Lloyds Bank strengthens European commitment

Published: Sep 2015

To prosper globally, corporates must inevitably look beyond their traditional markets. With perceived instability in Europe however, treasurers want certainty. That means banking partners they can rely on to support their expansion. In this article, Lloyds Bank outlines how its strategic European focus aims to help corporates find growth across the UK and Europe, with an emphasis on commitment, strategic advice and tailored solutions.

Farouk Ramon, Head of Commercial Banking, Europe, Lloyds BankFarouk Ramzan

Head of Commercial Banking, Europe

Farouk Ramzan is Head of Commercial Banking, Europe at Lloyds Bank. He began his career in 1990 at Kleinwort Benson’s International Corporate Finance division.

Following two years in the International Structured Products Group marketing tax based financing structures (1993-1995), Ramzan joined Global Debt Origination at Dresdner Kleinwort originating bonds for corporates and financials in the UK and USA. Between 1999 and 2001 he continued this role in New York, returning to the UK in 2001 with Société Générale where he was Head of UK/US/Australasian DCM Corporate Origination (covering Loans, Bonds, Securitisation and Tax & Debt Advisory).

In 2007 Ramzan moved to Lloyds as Head of Capital Markets Origination (consisting of global Debt Capital Markets for corporate and financial institution clients as well as global Capital Structuring Advisory and Ratings). Most recently, in November 2014, Ramzan began his European Commercial Banking role that encompasses all the European coverage, product and delivery activity across the whole client base for the Commercial Bank at Lloyds Bank.

Given Lloyds Banking Group’s strong position in the UK market and its sterling expertise, there is occasionally a perception among corporates that the bank is best suited to meeting the needs of British domestic clients only. Now – in 2015, the 250th anniversary of Lloyds Bank – it is time to change that misconception.

As Farouk Ramzan, Head of Commercial Banking Europe, Lloyds Bank says: “We have a strong balance sheet, and a long European history, together with an on-the-ground presence in key locations across the continent.” In fact, Lloyds Bank first entered the French market in 1911 and had set up nine branches in the country by 1938. The world is a very different place now but the Commercial Banking division aims to reinforce its client relationships by having an in-country presence in Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam.

The bank believes that now is an ideal time to be strengthening its European commitment because of the perceived volatility across the continent, driven by economic and political instability. “With the increased focus on counterparty risk, treasurers have to be able to know that the banks in which they place their trust and their money – whether it is investment or working capital – are safe and are committed long-term players. Commitment and stability underpin Lloyds Bank’s cultural DNA and the bank is a stable entity in an otherwise turbulent operating environment across Europe.”

Gateway to growth

“What is more, we are making a strategic commitment to European growth going forward.” The bank’s focus, says Ramzan, is on developing even stronger relationships with existing European clients and helping new-to-bank clients to grow, across Europe and the Nordic region. “We support both European parents with UK subsidiaries and UK parents with European subsidiaries – with the aim of helping Britain prosper, globally,” he notes.

We have a strong balance sheet, and a long European history, together with an on-the-ground presence in key locations across the continent.

“With that in mind, we want to make sure that we provide a UK service element to all of our clients – which means delivering added-value through our product suite within the UK and complementing clients’ multinational needs with our expertise in the international capital markets, derivatives, and project lending, for instance. We can do this by connecting our clients in need of capital by providing safe and reliable access to international funding markets. We can also work together with all major industry sectors and provide a comprehensive suite of capital markets, financial markets and global transaction banking product propositions,” explains Ramzan.

This two-way flow (in and out of the UK) is key to maximising growth opportunities, Ramzan believes. Lloyds Bank, for example, recently financed one of Europe’s largest engineering companies in an infrastructure project that’s set to create hundreds of jobs over the course of this year and 2016 in the North of England. Indeed, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the UK as a whole increased to £27,211m in the first quarter of 2015, up from £11,944m in the fourth quarter of 2014. Outward flows have been on the rise too. In 2014, for instance, UK corporates raised more than 70% of their bond and medium-term note funding from outside the UK.1

Depending on the product in question, seamless delivery of this proposition involves Lloyds Bank working with a carefully selected network of partner banks, as well as utilising its existing European offices. “For a treasurer who operates in a number of those European geographies, it should feel like a streamlined holistic experience. We take this very seriously,” says Ramzan.

“Whilst all of the products that we offer are booked out of London, we also ensure that we gravitate towards where the corporate’s decision-making is done. So, if we are dealing with a decentralised company where FX and associated activities are completed locally, for example, we have local relationship managers on the ground in Europe to service those local needs. In short, we make sure that our product and service delivery model is flexible enough to accommodate different corporate structures and decision-making processes.”

A valued relationship

The bank has embedded very clear values in its organisational culture to build valued relationships:

  1. Putting clients first means thinking about clients first in everything we do, understanding and anticipating clients’ needs, delivering on our promises to clients and each other and taking ownership to get things right for clients.
  2. Keeping it simple means making ourselves easy to do business with, communicating clearly and openly, identifying opportunities to simplify the things we do and working to get things right first time every time.
  3. Making a difference together means working together to deliver for clients, using feedback to improve what we do, treating people fairly and acting responsibly at all times and contributing positively to the communities we serve.

Unwavering support

In practical terms, these values manifest themselves in a variety of ways throughout the bank’s product and service offerings. Consistently providing good quality advice and sound execution is a good example, says Ramzan. “After all, it is one thing having a range of products suitable for the task in hand, but it is another thing being trusted to provide minimal execution risk alongside those products.” Lloyds Bank’s commitment to clients is that when a product or service is offered, it will be followed through from start to finish, with a focus on mitigating risk along the entire journey.

However, Ramzan does acknowledge that there are some risks that treasurers and their banks will never be able to fully protect themselves from: “political risk, for instance, is a part of the world we live in. Nevertheless, we aim to help our clients through the volatility by ensuring they have a good source of advice and strong execution around the products and services we provide. What we are trying to do is make sure that we truly offer a service that is built for the long-term success of our clients.”

As a complement to its product suite, Lloyds Bank is committed to providing up-to-date technical and regulatory information to clients – both around the wider industry impact of regulation and the impact on specific areas of business operations, such as treasury. “What we are trying to do is be very clear about the effects of regulation and how these are filtering through to our client base. Take the debate around cash versus liquidity, for instance, which has been going on for some time now. Treasurers increasingly need to be taking on the role of liquidity manager and that necessarily involves being an asset manager,” says Ramzan.

By and large, treasurers are taking on this broader remit, but the bank is also doing all it can to help them strategically in the liquidity versus cash debate. This requires an ability to tailor the product suite to match individual client needs, as well as a deep understanding of their business. Lloyds Bank has also set-up a dedicated strategic liquidity team to help their clients find and implement optimal liquidity solutions.

Product suite

The bank offers corporate clients a very clearly defined product suite which includes the following areas:

  • Financing: includes award-winning teams that provide a range of capital markets solutions, as well as providing financing solutions to fund international trade and working capital. Revolving credit facilities and asset financing are also offered.
  • Risk management: Lloyds Bank’s products will help manage interest rate risk, foreign exchange (FX) risk, inflation risk, and commodities risk as well as providing guidance on International Finance Reporting Standards (IFRS). The bank offers a dedicated 24-hour FX dealing team and bespoke solutions to manage associated risk, including insights into competitor activity and sector trends.
  • Cash management: a full range of comprehensive services are on offer and also available online.
  • Deposits: whether the priority is security, yield or return, Lloyds Bank will ensure deposit strategies meet the liquidity requirements of the business.
  • International trade: providing banking solutions to access currency accounts across Europe and beyond, as well as ensuring the right financing is in place.

Solutions are continually evolving and expanding. They can be tailored and account for client needs, as well as market developments. For an extensive list of all corporate products and services, please see

The human touch

To facilitate this level of understanding, and to continue to grow the bank’s client base, Ramzan explains that hiring and retaining the best people remains a strategic priority for the bank. “We will continue to partner new and existing clients with the right relationship manager(s) and the right senior bankers, who recognise the sensitivities of clients’ industry sectors, and who have a solid history of working at the C-suite level with similar clients,” he says. “It’s not just a case of knowing what automotive companies are doing in Europe, for instance, it is knowing what these companies are doing globally, how the sector in Europe is idiosyncratically different, and what tailored services those companies are looking for as a result.”

The sector aligned relationship teams also help identify areas where the bank itself can add real value to corporate operations, and safely invest in its business, as part of Lloyds Bank’s commitment to being a long-term banking partner for corporates across Europe. This is a particularly important theme for Ramzan, given that the market has seen the demise of global banks over the last five to ten years, with many retrenching from European geographies, leaving their clients up in the air.

What we are trying to do is be very clear about the effects of regulation and how these are filtering through to our client base. Take the debate around cash versus liquidity, for instance, which has been going on for some time now. Treasurers increasingly need to be taking on the role of liquidity manager and that necessarily involves being an asset manager.

“Lloyds Bank is an international bank, not a global bank. We know what we do well and our strategy is to focus on what we do best. Ultimately, we do what is best for our clients in the long term, and that is what really separates us from our peers. We are a very solid British bank that has an attractive regional capability which we continue to invest in, to the benefit of European corporates,” Ramzan concludes.

  1. Source: Office for National Statistics

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

The Lloyds Banking Group includes companies using brands including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland and their associated companies. More information on the Lloyds Banking Group can be found at

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