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The Pictet headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Pictet headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Photographer: Valentin Flauraud
The Big Take

Inside Pictet, the Secretive Swiss Bank for the World’s Richest People

A 215-year-old firm rooted firmly in the past finds tension adapting to the modern world. 

In the mythology of private banking, Banque Pictet & Cie SA stands apart. Over the course of more than two centuries, the Swiss institution has discreetly tended to the assets of the very rich, led by a small crop of partners who form the most exclusive men-only club anywhere outside the Vatican.

In its entire history, only 43 individuals — all men, all white — have risen to the rank of Pictet managing partner, creating a bond more enduring than your typical marriage. From their Geneva perch, they oversee more than 600 billion francs ($662 billion) in assets under management and a level of profitability far beyond larger, publicly-listed peers, often rewarding each of them with more than 20 million francs a year.