Compagnie Monégasque de Banque CEO: Listening is our key competence

Werner Peyer on the Monégasque private banking sector and how CMB empowers its clients

July 18, 2018

Werner Peyer is CEO of Compagnie Monégasque de Banque – a private bank in Monaco managing €12.5bn in wealth for its clients. He discusses the evolution in the private banking industry, how to strike a balance between service reliability and future-proofing function, and his strategy for the next three years.

World Finance: Monaco is renowned in the private banking sector; how has the industry changed in recent years?

Werner Peyer: Certainly there have been changes, but there also have been constant focuses and constant relevances to that business.

Yes, change has been brought onto our industry – mainly due to evolving regulations. I think what is important in Monaco is that Prince Albert, when he took over from his late father in 2005, gave a very clear vision of what the finance centre should be: transparent, and cooperating with the regulatory bodies all across the world.

And so today we have a fully transparent finance centre, and we are on no blacklist of whatever regulator that exists.

But it’s not all about change. I’m passionate about private banking, and I have been for the last 35 years. It’s all about accompanying families and private clients in their financial needs.

World Finance: How have you made sure that CMB has maintained what it needs to maintain, while also changing to keep up with modern trends?

Werner Peyer: Monaco is a very diverse international centre; out of the 38,000 inhabitants, we have 130 nationalities. And so I wanted to really reflect that diversity of international culture through the bank and its services offered.

My vision has always been to capture 100 percent market share. So we developed international cultures within the bank. We have today the largest Russian speaking desk, we have a very significant and the largest German speaking desk. And I’m very proud about the Anglo-Saxon desk as well, because we still have Anglo-Saxon competitors next-door to us, but increasingly English-speaking clients turn to us.

World Finance: And how has that strategy borne out in your returns?

Werner Peyer: Well it has been dramatic in certain ways, because it changed significantly the way we looked after clients. It changed the client base as well, from the traditional clients. And it has of course changed with this transparency the needs and requirements of the clients.

We now provide to all of our clients tax reporting, so that they can use it for their regulators and tax authorities in their countries of residence.

World Finance: Tell me more about the other ways you empower your clients. You created a Women and Finance academy programme, for example.

Werner Peyer: There are a lot of wealthy women living in Monaco; yet wealth management has been traditionally the domain for men within the families, because women are not empowered to do so. We do empower them.

All of our key specialists within the bank teach them. They also get a virtual one million pound – or dollar, Swiss franc, euro – portfolio to invest. And we then discuss how these portfolios move. And so they learn.

World Finance: You’ve also created a philanthropy academy.

Werner Peyer: Many wealthy clients want to do good, following the example of Prince Albert with his famous Prince Albert II Foundation. They want to be philanthropists, yet they don’t know exactly how to do it. So we’ve created an academy that within six modules tells them how to go from the vision, to realising projects with governance, with controls as well; so that they don’t lose enthusiasm and resources and waste them.

World Finance: Your own mandate as CEO has been renewed through to 2021; what’s your strategy for the next three years?

Werner Peyer: First of all, I want to see that many, many of the ideas that we have developed as a team, that we can realise them and build on the evolution of what has already been put into place. And continue to adapt to the changing environment.

Then I also want to make sure that I can prepare the next generation of leaders in the bank, who will come in with new ideas and develop beyond what I have created.

And that’s all about the values that are based on four pillars. It’s focus on clients, listening to clients. The second value is innovation. Innovation, which can only happen when you’re competent. Third value is respect of diversity. And respect of diversity within CMB is not just about gender diversity; it’s about finding new solutions, thanks to that diversity. And the fourth value may sound trivial, but it’s the respect of rules. We have today a huge amount of rules imposed by the regulators, imposed by the bank itself, imposed by the shareholder. And we want to make sure we respect them all, because not respecting one single rule means the machine stops and you have to focus on repairing it. And we just can’t afford ever the machine to stop.

World Finance: Werner, thank you very much.

Werner Peyer: Thank you Paul.