Insight & Analysis

60 Second Interview: Mahesh Kini, Head of Cash Management for Asia Pacific, BNP Paribas

Published: Jul 2020

In this 60 second interview, we spoke with Mahesh Kini about his career journey and his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it has impacted his clients and his work.

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Could you tell us a little about your professional background and the role that you have right now?

As the Head of Cash Management for BNP Paribas in Asia Pacific, I am responsible for the bank’s cash management business, from product growth strategy, business/P&L development, to execution and risk management, across 12 markets; from India on the Western side of the region to Japan in the Far East. Prior to joining BNP Paribas in 2018, I had more than 20 years of experience in transaction banking, across sales, product and P&L. I have worked in China, India and Singapore, which is my home.

Tell me about your journey since taking on your role at the bank?

My two years with BNP Paribas have been very fulfilling. The bank has a resilient business model, with a very rich client franchise and a strong network to deploy this franchise. We are truly a market leader in cash management in Europe, with a strong aspiration to be a top player in our chosen APAC segments. For this ambition, we have made significant progress in the last two years in deploying a cash management model that’s catering to the changing needs of our clients in the region. We have deployed a cash product strategy that is a hybrid between building our own, and co-creation with our clients and partners. This model has helped us to be quick and agile in responding to client requirements, by reducing time-to-market.

How have you and your clients been coping with the global pandemic?

Our clients’ experience through the pandemic has been very much dependent on their industry sectors. Clients who operate in the sectors that are deeply impacted have reshaped their businesses to cater to essential services, while sectors that have seen higher demand have faced a positive challenge of coping with the demand and preparing their supply chain and payments accordingly.

To a great extent, our client engagement strategy has been very much driven by these factors:

  • For clients who have switched to essential services, we extend support in managing their cash management activities, with strong business continuity and good service.

  • For clients who needed to expand their supply chain, our solutions cater to core cash management needs along with e-commerce, internet of things and technology such as API.

Overall, the core focus for our clients has been on liquidity management, counterparty risk management, business continuity while working from home, and rapid adoption of digital technology.

Have there been any learning experiences you might like to share from the past few months?

There have been a number of learning points in the last few months, to highlight a few:

  1. Working from home – this has been a big transformation for everyone, both corporates and banks. We have experienced and learnt the need for rapid adoption of digital technology and having contingency measures in place within a short period of time.

  2. Change in business models – with the different lockdowns that took place around the region, there was a rapid migration from paper to electronic, and from contact to contactless business activity. This positioned us well, given the investments we had made in accessing all the new payment platforms around the region and also establishing global partnerships to support e-commerce and alternate payment channels.

  3. Digitalisation of treasury – which has multiple aspects of how clients are running their treasury centres from home, including cash forecasting, reporting, reconciliation.

What will the rest of 2020 have in store for you professionally, are there any specific projects or plans you might like to outline for us?

Our strategy is very clear: while we work with our clients to help them through these extraordinary events, we continue to focus on achieving our longer-term vision to be a leading cash management bank in Asia Pacific.

To achieve this, we will continue to deploy our investments and solutions to our global client franchise, eg multinational clients operating in Asia Pacific and Asian clients expanding into Europe. We continue to empower our people to bring innovative and client-centric solutions to clients in a fast-evolving business environment and offer a service delivery platform that sits in the front office, which allows us to manage the quality of our client interactions.

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