PORTRAIT Christian Dargnat, CIO* of BNP Paribas Investment Partners (BNPP IP) and CEO* of BNPP AM

A life of many passions

le 15/06/2012 L'AGEFI Hebdo


I am fortunate in that I have many passions", notes Christian Dargnat, aged 46, CIO of BNPP IP since 2009 and CEO of BNPP AM since 2010. These numerous passions are at the heart of the unusual financial career path of a person who, in his own words "always gives 100 % of himself". First of all long-distance running, which was the great passion of his youth. Economics too. He managed to combine his economic studies with his athletics training programme, obtaining a post-graduate degree in Economics and Finance from Paris Dauphine University, then a part-time position as economist at the Banque Internationale de Placement (BIP), after back and middle office jobs ("jobs which taught me a lot about how a company works"). He has also recently developed an interest in geopolitics, since "we are in a remarkable transitional phase in uncharted territory. Finance has been directly transformed by globalisation, although regulators do not as yet seem to have fully taken this fact into account!"

At the age of only 28, after his failure to make the French team selected for the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Christian considered that "it was time to get down to serious business", and became a market economist at BIP for two years, then a strategist at Crédit Agricole Asset Management where he followed his boss Pascal Voisin. But he discovered another passion, namely Italy, via his love of Italian films. He moved to Italy to manage a subsidiary where he became chief investment officer. The Italian adventure lasted 4 years, but made an indelible impression on Christian who achieved the feat of learning the language in three months: "Italy opened my eyes to the aesthetics present in art and everyday life, and I fell in love with Venice". He was recalled to the bank’s head office on the eve of the merger with Crédit Lyonnais and was given responsibility for the bank’s diversified asset management, then its asset management as a whole. In 2006, he was recruited by BNPP AM as Chief Investment Officer.

Since June 2011, Christian Dargnat has been Vice-President of Efama (European Fund and Asset Management Association). At a time when around thirty reforms will have a direct or indirect on the asset management industry over the next two years, this staunch supporter of the industry considers that "it is essential at the current time to try and influence the decisions which affect asset management". Moreover, he firmly believes that the asset management industry "contributes real added value to the economy in terms of the formation and allocation of the savings of both future pensioners and young households". His responsibilities have involved him in consultations with the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the European Commission. At the same time, he also chairs the MEDEF committee on "Currencies and the International Monetary System", where he wants to adopt an apolitical approach and focus on getting across the professional's message, in particular within the G20 and B20 forums. How does he manage to find breathing space with all these responsibilities? "It is a question of organisation and discipline. I also sleep less", acknowledges this father of three, who intends not only to find time to devote to his children but also to open their eyes to the world. In any event, Christian Dargnat already knows where he will spend his retirement: "In Venice studying art history".

*CIO : chief investment officer ; CEO : chief executive officer

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