Agnés Falco may have a career in banking and finance spanning 20 years but for this CEO at UBS Monaco, the bottom line comes down to quality of life, for her team and her clients. “When people come to the office every morning, I want them to be happy. Work is important but there has to be a balance,” Falco asserts.
Agnes Falco is the first woman, and the youngest person, to be named CEO in Monaco. Credit Suisse appointed the mother of two in 2015, the same year it dropped a restructuring bombshell that included the acquisition of Credit Suisse Monaco by the J. Safra Sarasin Group. “I will never forget the shock from learning the news on TV. I had to reinvent my future,” recalls Falco.
The following year, the graduate of Sciences Po in Paris with a Masters in Economy and a Masters in Law took over as CEO at UBS Monaco. Meeting oneon- one with each of the 317 employees to get to know them, she quickly established a human-centric workplace culture.
Falco considers her UBS team like her second family, and understands the stress that comes from working in risk management. “I want to ensure this pressure comes with a reward—health matters.”
It’s not uncommon for an employee at UBS Monaco to receive a text from the CEO asking about a sick child, or to have a paid checkup at the Princess Grace Check-Up Unit, with which UBS Monaco has an agreement.
“You can’t work 18 hours a day from 25 to 45, you lose important years of your life that belong to you and your family.”Falco credits her Anglo-Saxon work culture to her time as principal director from 2010-2011 at Lloyds Bank Monaco, a stark contrast to the aggressive environments of her earlier years at Arthur Andersen and HSBC. (In 2014, Union Bancaire Privée purchased Lloyds Banking Group’s non-UK private banking businesses in Monaco and Gibraltar.)
The Billingual Boss does not hide her gratitude to Monaco, a country that provides an exceptional opportunity for a woman to hold down a flourishing career and spend time with the family.
“Monaco is a game changer in terms of quality of life. I can have breakfast with my children before heading to the office—this wouldn’t happen in London, New York or Paris. Kids are safe here and as the schools are within walking distance, they become independent.”
With one police officer per 70 people, security, not taxes, is what cements Monaco’s attractiveness for businesses and family offices. “Billionaires don’t want bodyguards around all the time and Monaco offers the freedom of a normal life where the safety is free.
“In return, we believe those families give back to the Principality by working with local businesses that pay Value Added Tax, which makes up 50% of the government’s budget.”
According to Falco, the Principality attracts 90 UHNWIs every year and counts 200 billionaires as residents, a figure she sees doubling in the near future. (Over half the world’s billionaires are clients of UBS.)
UBS reflects Agnes Falco’s concern for quality of life. It was one of the first banks to create dedicated products in sustainability and meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; in 2015, the UBS Optimus Foundation launched the first Development Impact Bond in education.
“You can make an impact on the environment and get the same monetary return in your portfolio. Clients are proud of this.”
Additionally, with one of the world’s top corporate art collections, owning some 37,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art that they rotate amongst their offices and lend to museums, UBS has a team of 75 dedicated to art for clients interested in creating diversification through asset class. Specifically in Monaco, over the past four years, UBS has provided funds to the national museum to create a long-term collection.
As well, UBS Monaco supports the community through events like the Monaco Red Cross Ball and the Rose Ball.
“It’s the duty of everyone living in Monaco, not just the billionaires, to give back through charity,” emphasizes Falco, who for six years was Secretary General of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, which has helped 500,000 children in 33 countries to learn essential water safety skills.
By the time Falco reached her current UBS office at Quai Antoine 1er she had worn many hats, from CFO to strategy executor partner, and from risk review to recruiting. She is an advocate of employee empowerment and, last year, she challenged a dozen millennials in various departments at UBS Monaco with the task of defining the bank of the future—what UBS was doing right and wrong—and presenting the report to the Executive Management Committee in Monaco.
“I need to get them ready to replace me one day and they need to have the space to grow,” she insists. 37% of UBS Monaco’s team is female (and the average employee age is 41). Falco believes women feel more and more encouraged to enter the financial sector but admits,“We are not there yet. It’s a tough male-dominated environment with a lot of pressure. But you’ll find your way if this is really what you want.
“In the early days at HSBC, sitting across from my CEO there was such a gap between us, I never thought I’d be in that position. Now, here I am. The responsibility, and the health and happiness of my team, is all in my hands. Happy team, happy clients.”