Stéphane De Marnhac

Stéphane De Marnhac

Stéphane De Marnhac

Arval Group

Stéphane De Marnhac, who, after nearly three decades with BNP Paribas Group, took four years ago the role of CFO at Arval Group. In this insightful conversation, Stéphane sheds light on his journey, the evolving role of a CFO amidst technological and economic shifts, and the importance of maintaining a personal-professional balance. From navigating the challenges brought about by the Covid crisis to drawing parallels between gardening and financial leadership, join us as we delve into the world of a CFO at the forefront of change.

Interview with Stéphane De Marnhac

Stéphane, you have been with BNP Paribas for nearly three decades and you was appointed CFO of Arval Group four years ago. How has that transition been for you, and what have been some of the unexpected challenges as CFO?

I've actually been with BNP Paribas Group since many years, holding different positions in structured finance, internal audit, management control and finance. My last two jobs were as Head of Acquisition Finance for EMEA in CIB and then as Head of Financial Communication and Investor Relations for BNPP group. All these jobs have helped me to build a diversified experience, which proved to be very useful in my CFO position at Arval Group. The transition was, therefore, quite natural. The unexpected challenge came from the Covid crisis, which led us to adapt swiftly to an unprecedented situation. And it went well thanks to the commitment of all the finance teams in Arval.
Being the CFO of a major group like Arval, what does a typical day look like for you, if indeed there is such a thing as a typical day?
There is actually no typical day. The job is very diversified as, as a CFO, you are involved in all the activities as well as all the topics of the company. The range is very broad, going from processes and accounts to strategic issues. If there is something typical, it is that you always have in mind the Group accounts and its medium-term targets.
How do you see the role of a CFO evolving, especially in the context of rapid technological changes, such as AI and economic changes?
We are evolving in a fast-growing environment. Technological changes such as AI will have impacts on our processes and organizations and economic changes have consequences on our performances. In this context, the CFO's role is to anticipate those changes and make the relevant decisions to permanently adapt to an environment which is changing faster than before.
How do you ensure that the financial strategies you implement are both robust for the present and flexible for the future, particularly when considering the impact on the environment and how that fits with the group's sustainability strategy?
One of the key responsibilities of a CFO is to master the dynamics of its company accounts and to design and implement a financial strategy for the years after. This financial strategy has to take into account key factors which may have an impact on accounts going forward, knowing that some of these impacts may compensate each other to a certain extent. Regarding the impact on the environment, it's a key component of Arval's strategy with ambitious targets in terms of fleet electrification that we obviously factor in in our financial strategy.
Risk management is a crucial aspect of a CFO's mandate. Could you shed light on how you approach risk, especially in an ever-changing global environment?
You're right to say that risk management is a crucial aspect of a CFO's mandate. The first step is obviously to identify the potential risks. Then, it's key to always have them in mind in order to be able to react quickly when a risk arises. Depending on the nature of the risk, it is very important to have relevant dashboards and indicators in order to detect as soon as possible when a risk arises.
Finally, the role of a CFO is undoubtedly demanding. How do you maintain a balance between your professional responsibilities and personal well being? You've used an excellent gardening analogy on your LinkedIn profile. Are you a keen gardener?
As Arval CFO, my job is actually to make our numbers grow in a sustainable way, to take care of them on a daily basis and to plan how they will look like in a few years. And like a gardener, I propose my harvest to the market! Beyond this analogy, I'm convinced that it's key to keep the right balance between professional responsibilities and personal well-being. Feeling well and keeping the right balance help you to make the right decisions in a smooth way.

More information

Finance Monthly on LinkedIn

CEO Today on X

© Finance Monthly 2024. All Rights Reserved - Privacy Policy