Marc Fassone: Do you have a motto about money?
Jean-Pierre Schmit: Money is not an end in itself. The goal is to earn it through your own efforts to spend it on meaningful things. So the idea is not to accumulate.
Do you remember the amount of your first salary?
In 2003, I got 3,000 Swiss francs--just under €2,800--as an intern at a Swiss banking IT company, as part of my studies. It was a significant salary.
Do you have expensive passions?
I like to be generous and help family, friends, the people who work with me and the people who really need it! I try not to be stingy in terms of salaries, so that those who work with me also get their fair share if the business is going well. I consider it a passion. I don’t play polo, don’t own a boat and I’m not an art collector. I’m quite a down to earth person. Music is also my passion, but my saxophone is almost the same age as me.
What was your last moment of madness?
These are more business-related madnesses. The last was to hire 15 people in the midst of a health crisis. Even though the world was at a standstill, I felt this was the right thing to do to experience real growth in the business. We will see this year or in 2022 if it was madness...
Do you still have an impossible dream, for lack of means?
If I really had unlimited means, I would try to give the opportunity to all the children of the Earth to be educated. Education is the basis of everything. We transform a generation, we establish justice and we bring wealth into the world.
What object would you never part with?
I appreciate beautiful objects with attached emotions. It can be a lot of things: a child’s drawing, a wedding ring... But rather what I will never part with are memories, values or people.
The worst purchase you've ever made?
I’m thinking mostly of investments in projects that weren’t going to be successful. I learned a lot, but I could have spent less on these lessons. I could have known in advance or detected earlier that this was not going to be okay.
To get rich, you have to…?
Work diligently and honestly, and share the fruits of your labour with everyone around you. Earning money combined with generosity will create a virtuous circle. You don’t have to take everything for yourself.
Are you bothered by the price of certain things?
It bothers me that some useful and necessary things are not available to everyone at an affordable price. In addition, I am surprised by certain consumption habits or wishes. I am not condemning anyone, but I am amazed at how much money can be spent on acquiring symbols of apparent social status.
What luxury do you splurge on?
When on vacation or travelling, I book rooms that may be slightly more comfortable than strictly necessary, in order to be able to rest better.
How much cash do you have on average with you?
I still have €80 and 70 Swiss francs in my wallet. But I realised that since the onset of the health crisis, I haven’t touched that cash. I pay everything by card.