In 2018, Groupama, a major player in the French insurance sector, launched a call for tenders which resulted in CACEIS’ selection as custodian for the investment funds of Groupama and its asset management branch, Groupama Asset Management. Following the asset migration in February 2020, CACEIS is now the principal custodian and valuation agent for Groupama Asset Management.
Mikaël Cohen, Ambre Vigny, Bertrand Montaudouin and René-Louis Chagrot give us their feedback on the asset migration process and their new relationship with CACEIS.
Could you give us a brief overview of Groupama’s activities?
For over a century, the Groupama Group has managed its business according to a set of strong human values which have enabled the largest possible customer base to build their lives with confidence. Groupama Group relies on the strength of its two major brands, Groupama and Gan Assurances, and on its interconnected communities that provide mutual support based on the shared values of protection, humanity, proximity, optimism and responsibility.
Groupama Group, one of the leading mutual insurance groups in France, today encompasses nearly 50 companies and operates across all insurance and services sectors in ten countries, mainly in Europe with growth perspectives in Asia.
In 2019, the group had 12 million members and customers and 31,500 employees worldwide, with annual turnover of €14.4 billion.
What aspects OF our group’s offer convinced you to select CACEIS?
In September 2018, we kicked off our project to find one partner to handle the group’s fund custody, depositary and valuation needs. Our former provider had decided to discontinue such services and focus on its core business.
We selected CACEIS after having analysed proposals and conducted workshops over several months. As CACEIS has been custodian for Groupama Asset Management's open-ended UCIs since 2012, we were familiar with the organisational set-up and had a good pre-existing relationship with the teams. The selection process, the history of working together, and CACEIS’ market reputation for migration excellence convinced us that CACEIS was the best choice for Groupama. The established connections were already tried and tested.
We also appreciated CACEIS' firm commitment to adapting its servicing to our needs. A modern service provider, like CACEIS, takes on the role of a true partner, adapting its processes rather than imposing its own structures and workflows.
Finally, CACEIS’ competitive pricing conditions also played an important role in our choice.
Mikael Cohen adds: "This is the second time in my career that I have been involved with a custodian selection process. The first was as an investment director in a previous position in 2014. In both cases, CACEIS came out on top and I believe this is due to the group’s unwavering corporate philosophy: The never-ending search for flexible and innovative servicing solutions for the client. With client satisfaction as a core objective, CACEIS shows itself to be a true partner.”
Could you give us some feedback on the February 2020 migration?
The migration demanded a high level of responsiveness from CACEIS and Groupama, and it went extremely smoothly, with extensive upstream preparation that lasted almost a year.
Due to the volume of assets involved, the complexity of the IT systems and processes, and the cross-company communication with Groupama's many entities, it was a high-stakes operation. In fact, 1,600 securities accounts, reflecting all the group's legal entities, had to be opened, with associated KYC procedures for each one. Close support was also required for the group's 11 regional mutual companies and their local mutual companies.
The migration, performed using a big-bang strategy, was a success. On the Monday following the migration weekend, managers were able to continue usual business without interruption. From an accounting standpoint, investment visibility was immediate for all of our entities. The few minor issues encountered, inherent to any large and complex migration, were quickly resolved, with strong responsiveness on both sides, thanks in particular to a dedicated post-migration monitoring taskforce. Collectively, we organised ourselves well.
Today, several months later, we can conclude that this migration, and more broadly the choice of CACEIS, was a resounding success. Fortunately, the migration took place just three weeks before the first lockdown in France.
What are your expectations for CACEIS now?
The strong trust-based relationship we now have with CACEIS gives us the confidence to consider discussions for other services the group offers.
For example, we recently decided to use CACEIS' repo and collateral services for the group's international mandates and for the consolidation of UCITS under IFRS9.
We are also very interested in the TEEPI platform for the exchange of regulatory data across the group.
We are confident in CACEIS' ability to provide support for our business needs, including during turbulent times such as those we have been experiencing since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
From left to right:
Mikaël Cohen, Financial Operations and Investments Director, Groupama Assurance Mutuelles
Ambre Vigny, Chargée de mission to the Deputy CEO, Groupama Assurances Mutuelles
Bertrand Montaudouin, Investment Accounting Director, Groupama Assurances Mutuelles
René-Louis Chagrot, Chief Operating Officer, Groupama Asset Management