Interview with Wall Street Luxury Europe investor and advisor Octave Bodel
Hélène Clabecq: Octave Bodel, what is your background, in a nutshell?
Octave Bodel: I studied finance at the international University of Monaco and the French-American institute of Paris.
I went on from working in private banking in Monaco and transitioned progressively to tailor offshore solutions and tax optimization through private equity investments. I’ve worked with high net worth individuals and large institutions, encompassing 6 asset classes (technologies, sustainable energy, private equity, maritime, infrastructure and fintech).
Now, I focus on the secondary market and invest in other private equity funds, ranging from sports, to maritime ande technology.
In short through Wall Street Luxury Europe, We provide the happy few with services that ensure the realization of their dream experiences enabled by our unique brands partners.
HC: What’s your other (hidden) talents?
0B: Hé bien… I can speak seven languages.
“Luxury” has been a part of your life for a long time. How do you define it?
Luxury is hard to tame in a few words… This industry is very subjective and can mean all sorts of things to different people. It’s something that people identify with.
Call me old-fashioned, but for most people, certain physical items that never “get old” represent luxury, like a classic Birkin or Kelly bag from Hermes.
To me, it is somehow an experience: having the possibility and freedom to experience certain things and to go beyond our comfort zone. Being able to practice extreme sports, having all types of new experiences, exploring the world, and accessing these remote places is, truly, utmost luxury. Wall Street Luxury Europe strive for this mojo.
What is the point of honor that can allow this type of privilege?
You have to go through certain parameters of safety and security, especially in this day and age.
Making a dream come true with a certain degree of immediacy, yes, but not at every condition. Those parameters must be spotless. Have you seen the Titanic movie? Now, imagine you are on a cruising trip in the middle of Antarctica. Your life simply literally depends on your boat’s craftsmanship.
How has the notion of luxury changed, after the first waves of Covid?
Before Covid, people, myself included, would do things “unconsciously”, so to speak. Travel, party, you name it.
When it all ended, we started to understand the great value of simple things.
Before, we used to think about boats, cars, gastronomic dishes for the sake of it… And we’ve experimented with all that. Now that we have been “pushed apart”, we realize that what truly matters goes beyond the items, the surroundings and environments. It is the alchemy that makes the moment memorable.
A good meal with family and friends will make the flavor of the wine and the food a million times better. Eating alone in the best restaurant in the world could never taste the same.
We also consider the impact more. Do you want to take a trip from Monaco to Zurich? Sure. But unless there is a shortage in flights and an emergency, maybe the private jet isn’t the most relevant solution then.
I am a firm believer in Leonardo da Vinci’s philosophy: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
Which opportunities have come along with Co-vid, in your opinion?
Covid has generated a worldwide crisis in certain industries, along with new opportunities.
Most Digital services are now booming. We want most services at home… For instance Zoom has obviously been a big winner this and last year.
This situation has also reinforced the importance of networks. The market isn’t so much face to face, so there is a strong potential in expanding brands at a fast pace through touching new customers via social engineering. Social media, endorsements, and so on.
What are Wall Street Luxury Europe’s two most important values when working with high net worth individuals ?
Number one is respect. It may sound cheesy but no matter your net worth, you still have to respect everyone, regardless of their level of income. What is the point of wanting to tame hunger and poverty if you act like your wealth places you above? Smile, say hello and have empathy for people you are working with. Especially since Covid, people are more tense, so capitalize on humans.
Number two, again, safety. Having lived myself in difficult areas and being nearly shot at, I understood this lesson the hard way… Some people live in extreme poverty, so adapt or die. You must be okay with trading your gold chain and watch with a t-shirt and a pair of flip flops. Also I was in the military, so I tend to make sure I have a plan !
For high net worth individuals, even financial security, that may seem like a given, isn’t. There is an expertise in making sure your resources are safeguarded, because currencies and financial markets are volatile.
”” We go beyond “watches and planes”. We provide a span of experiences, from educational to holistic, that are both benchmarked and tailor-made for every single customer. And we combine international experience with locally-based knowledge.Mr. Octave Bodel
You just mentioned the importance of capitalizing on humans. Can you expand on this?
As you grow up (or age, in other words), you realize that time becomes a commodity. You go straight to the point. You choose people you work with, or network with, because you click with them rather than because of numbers and strategies. You become more people-oriented. This is why one of our next projects is investing in an exclusive and high-end networking app that does just that, called Commune X.
This is also why I invest in people with the same personality and vision, people who have a common DNA and passions, whom I can create with.
You also often mention the importance of “being different”. How so?
Absolutely. By “being different”, I mean, like Macintosh back in the days: “think different”, think outside of the box, do unusual experiences, be outlandish to a certain degree, try to not have a dull life. And I am saying this very humbly. Also, interact with different people and environments to grow. Opening up to new cultures and mindset is transformative.
In China, I used to work a lot in places unchartered by tourists, outside of China, I experimented with new horizons and people in latam for example . Being an expat, getting lost, being left by a taxi in the middle of nowhere, 2 hours away from the closest town without speaking the dialect besides Mandarin in China was one of those unforgettable experiences that changed me.
Do you feel like you’ve “tasted life” so far?
Yes, I’ve had exceptional encounters with Presidents and played sports with extraordinary athletes for instance. I’ve worked with some of the most luxurious brands one could not even dream of. I’ve traveled to 85 countries. I’ve lived in Brazil and China. If someone would have predicted my future when I was ten years old, I would have laughed out loud and said “Never ever”!
I’ve always tried to do good around me and seize opportunities by going out of my comfort zone.
When you have a good team, you feel the cohesion and it pays off. People feel it when you are speaking the truth and when you put your heart on the table; I think I’ve capitalized on that.
Life has been good to me thus i am learning everyday
What type of opportunities does Wall Street Luxury Europe craft for its customers, and how do you intend to disrupt the luxury industry?
We have a newsletter showcasing prestigious destinations including developing markets, exclusive properties, new car collections, but we also want to touch more and more on socially responsible projects.
We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I am fortunate to say that we have a fantastic panel of high net worth individuals and billionaires we can tap into, and it generates a great traction that facilitates collaborations with brands.
We go beyond “watches and planes”. We provide a span of experiences, from educational to holistic, that are both benchmarked and tailor-made for every single customer. And we combine international experience with locally-based knowledge.
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