INVEEST – “With INVEEST, banks are able to support clients on aspects that go beyond finance. This advisory role is truly differentiating.”

  • Project newsX

8 April 2021

After 8 years in cash management, Alexa Bessaguet wanted to further support her clients. To do so, she joined LCL a year after the bank launched its new LCL SmartBusiness program, which aims to support companies going through structural changes such as innovation, cyber security, energy transition. As LCL SmartBusiness & Innovation project manager, she advises clients on their global transformation strategy, particularly on environmental and societal issues, with the help of partners.

She has engaged 10 LCL development directors in the INVEEST program to increase their skills in the field. Today, she shares with us her vision of the role of the bank advisor in the deployment of such strategies.

What are LCL’s commitments on climate and energy? What actions have been implemented?

LCL is committed to fighting global warming and protecting the environment, with a particular focus on sustainable city initiatives, in line with its strategy as an innovative urban bank.

Each offer, such as savings and loans with a positive impact climate for individual and business customers, includes an environmental componenent. It also involves supporting businesses in their transition through the SmartBusiness program.

LCL is also committed to reducing its direct environmental footprint through active management of its energy and resource consumption. A plan to save water, gas and a 100% green electricity supply has been implemented for several years.

How do these ambitions translate into concrete action for customers?

The energy transition requires financial resources, and banks are still largely the primary businesses’ investors.

To meet this environmental transition challenge, we have developed mechanisms directly linked to our banking activity, such as impact financing and green object financing. Our products are based on environmental and social criteria defined with the client, measured and then verified by external service providers.

We are also committed to raising client awareness – sowing small seeds that will germinate for those who are fully convinced yet and helping those who have begun to commit to go further, in particular by providing financial support.

That’s precisely the goal of the LCL SmartBusiness program. Account managers play a key role as they are in direct contact with customers. However, discussing the technical subject of energy transition in a meeting is something new for them. Hence a need for acculturation within our teams. This acculturation will help them ask clients about their strategy and practices and provide relevant strategic advice.

You interact with a large variety of clients. How would you define the energy transition taking place within the industrial sector?

I have the feeling that there has been an acceleration over the last 2-3 years. The warning calls made by several personalities are working. An increasing number of aids have been implemented in that respect.

Employees should also take part in this transition. It relies on the acculturation of our teams in the first place.

What feedback do your clients get when the subject of energy transition is raised?

LCL’s corporate account managers discuss CSR strategy and energy transition with their customers more and more frequently, and these discussions are very much appreciated and well received by customers.

In 2020, many projects were put on hold or postponed because of the crisis. Clients preferred to wait to make sure they could invest without putting themselves at risk.

The question of cost comes up frequently. Many clients consider that these investments are too heavy, but it is part of our job to remove these obstacles.

Smaller companies, which are often less mature on the subject, do not necessarily see the point of undertaking energy transition actions as they do not deem it is strategic. It’s up to us to help them see what they can gain in terms of productivity, employee well-being, etc.

The INVEEST training program addresses these multiple benefits very effectively. Clients are not necessarily aware that investing in energy-efficient equipment can not only save money on energy bills, but also generate other benefits such as employee comfort.

INVEEST’s ambition is to help bankers better accompany their clients undergo their energy transition.  Is that a reason why you decided to attend the program?

We attended the training program to be able to talk with our clients more easily. 10 people have participated in the INVEEST program at LCL.

We are now better trained to respond to the expectations and questions raised by our clients when it comes to energy transition.

What did learn from the training?

I really appreciated its very concrete dimension and the fact that we discovered a range of assistance and financing methods with real customer cases to illustrate them.

My colleagues and I were not familiar with the technical aspects required by decarbonization projects, nor with their specific financing methods, such as subsidies or the Contrat de Performance Energétique. It was good to have experts on the other side of the table to understand these issues. Our account managers now truly understand the issues at stake and are much more proactive in that respect.

And today… does INVEEST help you unlock actions or projects for your clients?

Our account managers are now able to discuss technical subjects with their customers and put them in perspective. The training program has allowed them to explain the challenges of the energy transition in a simple manner.

With INVEEST, bakers are able to take a step back and support clients on subjects that go beyond finance. This advisory role in the relationship is truly differentiating.

The INVEEST training course is available here.