Mr. Jean-François Willems, “Monaco is a Financial Centre where it will always be worth investing”

2015-06 interview-willems

Banque Havilland, historically based in Luxemburg, is a solid private bank which offers its customers security and reliability in the structuring and management of their wealth. It opened a branch in Monaco in 2012. Meet the CEO, Jean-François Willems.

Can you explain your choice of location to us? Which key elements motivated your decision?

First of all, it is important to mention that we were delighted to set up in Monaco in 2012. With its international outlook and broad local customer base, and as part of our strategy to develop an international private banking group for wealthy individuals, Monaco was the perfect place for us to develop our business and move it forward.

Were you surprised by the customers you met there? What is their typical profile? Is it more cosmopolitan than elsewhere?

We opened Banque Havilland in Monaco as it matched our strategy to perfection: to create a private bank targeting wealthy international customers with complex investments and asset structuring needs, seeking discretion and exceptional services. And that is precisely what we found in Monaco. We have welcomed geographically diversified customers from high-potential markets such as Latin America and Russia, as well as many local customers.  

Mr. David Rowland, your Honorary Chairman, says your bank is managed conservatively. What does that mean?

For Mr. Rowland it was very important to create a bank where customers could be sure their wealth would be safe, as he personally was extremely concerned about the global financial crisis. That gave him the conviction that such a bank was really necessary – a bank managed conservatively, which guarantees its customers’ wealth and gives them a stable structure for their wealth mananagement. Consequently, from the beginning we focused on implementing essential elements for business and establishing a bank that he or his family would want as a partner.

You emphasise your being an independant bank, can you clarify that?

Being privately owned and thus being independant, we could offer our customers a bank able to adapt to their needs and give them a highly responsive service. We can progress in our environment without being limited by the cumbersome infrastructure which  marks some of the largest banking groups internationally.

We strongly believe that the family value is a key differntiating factor for our bank, also consistent with the concept of independance. Family experience, our values and expertise are at the heart of everything the bank does. We can offer other wealthy families quality service as we have a similar environment and similar concerns. Moreover, the fact that we are a family bank imparts a sense of longevity, trust and stability: the need for that is felt in the banking sector today.

Finally, having been in the Monaco Financial Centre for almost three years now, what do you think of its evolution? And how do you see its future?

When we decided to open a branch in Monaco, our prime goal was to develop a private banking group for wealthy individuals and their families. Keeping that in mind, Monaco will always be a place where it is worth investng – indeed, from the current viewpoint we could not have made a better decision. Monaco is expanding constantly and always attracts wealthy individuals and their families, which particularly helped us to establish our bank there. Since we opened our Monaco branch in 2012, we have bought another bank’s private customers in order to strengthen our position in this key market. With six banks worldwide today, Monaco was a crucial step towards achieving our status of private international banking group.