Société Générale : interview at Audit & Finance Bootcamp (September 27, 2018)

Serving 31 million customers in 67 countries, Société Générale is one of Europe’s largest financial services organisations. Based on a universal banking model, Société Générale has three core businesses: retail banking in France, international retail banking, financial and assurance and finally corporate and investment banking, private banking, asset management and security services.

Erwan HENRY, Internal Auditor, Corporate Divisions & Finance Division (GEM ESC 2015) :

Welcome to the Audit & Finance Bootcamp, thank you for coming. First of all, could you please tell us about your background and job?

Erwan Henry, I am a GEM alumni 2015 from the PGE program, I did three years following the financial audit specialization, in  the  English track and then integrated the Société Générale, in the central audit division.

Could you describe your typical week at work?

Every week is different but there is a common base:

First, carrying out a control on audit assignments and at the end of the day providing the recommendations follow up.

We often have trainings; around 10 days per year to prepare exit meetings, findings and how to present these to the management.

Lastly, we often have some risk assessment meetings and business audits.

As you can guess, team work is very important in these kinds of jobs.

What is the averaged length of a mission?

It depends on the topics, of course and the defined budget, but a mission often takes 3 to 4 months.

Are the recommendations launched by the internal auditor discussed with the management?

We do our assignment, the control and the exit meeting (which is when we present all the findings we have to the audit management team). During all the auditing process we exchange with the people within the company to be sure that there is no misunderstanding, that the procedure is carried out in a good way. Once the audit mission is done, we discuss once again with the management to be sure that the recommendations will be accepted.

If an agreement is found, a report is written on which the general management has the final corrected answer. The purpose of that is to reduce the risk, put forward something “doable” for the company, and of course, can be done with no problem.

How can he internal auditor be sure about the smooth running of these recommendations?

Let’s say that we are in January, the deadline is December, the business has one year to implement the recommendations that we are following up every quarter for example. We discuss and give them the feedback on what changes they have provided us with. Then we can adjust, say if it is enough or not.

We often hear that Audit is a “golden path” to finance? Is this real?

Talking about internal audit: It is true. Why? We learn a lot, every assignment is a new topic, so we have to train, we need to understand all the processes. At the end of our audit position we have seen many subjects and gone further into detail. A mission takes 2 to 4 months so we have 3 to 4 assignments a year and we can have a high level which is appreciated by the managers. My audit manager is often asked if some people are looking for opportunities. I am not worried about my future at the Société Générale!

I would like to specify that if you want to be a trader for example, you should go directly into that field, because it is way simpler to go from trader to audit than the opposite.

It is quite the same thing for M&A.

Is the internal auditor specialized in a specific area? Is it the same auditor in back office and front office?

Audit at SG, we have 4 zones; Investment banking, Audit on retailer, Audit on international, audit central division

Inside each division you can become specialized on a topic. For instance, in my division we have liquidity expert and accounting experts

Anne BEAGUE – Campus Manager :

What is the recruitment process at Société Générale?

The recruitment process depends on the type of contracts you apply for. For internship or apprenticeship, you apply directly on the job offer three months ahead. For apprenticeship, recruitment lasts from March to June to start working in September. To apply to VIE (Société Générale is the prime provider of VIE in France- 250 per year), you must apply five months ahead and have additional online tests (English, logic, personality inventory).

When is the best time to apply? Through which channel?

Anne Beague: The most important channel are recruitment websites. The best thing to do not to miss any job supply is to put an alert based on key words and then to create a profile to be really reactive as soon as the recruitment ad is posted. To read detailed job offers, you can also check the Job teaser page of Société Générale where you can watch financial video-recorded testimonies. You may also participate in online Chats about financial careers – the next one will be on October, 23rd where managers will answer questions on financial careers. Finally, may sure you have an attractive LinkedIn profile as the platform becomes more and more important for the recruiters.

What sort of qualities do you consider important to work in audit at Société Générale?

We need responsible people who make a valuable contribution to us and who focus on results. The candidate should be proactive and formulate proposals to stimulate agility in

the company. To focus on audit, rigor is the watchword, as well as team work, autonomy and sufficient analytical and synthesis capacities. Innovation and adaptability are also very important as bank is living big changes (digital and constant regulation change).

What is the opportunity volume for students in Société Générale?

250 VIE, 2,000 permanent contracts, 2,000 apprenticeships, 1,600 internships per year.

What are the careers perspectives?

Société Générale has a great mobility culture which allow the posts to evolve between 3 and 5 years. Evolution is both functional and geographic. Training courses are at the heart of human resources management.

We really appreciate to recruit permanent contracts that had a first successful experience at the Société Générale (internship, VIE or apprenticeships).

Thank you !

Interview by Florence Grevet & Charles Geoffroy for GEM Finance Society

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