Q & A with Jérome Pezé, CEO of Tinubu Square
Q. What was your first job?
A. In my first job I worked for a subsidiary of Paribas Group which specialized in Trade Finance in emerging markets. In particular, I worked for months to obtain the payment and transfer of funds from Nigeria to Europe, which were delayed at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This is, by the way, the origin of the name of Tinubu Square as the Central Bank of Nigeria was at that time located on Tinubu Square in Lagos.
Q. Please describe your current job?
A. Since 2000, I have been CEO at Tinubu Square, the first European specialist software developer in trade credit management. I am now focused on developing the team that will drive the company for the next 10 years, continuing to build an edge through innovation, excellence in service and social responsibility.
Q. Who is the business person you most admire?
A. Throughout history there have been two individuals who for me were outstanding. One is Gandhi, who proved that strength of mind and being driven by strong values, commitment and a consistent approach can help to overcome everything. The other notable character is Frederic II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a brilliant and modern ruler. He spoke six foreign languages and was instrumental in boosting intellectual creativity, philosophy, science, medicine and mathematics. He also managed to bridge different cultures and gained influence and power primarily through negotiation to achieve a sustainable peace.
In business history, Marco Polo is an incredible entrepreneur, being visionary, analytical and capable of implementation. His entrepreneurial drive was complete: physical, intellectual and financial. He understood the need to go beyond borders and understand foreign culture. He opened a new path and built experience, which for centuries people learned from.
In the Trade Credit Insurance sector, I admire Paul-Henri Denieuil for his visionary skills, his ability to implement, and his human values. Indeed, Paul-Henri had the vision in the early 90’s to recognize that the industry would become global, anticipating, correctly the shift in trade flow. In less than 10 years he transformed a French domestic credit insurer into a world leader. In 1998 he had already set a business model which all his successors still benefit from today. He also believed in the development of Asia and personally supported me when I opened our offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1998. He always treated his team and even most junior colleagues with respect.
Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?
A. You have to take commitments and deliver them. This is critical for staff, clients and shareholders.
Q. What business accomplishment are you most proud of?
A. I am proud of the launch of Tinubu; the processes we have put in place and our technology Innovations. I am also proud that the market has recognized us, we satisfy clients and we have achieved international growth.
Q. In your experience, how has the trade credit insurance industry changed over the last few
A. After initial fast growth, the trade credit insurance industry experienced a decade of consolidation from 1993 to 2003 represented by high profitability based on market position, critical mass, risk control and an oligopolistic structure at European level.
Since then there has been growth, globalization and resilience. Trade credit insurance premiums have more than doubled with a 7.5% annual growth, and there has been expansion everywhere, but increasingly in emerging markets. The other changes include the “Big 3” growing by 2.3% and five key European countries now representing over 70% of their premium. Credit insurance has also proved its resilience through crisis and sustainable profitability.
There are three key drivers for further major changes: the shift and growth in trade flows; the C&S industry will be no exception and will be impacted by technology and the digital revolution; and also solvency capital requirements increase demand for credit insurance (Basel III) but require process improvement, governance and cost efficiency to have notable access to reinsurance capacity (Solvency II).
Q. What do you think the industry's next big challenge will be?
A. So tomorrow, there will be drastic changes in competitive advantage in order to maximize the benefits of growing opportunities. Overall, the volume of business will grow because of the three growth factors mentioned above and the changes in trade flows, as well as the impact of regulatory environment (Solvency II).
There are four reasons: Overall mass is less and less a competitive advantage for value creation; agility and flexibility are becoming a key success factor; integration within the credit insurance eco system will become essential and require a new mindset and finally there will be a change in data information.
Q. Do you think the UK should stay in or leave the EU?
A. I believe that for the interests of the UK, they should stay within the EU and I am confident that as usual the UK will take a pragmatic path.
On the contrary, for the EU, it would be better for the UK to leave if they are not ready to develop a stronger integration and to hand over more power to the EU. But this would require the EU to be more effective, more democratic (vs technocratic) and to evolve to a model where several parameters of convergence are established. We have learned unfortunately that 27 countries with diverging political, social, cultural, fiscal, governance, regulatory, security and economic situations cannot converge rapidly enough to a common ground and this threatens the whole project. We should rethink the model to migrate to co-centric parameters where members will belong based on their willingness and their ability to converge to common standard within each of those parameters.
Q. What do you enjoy in your spare time?
A. Being really interested the global economic and geopolitical situation, I enjoy reading the press, meeting people, and travelling in order to satisfy my curiosity and increase my understanding of our environment and its trends.
Family and sports are also an important part in my life as they are essential for reaching harmony and balance.
Having luckily received a lot from my country, my education, my family, my professional life, I try in return to contribute to our society, notably in the French Military Reserve where I am operational as well as in some NGOs dedicated on education for kids.
Q. Favourite book?
A. The Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Q. Favourite music?
A. Eclectic (from Opera such as Rodelinda by Handel, through to Jazz by Miles Davies to soul-pop by Adele)
Q. Ideal weekend?
A. Discovering a city, a quarter, a region, a country with my family.
Q. Country or city?
A. Remote countryside
Q. Favourite film?
A. Too many to choose, but recently: Whiplash by Damien Chazelle
Q. Last holiday?
A. Trekking at Inchinbrook Island followed by Whitsundays kayaking tour, Australia
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