Alvaro Camuñas

Global Custodian sits down with securities services expert Alvaro Camuñas to discuss some of his career highlights, market trends and the current direction of travel for BNP Paribas,
Inducted: 2022

Could you provide us with some background on yourself and how you got started in the securities services industry? 

My entire career – which now spans 34 years – has been in securities services, mainly in client development, sales, relationship management and client service. 

I started my career at a Spanish bank called Banco Urquijo that was very much focused on private banking and on supporting the industrialisation of Spain during the 50s and 60s. 

I then moved to BNP Paribas Securities Services in 1997, first as head of sales in Spain, and then as location manager for Greece. I have very nice memories from that period, from a business and from a personal point of view.  

I came back to Spain in 2003 to run our local office and then added Portugal to my remit. This remains a highlight of my career, a time during which we turned the business into a true market leader in Spain and one of the top depositary banks and fund administrators in the country.  

Another highlight from that time was the launch of our business in Latin America. It was an amazing experience. We started the business from scratch, building our presence in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru from the ground up.  

In 2016, I moved from a pure regional role to a global one and took responsibility for client development, sales and relationship management, as well as client service later on. 

I’ve also been part of the Financial Institutions Coverage executive board since 2017. FIC drives the bank’s global strategy and relationship management for select financial institution clients. It looks at our financial institutions clients’ needs holistically so we can provide them with a comprehensive range of solutions – including securities services – to grow their business and adapt to changes in the global financial markets.  

It’s a very illustrious career. What would you say are the most significant changes you’ve seen over that period? 

When I began on the operations side, coupons were still physical, vaults were full of physical shares, and there were other things that if you told people that were joining the business now, they would not believe. In terms of infrastructure, there’s been an amazing change in the way that we work.  

From a business and custody point of view, custodians used to be regarded as pure service providers – we were there to service assets and nothing else. But this has changed a lot. Custodians have become true partners to our clients, working hand in hand with them to identify their needs, define ambitious target operating models, and devise and source solutions to our clients’ challenges.  

The market environment has changed a lot, making it increasingly complex for financial institutions to operate. This has led to a huge increase in financial institutions looking to outsource their non-core operations, and work with custodians that can help them grow without having to develop tools in-house.  

What projects are you currently working on? 

BNP Paribas has a clear strategy to drive us forward. We call it GTS, which stands for growth, technology and sustainability. 

As part of our growth objective, our securities services business, which currently operates within its own legal entity, will be integrated with BNP Paribas SA on 1 October. This will reinforce our integrated banking model, enabling us to offer end to end offering from brokerage to securities services. This means that, when clients are contracted with us, it is not just securities services that are available to them, it’s the whole bank. This integrated approach has huge advantages, and we have already seen significant results.  

The second area of focus is technology. This includes developing and offering services with new data aggregation capabilities, enhanced reporting and analytics services as well as connections to third-party data platforms.  

And, last, sustainability. Our objective as a bank is to continue to build an industry-leading ESG offering to help our clients ‘shift the trillions’ to a low carbon economy. This offering will build on our CIB’s leadership in sustainability, the strength of our integrated bank model and BNP Paribas’s Low-carbon Transition Group, which includes 250 BNP Paribas professionals.   

The common theme across all these areas are partnerships. We cannot invest in everything – so we need to prioritise our actions and find the right partners. Our partnership with Allfunds for fund distribution and AssetMetrix for private capital analytics are good examples of our collaboration initiatives. 

Additionally, we continue to focus on building and supporting a diverse talent pool of employees. Shifting patterns in human capital in our sector means we continually work to ensure employees feel supported, engaged and motivated in their roles, at all stages in their career.  

What would you say are the main trends we’re seeing now in the industry? 

The need to transition to a fair, responsible and sustainable economy is the biggest and most pressing challenge of our time. Financial institutions have a huge role to play to help support the transition, providing financing to sustainable industries and helping investors move capital towards investments that deliver measurable ESG benefits. This is the single biggest challenge of our times and what drives most discussions we have with our clients. 

Whenever clients needs an ESG provider, we want to be there. Our Manaos platform is already live, offering our clients easy access to leading ESG data and analytics fintechs for in-depth and timely analysis of their portfolio.  

We are developing specific products and services linked to ESG, and we are defining the KPIs of ESG in every single part of our operational model, to provide data to our clients – so they can demonstrate that they are using the most sustainable providers that exist in the market. That’s also part of our 2025 GTS plan.