Just one application. To Pictet.
What did you dream of being when you were younger?
I would have loved to be a diplomat. Another dream was to be a fighter pilot. I was very much inspired by reading The Big Show by Pierre Clostermann. I even wrote to him. He replied that to become a fighter pilot you had to be very good at maths. That put me off completely.
How did you come to join Pictet?
I began my career working for Arthur Andersen, in Geneva. After a few years, I realised that I wanted to get on and do things rather than observe and advise on them. I decided to change jobs, and posted just one application – to Pictet. I was fascinated by the Bank's reputation and brand image.
You applied to an analyst position… what was your path to CEO today?
In the end I was hired as an assistant to the Head of Administration. After two years, I was offered the role of Head of Operations for Pictet Asset Management in London. It was a pretty big challenge, professionally and personally; we had just had our third child and our eldest was only three-and-a-half. So it was also a family project, which would not have been possible without the support and enthusiasm of my wife. This period was invaluable in building first-hand asset management experience.
In 2001, I was asked to become COO of Pictet Asset Management, whose worldwide entities had just been merged. That meant coming back to Geneva.
Eight years later, I took the lead for the Group's Banking Operations and Global Custody for institutional clients. I expanded my scope of responsibility by taking on the Pictet group fund administration and transfer agent activities together with the third party funds clients, and then the Independent Asset Managers book of business; areas I am still responsible for today as CEO of Pictet Asset Services (PAS).
You have 1,075 staff reporting to you. How do you keep them motivated?
I am first of all very lucky and grateful to be able to count on them. Good communication is the key. Twice a year, we hold a meeting with the entire staff of PAS and share the latest business developments. It is important that my staff feel they are stakeholders in these achievements.
I also organise informal breakfasts. It provides an opportunity to find out about people's concerns and get information about specific problems they encounter on a daily basis. It is crucial to keep in touch with what is happening on the ground.
I also regularly meet clients to listen to them, propose new services and ensure things are running smoothly, and improve where needed.
Do you have a favourite place?
My family and I will always have a special place in our hearts for London. Another country I especially like is India. It cannot leave you unmoved. I spent eight months travelling around the country, I witnessed tremendous energy! It is a fascinating hybrid of a rich culture and of a growing powerhouse. I am captivated by the vibrancy and energy you experience in Asia.
What has changed in the 22 years you have been at Pictet?
Over time, the changes have been quite radical, but they have gone unnoticed. Undoubtedly, this is one of Pictet's strengths: rather than being forced through at speed, change is constant but gradual… yet the overall strategy is clear.
What has not changed is that I wake up every day excited to see my colleagues, meet with clients and learning, again and again!