Patricia de Arriaga Rodriguez

Patricia de Arriaga Rodriguez

“A good manager should set an example”

Patricia de Arriaga Rodriguez, Head of Intermediaries Spain, speaks to Kate Howsham, on behalf of Group Communications, about what made her join Pictet almost 16 years ago, the creativity behind her role, the growth of the Spanish intermediaries’ market as well as the future challenges that lie ahead. This is the latest interview in our series on senior women leaders at Pictet.

What led you to your career at Pictet?

I joined Pictet in May 2006, almost 16 years ago. Like many things in my life it happened by coincidence and for that, I feel very fortunate. I was working at Paribas Asset Management during its merger with BNP and the two sales teams were subsequently merged. I started looking for something else, eventually joining Société Générale for 6 years where I undertook a dual function as Senior Portfolio Manager supporting mandates, and some back-office support. That’s when Gonzalo [Gonzalo Rengifo Abbad, Head of Distribution Iberia & Latam[1] at Pictet Asset Management] approached me. He was looking for someone senior to join the Sales team and I could offer more than 10 years of experience in institutional business. I was attracted to Pictet as a smaller institution with a reputation of valuing team collaboration.

What are your current responsibilities as a Senior Sales Manager?

A large part of my role is about strategic thinking. I help to define the sales strategy in terms of our positioning in the market, where we can gain market share and the investment strategies we choose to focus on. This coincides with our ultimate objective, which is to provide excellent service and added value to our clients.

Second, I have to manage my own book of business in Spain and coordinate with the rest of the team.

Third, I also share a deputy head function when Gonzalo is not in the office and act as one of the mentors for trainees joining the team. And last but not least, another area of my responsibilities includes the educational platform we have here in Spain, MegatrendsLab to inform our business partners, mainly private banking networks, on thematic investing. What I enjoy is that my responsibilities are not only quite diverse, but they also offer a great deal of room for creativity.

How do you incorporate creativity into your role?

Creativity for me means to think outside the box. This often involves trying to anticipate trends of the near future. When I joined Pictet, I found that few of our strategies aligned with the expectations and demands of the Spanish market, known to be more conservative and mainly focused on core products at the time. We nevertheless decided to specialize ourselves in our niche, added-value strategies such as Thematics and Total Return. This was thinking outside the box. We spent time defining how we would convey ourselves to the market and clients. This then determined the types of events, marketing, messaging and dynamics we created as a team.  

How important is the intermediaries’ market for Pictet Asset Management in Iberia & Latam?

The intermediaries’ market has grown a lot in the last decade. What is the intermediaries’ market for us? It’s mainly funds of funds, private banking networks and financial advisor networks. However, you can also have institutional clients with an intermediary function. For instance, an insurance company that sells discretionary portfolio manager accounts to their insurance networks.

As you said much of that growth has happened in the last decade, what development potential does the Spanish intermediaries market have for the future?

We have indeed grown a lot in the last 10 years to the point where we can consider ourselves a mature market in terms of our size and investment strategies. However, future growth at the same pace is likely to be difficult, particularly in the context of low interest rates putting margins under pressure, more stringent regulation and capacity constraints on some of our investment strategies.

Another competitive advantage is our long-term thinking. We have a reputation for continuity and excellent client service that are partly achieved through the low employee turnover at Pictet and the loyalty of employees to the company.

One pathway to growth includes developing our strategy with regards to asset classes. For instance, private equity, where allocation in the intermediaries’ business is still very low. It’s not as easy to sell as a liquid or core strategy, or even a satellite strategy. We must instead work to change client perception which takes time and training. As you can see there are many challenges ahead, but there is growth potential in a number of Latin American markets including Chile, Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay.

What competitive advantages does Pictet have in the Spanish market?

Our independence, as well as the exclusivity and quality of the Pictet brand is key. When I first joined Pictet, few people were familiar with the name in Spain. This effort of building the brand to what it is today is thanks to the professionals behind the business, not only the Sales team but also Marketing, RFP, Reporting and the Investment teams to name a few.

We are known to have a long-term focus on clients’ interests and, therefore, on the company’s interests, which is recognized on the market. Something I appreciate at Pictet is that I never feel short-term pressure with product sales, they are patient and give you time.

​What qualities do you need to be a good, inspiring manager?

A good manager should set an example, provide opportunities for the team to grow and treat them with respect. First, you need to set a good example to the rest of the team.

You cannot transmit a message if you are not practicing it yourself and this is something I have strived to do for the last 16 years at Pictet.

Second, part of being a leader is being able to navigate the boat through difficult times but to also take a step back and give others the opportunity to navigate with the example you have set. Finally, to try and feel close with your team and treat them with mutual respect.

Has covid-19 had any implications on how you work with the team and your business?

I don’t think so. We have such an amazing team and we have shown resilience in navigating these times. As for everybody, it was difficult at first due to the increasing role played by digital communications in our everyday interactions with clients and colleagues. After all, we are in a business in which human relationships matter a lot. But with strong team cohesion and commitment to client servicing we were able to overcome this obstacle together.

What are your passions outside of work?

A large part of my passion is dedicated to my work. I’ve been in the industry since 1984 and it has occupied most of my time. Apart from that, it’s reading. For me it is key to have a book beside me. I also enjoy singing, including jazz and boleros, and I’m in a band that rehearse once a week and we have really good fun. Finally, being able to share moments with friends and family.

What I like to say is if you simplify your life, you will be even happier. I think the simple things mean a lot. This is what I try to focus my passions on.

Is there a particular book that has had an impact on your life?

There are a lot of books that have impacted me, from novels to history books, such as biographies but also on Russian history. For instance, I have always had an interest in reading books focused on the reasons behind the decline of empires, which is a regular pattern throughout History. There is a truly fascinating book on this topic, The Economic Decline of Empires by Italian economic historian Carlo Maria Cipolla which I could only recommend. I am also passionate about short stories, such as those of Argentinian writers Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges and Uruguayan author Mario Benedetti, as they have the virtue of telling a whole story in a simple and concise fashion. I find this ability which short stories have to condense and simplify a story with several characters fascinating.

[1] Iberia & Latam encompasses the following: Spain, Portugal, & Latin America

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