1000 Companies to Inspire Europe
5 September 2017
In an event at the European Parliament in Brussels the London Stock Exchange Group PLC on Tuesday presented the 2017 edition of its ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’ report. The publication is LSE’s celebration of some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Europe. As well as identifying 1000 companies, the annual reports examine in detail the opportunities and challenges facing SMEs and looks at the sectors and trends that will shape the future of the European economies.
EBF CEO Wim Mijs contributed the following expert commentary to the report:
Investing in Europe’s Future
By Wim Mijs, Chief Executive Officer of the European Banking Federation
Since the dawn of finance, European banks have helped entrepreneurs, family businesses and local and multinational firms. For more than half a century, the European Banking Federation has represented European banks, advocating the interests of European banking clients. Today, we have members in 32 countries and represent over 4,500 banks.
Since I took over the helm of the EBF three years ago, the EBF has been a pioneer in enabling digital transformation, led industry-wide efforts to build a European financial education platform, bolstered its role in bank supervision and tackled new projects such as green finance. In all our work, we are guided by the question: How can we best meet the financing needs of the economy?
Four-fifths of company financing in Europe comes from bank loans, supporting new investments and the growth of millions of companies. In the face of a difficult decade for the global economy, the European banking sector has proven to be strong and resilient; loans to non-financial companies have risen above €10 trillion last year and continue to show a positive trend.
And it is not just about loans. Whether it is for managing risks through complex products, supporting corporate restructuring or helping clients access capital markets, banks are there to help Europe’s companies every step of the way. In fact, given companies’ diverse needs, we see capital markets and bank lending as fully complementary. Hence we support the EU’s project of the Capital Markets Union to boost capital markets as a reliable source of corporate finance. Increasing the diversity of financing will generate greater growth and improve the resilience of the financial sector – and ultimately ‘grow the pie’.
We strongly feel the indispensable need for SME growth – the backbone of European jobs and incomes. Small and growing companies such as those featured in this publication have a special place for the future of Europe. They need the full range of funding opportunities (including risk finance) as they go up the ‘ladder’ – especially if we want them to stay in Europe and create the world brands of tomorrow.
Banking in the 21st century requires a new approach. To shape the future, we are looking ahead. Our aim is to provide tailored, dynamic funding possibilities that bring together the traditional advantages of client and market knowledge with new digital solutions – the latter making risk management more accurate and allowing clients to interact virtually. At the same time, the widespread branch network of European banks ensures a strong local presence.
Providing the right capital means enabling all companies, including fast-growth SMEs, to hire talented people, invest in research and technology, and expand internationally. In the end, access to finance is not only about commercial profit but about realising our potential to grow. True to their historical mission, Europe’s banks want to stay invested in the European economy and its citizens.