How BNP Paribas’ support of tennis aids communities, environment



Chip Barnett (00:03):
Hi, this is Chip Barnett and welcome to another Bond Buyer podcast and we’re coming to you live from the BNP Paribas 2023 Open Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells, California. My guest today is Jean-Yves Fillion. He’s the CEO of BNP Paribas Americas. And we’re going to be talking about BNP Paribas continuing developments in sustainable finance. And we’re going to be talking about all the different things that BNP has been doing both for the business community and the residential community. Welcome, Jean-Yves. 

Jean-Yves Fillion (00:37):
Thank you so much for having me. 

Chip Barnett (00:39):
Could you tell us a little bit about what it’s been like here in 2023 this year?

Jean-Yves Fillion (00:44):
The passion of the bank for tennis is well known and today and this year celebrating 50 years of partnership with the sport. As I’m sure you know, it all started with the French Open and the game of tennis has evolved dramatically, becoming truly worldwide and global. And the bank has actually followed a very similar trajectory, in becoming a global bank, and it makes the values of tennis even more meaningful to BNP Paribas. 

Chip Barnett (01:22):
Could you talk a little bit about the Young Talents? 

Jean-Yves Fillion (01:26):
It’s a program which we started years ago, particularly started here in the United States with John and Patrick McEnroe. This young talent program was named BNP Paribas Mac1. It’s supporting 10 kids, talented kids, deserving kids. Kids who maybe one day could win the BNP Paribas Open. But what I love with the program is the social dimension of it. The kids stay in New York City where their families live and they have to keep good grades to continue to be part of the program. And as an illustration, one of these young players last year was admitted to Princeton, we have another one going to Princeton, because they played tennis for the University, one was just admitted to Harvard and another one is going to go to the University of Pennsylvania. This I think is not only changing the lives of these young players tennis-wise, but I think it’s giving them a different life. 

And we announced actually here at Indian Wells that we’re expanding our young talent program in North America because we are starting a very similar program with Felix and Sam Auger-Aliassime with their Canadian Academy and worldwide this program now has presence in six countries in addition to the U.S. and Canada. We have similar programs led by excellent tennis professionals or legends. We have one in France, we have one in Belgium, we have one in Italy and one in Poland. It’s protecting and hopefully serving and promoting the younger generation and trying to reach out to the communities as well because these young players would not have the means and the funding to participate in these programs and the support they need to be high level competitors.

Chip Barnett (03:43):
And speaking young people, you do a lot for the people in California, giving the young people here scholarships, 

Jean-Yves Fillion (03:49):
The scholarship program. I’m so excited. We started seven years ago with two scholarships for deserving young men and women living in the Coachella Valley and we expanded the program to four and a little later today I’m going to be on Center Court with these four young men and women and granting to each of them a $20,000 scholarship, which will fund their first year in the college of their choice. And it’s just amazing what they do and where they go. They’re not only good on the tennis court, they have to play tennis, but they’re good students. Two of them are planning on attending UC Irvine, one to be an engineer and one to be an economist, these are the two young women, and of the two men, one is actually hoping to be admitted to UC Berkeley and the other one to UCLA. They are going to the best colleges on the West Coast. 

Chip Barnett (04:58):
It’s amazing and we’ll be right back after this important message. And we’re back talking with Jean-Yves Fillion of BNP Paribas. Could you tell me a little bit internationally about Felix? 

Jean-Yves Fillion (05:15):
We do a lot with Felix on the social side, and that was very touching, the way Felix approached the bank years ago — it was not about him, it was about his charity. He has a charity that is supporting young men and women in Togo. Togo is an African country where his father Sam is from and the way his charity works is for each point he scores, he himself gives $5 and our contribution is we triple match what he gives. And as you know, he is now top player in the world. He’s scored a lot of points and this program has been lasting for a few years and the contribution to these young men and women who need help in this African country has been extremely substantial. We’re very, very excited with what Felix does and now that we’re getting involved with his father for the academy and supporting young Canadian talents, it’s been even more moving. 

Chip Barnett (06:23):
Exactly and you’ve been involved all over the world with people, 

Jean-Yves Fillion (06:27):
Which is I think the common thread between BNP Paribas, which has presence in 65 countries, and tennis, because we can reach out around the world and more specifically where we have a presence and try to contribute even deeper and further to the communities, the clients, the regions where we are established.

Chip Barnett (06:49):
And that’s not only with people, it’s also for trees. Could you talk a little about that?

Jean-Yves Fillion (06:53):
You know so well everything we do, by the way, it’s impressive. This is a low sustainability dimension that you referred to earlier. That’s a program that is connected to this tournament as well, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Here it really started obviously with the devastating wildfires in California years ago. Then leveraging tennis, leveraging tennis beyond tennis, we came up with this Aces for Trees — for each Ace scored at the tournament, the bank commits to plant two trees. And if you have time, and I know you do it every year, go to the BNP Paribas Tent and post on social media, a message #ACEs for trees — we plant an additional two trees. The program has been in place for a few years and we’ve planted thousands and thousands of trees in the region, hopefully contributing to better stability and helping California to recover from these devastating events. 

Chip Barnett (08:07):
Could you talk a little bit about the 50th anniversary? 

Jean-Yves Fillion (08:10):
The contribution to the world of tennis is part of the DNA of the bank. We define ourselves as world tennis, but I believe that most importantly it’s going to be supporting tennis and going beyond tennis and trying to contribute even further to any social impact, any sustainability impact, any impact we can have in terms of making the young talents do better in their tennis life, which I think with the amazing Academies we’re supporting is happening, but just to do better in terms of changing their lives and getting them to places that they dream of.

Chip Barnett (09:00):
And you have led the bank in the direction of helping people, of helping in the community, and I know the French government has recognized that too. I heard that you were recently Knighted in France. Could you talk a little bit about that? 

Jean-Yves Fillion (09:14):
It’s an absolute privilege to be Knighted by my country of origin. I’m French-American. I’ve lived most of my life here, but I think it has hammered me a lot because it’s really recognizing everything we’ve done across the Atlantic and hopefully beyond banking, supporting French communities and American communities and making this link hopefully deeper and stronger. And it’s an amazing recognition that my country of origin made to me and I’m humbled and in the meantime, I’m very proud. 

Chip Barnett (10:08):
Jean-Yves, thank you very much for spending some time with us today. 

Jean-Yves Fillion (10:11):
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a privilege. 

Chip Barnett (10:14):
And thanks to the listeners of this latest Bond Buyer podcast, live from California. Special thanks also to Kevin Parise who did the audio production for this episode. And don’t forget to rate us, review us and subscribe at For the Bond Buyer, I’m Chip Barnett.

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