The formal history of Pictet begins in Geneva on 23 July 1805. On that day, two young gentlemen – Jacob-Michel-François de Candolle and Jacques-Henry Mallet – signed, with three limited partners, a scripte de société to form the original partnership of De Candolle, Mallet & Cie.
Annexed by the French Directoire in 1798, the city state of Geneva had become the capital of the Département du Léman. War and blockade had interrupted the export of watches, Geneva’s forte, while the French monarchy’s default after the Revolution had caused most banks to collapse.
Yet Geneva’s entrepreneurial flame, kindled by Calvinist principles of discipline and hard work, and fanned by the optimism of the Enlightenment, had stayed alive. As the Revolutionary inflation subsided, a new generation of financial partnerships emerged, eventually to be known as private bankers.
With share capital of 125,000 Geneva pounds, Pictet’s founders described its purpose as, “to trade in goods and articles of all types, collect annuities and undertake speculation in commodities”. It soon gave up these activities to specialise in currency trading and the management of wealth.
Surviving account books and documents show that as early as the 1830s the bank held a broad range of securities on behalf of clients to ensure that risks were properly diversified.
On the death of de Candolle in 1841, his wife’s nephew Edouard Pictet joined the partnership, becoming sole partner in 1848 and remaining at the head of the bank until his retirement in 1878.
Learn more about Pictet's 200-year history.