As UK head of Russia, CIS & Eastern Europe at Pictet Wealth Management, Elena Lileeva is a trusted adviser to some of the wealthiest people in London. While Russia is her biggest focus, clients hail from countries across the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and beyond. ‘The most important thing is to win their trust,’ she says. ‘Sometimes it’s a very long process. It’s the small details, like when they ask you to help bring their dog somewhere or to find a nanny or a photographer, or when they trust you for advice on their children’s education — that’s when you know you have their trust.’ It’s an exciting region because there is a high and ongoing level of wealth creation. ‘It’s very dynamic and unpredictable and there are a lot of opportunities,’ says Lileeva, who has degrees from Moscow State University for International Relations and Cambridge, as well as a ten-year stint as a director at HSBC, under her belt. She joined Pictet a year ago, bringing with her a team of bankers from HSBC, whom she now manages. It’s all going very well and the team is already growing, she says, having just hired two new team members. Founded in 1805 in Geneva, the Pictet Group is today one of Switzerland’s largest wealth and asset managers. ‘I think Pictet is the private bank of the world right now. Because it is privately owned by six partners, including the eighth and ninth generation of Pictets, it changes the whole dynamic,’ says Lileeva. Decisions are made quickly and efficiently because there aren’t the layers of bureaucracy you might encounter at a large corporation. ‘If you want an answer you will get it. It might be no, but you’ll get it,’ she says. When it comes to investing, Lileeva’s clients are for the most part ‘very conservative’, choosing to invest in fixed income as well as equity markets ‘with some protection. Recent geopolitical events are impacting clients’ behaviour: ‘Even my Russian clients, who are generally risk aggressive types, are nervous,’ says Lileeva. Clients are at the centre of every decision made, she adds, while employees are valued and respected.
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