“I’m very passionate about Building Bridges.”
Senior Managing Partner of Lombard Odier, Geneva and President Building Bridges
Patrick Odier became a Managing Partner of the Lombard Odier Group in 1986 and Senior Managing Partner in 2008. He was elected President of Swiss Sustainable Finance in summer this year and is also President of Building Bridges, an initiative promoting sustainable finance in Switzerland and worldwide. Lombard Odier has served its clients as an independent partner through seven generations since 1796.
Patrick Odier, which values underlie your day-to-day actions, decisions, plans?
Our all-encompassing philosophy “Rethink Everything” guides me every day. We have made a promise to our clients that we will provide them with bespoke, sustainable solutions for managing their assets. Sustainable investments are central to our philosophy and ultimately the result of our fiduciary obligation to give our clients the best possible advice in a changing world.
What importance do you attach to social media?
Social media have become an important part of our communication. In October, we reached the milestone of 100,000 followers on LinkedIn, and we’re gaining more all the time as interest in the latest sustainable investment themes continues to grow. Having always been digital pioneers, we’re now in a position to share our technology platform with other banks. We intend to build further on this lead.
Which problems should politicians and authorities urgently address?
The climate crisis is a crucial challenge for all of us, so we should do everything we can to bring the goal of slowing the pace of global warming closer. We need a pragmatic approach to determining standards and methods, which in turn requires transparency on the part of all stakeholders. For example, every industry needs to work on publishing verifiable emissions data. On top of this, Switzerland should invest more in renewable energies. At the international level, meanwhile, the price of CO2 emissions has to be set sufficiently high.
What are your guiding/leadership principles?
My job as a manager is first and foremost to take on responsibilities and duties. Managers should act as role models. Just like every other member of staff, they are ambassadors for their company.
If you could choose any country, where would you like to live and why?
Switzerland is home for my family and myself, but we also have close links to Greece as that’s where my wife comes from. It’s a country that’s produced lots of thinkers and philosophers that are still relevant today.
What are you thankful for?
Besides the things I’m thankful for personally, the fact that Lombard Odier is still going strong after 225 years of careful management makes me proud.
What can you not do without?
The many people I’ve met in my life so far. Material things aren’t what makes our society what it is, it’s the people with their range of different backgrounds, experiences, and careers.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in asset management today or your younger self?
Be curious, open, and brave, and build up a good network. We can only solve the problems and challenges of our times together. Powerful hubs in which expertise and leadership are concentrated will play a key role.
You became President of Swiss Sustainable Finance in the summer. How is the Swiss financial center positioned in terms of sustainability?
There has been a lot of progress in this area, even without any legal imperative. Sustainable investments have seen massive growth from just a few percent of the market to more than CHF 1,500 billion today, accounting for 30-50% in each segment. Many innovations have emerged, from the first commercial microfinance funds, launched over 20 years ago, to sustainable real estate investments with recognized labels, novel rating methodologies based on automated text recognition, and sustainable gold, to name just a few. Switzerland has come up with numerous new solutions of its own and is now ideally placed to take the financial sector into a sustainable future through innovation, but we need to set our sights way beyond just the climate issues.
You are also President of Building Bridges. What does that initiative aim to achieve?
We launched the Building Bridges initiative in March 2019. Much more than just a conference, it’s really a movement, an interest group that brings all the leading Swiss financial players, authorities, UN organizations, NGOs, and representatives of the scientific and business communities together around the same table. The task of creating a sustainable future for the financial sector involves challenges we can only solve together. Of course, our proximity to the many international organizations that are based in Geneva helps. It allows us to learn from each other and develop joint solutions for achieving the global sustainability goals.
What exactly has it been doing so far?
We held dozens of events in Geneva back in 2019, and the Summit, opened by the Swiss President himself, brought thousands of people to the main venue, Geneva’s Bâtiment des Forces Motrices. Representatives of the 30 financial centers that belong to the FC4S network were inspired by the local gathering to drive things forward at the national level. The Swiss finance world is now speaking with one voice at a time of dramatic regulatory changes that are needed to accelerate the transition and urgently demand shared rules. The Federal Council has acknowledged the importance of making the Swiss financial center a global benchmark for sustainable financial services.
The next Summit takes place in Geneva on 29 November, immediately followed by Building Bridges Week. What are your expectations for the event?
I’m very passionate about Building Bridges. I look forward very much to sharing views and holding discussions with the attendees. In addition to the Summit, which sets the agenda, a number of organizations host more than 77 separate events on the subject of sustainable finance to address the Sustainable Development Goals. This shows the vast innovation potential in our financial sector. Building on this and helping to gear the financial center to the challenges that lie ahead is a hugely exciting task, but this must not stop at a one-time dialog. The initiative aims to create a permanent and fruitful exchange between the various stakeholders that gives rise to real-world solutions. Just as Paris has become the focus of the climate debate, Switzerland can assume a similar role with regard to sustainable investment.