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Our DNA is based on personalisation, trust and service excellence

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The interview with Selman Bicaco Urrutia appeared in Le Monde Économique (in French) June 12, 2024.

The banking sector is currently going through a period of significant transformation, due to technological developments, new regulations and changes in client expectations. In light of these factors, what are the trends currently shaping private banking in Switzerland?

The sector has undergone many transformations in the past and continues to undergo significant developments. The latest regulatory change to have an impact was the introduction in 2017 of the automatic exchange of financial account information, which has improved tax transparency internationally. The regulatory changes are seen as a constraint by the banking sector and private clients.

When it comes to technological changes, innovations are generally more appreciated by those who benefit. The real novelty is the emergence of fintech companies and technology giants, which now operate alongside banks (and other traditional financial institutions) in the financial field. Today, we're in the midst of a major technological shift. Fintechs and large technology companies have been working for several years to digitalise every vertical of the banking business by exploiting new technologies and big data. The Magnificent 7 have invested heavily in new areas, including banking services, where they are vying to capture a share of the market.

By offering payment services, current accounts, credit cards or cryptocurrency projects, these tech giants are demonstrating unprecedented ingenuity to make their mark in the financial sector. These innovative companies have automated low value-added tasks and are boosting the banking sector. They are forcing us to reconsider our approach, which is always a good thing in any industry. These technology players are also paving the way for new partnerships, so creating an ecosystem where each actor capitalises on the services of others to improve their own client services and focus on their strengths.

The biggest opportunity that we see in the private banking sector is that we can now take advantage of technologies which didn't exist before and which enable us to improve client experience. We're not technology companies, we're not fintechs, but we are using these new resources at our disposal to better serve our clients and put our real added-value, which is people, back at the heart of our business. All the technologies we use offer powerful ways to help our wealth managers to do their job even better, that is to advise their clients according to the best interests of the clients themselves.

Some banks take the gamble of reinventing the wheel and fully designing technologies from end to end. Our ambition at Piguet Galland on the contrary is to put all our energy into our wealth management expertise while using the best of technology produced by external players and customised to meet our needs. We rely on companies with proven track records in specialised fields to build an innovative technological ecosystem. It's an agile approach that enables us to be much more responsive given our size and internal organisation.

We have initiated several major digital projects. We are currently working on a new eBanking solution to offer our clients a state-of-the-art digital platform. We are also including internal tools using artificial intelligence to focus advisors' energy on value-added service for the client, rather than repetitive, administrative tasks. The idea is to take advantage of this innovation movement to help our teams serve their clients better and maintain a human relationship of outstanding quality.

We have therefore chosen to focus on what we do best, that is wealth management. To achieve this, we have a local approach with six sites in French-speaking Switzerland, to serve our clients as near to where they live as possible. Our teams are aligned with our business of portfolio management, financing and wealth planning.

In contrast to a giant like UBS, Piguet Galland likes to define itself as a boutique bank. How would you describe the 'boutique bank' concept, and what aspects of your approach emphasize this personalisation?

Piguet Galland sets itself apart from the big retail banks with its focused, specialised approach. As a private bank on a human scale, we focus exclusively on wealth management for private clients. Our DNA is based on personalisation, trust and service excellence. Unlike the big banks, we do not diversify into a multitude of sectors, but specialise in three key areas: portfolio management, financing and wealth advice. This expertise enables us to offer our clients a consistent and efficient experience, focused on the realisation of their life projects. At Piguet Galland, every interaction counts and reinforces our commitment to our clients.

What are the values that guide your approach as a community bank, and how are these values reflected in your day-to-day operations?

Being close to our clients and human in our interactions is what drives us. The values of integrity, teamwork, commitment, value creation and enthusiasm are at the heart of our corporate culture and everything we do each day. Every interaction is imbued with active listening, total transparency and a constant search for tailor-made solutions. This approach is reflected in our way of communicating and advising, so strengthening our relationship of trust with our clients.

How does Piguet Galland approach risk management, particularly in times of economic uncertainty?

A thorough risk analysis is carried out before each investment decision, with the priority of preserving the client's assets over the long term and aligning returns with their investment profile. Close collaboration with the client enables us to understand their unique objectives and preferences, in order to determine the most suitable investment strategy.

How do you see Piguet Galland evolving in the context of the ever-changing banking sector?

Our goal for the coming year at Piguet Galland is to maintain our growth trajectory by strengthening our sales teams and pursuing our strategic initiatives. We place particular emphasis on deploying digital client interfaces and strengthening our CSR approach. We remain determined to meet the evolving needs of our clients and to remain a symbol of excellence in an ever-changing banking industry.

Interview by Thierry DIME

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