The Answers With… Evrard Bordier, managing partner and CEO of Bordier & Cie (Singapore)

Evrard Bordier

The Answers With… Evrard Bordier, CEO of Bordier & Cie (Singapore), a Swiss private bank dedicated to serving notable families across generations and continents for over 178 years

A family’s wealth typically lasts two or three generations. A family business? That’s hard to say, no matter how successful the founder was. Making one’s wealth and legacy future-proof takes plenty of smarts and a well-developed plan—something Evrard Bordier’s familiar with. The managing partner and CEO is part of the fifth-generation-run Bordier & Cie, one of the world’s largest multi-family offices dedicated to private banking and bespoke financial services. We talk shop with him to find out more about effective succession, visionary leadership and everything else under the sun.

What is it like to be you?

I think it’s awesome to be me. I have three beautiful children and an extraordinary wife, and I am blessed with good health and a brain. I don’t think I can ask for more. Also, being the CEO of an international bank is a journey of real continuous growth and also, personal evolution.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I begin the day with a moment of gratitude for the beautiful life that I have. I will have a glass of lemon water and celery juice to set me up for the day, and I will work out; it allows me to have a clear head and be full of energy.

What apps do you use the most?

The usual banking and financial apps, such as Bloomberg, which I love a lot. I CoinGecko to keep track of cryptocurrency, and I’m also a frequent user of mindfulness and personal development apps. My favourites include Waking Up by Sam Harris for meditation and Oura Ring for sleep tracking.

What is something you have recently done for the first time?

I recently decided to learn to fly a helicopter and to become a helicopter pilot. Because I couldn’t fly out of Singapore due to all the restricted zones for the army, I flew with my wife in the UK. It’s a new adventure and it’s all about acquiring new skills. It’s also about breaking boundaries and leaning towards the uncomfortable, experiencing the world with a different perspective.

As CEO of Bordier & Cie (Singapore), tell us what an effective succession strategy entails in the realm of family businesses.

Effective succession entails two things. The first thing is a very well planned set of heirs and a reasonably well-thought transfer. Educating your heirs is a lot more complicated than building the office as you’re dealing with individuals. You’re dealing with values, world perspectives, personalities, personal traumas and individual goals. The idea, ultimately, is to have the next generation have this drive that pushes them to want more or to continue the legacy.

Every business faces its fair share of crises, so how do you manage uncertainty?

I think we should all agree that change is the only uncertainty we have. Change is the only constant, so you shouldn’t fight change. Think of it as a challenge to look forward to instead of something to be feared. I will always remember this old quote, “this too shall pass.” When faced with uncertainty, we know that we have to adapt because it won’t be forever. It will pass.

evrard bordier
Evrard Bordier has been CEO of Bordier & Cie (Singapore) since 2011. Photo by Bordier & Cie

What is your tool for adapting to various scenarios and being vital for long-term success?

What you focus on will basically define your life. If you’re suddenly interested in a Ferrari, you’re going to see them everywhere. Focus is fundamental and so is the meaning that you give it to. You can give a positive meaning to anything, no matter how bad it may be.

What makes visionary leadership visionary?

Steve Jobs used to say this thing about ice harvesters: “Think of ice harvesters, ice factories, and refrigerator companies. Ice 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. Are you still harvesting ice during the winter from a frozen pond?” During every business curve, over 90 per cent of the business would miss that curve and die. So it is very important to try to find the next curve and never be caught unaware, like the Nokias and Kodaks of the world.

Once you have seen everything that’s happening, take a position and vision, and have as many people as you can follow that vision. If you can convince people to do so, then you have become a great leader surrounded by great people, too.

How do you make sure everything runs smoothly at work and in life?

We may think we are the best people in the world, but we are not. We need to learn to leverage. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and delegate the work, so you can focus on bigger things. We all want to do everything, but empowering trusted individuals to do the work will help you to run things smoothly.

How do you navigate hurdles and opportunities without losing sight of the company’s core objectives?

I use a lot of time management systems; Tony Robbins has one that is quite good and efficient. I block time to manage myself so I don’t get lost in too many details. It’s about being open to opportunities, seeing them and grabbing them. If I asked you to tell me the number of red cars you saw today, you wouldn’t know. Not unless I told you I’d give you S$100 for every red car you see.

How much do you trust your gut instinct?

I trust my gut a lot more than my brain. Obviously the T’s have to be crossed and the work has to be done, but it is down to how you feel about the whole thing. There is an internal compass deep inside. Every time I don’t follow it and do things just for the business or revenue, it ends up a terrible story with legal problems.

How do you find calm?

Besides meditating, I enjoy quality time with my wife, my best friend. She’s my favourite person in the world. I’ll also try to spend time with my brothers and children. The quality of our intimate relationships defines the quality of our lives, and that’s what I try to do.

What do you crave most at the end of the day?

I love sweets, so a sweet treat is always nice, like ice cream and chocolate. I come from Switzerland, so chocolate is obviously in my DNA.

What do you do for fun?

I love to just kick back and read. I also play a lot of online games with my children. It’s a great way to bond with them and we have good laughs. I am clearly the worst gamer when I compare myself to them, but that’s what makes it more fun.

Do you have a collection that you are proud of?

At this stage in my life, I appreciate experiences more than anything else. It’s about the idea of fostering adventure and wonder. Unlike physical stuff, memories like that will stay with you forever.

What items are you most attached to?

Besides the obvious items that remind me of my parents, I don’t have anything else that I am specifically attached to. It’s more about the journey of getting something than acquiring the thing, because once you have it, it’s not as fulfilling.

If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?

I try to make myself learn one new skill every year. I’m currently learning to be a helicopter pilot, which will take a couple of years because it’s pretty, pretty, pretty darn hard. There are nine theoretical exams and a few practicals, so I’m not there yet. I would also like to learn a language or master the use of generative AI.

How much do you care for watches and cars?

I love and appreciate craftsmanship and the fact that people spend so much time and effort to deliver such art. They really are artists. I’ve been lucky to be able to acquire a few exceptional pieces, such as MB&F and Patek. As for cars, I love Porsche, because to me, it is beyond anything else. The quality of their cars is just unheard of.

What is one thing worth paying dearly for?

Your home. It’s where you spend most of your life in.

What is your definition of true happiness?

It’s all about expectations. If you are happy to just wake up alive, I can guarantee that you will be happy for the rest of your life. So reduce your expectations and maybe trade them for appreciation. Live fully and be unapologetically yourself.

Border & Cie