Pictet & Cie

With 132 billion Swiss Francs in assets under management, Pictet & Cie is Switzerland's fourth largest private bank (behind UBS, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer). It's got some history too having been founded in 1805.

The area around Geneva's theatre district seems to be where all the private banks have their offices. The eight-story building stands directly across the street from a park that is currently hosting a traveling circus. During my initial visit I'm told they hadn't received my advance material so I leave more material. A few days later I drop by again with no luck. On the third visit I meet with Michel Merkt from corporate communications.

The top floor houses the company cafeteria with senior management having executive dining rooms. There's a dress code where men are required to wear suit and tie. Smoking is allowed only in break rooms. Then again, during each of my visits I was quickly ushered into a waiting room and the door shut. In the rooms were receptacles filled with single cigarettes-don't want to offend a potential customer by telling him he can't smoke. We take a walk along the seventh floor where the partners of the firm are ensconced and also take a look in the boardroom. The boardroom table seats 10 and there's a framed document hanging on a wall with the date 1761 but Merkt nor I can decipher what it's about.

Easily the coolest and most unexpected part of the head office is the 200-seat movie theatre in the rear part of the building. You know those grand ornate movie theatres built in the 1930's? It's like a miniature version. Besides holding company meetings the theatre also used for film festivals that are open to the public.