Awards for Distinction 2013 – Pure Play


AFD2013_Best Boutique Private Bank

Pictet & Cie

Claude Haberer

Claude Haberer
CEO Asia Pacific
Pictet & Cie

The definition of a boutique bank is a topic of much debate in our industry – whilst some believe a bank is boutique depending on the size of its AUM, others use a bank’s business model or headcount as a benchmark. For the purpose of this award, Asian Private Banker defines boutique banks as those whose sole core business activity is wealth management.Since it specialises in only one business – managing its clients’ money – Pictet & Cie certainly qualifies as a boutique private bank. More importantly, because it has demonstrated an unwavering allegiance to clients since its inception in 1805, the bank is the deserved winner of the award for the second consecutive year.

At a time when sceptics have questioned the relevance of a boutique bank, Pictet & Cie has surpassed its integrated peers in global private banking AUM league tables, garnering close to US$325 billion in assets according to industry estimates. Although this is no mean feat, and certainly a source of pride for the bank’s partners, its senior leaders choose instead to highlight the bank’s independence as its greatest virtue. “Independence lies at the heart of our business and our ability to manage our clients’ assets without distraction,” explains Jacques de Saussure, a Switzerland-based Senior Partner at the bank. Not listed on any exchange, the bank is privately-owned by eight partners whose stewardship of the business is cemented by their seat on the Board, resulting in a clear alignment of interests between the bank’s shareholders and its management. As Claude Haberer, CEO Asia Pacific says, “Pictet has, structurally, no other agenda than what is in its clients’ interest”.

Whilst Pictet Asset Management is a product provider to the private bank, only a minority of the total funds offered by the asset management company are on the private bank’s platform. Likewise, 80% of the funds in the private bank’s model portfolio are non-Pictet funds, a reliable measure of its independence.
However, compromising stability to maintain independence is not a sustainable choice for any organisation. Pictet & Cie is the only bank of its size rated AA- by Fitch Ratings with a stable outlook and it also has a high Tier I ratio (17.3% at the end of 2012), indicators of its stability as a financial institution. These facts, coupled with a unique culture that re-enforces, even enhances, its dedication to its clients, make Pictet & Cie the deserved winner of the Best Boutique Private Bank award.