Insights Issue 13 - Spring Edition

Rothschild and Co

It takes a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune; and when you have got it, it requires ten times as much wit to keep it.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836)

Dear Reader,

Two passions have always resonated deeply within me: music and finance. One is art, the other more worldly – but there can be parallels between the two. In both, a successful performance needs to mix just the right number of instruments in such a way that their sounds harmonise, their collective dynamics vary relevantly, and the various entrances and exits are in time.

Just like a conductor leads an orchestra, the wealth manager is guiding their client’s portfolio through the ups and downs of financial markets, all with the aim of safeguarding wealth. Similar to a musician following the beat of a metronome to maintain tempo, the manager follows market signals and economic data to stay in tune with the evolving financial landscape.  And as in music, the very best performances don’t stick rigidly to the score or textbook, but interpret it, using experience to add strategic insight and nuance along the way. Navigating the financial journey requires a delicate balance between understanding and interpreting financial cues, blending predictability with adaptability. 

In the following pages of the Spring/ Summer edition of Insights, we delve into the topic of wealth preservation and resilience from various perspectives. Much like a well-composed musical piece withstands the test of time, robust financial strategies withstand economic challenges, guided by the expertise of wealth managers who orchestrate portfolios with precision and adaptability.

I hope you enjoy the read!

With warm regards,

Laurent Gagnebin
CEO, Rothschild & Co Bank AG

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Rothschild and Co

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The history of The Rothschild Archive

Understanding our past to inform the business of today

The Rothschild Archive, located in London, holds the business records and personal papers of the Rothschild family, mainly focusing on N.M. Rothschild & Sons in London and MM de Rothschild Frères in France. Founded in 1978, it's dedicated to preserving the family's significant impact on global history. In the following interview, Melanie Aspey, Director of The Rothschild Archive, reflects on its journey and the broader legacy of the Rothschild family.

Q1. Could you share with us the story behind the founding of the Archive and how it evolved over time?

Archives are essential for preserving the history of businesses and individuals. In 2024, The Rothschild Archive Trust celebrates its 25th anniversary, founded by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild in 1999 to protect the family's heritage. Perhaps prompted by the collapse of the Baring Brothers' business in 1995, Sir Evelyn established the Trust to safeguard the Rothschild legacy. His foresight and dedication stemmed from a profound reverence for the family's legacy, instilled in him by his late father, Anthony. Initially conceived to oversee the records of N.M. Rothschild & Sons, the Trust's remit expanded organically as various branches of the Rothschild family recognised its value as a custodian of collective memory. This unexpected evolution transformed the Trust into a repository of diverse family legacies, each thread contributing to the rich tapestry of the Rothschild narrative. Beyond the confines of genealogy, the Trust's holdings illuminate the family's multifaceted contributions to philanthropy, the arts, and society at large, enriching our understanding of their enduring legacy. As an educational charity, the Trust also welcomes scholars from all over the world, fostering collaboration and insight into its collections. Through this exchange of knowledge, the Trust continues to honour Sir Evelyn's vision, ensuring that the Rothschild legacy remains an enduring source of inspiration and enlightenment for generations to come.

Q2. As the Director of The Rothschild Archive, how do you preserve and showcase the rich history and legacy of the Rothschild family?

We've been extraordinarily fortunate with the generous contributions from many branches of our family. It's a significant responsibility to ensure the physical preservation of these items. While the materials we receive are typically in good condition, maintaining the correct temperature and relative humidity is essential. However, archives are more than just documents; they are repositories of human stories. They narrate the lives of those who created them, making them integral to our history. Engaging with donors allows us to unravel these personal narratives, not only preserving their legacies for future generations but also benefiting our businesses and broader family network. Our Archive's strategic placement at New Court, right by the entrance of the main building, symbolises our confidence in its significance and colleagues from other business archives often express envy at our setup. Incorporating historical elements into contemporary practices ensures that our past remains relevant. Take, for instance, the Five Arrows symbol featured on our websites, which symbolise the five brothers, sons of our business's founder in 18th-century Frankfurt. It was their chosen emblem, representing unity and strength. Alone, an arrow can be broken, but together, a bundle of five arrows remains unyielding. These enduring symbols, passed down through generations, serve as a testament to our shared history and values. They bridge the gap between past and present, reminding us of the collective journey that has brought us to where we are today. It's a profound connection that resonates through time, anchoring us to our roots and guiding us forward with purpose.

Q3. Can you share any interesting anecdotes about the Rothschild family's journey that exemplify their resilience and long-term perspective?

Let me share two poignant stories—one from Britain and the other from France. Firstly, we look to Anthony de Rothschild, a stalwart figure in British history. Despite facing challenges after the First World War, including the loss of senior partners and financial crises, Anthony held firm, guided by the family's enduring principles of unity and perseverance. His unwavering optimism and philanthropic spirit, particularly in aiding German Jews during the 1930s and 40s, showcase the intertwining of business and humanitarianism within the Rothschild legacy. In France, the nationalization of the French Bank in 1982...

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