Patrick Héritier: «We’re in the Mood for M&A»
Ex-fighter pilot and UBS banker Patrick Héritier came to entrepreneurship late. Now he is charting an aggressive growth course for Swiss wealth and asset manager PLEION , he tells finews.com.
Patrick Heritier, you’re a veteran private banker of UBS and Julius Baer. Why did you move to an independent asset manager?
It took me almost 50 years to realize I was an entrepreneur. None of the independent asset managers I met had a vision or a strategy I could share. I didn’t want to hear that I could work less and make more money – I’m too young for that. I don’t want to work for a company I don’t share a set of values with. I’m privileged to have the choice and this is why I chose PLEION .
PLEION has been on a tear since you joined less than two years ago. What’s your strategy?
We want to grow in Switzerland, in the EU, and in the rest of the world. We are hiring relationship managers who are leaving banks or had set up their own independent asset management companies.
Let’s start with your plan for Switzerland.
Zurich and the German-speaking part of Switzerland are strategic for us. We are an ideal company for Swiss clients with international plans, and Zurich is key for them. Eastern Europe and a lot of Middle East business are also now run out of Zurich, as is a lot of northern Europe.
You already pushed into Bern last year. Will you be able to launch in Zurich this year?
If you want to do something strategic, you need the right people. You can’t rush it though. As a former fighter pilot, I always say you need to be very patient. But when you have a fit, you go full-throttle with the afterburner.
You just opened in Monaco as well with ten people. What else do you plan in Europe?
We’d like to take a majority stake in a Luxembourg company with a fund management license and EU passport for wealth management. We’re waiting for an answer from CSSF [Luxembourg’s financial regulator].
Your resources are finite because of your size.
I’m a big believer in sharing experiences. We’re joining the ASWM [Alliance of Swiss Wealth Managers] because I think there we can really achieve a major change in our relationship with the banks. Our clients would benefit: we can bundle power on pricing, knowledge, and other things.
What is so distinctive about PLEION as an independent asset manager?
We want to be close to our clients, this is why we are present already in Geneva, Nyon, Sion, Bern and Monaco., We have set up a strong Investment office with an independent, open and rational approach for the development on investment strategies.
We’ve been developing our own information technology for the last ten years with a team of 20 people. We’re also multi-custody and multi-jurisdiction, and we have dedicated people for legal and compliance, and human resources.
What about your expansion plans outside Europe?
Dubai might be interesting strategically, but we would only do it with a partner. Strategically, we believe Africa is very strong, knowing that Europeans, Asians, and North Americans are investing there.
You are currently plowing all of your profits back into growth. Is it enough?
For the time being – yes. If we increase the pace, we are considering having strategic shareholders join the group to finance growth. We’re in an M&A mood.
What sort of deal would you consider?
If there was a way we could double our size with people who share our vision and culture, and we have complementary services but can also win synergies, that would be a dream. I always try to live my dreams.
What sort of clients do you have?
We have wealth management clients, private and institutional clients – three-quarters of our assets under management are from clients in Switzerland and Monaco.
We also have ultra-high net worth clients to whom our group offers an extensive range of family office services and particularly asset consolidation.
Where do you see your growth coming from?
A combination of organic growth, mergers-and-acquisitions, and some kind of franchising model. Where you’re part of a group under a common brand and a strong investment office. Such models require strong risk management.
What are your asset under management targets?
I’m quite confident that we’ll be at 2 billion Swiss francs at the end of the year, from 1.5 billion francs currently.
You ended up as chairman and CEO of Plurigestion (now PLEION ) in 2017 after a chance encounter with the owner.
We share the same values and we have a different and complementary set of skills. He had a vision, the tools, and many other things, and was looking for someone to develop it further.
Patrick Heritier trained as an F-5 fighter pilot and flew as a commercial airline pilot before moving into wealth management. The 54-year-old Swiss banker worked for UBS and Julius Baer for ten years each. In 2017, he joined Plurigestion, which was renamed PLEION – Greek for «greater» – last year. The Geneva-based independent asset manager’s main shareholder is Antoine Darioli. PLEION maintains partnerships with depository banks including UBS, Credit Suisse, Pictet, Julius Baer, Lombard Odier, and Union Bancaire Privée and is applying for a license to manage collective investment schemes in Switzerland.
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