I was never destined to be a financier. As a child, my family often struggled with money and I spent much of my youth living precariously (financially). Perhaps, after considering many other options (academia, judiciary, psychology, monachism and priesthood), this was my reason for pursuing a financial career. Not only did it appear to be a field that was defining the world in which we lived, but it operated at a level of complexity and opacity that made it fascinating, alluring and rewarding.
A passion to understand
A powerful career drive was fueled by a constant appetite to understand the world of finance beyond the conventional wisdom and to be part of this powerful and mesmerizing profession. After the financial crisis, what had become a vocation did also become a mission. A dark side of finance had emerged — one more corrupt, self-centered and cynical than I ever could have anticipated.
I selected the word financier because my experience in the “jungle” was in more than just banking. I also worked and functioned as an asset manager, a finance director, a European institution manager, an adviser, an exchange executive, an insurance director and a professor of finance.
Finance is essential and at the crossroads of all economic realities
Its valued added is not restricted to itself as an industry or a sector. Finance is at the service of the economy while simultaneously allowing for populations and economies to operate. I am passionate about the world of finance and am grateful to call myself a financier. I am far from sharing the values of part of the financial world as it is now, but the industry is redefining itself and will eventually serve an even more significant added value.
A true financier needs to be passionate about its clients
Without that passion, he or she will miss what makes this profession exceptional and challenging. The best moments of my banking careers were those meetings with clients when, together and in confidence, we were trying to find a solution to a complex problem. It could be the emphyteotic structure of the University in Louvain la Neuve, how to make the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority accept non-bearer bonds, the need to create governance rules around the board table, the mortgage of a family, a new structure to help Mexico to finance itself or creating income when central banks deprive investors of their legitimate returns. This is where my passion for finance lies: in the value it adds to governments, non-for profit organizations, corporations and individuals.