Europe. However, both of its global headquarters are on the continent, with the primary site in Paris, and the second in London.
A Closer Look at Divisions & Departments
BNP Paribas divides its business into three operational units: corporate and investment banking, investment solutions, and retail banking. BNP Paribas Corporate and Investment Banking employs about 20,000 people in over 50 countries and services 14,000 corporate and institutional clients worldwide.
The corporate and investment banking arm is divided into the following 7 business areas:
Corporate and Transaction Banking Europe (CTBE) which delivers Flow banking products (vanilla loans, cash management, trade solutions, flow-hedging products, when available factoring, leasing and Investment Solutions products) to European and international corporate clients.
Corporate Finance offers advisory services for mergers and acquisitions and primary equity market transactions.
Global Equities & Commodity Derivatives focuses on the research, structuring, trading and sales of derivatives on equity, commodity, index and fund-linked underlyings worldwide, as well as Asian equity research & execution services.
Fixed Income brings together the research, sales, trading, origination and distribution of 3 product lines: Global Credit, Interest Rates Group and Foreign Exchange.
Structured Finance: through Energy & Commodity Finance, Asset Finance, Project & Leveraged Finance, Corporate Acquisition Finance, Global Transaction Banking and Loan Syndications, BNP Paribas combines capabilities on origination, structuring and execution of structured debt and loan syndication.
Resource and Portfolio Management: BNP Paribas manages traditional bank loans with the functions of portfolio management by structuring, executing and managing the transfer of credit risk via derivatives.
ALM Treasury focuses on the Management of liquidity and funding, balance sheet interest rate risks, and structural foreign exchange risk.
Although the firm is a permanent fixture in all investment banking markets, it is internationally revered as a leader in:
Derivatives – where BNP Paribas is one of the leading global players in rates, credit, forex, commodity and equity derivatives.
Capital markets – where it is one of the top European houses in both ECM and DCM (bond, securitization, convertibles and equity issuance).
Structured finance – where it is amongst the leaders in acquisition, export, project, energy and commodity finance globally.
The investment solutions unit comprises asset management, custodial banking, real estate, insurance, online brokerage, and wealth management activities. The firm's asset management operations are grouped into BNP Paribas Investment Partners, with 2,400 employees in more than 70 countries, and a hefty 518 billion Euros of assets under management.
Retail banking represents BNP Paribas’ largest division, employing 59% of the group's workforce and delivering 45% of total revenue in 2009. Although concentrating its efforts in its three domestic markets of France, Italy and Belgium, BNP Paribas also owns American subsidiary BancWest, and is heavily active within Eastern Europe and the southern half of the Mediterranean basin. Within this core business of retail banking, specialised financial services also comprise consumer credit and mortgages, corporate vehicle management services, as well as financial and operating leases. BNP Paribas has also developed other kinds of services through its subsidiaries which are widely recognised, and often represent leaders in their fields.
More than just Banking
Although BNP Paribas is a global leader in banking, it is also known as ‘the bank for a changing world’. Using its international presence as a platform for funding social, environmental and economic transformation, the bank operates an interactive blog to increase awareness of the goodwill activities it supports.Read all 71 employee quotes
BNP Paribas offers a mix of graduate and internship opportunities. However, be warned: with a limited number of graduate places on offer worldwide, competition is undoubtedly fierce. BNP Paribas is after the cream of the crop so make sure you come armed with top-notch grades and preferably a degree in maths, economics, business, sciences, engineering or computer sciences as the bank has a penchant for the technically-minded. Analytical gurus, quick thinkers, and people persons are also highly sought after.
The Hiring Process
The recruitment process is fairly similar for all intern and graduate programmes, beginning with an online application form, which incorporates some competency-based questions. If you are successful, be prepared for an online numerical reasoning test – it’s a good idea to do some sample tests before you apply so you know what to expect. You will have around 20 minutes to complete a set of numerical questions, these won’t be too complicated and are designed to test your analytical skills and common sense.
The next step consists of an assessment centre, comprising of a group exercise, presentation and interview. Contestants are tested on their teamwork and communication skills and assessors will closely monitor how you interact with others in these exercises – so you better show off your team spirit. Also remember to speak up during the group exercises and when preparing for the presentation, it is important to be precise and confident.
For a full-time, graduate position the assessment centre could be followed by one to two more interviews, these are designed to get to know your skills, personality and career motivation so ensure you are as self-aware as can be. Be prepared to answer questions on your strengths and weaknesses, your technical knowledge and, of course, your CV. Interviewees have in the past faced a selection of questions, some being more general than others, e.g. ‘What are you passionate about in life?’ or ‘Why do you want to work for BNP Paribas?’. More specific questions are likely to check out your technical knowledge so be prepared to answer questions such as ‘What is your view on commodities?’ or ‘What do you think a job in division x entails?’. Be quick on the trigger and don’t let your nerves get in the way. If you’re prepared and know the industry/firm then there should be nothing to worry about.
While you’re bound to be a bit panicky on the night before the assessment centre, remember that the entire process is considered collaborative and friendly. However, the firm only makes an offer with the mutual agreement of all interviewers – so be sure to impress everyone you meet!
Thinking of Becoming an Analyst or Associate at BNP Paribas?
Graduates can kick off their careers as analysts in BNP Paribas’ capital markets, investment banking, and functions departments. You will have to show a keen interest in finance and business, while often an MBA is a prerequisite for associate positions at the bank (which are in New York only).
Graduates interested in capital markets can expect to be trained in fixed income, global equities and commodity derivatives, as well as in asset liability management and treasury. Sales and trading is the backbone of capital markets and will have you buy and sell securities (debt, equity, derivatives) for the bank and its clients. In the fixed income department you will work across credit, interest rate and foreign exchange markets. If you take up a desk in global equities and commodity derivatives you’re likely to work with global corporations trading in natural resources such as oil, gas and metals. BNP Paribas’ asset liability management and treasury department specialise in managing liquidity, foreign exchange risks, and interest rate risks so organisational minds are wanted for these roles.
Investment banking would suit those keen to provide financial and strategic advice to BNP Paribas’ clients. Graduate roles can be taken up in structured finance, corporate finance, corporate transaction banking, and client coverage.
Finally, those eager to work in BNP Paribas’ functions department can choose to work in operations, information technology, as well as finance or the compliance and control team. Your role in compliance will be to control and mitigate the bank’s risks while a position in IT would suit the technically and commercially-minded. In finance you’ll provide crucial accounting and financial information and analysis to help with planning and decision making. Lastly, in operations you’ll develop and oversee the banks processes and structures, helping with anything from project managing to resolving issues or the opening of new offices.
Any wannabe member of the BNP Paribas fraternity would be well advised to apply for an internship at one of the firm’s global sites. While a successful internship would ingratiate you with any firm, at BNP Paribas it is considered an especially helpful launching pad for your career in investment banking.
BNP Paribas also provides placements abroad so if you fancy undertaking a summer internship in New York, London or Hong Kong the firm usually offers these on an 8 to 10 week basis. The internships are known to be tightly structured and are specifically designed for penultimate-year students. Expect training, workshops and networking events to provide you with a real insight into BNP Paribas’ structure while figuring out whether you’re cut for investment banking.
Long-term internships for those still in higher education (or those who have graduated within a year in the UK) are also on the menu and can last 6 to11 months. Applications for these are accepted on a rolling basis, but early booking is recommended as there are around 700 places available globally – which may sounds like a large number, but doesn’t compare to the thousands of applications the firm receives for these coveted seats. Depending on the candidate, long-term internships may well lead to full-time employment so make yourself indispensable if you are keen to stay with BNP Paribas.
Those still unsure about their career choice can apply for BNP Paribas’ London Insight programme. Lasting a week and aimed at undergraduate students in their first or second year on a four year course, this programme provides an introduction and a first glimpse into the company, as well as the company’s corporate and investment banking units. Workshops and presentations, along with the social events, should help any indecisive candidate make their minds up about whether a career in investment banking is right for them.
Campus Recruitment Info
No. of employees worldwide: c. 200,000
No. of employees in the UK: c. 8,000
Annual graduate intake: Variable
No. of Internships: 200
Graduate starting salary: Competitive
Other benefits: 12% pension contribution, private healthcare, employee discounts, subsidised gym on site, share options, season ticket loan
Corporate and Investment Banking
There are lots of awareness posters about environments in the office, there are reminders not to print unless it is necessary on the bottom on emails and many recycling bins around the floor.GraduateHelpful?
In my experience managers are approachable and take an active interest in the career path of their employees. However senior management are sometimes distant and out of touch with the grass roots.ExperiencedHelpful?
From French origin but the main investment banking is powered from London.Entry levelHelpful?
People within the industry that I spoke to and their strong market position.GraduateHelpful?
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10 Harewood Avenue
London NW1 6AA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7595 2000
No. of offices worldwide: 6,000