Speaking from the lakefront family home south of Zurich, which Pierre first found while jogging, his widow told me about the man she knew for 32 years and now faces life without. With Alexander, 19, starting university and their daughter Laura, 21, studying in Cambridge, the couple were beginning a new phase of life and had recently been on holiday to Biarritz. Pierre surfed a lot there but was still putting in around six hours of work a day.
His job as chief financial officer was demanding. “Usually he had seven hours’ sleep and the rest of the time it was BlackBerry in one hand, laptop in the other. We weren’t necessarily happy that he was sacrificing family time for work but we respected his decision because it was not profit-orientated. He had a long-term ambition to make the company better.”
Fabienne is speaking now because she is unhappy with how her husband’s death has been investigated. She recounts that on the eve of his suicide Pierre was with his cousin. “I’m going to say something that sounds hysterical but he had just renewed his transport pass for the whole of 2014. Pierre dropped his shirts to the dry-cleaner on Saturday. On the Sunday evening we talked about my returning because Alexander was doing well, and then four hours later he hanged himself. I cannot reconcile that.”
Today, Fabienne speaks of the dangers of a money-driven approach. “How sustainable is profit for profit’s sake? In the banking industry, for instance,
I think we have seen that if you lose a human ethos you make huge wins in the short term and terribly bad losses in the long term. Not only in terms of people’s lives and the social fabric around the industry; even in terms of results expressed in dollars. Cost-benefit analysis should not be the only way a corporation looks at ethics.”