Alfred Pose took the helm of the newly-established BNCI in 1932 and carried through a major restructuring of the bank, bringing its organisation and businesses up to date.
A man of learning
Born in 1889 in the Bearn, a region in the South of France, this shepherd’s grandson and son of a school teacher is a perfect example of the opportunities for climbing the social ladder that appeared under the Third Republic. After studying at HEC Paris – one of the foremost business schools in France –, he worked for several years before returning to his law studies, eventually obtaining a doctorate in both political economy and law. Armed with his degrees, Alfred Pose gave courses at the University of Caen from 1926 to 1930. During this period he wrote his first work De la théorie monétaire à la théorie économique (‘From Monetary Theory to Economic Theory’) which was a prelude to his major work, published in 1942 – La monnaie et ses institutions (‘Money and its Institutions’), which is an outstanding history of financial institutions.
Alfred Pose moved rapidly from theory to practice. In 1930, he became Head of Research at a Strasbourg-based bank called Société Générale Alsacienne de Banque. He came to the attention of the Chairman, René Debrix, and was appointed manager of the Cologne branch, before becoming assistant to the Chairman.
The BNCI adventure
In 1932 he accepted a risky position, which everyone else had turned down, that of Managing Director of Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI). This bank had been set up for the purpose of taking over the business activities of the Banque Nationale de Crédit (BNC), which had just gone bankrupt. Up until the 1950s Alfred Pose would demonstrate his exceptional talent, making the new bank one of the most dynamic and innovative of its era.
A thorough reform of the bank
Backed by a top management team consisting of young HEC (business academy) and Ecole Polytechnique (science academy) graduates, Alfred Pose undertook a major reorganisation of the bank. The central administration was reshaped and the General Inspectorate (Internal Audit Department) became an innovative instrument for both supervising and organising the various departments. For the first time in France administrative centres were created to concentrate administrative and accounting tasks which up to then had been handled at the individual branches. He also held some highly innovative ideas on human resources management, wishing to free staff from traditional bank bureaucracy.
Lastly, during World War II, he also instigated the development of the overseas network – in the Caribbean, North Africa, French Equatorial Africa and French West Africa – with the establishment of BNCI Afrique, forerunner of the BICI.
Alfred Pose was also a committed royalist, and his role in politics was therefore more controversial, especially during the events in Algiers in 1942-1943 and the murder of Admiral Jean Francois Darlan.