Crédit Mutuel has championed the mutualist approach to the crisis


Interview with: Pierre-Edouard Batard, Chief Executive Officer of Crédit Mutuel

July 6, 2021

Bolstered by the dedication of its 83,200 employees and 22,000 elected officials, Crédit Mutuel demonstrated exceptional commitment in 2020. The group has put in place concrete responses throughout France to help its customers get through the crisis.

All of its 5,433 local banks and branches remained open throughout, and throughout 2020 the group granted more than € 20 billion in state-guaranteed loans to more than 137,000 businesses. These loans have been instrumental in helping to keep employment stability and the economy afloat. Along with these measures, deferrals were authorized on 1.8 million loan repayments totaling 3.6 billion euros to help independent professionals and individuals get through the worst of the health crisis.

Companies have also benefited from exceptional support measures, representing more than € 200 million from insurance companies, and regional federations have stepped up local initiatives. World Finance had the opportunity to examine the strategy behind Crédit Mutuel’s success in the face of the global health crisis.

By looking at your 2020 results compared to those of your competitors, the group has doubled its net allocations to provisions for loan losses. Why such caution?
It was a clear-headed and responsible decision to act now to anticipate the risk of future failures. We have taken prudent steps to give our networks the means to continue to support our clients.

During this crisis, Crédit Mutuel was rewarded for the mutualist recovery bonus. Do you intend to continue this initiative?
Faced with the urgency of the situation caused by the pandemic, the Crédit Mutuel Group has shown its solidarity and commitment to the liberal professions and SMEs with this immediate flat-rate assistance. The goal was to help them quickly to keep them in business. With this unique initiative, the group did not hesitate to push the boundaries. And we will continue to do so. Being a pioneer and adapting to the current situation is part of our mutualist DNA.

This crisis has clearly changed mentalities and in particular increased awareness of the environmental and climate emergency. How has the group reviewed its strategy to give greater visibility to these subjects?
Even before the pandemic struck in 2020, the Crédit Mutuel Group was helping to face the challenges and transformations to come, first and foremost the environmental and climate emergency. In recent months, it has advanced its climate policy, hailed by NGOs, by affirming new ambitions, such as its definitive exit from coal by 2030.

Crédit Mutuel hopes to prepare for the future by allowing the young generation

All our networks have stepped up environmental initiatives to help transform our economy and pave the way towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In 2020, the group also worked on structuring a national governance policy and a consolidated roadmap around climate risk management and CSR.

This is proof of Crédit Mutuel’s commitment to achieving financial, societal, regional and environmental objectives within the framework of this approach. It is this commitment that the vast majority of the group’s networks and subsidiaries have decided to formalize in 2020 by adopting a raison d’être, while some have adopted the status of company with a mission. It is a strong symbol of their mutualist values, and the sole raison d’être that drives the operation of Crédit Mutuel.

How important is technological innovation to you in implementing your business model?
Our group has always been a leader in the field of technological innovation. But here at Crédit Mutuel, we insist on the importance of making technology available to everyone. Remote banking, innovative payment solutions, telephone services, remote monitoring, dematerialization, electronic signature, cognitive technologies and data science: we select the innovations that bring added value to our members and customers, ensuring to support and help them to adapt to change and to embed these new tools.

These services are deployed in support of the physical network, to promote closer commercial relations for the benefit of our members and customers. They allow us to anticipate, innovate and be very responsive, a guarantee of the quality of customer service and of the relationship management of the Crédit Mutuel Group, to remain a benchmark bank in a digital world.

This crisis has been particularly hard on young people. Have you provided specific solutions to their situation?
In this unique period, the common interest remains at the heart of our objectives. Faithful to its founding values ​​of local proximity, solidarity and social responsibility, Crédit Mutuel wishes to prepare for the future by mobilizing the young generation. Responsible employer, Crédit Mutuel supports young people towards professional integration. A large number of its regional federations are thus strongly involved in work-study training.

Thus, after initially promoting the Master in two years in 2019, Crédit Mutuel Midi Atlantique continued its commitment to work-study programs in partnership with ESB (École Supérieure de la Banque) and TSM (Toulouse School of Management). With 94 young people hired on a work-study basis (140 over two years), Crédit Mutuel d’ÃŽle-de-France is also showing its commitment to the employment and social integration of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods.
For its student and apprentice members hard hit by the crisis, Crédit Mutuel has implemented immediate concrete measures, such as the payment of mutual aid of € 150 and a six-month extension of the grace period, free of charge, for who needed to start repaying their student loans. Most federations have continued their policy of offering internships to students by increasing the number of offers.

Regardless of the crisis, the group is one of the main support associations throughout France, and is continuously involved with young people through these structures, which promote their participation in sporting and cultural activities and in promising civic initiatives.

More generally, how is the mutualist approach an appropriate response to the challenges to come?
The 2020 crisis demonstrated the strength and relevance of the mutualist model. We have experienced mutualist values ​​in action. By proximity, with a structure anchored in local economies, oriented towards development and that of economic actors. By the solidity of the group, which gives it the means to act in favor of a project reconciling economy, social and environment. Through solidarity, by providing a response to the crisis for all in the regions. And also by its independence, because, having no shareholders, the group only has to satisfy its customers and therefore has greater freedom of action. But beyond the upheavals it caused, the pandemic also offered the vision of a united and fraternal society. Through its daily actions, the Crédit Mutuel Group intends to continue to show that it has heard the message by pursuing its commitments and its action for the common good.

In step with the times and the needs of a changing society, Crédit Mutuel’s cooperative and mutualist model supports the ongoing transformation. It will be one of the responses to the takeover through the support it provides to its customers and members throughout France.

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