In the business world, there are a few select individuals who have reached the top and achieved great success. Yves Bayle is one of those people. Over his lengthy career, he has held executive positions in some of the world’s most prestigious banks, and in 2004 he founded his own group of companies, FAST Group. With over 10 digits in assets under management, his businesses have flourished.
What was your motivation for starting your own company?
Have the freedom of action to apply your own strategy. The vision must always precede the project and the project that has become concrete must constantly evolve so that it remains in line with market expectations. There is therefore the need to provide rapid and pragmatic responses, which only a human-sized structure is capable of offering. Convincing people who do not want to be convinced is a waste of time and above all energy. I lived it.
I also think that after more than 20 years spent in major institutions; I still had a passion for my job but otherwise. In a way, getting back in touch with my clients and partners and forgetting a little about the boards of directors and other repetitive management committees.
But beyond everything keep the passion as Steve Jobs had said intelligently “if you are not passionate, you will give up”.
What are the rules you live by when it comes to business?
My DNA is efficiency and pragmatism which must be integrated into the overall strategy. I could sum up with these few words which represent the work philosophy that I ask of my collaborators ‘1/ estimate the challenge, 2/ analyze the facts, 3/ find the appropriate strategy, and 4/ act’ Management is exercised through competence. I never wanted to be loved, but to be understood.
How has your career evolved over the years?
I was very lucky to join Chase Manhattan Bank when I started. It was a trigger for ambitions and above all an excellent training school at a time in the early 80s when the expansion of banks was supported by economic growth. You had to be versatile and know how the bank really worked and the different departments interact with each other. Then at the beginning of the 1990s, the legislative evolution of the Luxembourg banking sector created an environment favorable to the expansion of the ‘Corporate’ sector with in particular the laws on investment funds, financial holding companies, and captive reinsurance companies.
On the strength of the experience acquired, I headed to the ‘front’ office as motivated as ever. I think I had the predispositions to welcome, explain and convince. I joined the Crédit Lyonnais investment subsidiary to set up the Corporate division. The trips followed one another, the files too, allowing the division to be a major contributor to the bank’s results. My career was accelerated and I had the honor of being appointed to the Management Committee quickly. I was 32 years old. I left Banque Colbert at 37 to be appointed CEO of IBL with a very, very large client portfolio.
What is your proudest achievement in business?
I could talk to you about a lot of files. A milestone was the creation of the first Luxembourg alternative fund (derivatives-leverage) in 1991 for Banque Lazard in Paris. Innovative at the time.
We also created one of the very first crypto-currencies funds 6 years ago for one of the founders of Bitcoin.
Recently, we successfully accompanied a very large Asian group in a North African country to obtain a file of more than USD 370 million in the field of renewable energy.
But what I am most proud of is creating added value around a project; in this our investments in China in the field of instant games are on the way to becoming a diamond in the rough.
Different times, different missions. Generally, the most beautiful file is the last concluded.
Can you share a challenging experience you’ve had and how you coped?
Our activities are part of a world where many interests intersect and where the sums at stake and the profitability linked to these files can create jealousies and desires to take possession of assets illegally.
I experienced it at my expense in 2005. Forgeries bearing my signature had been issued. These are difficult times. Fortunately, justice always does its job properly and the truth comes out. For 3 years, these people have been indicted in Luxembourg and the bank in question has joined my civil action.
How do current global events affect the financial markets?
That’s a big question. Several factors intersect. First, the COVID crisis generated a deep imbalance between supply and demand, which created high inflation that we thought was cyclical. The central banks have all eased their monetary policies and de facto created record debt expressed in the hundreds of billions. If interest rates remained in negative territory or close to zero, the equity and real estate markets held up well. Gold was also up sharply as a safe haven against inflation. Then comes the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The price of raw materials is soaring, pushing inflation to a record level and pushing central banks against their will to act and increase their key rates. With the FED outpacing the ECB, the euro fell sharply. Gold and oil will remain at historically high values for a few more months. Real estate will be the big loser of these upheavals. We will also have to deal with record volatility in the markets.
What is your vision for the future of your company?
To remain competitive by adapting our services to the demand of our customers. Defend our DNA. Enhance even more our networks in order to offer effective and complete solutions in our businesses.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in a similar business?
Common sense advice. Define your strategy correctly, surround yourself with competent people, and above all have acquired sufficient experience.
To use a famous maxim: “It is not necessary to hope to undertake nor to succeed to persevere,” however, I would add that it is necessary to undertake to hope to succeed.”
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
I told you about our investments in China. We would like to take this company to the stock market within 3 years with a capitalization of more than USD 250 million. Let’s say that to date, 50% of the way is done.
How would you describe yourself as a leader?
If the definition of a leader is in particular to move his team from dream to project, and from observation to commitment, then I am a leader. But this requires making yourself available to your professional vocation and to each of your employees. I have always considered a leader as a person who is able to listen, analyze and make his decision. This is a definition that suits me quite well I think.
What was the reason behind your departure from Banque Colbert?
I stayed 10 years in this bank. It is an important part of my professional life and I was lucky that the Managing Director at the time gave me the opportunity to prove what I was capable of. I left on good terms but with a disagreement concerning the strategy to be followed to remain competitive in the field of ‘corporate’ services. I know today that my proposal made sense because most of the Luxembourg players have in the following 2 years made the changes that I had wanted to put in place.
How has your experience as CEO of a bank helped in the creation of FAST Group?
My experience as CEO is the foundation on which the foundations and orientations of my companies are based.
My personal experiences have allowed me to realize my international vision and activate my networks. Finally, the experience can be defined as the sum of knowledge accumulated over the years, in various institutions.
What motivates you to keep going even at 60 years old?
Should we stop dreaming at 60? I don’t think so as long as my health allows me; I do a lot of sports to keep in shape and straight ideas.
At this age, I have the advantage of being less subject to stress in general. I no longer worry about paying the bills or saving money to support my family. My children are independent. My friends support me. I do what I love.
How did you achieve such success in such a short period of time?
A lot of work, a bit of luck. Luck helps sometimes, but hard work always.
Ambitions come true through hard work. They are the ones who make things happen.
I often repeat it to my teams in moments of doubt: do you believe it is possible to earn a lot of money, quickly and easily? Of course not. Remuneration is closely linked to the complexity of the file, so you have to make an effort over time while staying on course.