Describe the entrepreneurs of Marseille
Florence Gastaldi: Marseille and its surrounding region is a hive of businesses, many of which are family firms managed with great talent. What has struck me most over the years is the incredible energy of these entrepreneurs who are extremely attached to our region yet in some cases have a very international focus when it comes to selling their products and services.
We work with many heads of textile companies, a business that demands constant reinvention. Here in Marseille we see new brands being created all the time, and even the longest established companies are extremely good at adapting to new trends. This is a region with a deep-rooted textile culture and entrepreneurs who know each other well, two factors that create a fertile ground for the sector.
We've also seen the development of a lot of agro-food businesses over the last few years, bringing with them many innovations and the ability to respond to consumers' new demands for healthier products that are faster to prepare or that can be eaten out of home.
And then there are the healthcare and senior care services, especially retirement homes, which play a big part in the local economy. This is a strictly regulated sector that has been consolidating for years and keeps directors on their toes.
I have to say that witnessing all this and being able to add our own contribution is very exciting.
Picture of the Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée
What is the Bank's role in family businesses?
FG: We often help entrepreneurs transform their business assets into private assets. This is a vital task, yet the head of a company has little time to spend on it because he or she is busy dealing with the day-to-day running of the firm or doing a hundred different things a day.
That's where we come in - we make sure that the assets created by business success are enhanced and protected, we prepare the way for retirement and for looking after the generations to come. All this has to be done in advance and carefully over the years.
We provide tax, management and consultancy expertise for transactions (e.g. sale of a company business or an LBO). The key is to really understand what the client needs and where he or she wants to go so that we can help them ask the right questions at the right moment. And that takes time.
Many of these entrepreneurs are young (another peculiarity of this region), which means that when they sell their company they launch right into another project. Many of them go into the property market, which is enjoying robust health all along the coast. We help them to manage what comes afterwards, to prepare for that afterwards and to ask themselves all the key questions.
Essentially, we're a private bank for entrepreneurs.
10 years after you opened in Marseille, how is Edmond de Rothschild Private Banking doing now?
FG: We now support over 260 family-based groups, 80% of which are entrepreneurs. Our 10 staff members have been in the region for a long time and cover the entire Mediterranean coast from Nice to Montpellier.
They use the full range of skills offered by our Group (management, tax, consultancy, life insurance, philanthropy etc.) to give each client the solution that is right for him or her. It's by making sure that year after year we continue to deliver a personal, professional, results-focused service that we gain their confidence.
Most of our new clients come to us on the recommendation of the entrepreneurs we've been supporting for years. For me, that's the best proof there is of their confidence in us - and it gives me enormous professional satisfaction.