A success that nearly didn’t take off

Role: Equity Partner and Head of Intermediaries, Pictet Asset Management, responsible for the distribution of investment products and services through financial intermediaries such as banks, asset managers, insurance companies and financial advisors.
Based in: Geneva
Home country: Italy
Hobbies: Skiing, Tennis, Reading
Joined Pictet in: 1999

Luca, Equity Partner and Head of Intermediaries

Tell us about your start at Pictet

I’d been approached by a head-hunter to develop the Italian institutional investor market. At the time, the name of Pictet was completely unfamiliar to me. That first meeting was followed by a series of discussions. Then, the Head of Wealth Management for Italy took me to lunch. “You’ll see, it’s a steady, business-like bank. You’ll end up spending the rest of your working life there,” he said. By the end of lunch, I was convinced. That was in 1999. 

You built our Italian institutional business from scratch. What was the most difficult part of this creation?

When I opened Pictet’s first office in Italy in 2000, I was the only member of staff. I was seriously tempted to call it a day after six months. Things seemed too cosy, decisions took long to make.

Why did you stay?

The freedom I had and the confidence Pictet had in me convinced me to stay. On joining, I presented a business plan to the Partners geared to the wholesale market and projecting inflows of EUR1.5bn within three years. The target looked very ambitious. In the end, the Milan office managed to achieve three times that figure.

And today?

Today, Pictet Asset Management Italy has a staff of 26, managing a client-book totalling CHF 22bn, second only in size to that for Switzerland. 65% of these assets are those of retail clients, with the institutional market and wholesale customers accounting for the rest.

What is the recipe for Pictet Asset Management’s success in Italy?

In the early 2000s, we saw the opportunity in the retail investor market, based on distribution to financial intermediaries who deal directly with individuals. We could differentiate ourselves through our investment advisory service we offer to financial intermediaries. Our competitors were more focused on just selling products at the time.

In what ways is the Italian market different?

Italians love anything that comes from abroad. The Pictet brand and the image of excellence of a Swiss private bank that it conveys have a powerful impact in Italy.

The best advice you were ever given

Never be afraid to give free rein to being innovative and creative, and, above all, continue questioning yourself.

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