"Women think ahead"

Interview with Isabelle Jacob-Nebout, Head of Wealth Management at Indosuez in Switzerland for Finanz und Wirtschaft magazine. 

April 08, 2021

Isabelle Jacob-Nebout.jpg

Ms. Jacob-Nebout, what are the skills needed in private banking?  
Being bilingual or multilingual is a big advantage, but beyond that, the knowledge of the diverse cultural codes, lifestyles or traditions of our international clientele are a must. This creates a natural connection on an interpersonal level while ensuring mutual trust.  


Private banking is a personal business. Are there differences in whether a male or female banker provides the advice?  
The new generation of bankers must be able to quickly adapt to new regulatory requirements, changing market conditions, as well as sophisticated investment solutions. In this respect, I have to say that women generally tend to be a bit more forward-thinking and look carefully at all aspects of the client’s profile before any interaction.  


How is it decided who will be entrusted with advising a new client?  
We decide depending on the client's needs, technical profile, investor profile, risk sensitivity, economic or family environment. Finally, it sometimes happens that clients immediately express the desire to be supported by a female banker, telling us that they appreciate the way they analyse and control risk, express their technical skills or know how to manage the collaboration with experts.  


Do you witness any differences between French-speaking and German-speaking part of Switzerland in this respect? 
As far as Indosuez Wealth Management is concerned, there are no differences because our clientele in Geneva and in Zurich is very international. In the past, there may have been a few cultural challenges in the Middle East, as some clients were less used to dealing with female bankers back then. That has completely changed today with the new generation of customers.  


Are you sure about that?  
Oh yes, absolutely. Especially in the Middle East, more and more of our clients are women. These are female entrepreneurs and company founders. The region is changing at a very fast pace. Moreover, it is a woman that manages our largest client portfolio in the Middle East, and she does so very successfully.  


What is the percentage of women at Indosuez?  
In the front office, it is between 40 and 45%, and in the other areas, we are close to 50%. We want to offer women and men the same opportunities for professional development, whether in terms of goals, training, working conditions, career development, promotion or pay. We try to make sure that women applications are analysed as early as the job is advertised. In the past, that was not always the case in the industry.  


Do you have internal support programmes?  
Yes, recently we have offered special training and programmes aimed at raising awareness of gender diversity among all women and managers, as well as promoting female managers. This included a mentoring programme aimed at opening horizons in terms of professional and personal development, developing local and Group-wide networks, and learning how to improve their sphere of influence and increase their visibility.


What is your personal advice to your female employees?  
Women are sometimes a bit reserved when it comes to their personal goals and ambitions. They need to learn to communicate them better. They also need to believe in themselves and their abilities. That is very important.  


You mentioned equal pay. How do you assess the industry in this respect?  
I've been working in the banking sector for 32 years now. For a long time, the industry was male-driven, with the related biases, for example, that men were promoted more often. Today, we place great emphasis on ensuring that men and women are paid at the same level. With regard to equal pay, Indosuez has set up internal benchmarks and a strict monitoring. For this internal project, we have recently obtained the Fair on Pay certification from an independent HR consulting firm based on the criteria defined by SGS. A major achievement!  


> Published in Finanz und Wirtschaft (Carla Palm), 08/04/2021

April 08, 2021

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