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Woman gains coveted bank role

Lombard Odier's Anne-Marie de Weck is the first managing partner at a Swiss private bank. Lombard Odier

A woman has finally risen to the highest echelons in the male-dominated world of Swiss private banking with the appointment of a new managing partner by Lombard Odier.

Anne Marie de Weck, who has been in charge of private clients at Geneva’s second biggest private bank since January 1999, will become Lombard Odier’s eighth managing partner when she takes up her post on January 1, 2002.

Managing partners at Swiss private banks are liable for the bank’s assets.

Other private banks have female partners, but they have no management role and no responsibility other than to represent the names of the banks.

At Lombard Odier, the last female partner was Patrick Odier’s grandmother, who was on the board from 1937 to 1947. Benedict Hentsch, who quit private bank Darier Hentsch in October because he was also vice-chairman of the crippled Swissair Group, was replaced by his mother.

The conservative and masculine world of private banking is at least a decade behind its corporate counterparts in hiring women at the top level, but Lombard Odier was keen to stress that it was not out to score a private banking “first”.

“The fact that she is a woman was not a basis for the decision,” said Lombard Odier spokeswoman, Frederique Walthert.

“It was down to her personality, skills, competence and expertise in private banking and legal and tax issues.”

De Weck is a lawyer by trade and was a partner at KMPG-Fides in Switzerland prior to joining Lombard Odier in May 1997.

Lombard Odier manages more than SFr100 million ($61 billion) for wealthy individuals and institutional clients.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR