French bank’s new Singapore CEO says WTA Finals sponsorship sends clear signal of commitment to S’pore and APAC
WHEN Joris Dierckx flew to Singapore in August this year to begin his new role at BNP Paribas, it was a bit of a homecoming of sorts for the 49-year-old Belgium national.
He had lived in Singapore for nearly seven years – from 2001 to the end of 2007 – as a senior executive at Belgian financial institution Fortis, which was later merged into the BNP Paribas Group and became BNP Paribas Fortis.
After a stint in Japan, Mr Dierckx (pronounced “dee-ecks”) went on to serve as BNP Paribas’ country head in Greece, South Korea and, most recently, India.
Two months ago, he was appointed the French lender’s head for South-east Asia and CEO of its Singapore office, taking over from Pierre Veyres who is now in New York as deputy head of CIB (corporate and institutional banking) Americas.
“Coming back after more than 10 years, Singapore has evolved and grown a lot. It was already a global financial centre before, but I think now it is even more established,” said Mr Dierckx in an exclusive interview with The Business Times.
“And when we look at our business – be it the global markets business or the wealth management business – these have really grown very strongly.”
BNP Paribas, which celebrated its 50th year of operations in the Republic in 2018, has been expanding steadily over the years in Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific.
The French multinational’s Asia-Pacific revenues are more than 3 billion euros (S$4.76 billion) a year since 2015, up from 2 billion euros in 2012.
BNP Paribas is one of the largest foreign banks in Singapore with around 2,200 employees, and the eighth largest bank in the world by total assets.
Mr Dierckx was speaking to BT to discuss the impact of the bank’s title sponsorship of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals, a top-tier sports event taking place this week at the Indoor Stadium in Kallang.
The full name of this tournament is the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
This is the fifth and final edition to be staged here, and the top eight singles players and doubles teams are in town to compete for a prize purse of US$7 million. BNP Paribas has been the title sponsor for all five editions in Singapore.
“Our sponsorship has allowed us to send a clear signal of our commitment to our clients and to investing in our business in Singapore and Asia-Pacific, alongside the country and the region’s growth,” said Mr Dierckx.
One could well surmise that BNP Paribas and tennis are symbiotic. The bank has engaged the sport since 1973, and currently sponsors some 550 tournaments around the world each year, including the French Open in Paris, the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup.
“To us, tennis is a sport that also reflects the values of the BNP Paribas Group – fair play, professionalism, determination, agility, high performance, talent and effort,” he said.
With the WTA Finals all about showcasing the world’s best female tennis players, Mr Dierckx said the tournament also serves as an “ideal platform” for the bank to promote the messages of equality, diversity and empowerment of women.
And in line with the bank’s wider pledge to sustainable development, BNP Paribas has tapped on the WTA Finals to organise the Sustainable Future Forum here since 2016.
This year’s event, which takes place on Thursday, will look at the challenges and opportunities for corporates and investors as a result of the increasing focus on sustainability and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the past five years, BNP Paribas has also worked with Singapore’s Ministry of Education to take groups of less-privileged children to watch some of the matches during the WTA Finals.
This week, some of the bank’s employees are “tennis ambassadors and befrienders” to more than 70 such students and will be taking them to witness the action at the Indoor Stadium.
“We believe that sport breaks barriers and strengthens the bonds within communities – and that community development is just as important as economic growth,” said Mr Dierckx.
As the WTA Finals wraps up its run in Singapore and prepares to move to the Chinese city of Shenzhen where it will stay for the next 10 years, all eyes are on whether BNP Paribas will continue to sponsor this prestigious tournament from 2019 onwards.
“For an event of the magnitude of the WTA Finals, there’s only so much time that you can have to keep it going (in one host city). It’s probably now a good time for us to pause and consider what we will do next,” said Mr Dierckx.
“When we first brought the WTA Finals here in 2014, we truly believed in the country’s potential to become a world-class sporting destination.
“Over the course of the partnership, we hope that we have contributed to the sporting ambitions and tennis culture in Singapore and the region, as well as bringing tennis to the masses.”
Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission