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Lombard Odier: Rethinking wealth

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With its profile rapidly rising in the region, we explore the secrets behind Lombard Odier’s success. Banker Middle East catches up with Arnaud Leclercq, a Limited Partner at the Swiss bank.
SUNDAY 03, NOVEMBER 2019

Why do clients in the GCC region choose to bank with Lombard Odier?

Our clients are only satisfied with the best in their personal, family and commercial affairs. They draw on a team of specialists to help them manage their business, their children’s education, their health—and in wealth it is the same.

At Lombard Odier, our sole focus is on wealth and asset management, for the long term. We are investment specialists, with a global network of more than 200 experts, and we have a single, multidisciplinary Middle Eastern team located across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Geneva, Zurich and London.

Naturally, our clients want personal service and solutions that meet their complex individual situations. They do not want products pushed on them, or to be part of an increasingly commoditised banking space. Our approach is bespoke, and we build our offering around our clients’ needs.

Our discretionary Shari’ah mandate for example is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ fund like many others in the market, but a fully customisable solution. It allows our clients to build their portfolio the way they want, drawing on the full capabilities of the bank.

Does Lombard Odier see itself as a Swiss bank, or a local bank in the Middle East?

Both parts are important—we are global wealth management experts with considerable local expertise. Our roots are Swiss, and reflect the experience, stability and security that we offer, but we have served clients in the Middle East for over half a century. This is one of our fastest growing and most strategically important regions, and our business here continues to evolve.

Our Dubai office has doubled in size and won seven consecutive industry awards in the last seven years. Assets from the UAE are growing at a double-digit rate (as of end of July 2019). Earlier this year we opened a branch in Abu Dhabi, in order to serve our local clients better, with bespoke, onshore wealth solutions. In fact, we were the first Swiss private bank to open in the prestigious Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Arnaud Leclercq, a Limited Partner at Lombard Odier

Why did you choose Abu Dhabi?

We are committed to building a strong footprint in the Middle East, and the UAE is one of its largest wealth markets. The new Abu Dhabi branch is testament to our faith in regional growth and economic stability, and our confidence in the Emirates’ future as a key business location and wealth generator.

The city’s culture and values—a combination of international influences and a strong commitment to local heritage—are also a good fit for us. Of course, our growth in the region is not primarily driven by new offices, but by strengthening and enlarging our relationships with local institutions and families.

Our managing directors and bankers are senior figures, with decades of experience and deep connections here. Even our Private Bank CIO spent eight years working at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. Only a handful of banks can truly claim to know multiple generations of clients here as we do.

Is there something about the way Lombard Odier is owned that sets it apart?

Yes, I believe so. We’re a privately-owned family business and we have always believed in acting with integrity and responsibility. Our Partners are entrepreneurs, like many of our clients, and share many of the same concerns on succession and wealth transmission.

Our independent ownership means we can invest for the long term and focus on growing wealth via steady returns. We’re not driven by short-term profits. Instead, our timescales reflect those of our clients: wealth accretion over generations. This focus on the long-term is one definition of sustainability—which we believe is the first principle of long-term investment.

Does sustainability define your offering?

It is certainly a field where we are setting the agenda, and where we have a strong investment conviction. We believe sustainability is a global shift that is already transforming our economies and the companies that drive them and have made a very public commitment to embedding it into all our investment processes.

Of course, Islamic finance has long recognised the importance of a sustainable approach, and our Shari’ah offering is a local expression of our wider commitment to sustainable investing. It’s just one of the ways in which our bank’s offering is a natural fit in the Middle East.

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