SINGAPORE (July 23): Patrick Odier is charming and ebullient as he greets journalists from around the world at the Geneva headquarters of the 222-year-old Swiss private bank that bears his family name. Lombard Odier, which traces its roots back to 1796, has survived major technological revolutions and geopolitical upheaval. Its history is associated with the military campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, the rise of the US as an economic power, steamships that dramatically shortened the duration of journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, and computer technology that has made it possible to — among other things — create and trade all manner of financial market indices.
This storied past was on display at an exhibition in June at the Geneva offices of the private bank. During a tour of the exhibition, Odier and his fellow managing partner Hugo Bänziger explained how the individual talents and business acumen of their predecessors contributed to the bank’s success and longevity. A key theme of their story was the entrepreneurial spirit of these individuals, fostered by flexible partnership structures.
“The history of [our] partnerships is not a linear history,” Bänziger says. “It meanders like a river, because not all children of the families are interested in becoming bankers.” The bank is still sometimes referred to as Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch. The four names, and several others, were associated with one another through several partnerships over the last two centuries. “When we talk today about Lombard Odier, people think there are two families or four families. As a matter of fact, we are 17 families when you really look at it,” Bänziger says.