Interview with our new Chairman
Efma's new Chairman, Jean-Marc Pailhol, discusses his excitement about his new role and how he sees Efma helping its members transform in the coming years.
You have been involved with Efma for many years. Now you will become its Chairman. What about this role appealed to you? And what excites you moving forward?
Efma is part of my own professional experience and part of my own professional journey. I started giving speeches at Efma events more than twenty years ago and I did it regularly. Some years ago, I was asked to become a member of the board of Efma and I had a chance to participate in the real life of the association. It was, of course, very interesting, and I would say that it is the normal cultivation of this journey to become the Chairman of this company. I want to give back to Efma what Efma has given to me over the years – a lot of experience, a lot of information, a lot of exchanges with the other members. This has been extremely supportive in my professional life not only during the time I spent at La Banque Postale and La Banque Populaire but also during my time at Allianz in the insurance sector. And now, as Chairman, I will work to allow Efma to continue to have this mission, this support function with all its members, with people like me, who have used Efma throughout their professional life.
How has Efma’s role evolved in recent years? Could you discuss the ways in which it has been a constructive resource for its members?
I think that the role of Efma has evolved a lot during the past years, moving more and more into creating content, providing information to the members, and managing to create occasions for the members to meet, to discuss, to exchange. We also have a lot of evolution on the insurtech side and fintech side with the capacity to meet these companies, these startups that everybody is talking about. And it was the occasion, because of that, to change our mindset on the future of the banking and insurance industry. I think that it was a great evolution in the Efma mission statement. It’s not enough, we have to go further, but we have to build on this basis, we have to build on these values, and we have to build on these previous experiences. We always have to keep in mind what was done and to use it as a foundation for what we aim to do in the future.
What role do you envision Efma playing in the industry in coming years?
The financial sector, banks and insurance companies, in the next future, will have to face a huge evolution in client behaviors, mainly for retail, of course, but also in client needs. And what is happening currently with the Covid crisis and all of the consequences of this crisis will accelerate this change. So, the role of Efma is to accompany banks and insurance companies in this transformation, in this societal transformation, to give them the right insights, the right input, and the right support, to help them transform themselves, sometimes to reinvent themselves, to be able to face these future and current challenges. Help them become more efficient, more client-oriented, more client-focused, and more phygital. Not just physical one side and digital the other side, but completely phygital. This is, I think, one of the main objectives for the association, supporting its members to adapt their value proposition, their solutions, their products, and their distribution model to the future of the world. How can they adapt and even reinvent themselves to be more efficient and to still be alive in the next 10-15 years. This is a great role for Efma in this changing world.
This is a unique time to be taking on the role as Chairman at Efma, given the pandemic and the subsequent upheaval we have seen across the world. What types of challenges and opportunities do you see across the financial services industry?
As with all the companies in the world, banks and insurance companies are facing huge challenges due to the crisis we are living in currently. Based on this crisis, as the Chinese say, “You have opportunities and risk.” With Efma, our role is to focus on the opportunities and of course understand the risk. So, we have to continue to create content. We have to continue to support our members, banks and insurers. We have to allow, in a different way, more digital, more online, to create links between our members, facilitating networking between our members. Because when you are facing a crisis like this, you are obliged to be smart, to be creative, to adapt your value proposition, and to reinvent your business model. We have to continue to accelerate what we propose to our members to support them even more.
The Covid-19 pandemic: “This changes everything” or “a major accelerant to already existing trends in the financial services industry?”
Covid-19 has changed everything. Not in a way that it was not already the case before, because changing behaviors and needs were already there, but the acceleration is huge. To take some examples, going from individual cars to mobility-as-a-service, it was accelerated by probably 4-5 years. The change in behavior concerning health, going from caring to prevention, is huge. If we take the banking market, the necessity to have all the information online, the capacity to manage the account entirely online, the capacity to have a discussion online with advisors, was already there but it was accelerated.
And taking more, let’s say, internal change, the home working deployment everywhere, has a direct impact on management. How is it possible to manage people you don’t see every day? We are not used to that. Everything was based on a vertical approach. The fact that people now, and specifically the younger generation, are asking for missions more than functions, is also completely new. So, we have to reinvent our business model. And we have to do it in a very fast way because due to the crisis, we see an acceleration of needs. We have to bring new solutions as soon as possible. We have to build new ways of management. We have to take into account the cyber risk much more than in the past because during this period everybody went online, bought online, and accessed their bank or insurance company online. And because of that we have to increase our value proposition, we have to change it, adapt it, and at the same time reinvent it. And this is exactly what we have to do at Efma. We have to accompany this change. We have to support our members in these changes. We need all the help and support of our partners. This is a huge responsibility for us. And this is exactly what we, as a team, want to deliver in the next weeks and months: to put Efma at the center of this transformation. To become the natural partner of banks and insurance companies, in Europe, in the U.S., in Asia, in Africa, all around the world and because of that, becoming one actor in this transformation of society.