Credit Agricole calls itself the foremost financial partner in the French economy. This is not idle boasting as they have a number of impressive accolades to their credit. It is rated the second largest bank in France and third largest banking group in Europe by assets. What makes it different from other global banks is that it proves to be a cooperative and mutual organization rather than a standard commercial bank.
The Credit Agricole group counts 140,000 employees working under the leadership of 31,500 directors in its regional and local banks. The bank serves 52 million individual and business customers and has 8.2 million mutual share holders. There are also 1.1 million traditional individual share holders.
By some measures, this banking group is the most important bank on the continent. It turns out to be the foremost retail bank in Europe by branch numbers and the largest manager of European assets. The group is the leading bank assurer in the continent and the third biggest player in the world of project financing.
The group operates under the universal retail bank model. The individual retail banks cooperate together under a unique arrangement. Their regional banks are independent banks in which the corporate Credit Agricole owns 25% stakes. They work together on the common business lines. Besides retail banking, these include real estate, insurance, asset management, payments, consume finance, leasing and factoring, and investment and corporate banking. The group is listed on the stock exchange Euronext in Paris.
The group provides finance and technical assistance for not only customer projects found in France, but also throughout the world. Credit Agricole has locations in more than 37 countries and territories around the globe. The bank corporation operates with a central body, a central bank, and an entity which handles the group’s strategic development. The entity provides coordination to the numerous business lines in France and internationally. They ensure that the bank runs smoothly and cohesively despite the independent nature of the regional banks.
The banking group operates in three lines of business. These are French and international retail banking, specialized business lines, and corporate & investment banking.
Credit Agricole has 2,512 local banks that are the basis of the banking group. These local banks own the majority of the capital of the Regional Banks. The other 25% is owned by the corporation. There are over 6.9 million members who own the local banks. The group’s 39 regional banks provide services to farmers, individuals, corporations, businesses, and local governments. In daily banking services, this group is the leading French bank.
The regional banks provide a wide range of services. This includes investments, savings, loans, life insurance, property/casualty insurance, and payment instruments. They boast 20 million customers and hold the rank of number one in practically every local market in France. These regional banks also own the majority stake position in the Credit Agricole corporation as a whole. Regional banks obtain information, express opinions, and engage in dialogue with each other through the FNCA Fédération Nationale du Crédit Agricole.
Credit Agricole’s main rivals in France include BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, and Group BPCE. These other competing banks are more traditional commercial banks that are not majority owned by their members as cooperatives or mutual organizations. This has not helped any of them to become larger by assets except for BNP Paribas.