Pictet’s Bertrand Demole talks about the future, a year after his bank opened an office in Israel

"We believe that the global economy is going through a normalization process and that its effects are spreading through the different asset classes."

BERTRAND DEMOLE 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Pictet & Cie)
(photo credit: Courtesy Pictet & Cie)
One year ago, against the backdrop of air-raid sirens, Pictet & Cie, a Swiss bank with a history of more than 200 years, opened an office in Tel Aviv. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Bertrand Demole, one of the bank’s eight partners, updates us on the current situation and discusses his views on the markets and the specific needs of Israeli clients.
“One year on, we are very happy with the progress we have made,” he said.
“At a recent event attended by over 150 guests, we inaugurated the Prix Pictet Power exhibition at Artstation Gallery in Tel Aviv.”
This global photography prize, launched by the bank in partnership with the Financial Times in 2008, is dedicated to the topic of sustainability and in particular the way it relates to the environment. Through outstanding photography, the prize aims to shed light on the changes taking place in the world around us and raise public awareness of the urgent need to take action to address these issues.
“Although we are, first and foremost, responsible to our clients, we are answerable in everything we do to our employees, society in general and the world in which we invest and live,” Demole said. “Our sense of responsibility has contributed to and arises from our long history of stability and continuity.
“Part of what we offer our clients is a very safe bank, as we do not put our balance sheet at risk through risky lending, whether it’s commercial lending or mortgage lending. Also, the group’s equity level is well in excess of the Swiss legal requirements, among the most stringent in the world. With our business focused solely on wealth management and asset management, together with asset services, we continue to invest in what we know best, both in our home territory of Europe and globally.”
One year on, have you reached your targets for the Israeli market?
“When I became a partner in 2011, we had $359 billion in assets under management and custody. At the end of September 2013 we have over $433 billion.
During that time, the number of staff the bank employs worldwide has risen from over 3,200 to more than 3,400 and we have opened four offices, one of them in Tel Aviv.
“We do not like to set targets, but prefer to grow slowly and naturally. We are committed to organic growth and have never had a merger or acquisition in our history. Growth is not our primary objective. However, serving our clients and investing in developing the quality of our business is. We believe that if this is done correctly, growth will follow.
“The successful businesses of tomorrow are those that are able to adapt to a world which is changing fast. An example of how the Pictet Group is able to adapt was the setting up of Pictet North American Advisors in 2006, an entity dedicated exclusively to meeting the specific needs of US nationals, who, like other nationalities around the globe, face specific constraints when it comes to their investment needs. Today, PNAA manages close to $3.6 billion.”
And what are your views of the markets?
We believe that the global economy is going through a normalization process and that its effects are spreading through the different asset classes.
It started with gold, spread to equity markets in the developed world and has now moved on to bond and currency markets. One of the most significant milestones along this long and winding road will involve the US economy gradually putting down the sturdy roots required for self-sustaining growth. Ultimately, this will bring about a change in regime for financial markets – to one where GDP and earnings growth will be the fundamental risk factors. This will mark a shift from the period of crisis between 2008-2012 when systemic risk and central-bank monetary policy played a central role.”