Maxime Carmignac is the daughter of Edouard Carmignac, who founded the French asset management boutique Carmignac in 1989. But before she took on a leadership position in her father’s business, Maxime first got work experience externally as an investment banker and hedge fund manager. She is the only one of the five Carmignac children who followed father Edouard in the financial business. Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski conducts two interviews with her. The first one is, among other things, about the attitude to money in the founding family of one of the finest asset management boutiques. The second is about diversity and how she supports female talents in the family business.
Maxime, what is the difference between an asset manager acting as a family business, and other asset managers?
The main difference is probably the time horizon. If you are for example a listed company, you have to meet quarterly targets. That means that you have very short term expectations and can be paralysed by them. Sometimes, this means short term gain for long term pain. On the other hand, if you are a family business, you have the luxury of time. You can invest for the future. We see that in family businesses, you have a higher Capex and higher research & development expenditures out of sales. Why? Family businesses want to build for the future. Also, with a family business you have skin in the game, and you have an alignment of interest. Much of the Carmignac family’s money, and also the vast majority of employees are invested in the business, with our equity capital invested in our funds. So we have a perfect alignment of interest!
What does that mean in terms of product development?
It means for example that we don’t set up a new thematic fund for every short term fashion. If we do thematic funds, it is themes that will outperform over the long term. In our product range, there is for example a fund that is focussing on family businesses, and another one dedicated to companies that have high levels of employee and client satisfaction, and one focused on companies aligned with the energy transition. We are confident that these themes are not a fashion, but that they will perform for a very long term.
How did you personally get interested in stock markets and asset management? Was that already in your childhood?
I have four siblings. I have to say that my father was very neutral in terms of influencing us. My first job was investment banking, because I was amazed by M&A. Why? In my school – a business school -, a professional from JP Morgan taught about M&A acquisition, and I became totally fascinated by the subject. He was telling us about the acquisition of Promodès by Carrefour, in the French food retail industry. I was totally fascinated by that, it was so strategic. that was super-exciting. Then I went to Morgan Stanley and Lazard as an investment banker, which I loved. When you work 18 hours per day, which is not unusual in investment banking, you really learn a lot.
After I worked as an investment banker, I wanted to focus more on the business side. So I applied for a consulting role, at McKinsey, where I worked for three years, and I loved it as well.
Then, I felt some subtle pressure from my father to join the family business.
When was it clear for you that you would be stepping into your father’s footsteps and work in the financial business?
I think it was a continuous fight by him. I was so happy, when I got my offer from McKinsey, but he was really keen for me to work at Carmignac. In the end, I joined Carmignac twice: Once when I was 26 after I worked in M&A and consulting. But it was not the right time.
Why didn’t if feel good for you?
I was probably not ready at that time, and I felt that I had to do it. It was more of a duty. So I left Carmignac after two years and worked for a hedge fund in the US.
The second time I came to Carmignac, it was on my own choice. And I was also more of an adult. So, it felt very different than the first time I worked in my father’s business. That time, it was my own decision, which gave me much more power.
And your four siblings, are they also working for the family business?
My oldest brother, Charles, is working for the Carmignac Arts Foundation, so he is kind of involved with the family business. My other siblings are not involved at all with the family business. My younger sister is an actress, and my younger brother is entrepreneur, and the other brother is a creative designer. So I am the only one working in financials, like my father.
What role does money play for you?
Funnily, I have been asked this this question a few times recently! I am aware that I come from a privileged background. I think money gives you two things: The first one is security, the second one freedom, freedom to do what you want to do.
Do you like luxury?
Actually, what I like is not very expensive. I like being in nature, I like running, cycling, swimming. All this comes almost for free. I don’t have luxury taste. Money doesn’t particularly motivate me, as long as I feel safe and free. For me, money is a consequence of doing a good job. It is a big risk in families to focus too much on money.
Thanks Maxime, for this open interview! I am looking forward for the next interview with you!