Antonio Tasso cut his teeth in Investment Banking on Goldman Sachs’s derivatives desk in London, before moving into the family office space in 2009 and, three years later, to Pictet Wealth Manegement, Geneva. Tasso felt instantly at home there as, even though he had spent over a dozen years in the UK, he has ‘an international background, with multiple nationalities and languages spoken. Nothing to brag about…I work in an inherently international firm!’ Pictet is, in his view, the ‘ultimate’ private bank – one of the few remaining pure-players in wealth management. With ‘a business model that favours a long-term vision and a pure alignment with our clients’ interests’, Tasso is well-placed to given the service demanding clients insist upon.
After arriving at the Pictet Wealth Management’s Family Office in Geneva, Tasso was part of a dedicated team for the largest and most complex clients of the bank. This team was ultimately integrated into the bank’s Wealth Management business in 2015, when he was then asked to move to London and help the development of Pictet’s growing presence. With this experience, it is no wonder Tasso tends to focus on fewer but larger (and more complex) families, with no particular geographic focus except a strong link to London. The service and coverage these families require is ‘much broader than a traditional private banking relationship.’
Tasso argues that working with UHNWs/Family Offices is quite different from working with HNWs. He takes a ‘coordinator’ role, rather than that of a specialist: ‘someone who is able to adapt to each situation and has the resources to be an effective advisor for each family.’ Despite this broad remit, it is important not to forget the expertise accumulated over a lifetime in the industry, as ‘the coordinator generally has a core specialty or passion – in my case it is clearly the investment element. This is so important in my field and being slightly obsessive about financial markets helps!’
Given his own international background, Tasso is comfortable dealing with families from very diverse nationalities. The families ‘look both for a safe address and for a tailored service, especially when it comes to investing.’ In the past 36 months, the Pictet Group has invested considerable resources to enhance their investment offering in most asset classes – both for discretionary and for advisory mandates. These investments have meant that the last twelve months have been very successful for Pictet as an institution, and for the London office in particular. It has been ‘very rewarding’ for Tasso to be ‘part of a growing team which not only is of very high level, but where there is a collegial effort to serve our clients to the best of our efforts.’
Turning to his outlook for the future of private banking and the risks he sees on the horizon, Tasso points to the potential for a low return environment, particularly in the liquid asset classes. At the same time, rising regulatory and compliance requirements are pressuring the cost side of his business. The combination of the two ‘puts the viability of certain business models into doubt, particularly smaller banks or wealth managers which will need to find ways to adapt (for instance through mergers or acquisitions).’ Pictet, however, ‘has the critical mass to weather this period extremely well.’
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Tasso notes that ‘obviously technological innovation is the most important trend in our industry. It will more and more affect the way we interact with clients, invest their assets and manage our banking processes.’ Despite all this innovation, Tasso says that they still ‘need to be mindful that our business remains a people’s business where personal interactions and trust are (and will remain) the most important resources.’