Lombard Odier & Cie

What a frustrating experience dealing with Lombard Odier & Cie. With $73 billion in assets under management, Lombard Odier ranks as Switzerland's fourth largest private bank.

The five-story head office near the theatre district of Geneva is an impressive edifice with its black and gold trim wrought iron bars decorating the exterior. You do however have to look closely to make sure you're at the right place because they don't even put the bank's name outside the entrance-only the initials "L.O. & Cie" on a discreetly placed small plaque.

Entering the building I'm greeted by three male receptionists in suits. After explaining who I am and what I do, I'm immediately escorted into a waiting room and the door closed. Before leaving the room one of the receptionists connects me with a woman on the phone. I explain to her what I do and she says she'll check into it. Well, 20 minutes pass and nothing has happened. I'm sitting in this stupid (yet very elegantly furnished) room with the door closed. Have they forgotten about me? There's nothing in here to read. Another 10 minutes pass and that's it, I can't sit here any longer. I open the door and tell the three receptionists I've been waiting half an hour for the woman to call back. A call is made and it seems they know nothing about my visit so I leave more background material.

I make a total of three visits over a 10-day period. On the last visit I talk via the phone from one of those closed-door waiting rooms to Stephane Tissot, whom I believe is from corporate communications. She says she's extremely busy for the next week and brushes me off on the phone.

Well, the reason Lombard Odier & Cie and Darier Hentsch & Cie have both been brushing me off is because the next day they will announce plans to merge. How do I learn this? Another private bank later in the day tells me. Well if this other bank knew about the merger than it was no big secret. Why couldn't they have told me? And why is it that ALL five private banks visited in Geneva said they never received my letter of introduction? Why did the other companies visited in Geneva receive my letter? The letters were mailed from Lausanne, less than 35 miles away. Do they all have sloppy in-house mail service? These private banks like to brag about offering their high net worth customers personalized service. Heck, if they can't manage simple mail correspondence than you kind of wonder about the quality of their other services.