The House of Hottinger

Since the eighteenth century the Hottinger family has been a modernising force – developing trading links, banking and capital markets in Europe and the New World.

Today, various parts of the group continue to be involved in banking, finance and property, across the continents. Family members take leading roles alongside seasoned professionals from varied backgrounds, selected for their probity and dedication to their clients.

It is this international scope, breadth of experience and integrity which ultimately lies at the heart of our offering and ensures we can correctly weigh opportunities against the risks inherent in volatile developed capital markets.

However large we grow, however many offices we open, you can be sure that we will always stay true to the character of the original Baron, Jean-Conrad Hottinger (1764-1841) who was described in the press as “a gentleman of considerable credit and reputation”.

We are proud to be named ‘Family Office of the Year’, 2017.*

*City of London Wealth Management Awards

Five ducat coin (17g gold), 1720
This medallion was possibly made to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Johann Heinrich Hottinger, the famous Reformist, Protestant Theologian and Orientalist.

Stained glass window, showing an early version of the Hottinger Family Crest (1604) Hans-Heinrich Hottinger, Dean of the University of Heidelberg, (1620-1667)

Left: Stained glass window showing early version of the Hottinger Family Crest, 1604
Right: Hans-Heinrich Hottinger, Dean of the University of Heidelberg, 1620-1667

Early History

The earliest known mention of the name Hottinger was in 1362 in Zollikon, near Zurich. Four generations later, in 1495, historical records from Zurich refer to another Hottinger, a clergyman.

Over the following three centuries, other ‘men of the cloth’ are known of, including Klaus Hottinger (1467-1524) the earliest martyr of the Swiss Protestant movement. Other notable family members from this early period include theologians, historians and scientists such as Hans-Heinrich (1620-1667), a famous Orientalist who was Dean of the University of Heidelberg.

During the eighteenth-century family members began careers outside the church. They were drawn towards merchant trading and were instrumental in the development of the early banks and insurance agencies.

The First Hottinger Bank

By 1786 we find mention of Jean-Conrad Hottinger who, at just twenty-six, was living away from his Swiss family and founded his first company, ‘Messieurs Rougemont & Hottinguer’, in Paris.

Months later, this company was registered as a bank in the Royal Almanac of France, with offices located in the bustling Hôtel de Beau Pre, Croix-des-Petits-Champs, right opposite the new Banque de France buildings.

Three years later, Jean-Conrad struck out on his own and opened an eponymous bank, ‘Messieurs Hottinguer & Cie’.

Jean-Conrad, the first Baron Hottinger (1764-1841)

Jean-Conrad, the first Baron Hottinger, 1764-1841

Jean-Conrad Hottinger depicted in a cartoon describing the XYZ Affair, 1797

Jean-Conrad Hottinger depicted in a cartoon describing the XYZ Affair, 1797

Brave New World

Jean-Conrad worked hard and was ambitious. Times were turbulent. In 1793 he was denounced for ‘royalist’ activities and fled back to Zurich, and then to England where he married his American sweetheart, Martha Eliza Redwood, daughter of an English family who had set up plantations in the United States.

Whilst Europe bickered, in 1794 the young couple sailed to the East Coast of America where they met a group of French emigrants, including Talleyrand, the famous diplomat. Jean-Conrad became important in diplomatic circles and was a key player in the infamous ‘XYZ Affair’ which shocked London society to the core.

Launch of the Banque de France                              

In Paris, the Banque de France was created in 1800, just 14 years after the creation of Banque Hottinguer. With a Board of 20 members, Jean-Conrad was appointed Regent in 1803 and for the next 133 years there was a Hottinger family member on the Board of this de facto Central Bank.

As he also held the position of President of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jean-Conrad held a supremely powerful position within the local economy.

Left: First location of the Banque de France, The Oratory of the Louvre, 1800-1809
Right: Jean-Conrad being appointed as Regent of the Banque de France, 1803

Certificate signed by Emperor Napoleon awarding Jean-Conrad Hottinger the baronetcy, 1810Hottinger Family Crest, 1810

Left: Hottinger Family Crest, 1810
Right: Certificate signed by Emperor Napoleon, awarding Jean-Conrad Hottinger the baronetcy, 1810

Baron of the Empire

In 1810, Jean-Conrad Hottinger was made a Baron of the French Empire by Napoleon in recognition of the family’s support over many years. A new Hottinger family coat of arms was created and the Baron added a ‘u’ to his name to ensure the correct pronunciation of the name in French.

As well as being appointed Baron of the Empire for his services to Napoleon, Jean-Conrad was also named Chevalier of the Legion d’Honeur, Colonel of the National Guard and a Deputy of the Seine region.

Hottinger became very wealthy and, due to his experience of trading and finance, his views were widely respected. He became influential within the very closed circle of European Protestant banking families such as the Rothschilds, Delesserts, Barings, Mallets and Cazenoves.

In 1819 the Baron purchased Chateau Piple which remained the family seat for the next six generations.

The Golden Age

In 1833 Jean-Henri, the heir apparent, was appointed as head of Hottingeur & Cie. at the age of 30.Times had again become turbulent but the Hottinger family continued to support the nascent industrial development in France, ensuring it kept pace with that of Great Britain.

They launched Caisse d’Epargne de Paris in 1818, alongside Baron François Delessert. Jean-Henri proved himself a valuable partner to Delessert who eventually offered him the hand of the daughter and heiress. The Hottingers eventually incorporated Banque Delessert into their operations in 1848. In this same year the family moved into their new home, the Hôtel Hottinguer, rue de la Baume, Paris.

A young Jean-Henri, the second Baron Hottinger, 1803-1866

The Hottinguer, commanded by Captain Bursley in 1845

Left: The Hottinguer, commanded by Captain Bursley, 1845
Right: Jean-Henri, the second Baron Hottinger, 1803-1866

Tragedy at Sea

During the mid-19th century Jean-Conrad travelled extensively and built up a fleet of clipper, or ‘packet’ ships based in Delft and Liverpool. One of these, ‘The Hottinguer’, sailed frequently to the New World, stopping frequently in Dublin to pick up Irish emigrants escaping the ravages of the ‘Potato Famine’.

In January 1850 the ship left Liverpool bound for New York with a full cargo of merchandise, 20 passengers, its Captain Bursley and 13 of his crew on board. On the 12th of January at 6 a.m., during a gale, she struck rocks on Blackwater Bank, near Wexford in Ireland.  All the passengers, with eight of the crew, escaped by rowing boats to Morris Castle, but the captain and five crew members perished as the storm worsened during the night.

Pioneers in Wealth

Since the eighteenth century, the Hottinger name was central to the development of wealth management in Europe and the Americas. The family was long associated with expertise and integrity in private banking with a deep and rich history of supporting international trade and financing the most exciting of modern inventions and innovations. They were ambitious, passionate men who travelled outside their comfort zones to secure their family’s place in history.

The family backed the Compagnie Générale des Eaux at inception, funded railways and early experiments in electrical transmission. They created nascent insurance products and were also instrumental in arranging initial funding for the Trans-Siberian Railway. Hottingers pioneered globalised trade routes and brought cotton from India to the Dutch ports for processing.

Left: Rodolphe, the third Baron Hottinger, 1835-1920
Right: La Cercle de la Rue Royale, painting by James Tissot, 1868

In 1866, as Victorian industrialization continued apace, Rodolphe, the energetic 34-year-old son of Jean-Henri, took over the bank. He realized that merchant banks needed to become more accessible to the growing middle classes and open-minded in selecting clients. Rodolphe kept very busy; taking on his father’s role as Regent of the Banque de France as well as becoming Chairman of the Compagnie Générale des Eaux, the Imperial Ottoman Bank, Director of a group of insurance companies and Vice President of two railways. His brother, Jean, co-founded the Jockey Club in Paris at this time and his other brother, Joseph, became an early aviation pioneer. Rodolphe’s younger son, Maurice, also inherited the family’s entrepreneurial spirit and was a co-founder of the Automobile Club de France.

At this time, the Baron was a member of the famous ‘Cercle de la Rue Royale’. In 1868 this gentleman’s club commissioned Tissot to paint a club portrait, which is shown here. The painting was won in a lottery by the Hottinger family. It is considered one of the finest of the nineteenth century and currently is shown in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

 The original Banque Hottinger logo  The original Banque Hottinger logo

Right: Henri, the fourth Baron Hottinger, 1868-1943
Left: The original Banque Hottinger logo

Bankers to the World

By the end of this period, Europe was acting as ‘bank to the world’ and the third Baron Rodolphe became increasingly concerned about levels of debt being held by French banks.

He continued to improve the French Banking ecosystem and also stood as Vice-President of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President of the International Chamber of Commerce, President of the European Banking Federation and, for more than 35 years, President of the Fédération Bancaire Française.

The First World War was not kind to France, and Rodolphe funded several important Protestant charities during this period, such as the Society for the Rescue of the Military Wounded. After the war, some radical changes in the banking system had to be made. In 1920, at age 52, Henri succeeded his father Rodolphe as head of Bank Hottinger although Rodolphe carried on working until his death at 85.

Post-war Period

As Regent of the Banque de France, Henri negotiated with the Minister of Finance, Poincaré, to begin the process of its nationalization in 1936. This was completed at the end of the war in 1945, shortly after Rodolphe’s death.

During the Second World War his son, Henri, managed to protect the interests of most of Hottinger clients from the Nazi party by relocating the operations and assets of the bank, often at great personal risk. The values which led Rodolphe to risk his life to protect his clients continue to inspire our executives and encourage them to establish strong and trusting relationships with their clients, partners and associates.

In 1939, during the war, the family home, Chateau Piple, was loaned to Great Britain but was then occupied by the Luftwaffe in 1940. It was finally liberated by the Americans in 1944.

Chateau Piple, the Hottinger Family seat since 1819

Left: Rodolphe, the fifth Baron Hottinger, 1902-1985
Right: Rodolphe, the fifth Baron with his grandson Rodolphe, the seventh Baron

The Decline of a Dynasty

After the fifth Baron Rodolphe’s death in 1985, a period of retrenchment followed. The historic family bank in France was acquired by Crédit Suisse and the family seat, Chateau Piple, was sold along with many valuable family heirlooms in auctions at Christies and Sotheby’s. The family became divided into factions with various family members setting up different and sometimes competing entities.

The sixth Baron, Henri (1934-2015) spent most of his life in Switzerland building a private banking business with other family members in an increasingly regulated and competitive market. They rapidly opened branches of Hottinger & Cie throughout the world’s major capital markets, including New York and Paris.

In 1981 the Baron set up Groupe Financière Hottinger & Co in London and employed the core team which still manages assets there today. He slowly sold down his stake in the Swiss bank, understanding that the traditional model of private banking was over.

The current seventh Baron Rodolphe (b. 1956) left the Swiss Banque Hottinger in 2009 to focus on his other interests and his younger brother, Frédéric, resigned in 2013. Chateau Piple and most of its contents were sold off by the family and it has now been converted into luxury apartments.

By 2015 the Swiss based bank had 50 employees globally and 1500 clients, but was embroiled in litigation, under-capitalised and unable to compete. Sadly, in the same year that Henri died, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority declared the 230-year-old company bankrupt and shut its doors.

New Beginnings                     

In 2015, Frédéric Hottinger inherited much of his father’s business estate, including the jewel in the crown, the UK based wealth management business, along with a majority stake in a new banking operation.

After more than a decade spent building this business he decided to invite in new partners, namely Archimedes Private Office, with the specialised skill sets required to build a contemporary international wealth management business. The relaunched Hottinger Group focuses on traditional family values and providing exemplary services to high net worth individuals.

Coat of Arms of the Baron Hottinger

The Barons Hottinger

Jean-Conrad 1764-1841 Baron in 1810 (31 years)
Jean-Henri 1803-1866 Baron in 1841 (25 years)
Rodolphe I 1835-1920 Baron in 1866 (54 years)
Henri I 1868-1943 Baron in 1920 (23 years)
Rodolphe II 1902-1985 Baron in 1943 (42 years)
Henri II 1934-2015 Baron in 1985 (20 years)
Rodolphe III 1956- Baron in 2015
Henri III 1983-