Last year, Barclays celebrates its 100th anniversary. Dynamism and adaptability seem to define one of Monaco's oldest financial institutions. Today's update with Gerald Mathieu, CEO of Barclays Monaco and Head of Private Banking Europe and Middle East at Barclays.
You recently held the Barclays Private Bank Market Outlook Event in Monaco, what were the main takeaways and how are your team feeling about the year ahead?
We did, it was a great event and it is a pleasure to be able to host in-person events again.
These are challenging times but while growth forecasts remain constrained, activity has been more resilient than expected in recent months. Household output has been cushioned by excess savings and robust labour markets. Consumer, corporate and financial balance sheets still look healthy while the service sector has been recovering as the bounce back from the pandemic continues. China’s decision to abandon its zero-COVID strategy late last year should also boost domestic activity and improve global supply chains.
The trajectory of inflation will be a big driver of sentiment, activity and policy this year. The good news is we believe that the peak in global price pressures is now behind us, with inflation expected to continue to moderate over the coming months. However, it is still early days, with global inflation levels far above targets, and so we will have to wait and see how that plays out.
Last year, Barclays celebrated 100 years in Monaco. In what sense is this banking institution very modern?
We had fantastic celebrations last year to mark Barclays being in Monaco for 100 years. But we are, in reality, 100 years young! Throughout the last 100 years, we have continually adapted as the needs of our clients have changed and as technologies have advanced. Yet, Barclays Private Bank remains a ‘people business’ at heart, where our colleagues continue to play a fundamental role in the success of our business by putting clients at the centre of everything we do. The essence of our purpose and our ambition to go above and beyond our clients’ expectations remains our number one priority.
Today, banks need to able to provide clients with bespoke solutions wherever and whenever they need it. Banking and investing are more complex than ever, and clients want access to the full capabilities of Barclays no matter where they are in the world at a certain point in time. Private banks all over the world will need to continue to invest significantly into those digital capabilities and this is exactly what we are doing at Barclays.
This year Barclays is again the sponsor of Monaco Ocean Week. Are you seeing a rise in demand for sustainable investing from your clients?
Absolutely, this is our third year as proud supporters of Monaco Ocean Week, as part of our partnership with the Prince Albert II Foundation and we’re looking forward to participating and welcoming clients to some unique experiences next month.
Our clients are sharing how they are already seeing the physical impacts of climate change on land and in our oceans. But due to the strong and visible leadership of HSH Prince Albert II and his Foundation, the discussion of these issues and willingness to act is part of the fabric of the community here in Monaco. In fact, the Principality has several favourable factors, like its stability, which encourages investors to look out at the world with a sense of responsibility to make it a better place. Historically this has been through philanthropy and more now though sustainable investing as the range of investment products has broadened.
It's also great to see the work the Government is doing in this space. Led by our Minister of Finance and the Economy, Mr Jean Castellini, there’s a whole focus on the environment and sustainable economy, with him recently noting that the banking and finance industry in Monaco has been a pioneer in the field of sustainable investing.
From the pandemic onwards, we’ve received more questions from clients looking to leverage our global network for insights and tailored opportunities that have both potential for financial returns and positive impact. Increasingly clients don’t want solely to invest for the future, they want to invest to influence it.