"1 Woman, 1 Passion" podcasts - Episode #7: Anne-Laure Kiechel, Founder of Global Sovereign Advisory
Valérie Bokobza: Hello everyone. I am Valérie Bokobza, Head of Development Private Banking, and I am delighted to present a new episode of "1 woman, 1 passion". Our objective is to share the journeys of inspiring women, who move the lines. Today I am hosting Anne-Laure Kiechel. Hello, Anne-Laure.
Anne-Laure Kiechel: Hello Valérie!
Valerie Bokobza: You are the founder of Global Sovereign Advisory(1), the mission of which is to provide international expertise on sovereign debt(2) to some 20 countries around the world. After an impressive career within the major international investment banks, in 2019, you decide to create your advisory structure. You become the point of reference for the most important heads of state, such as Alexis Tsipras(3), whom you accompanied during the Greek financial crisis in 2008. Passionate about music from a young age, you are also ranked 19th in the ranking of the most influential French people in the world. Your guiding thread: combining excellence and freedom. How do we go from the management of a merchant bank to entrepreneurship and the role of true reference on sovereign debt?
Anne-Laure Kiechel: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my experience - and a woman’s experience - and congratulations on your initiative [the "1 woman, 1 passion" podcast]. I think the important thing for me is to be able to combine independence and freedom. Independence because, as an advisory structure, it is still the cardinal value, to be able to give the good advice, not to be held by any interest, and therefore, somewhere, to have a clear head and free hands to act and to give the best advice. And a form of freedom, also, in the freedom to think, meaning, in the freedom to understand problems. We are too often guided by unique ways of thinking or by ways of reasoning, which, somewhere, can make us make fundamental mistakes. The history of the sovereign debt, moreover, is filled with it. For example, when you think that 90% of debt on GDP(4) has been set up as a dogma, with the threat that if we did not respect that, there disasters were to come… and obviously we happily passed that bar without a catastrophe… So, it is the freedom to be able to get out of certain dogmas, if necessary, and to try to resonate independently. I think that is what explains the change [of area I did. My Departure] from something more perhaps conventional, and quite obviously eminently respectable, a merchant bank, to something where there is more freedom of action and freedom of thought.
Valérie Bokobza: Concretely, with Global Sovereign Advisory, how do you support States with a holistic approach?
Anne-Laure Kiechel: What we tried to develop was to say that, if we advise a State on just tax matters or just economic or just debt matters, in fact, we only see one part of the problem. And we often think that when we make mistakes or when we have approaches that are not necessarily right, it is because we do not consider the problematic totality of a State: citizens' expectations are not taken into account, macroeconomic balances are not taken into account, the micro-economic reality of a country is not taken into account(5)… And so, what we are trying to do, is to understand as much as we can about these problems, in such a way that if we act on a particular thing, an area, we try to understand what the problems may be on other aspects of the country. So this is a somewhat different approach, perhaps more global, which goes in the opposite direction to certain segmentations and hyper-specializations that we have seen over the past few years, but which seems to me to be eminently necessary to fit in the long-term, and therefore, in a reasoning that is consistent with a State.
Valérie Bokobza: Basically, what is really driving you today? Protecting the weakest, or giving the keys to younger generations?
Anne-Laure Kiechel: Maybe a bit of both, that is, clearly, giving everyone keys to try to understand the impact of public policy seems to be eminently important, to me; obviously as a citizen, but also in relation to the States and the people we advise, because we have to understand the consequences of the actions we take. Of course, faced with the massive rise of inequalities, whatever they may be, whether they be economic, whether they be climatic… Again, we can’t really sit back and say, “All right, let’s keep it that way.” So it’s also trying to say, "What are we doing? Why are there certain forms of inequality?", trying to formulate these inequalities, which have not always been formulated in this way, and say, "Do we want to correct them?" and “How can they be corrected?”
Valérie Bokobza: In fact, you created a chair at Sciences Po, I believe—
Anne-Laure Kiechel: Absolutely, a chair on the sovereign debt at Sciences Po, which is the only European initiative of its kind, by the way... also a bit global, so that’s why we are particularly proud of it!
Valérie Bokobza: What advice would you have liked to receive earlier in your career?
Anne-Laure Kiechel: Clearly, to dare, without asking myself too many questions. I remember, when I created Global Sovereign Advisory, I actually started in an office, in coworking, alone; then, quickly accompanied, but still alone. There is a great deal of anxiety, still, about the blank page and about whether, in the end, we are able to do something or not… But what if we say “Let’s do it, and we’ll see”? I think that’s an important thing. It was passed on to me, but not passed on to me with as much.... I would say, let’s dare! I think, too often, there are brakes, and maybe too often women put some brakes on themselves— And finally, if we fail on something, is it as bad as that? I don’t think so. That’s really it: to dare to express oneself, not necessarily to worry about others. Because of course we can be criticized… But it doesn’t matter! If you feel that you are doing something that is fulfilling, that makes sense, you have to go your way freely.
Valérie Bokobza: Many thanks, Anne-Laure, for these exchanges and see you soon for the listeners, for future episodes on Société Générale Private Banking. Thank you, good-bye!
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(1) Independent consultancy to States and public entities founded in 2019; www.globalsov.com
(2) Sovereign debt refers to the totality of debt realized by a State.
(3) Alexis Tsipras is a Greek politician, leader of Syriza, Coalition of the Radical Left. He was Prime Minister of Greece from January to August 2015 and from September 2015 to July 2019. Alexis Tsipras is at the origin of the referendum on the Greek public debt in July 2015, which invited the Greeks to vote on the aid plan proposed by its international creditors (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund). The "no" won. An agreement was finally reached after negotiations in Brussels on 12 and 13 July.
(4) GDP = Gross Domestic Product
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