The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Banking: France’s mere mortals are alive and well

French bankers, like its politicians, do best when they promise less and achieve more – especially on the international stage.


Every French presidential election sees the search for a mythic providential man to lead the nation out of crisis. Emmanuel Macron has a better claim than his predecessor to succeed Louis XIV, Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle. Nicknamed Jupiter, after the Roman god, he has captured the political centre ground and wants to liberalize and relaunch the economy.

Finding a man to make France great again seems a little absurd in the 21st century. If French banks are to avoid looking equally ridiculous, they too must mostly accept second-tier status among the great powers of global finance. Their best chance of leadership is in Europe, where they have performed better than the big German and Italian banks of late.

The aftermath of the financial crisis has forced French banks to recognize their fragility, even within Europe. BNP Paribas has recently done well by setting realistic goals and thanks to small and considered acquisitions. All the big French banks have come to a similar realization. The difference is a matter of degree. The extreme is BPCE, the smallest of the big four.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?