Jean-Christophe Babin is a graduate of the HEC Business School (Paris) and has dual French and Italian nationality. He started his career in 1983 in sales and marketing positions, successively at Procter & Gamble in France, and at Benckiser and Henkel in Italy. In 2000, he joined LVMH as CEO of Tag Heuer. For 13 years under his leadership, Tag Heuer has demonstrated a remarkable development. In 2013 LVMH announced the appointment of Jean-Christophe Babin as Chief Executive Officer (Amministratore Delegato) of BVLGARI which belongs to the Watch and Jewellery Division of LVMH headed by Francesco Trapani. Paddock magazine takes a look at this creative businessman’s wallet.
What was your first job? How much did you earn?
During my military service, I was selling media space and writing as a journalist for a Students Magazine during my free hours. I could make no money for one week and then 2000€ in just 2 hours selling a double page advert.
If this were not your job, what job do you think you would be doing?
I would love to be CEO of a car company or team principal of a Formula 1 or Le Mans team like McLaren or Audi!
Do you have any credit cards?
Yes, from Switzerland, US, Italy and France – the countries where I have a home.
Do you think of yourself as a saver or a spender?
Both. I can save for investing in the long term and at the same time indulge in the pleasures of life like a great wine, a cool car or an exotic vacation. I love electronics, I already have three iPads!
Do you invest in shares?
Yes, but I balance my risks with real estate which eventually is a better value long-term investment, as long as the location is prime.
Do you believe pensions are a good thing?
I do, as sooner or later you may have a very different lifestyle and you need to save enough funds to eventually enjoy your money.
What has been your best ever purchase?
Probably my first apartment. It allowed me to buy the second one and then the third, as it gained a lot of value.
What has been the most extravagant item you have ever bought?
An old Porsche 928 GTS. My wife found it awful and she was not entirely wrong. But it was a myth I had been admiring when I was 20 or so and therefore I didn’t care. I just loved it.
Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to spending your money?
No. I just spend it, as like life, it comes and goes so better to enjoy it. My kids will have to deserve their jobs and not count on my heritage!
What have been your best and worst investments?
The best is a lovely house in Miami Beach bought during the recession. The worst one is the same house 3 years later when it had lost another 50% of its value between a further collapsing real estate and a weaker and weaker dollar!
Do you manage your own financial affairs?
My wife manages the real estate and the bank manages our stocks.
How many holidays did you have last year?
Seven weeks or so, but in my position you’re very flexible and go sailing after a board meeting on Friday and work from home the whole Sunday. So holiday is when you work but in a bathing suit!
Do you play the lottery and, if so, what would you spend the jackpot on if you won?
I don’t really like games and the lottery. However, I would probably give 1/3 to my kids, 1/3 to children’s charities and keep 1/3 for my wife and myself.
What is the best piece of financial advice you have ever been given?
Swiss franc is gold, just lighter!