The managing director of CMB took an enthusiastic look back at his 33-year career in finance, for Monaco Tribune.
Francesco Grosoli, Managing Director of CMB Monaco, welcomed us to his elegant office, a stone’s throw from the Monte-Carlo Casino, to talk about his long career in finance. He discovered a taste for it at a young age, during a summer internship to be precise. “An internship that lasted for 33 long years,” he says with amusement. A real success story would then unfold for the young man who arrived in the Principality at the age of eight.
After attending school in Monaco, Francesco Grosoli moved to Nice to study economics, and landed his first job in 1989. “I started working for BSI, a Swiss bank that had a small entity in the Principality,” he recalls. “In 1997, I was recruited by Republic National Bank of New York, which was the top bank in Monaco at the time. I grew professionally, until I became business director. In 2007 I joined the Barclays Group, which wanted to boost its private banking business by creating a new brand called Barclays Wealth. I was CEO and responsible for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) sector. I finally left Barclays in 2019 to join CMB as Managing Director.”
Adapting to a new world
In Monaco and an increasingly fast-paced world, Francesco Grosoli is also facing a range of uncertainties. “We have had 10 or even 12 years of a negative or zero interest rate environment, with extremely low inflation. The current change of course is somewhat unsettling for everyone.” Having surpassed the record rates of the 1980s, is this level of inflation sustainable? “The US inflation figures have appear to have been easing over the past few days, which means that we should be back to a manageable environment before long,” anticipates the CMB Managing Director.
It should be noted, however, that Monaco is a special case, “a very high-level microcosm” where residents and clients often have considerable purchasing power. “There has never been so much spending in the luxury and hotel sectors, for example. This is quite surprising.” The Monegasque also acknowledges “the sophistication of the Ultra High Net Worth clientele”. A clientele that is supported by highly qualified managers and expects a certain level of responsiveness from the banks.
The US inflation figures appear to have been easing over the past few days, which means that we should be back to a manageable environment before long
The health crisis has also brought remote working to the fore. As a result, many entrepreneurs are settling in the Principality with their families. “They manage their business from here, whereas up until a few years ago, our clients came to Monaco at the end of their careers. Monaco is an attractive location thanks to its stable banking and financial system and its outstanding quality of life. I am thinking in particular about safety, education and health.”
As customers are younger, they are also more sensitive to environmental issues and “sustainable finance”. According to Francesco Grosoli, this means “investing while making tomorrow’s world a better place”. Financing alternative energies rather than fossil fuels, for example. “Banks have a role to play, as they are the bridge between investors and the real economy.”
Monaco, the melting-pot
After more than 30 years of service to the country in the banking and financial sector, Francesco Grosoli readily admits that he is “still learning every day”. And even though he blew out 56 candles this year, he will not be ending his career anytime soon. Because he is passionate about his work. “Banking is about capital and technology, but also and above all about people.” Francesco Grosoli is in charge of 250 employees at the bank. In addition, he supervises the day-to-day activity of CMB’s 3,000 customer relationships.
“I organise a breakfast meeting every week to swap ideas with the CMB Monaco employees. I also spend a lot of time in touch with clients,” says Francesco Grosoli, adding: “In Monaco, I have had the opportunity of meeting some absolutely extraordinary people. We often talk about the richness of the Principality’s heritage, but too little about its intellectual wealth. Monaco is a two-square-kilometre sized melting pot, which affords proximity that does not exist elsewhere.”
Despite his busy schedule, Francesco Grosoli makes a point of spending time with his loved ones. “Even though my wife is more often with our two boys, I always try to find time for my family. I am not a golfer, but I do enjoy travelling, gastronomy and fine wines… I am an epicurean at heart”, he says with a smile. Hardly surprising for someone of Italian origin, perhaps? “I have been here for so long, I would say that I sense my Italian ancestry, but my heart is at home in Monaco,” replied the industry captain, who was naturalised as a Monegasque this year by the Sovereign Prince.