"Geneva attracts very wealthy families"

Isabelle Jacob-Nebout, Head of Wealth Management, Indosuez Switzerland

👉 Mrs Jacob-Nebout, what are the most important trends in global private banking at the moment?

The private banking sector has experienced major upheavals: war in Europe and the Middle East, digitalisation and unprecedented market conditions. The sector is used to adapting, but we can expect a new wave of consolidation among institutions that have not successfully transformed themselves or whose foundations are not strong enough. The end of Credit Suisse was a turning point for the entire industry. Artificial intelligence is also the new buzzword in private banking. AI will enable a more detailed understanding of client needs and enable bankers to act more proactively and increase the relevance of their investment proposals.

👉 Is Switzerland in danger of losing the battle against locations such as Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore in this mixed situation?

With 2.4 trillion USD, Switzerland is still the world's leading offshore wealth centre, with Hong Kong and Singapore catching up. In the face of increasing conflict and geopolitical tensions, the Swiss financial centre will remain attractive and maintain its role as a safe haven in an increasingly polarised world. The stability and strength of the currency are an important pillar of this. Our financial centre is part of a global system. Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai should therefore be seen as complementary financial centres.

👉 What developments are you currently observing in Geneva?

Geneva continues to attract very wealthy families from Switzerland and around the world. It is a global centre for commodities trading with a whole ecosystem of traders, transporters, lawyers, insurers and, of course, banks.

Geneva has a great deal of expertise of its own in the area of asset management. Two issues are currently at the forefront: sustainability and competitiveness as a financial centre, which is also championed by the Fondation Genève Place Financière, the umbrella organisation for the financial sector.

👉 With the increase in global wealth, the needs of ultra-rich clients are changing. Many are setting up a single family office or joining a multi-family office. What does this trend mean for your day-to-day business?

The number of family offices has increased significantly, especially in regions where wealth has grown rapidly, such as the Middle East and Asia. Apart from some of the wealthiest families in these regions, who have multi-billion dollar assets, most clients used to deal directly with their banks with the help of a few trusted advisors. This trend is likely to continue and even accelerate as the new generation, educated at the best Western universities in Europe or the US, becomes more and more involved in the management of family affairs and brings a range of expertise to the table. We do not see these players as competitors, but as partners.

A new generation of female bankers is striving for the top

👉 How do you attract talent?

Indosuez recently announced the planned acquisition of the Belgian private bank Degroof Petercam. Once the transaction is finalised, we will manage more than EUR 200 billion in client assets and employ around 4,500 people. This makes us a very attractive employer and positions us as an active player in market consolidation.

👉 How do you attract women to the otherwise male-dominated private banking sector?

A new generation of female bankers is striving for the top. They have hard and soft skills, which is very important today. Today, wealth managers are surrounded by important experts and have developed into orchestra directors. Women are very well suited to this type of coordination as they motivate people to work together.

We run internal training courses to make our managers aware of these aspects and have introduced a special programme to develop our young female talent. We have also received Fair on Pay certification, an important achievement considering the recent results on the career development of women in Switzerland.

👉 Do you also mentor young talents yourself as they enter the world of work?

Yes, as a mentor I officially accompany and support about one person per year, but unofficially many more. I value advising young women on how they can shape their careers. Twenty years ago, female bankers in the industry were mostly to be found in lower positions; today, 40% of the management at Indosuez are women.


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April 05, 2024

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