After Exit, Pictet Says Life Without Collardi Won’t Change

A day after Pictet & Cie.’s announcement that partner Boris Collardi would leave, management sought to assure stunned employees that the Swiss bank will do what it does best: stay the course.

Appearing in a town-hall meeting, senior managing partner Renaud de Planta said Pictet’s wealth-management strategy would remain intact, and that no changes were afoot. He was flanked by Marc Pictet, another member of the top management group and a family heir, as well as Collardi himself, who spoke in emotional terms of his three years at the Geneva-based bank, according to people familiar with the meeting. 

Collardi was visibly moved as he recounted his time at Pictet, which he joined from Julius Baer AG, the people said. He spoke of his achievements and the pride he took in having worked for the storied institution. Leaving now was the most difficult decision of his career, Collardi told the gathering, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the meeting wasn’t public.

At the gathering, Marc Pictet said the wealth-management arm would continue to hire and integrate new bankers, the people said. It would also keep investing in technology to interact with wealthy clients, he told employees, according to the people.

A spokesman for Collardi and representative for Pictet declined to comment.

After Exit, Pictet Says Life Without Collardi Won’t Change

At the time, Collardi’s appointment to Pictet was something of a coup for the secretive private bank. In the former chief executive officer of Julius Baer, Pictet gained a star banker with a deep understanding of wealth management, particularly in growth markets like Asia. 

But Collardi’s addition to the senior partnership also came with a dose of risk. He joined under the cloud of an investigation stemming from his time at Julius Baer, though he was later cleared in the probe. Collardi’s brash management style and thirst for growth and innovation also ran counter to the risk-averse way of doing business that has been the hallmark of Pictet for more than two centuries. 

While de Planta, Pictet and Collardi shared friendly parting words at the meeting, the abrupt departure stands to unsettle those employees who had bought into the rejuvenating spirit that Collardi represented. Already, some are interpreting his exit as a sign that the bank is retrenching into its old ways, people familiar with the situation said.

Collardi is slated to leave on Sept. 1, the same time that Pictet elevates two new members to its most senior group: Francois Pictet and Elif Aktug, who will be the first woman in the bank’s history to join the bank’s top team. For his part, Collardi hasn’t lined up a new position for now and plans to take some time on personal projects before his next job, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Collardi brought on more than 100 people to the wealth management unit, which will now solely be led by Marc Pictet. His departure may now raise questions about the personnel changes that he implemented and whether they will endure the transition. 

His appointments include Fong Seng Tee, a banker he knew from his time at Credit Suisse Group AG, as the head for the wealth arm’s Asia division, pushing the existing leader into a more ceremonial chairmanship position. 

In Asia’s ultra competitive private banking market, the bank has already seen some recent departures. Deutsche Bank recently hired Dominique Jooris for a new role as head of wealth solutions coverage for Asia Pacific, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. He was most recently CEO of Pictet in Singapore.

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