Sarah Khabirpour (on right) joins the board of directors of Mirabaud & Cie (Europe), the Swiss banking group’s subsidiary in Luxembourg. She joins Jeff Mouton, who was appointed CEO in June 2021. Photo credit: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne

Sarah Khabirpour (on right) joins the board of directors of Mirabaud & Cie (Europe), the Swiss banking group’s subsidiary in Luxembourg. She joins Jeff Mouton, who was appointed CEO in June 2021. Photo credit: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne

In their respective positions, they will be responsible for making the bank more visible in the Luxembourg financial market, developing its governance and reorganising the group's European activities.

Banque Mirabaud, which proudly boasts a 200-year history, is a Swiss group based in Geneva, owned and managed by four managing partners--essentially the Mirabaud family. Specialising in wealth management, asset management and corporate finance, it employs 700 people and is present in 10 countries. Mirabaud & Cie (Europe) was created in 2014 as the group's European platform and is the parent company of the three European branches in France, Spain and the UK. This unit employs around 100 people, of which around 40 are based in the grand duchy.

These three branches are now standalone banks, explains Jeff Mouton, who was appointed CEO of Mirabaud & Cie (Europe) in June 2021. "We are currently working on a reorganisation project at the end of which these branches will cease to be booking centres, and will devote themselves to local activity, management and advice to clients. The current account management activity will be centralised in Luxembourg," Mouton says. "We want to simplify our structure and concentrate in order to grow better”. 

2022 year of reorganisation

This reorganisation has just begun and should be completed in early 2023. It will be accompanied by the replacement of the group's current European banking platform, a venerable AS-400, with a new ecosystem of digital banking solutions, enabling customers to be served by the best tools.

"We don't just want to be the group's European legal platform, but truly create a platform that can serve all its entities in Europe and also in North America, Switzerland and Asia."

Evolution is also on the agenda when it comes to products. And more particularly in private equity and real estate funds, where the idea is to "replicate in our products what is in our DNA: the entrepreneurial approach. We co-invest with our clients, often family groups."

There is a youthful air about this programme... "Out of four partners, two are in their early forties. With this new generation, it is normal for the group to evolve", Mouton continues. "The group is repositioning itself, reviewing its private banking offering and wants to give a clearer image of it."

The bank's advantage, its differentiating element, according to Mouton, is its size, which allows for rapid and stable decision-making over time, and its family business philosophy. "For the partners, the main objective is not immediate profitability, but sustainable development so that the bank can be handed over to the next generation of partners in better shape than it is today. Decisions are made with long-term objectives in mind."

Visibility and governance

In addition to steering the reorganisation, Nicolas Mirabaud, managing partner of the group and chairman of the board of directors of Mirabaud & Cie (Europe), has entrusted Mouton with two other strategic missions: firstly, to be the group's spokesperson in the marketplace, to be more visible, to be better integrated into the community and to develop an external communications policy.

Until now, Mirabaud has remained under the radar and has not participated in banking associations. "We will never be a major bank in the financial centre and that is not our goal. But in the niche we want to occupy, we have to make it known who we are. To attract new customers, you need to attract good bankers. To attract these bankers, we need to create the right brand awareness. We have to generate curiosity and interest. In Geneva, Mirabeau has a clear positioning: based on the family's entrepreneurial spirit, a tailor-made, high-quality service, strong expertise, a culture and values that combine tradition and modernity. This is what we want to work on in Luxembourg."

The second mission concerns governance, which Nicolas Mirabaud wants to make more modern and more productive.

And this is where comes in. Beyond the technical knowledge, particularly in compliance, that she brings to the table, "we wanted to have an independent director who is a specialist in the field and who at the same time helps us to have more visibility in Luxembourg."

The advantage of independent directors

Khabirpour has been at work since October and says she is highly motivated by the challenge. "The size of the group, in a regulatory context where costs are extremely high, is in itself a challenge. Where is the threshold to be a group with a sustainable business plan? The business challenge is exciting. It was interesting for me to understand, with the background I have, how a bank of this size positions itself in the current situation," she explains. "And then obviously, today, everything regulatory is ‘top of the agenda’ at all banks. I think I can try to contribute something in this area."

The board of directors of Mirabaud & Cie (Europe) has a new dynamic. "Until now, the board has consisted of three representatives of the group and has functioned in the same way as in many organisations where there are only in-house representatives: a slightly more formal, theoretical and less practically oriented role than is now the case by opening up to external expertise. I think there will now be a very strong involvement in our work in relation to regulatory governance," says Mouton.

"I think in general, governance is a topic at all banks. There is, I think, an awareness in banks that governance and also the role of the board of directors needs to be strengthened. This is not necessarily new, but it is leaving the theoretical sphere to become a ‘market practice’ to bring in external expertise and enrich the quality of governance. The addition of independent directors, even if it is not mandatory for all banks--and it is not for Mirabaud--is a strong sign," states Khabirpour.

Khabirpour says: "the profitability of a bank is also an almost regulatory concern". In her role, she wants to be creative. She aims to find “creativity that combines regulatory compliance and healthy profitability."

Originally published in French by and translated for Delano