The end of the Rothschild patriarchy?

The Rothschild family like relying on themselves to make the big decisions when it matters. It’s a formula that has proven successful over the six/seven generations of the greatest financial dynasty the world has ever known.

So it’s hardly surprising that Ariane de Rothschild has been appointed chair of the executive committee, effectively CEO, of Edmond de Rothschild, the Swiss financial group.

Ariane, the wife of  Benjamin de Rothschild, replaces Christophe de Backer, who had been in the job for just three years. Analysts say the move is designed to increase the control of the family over the business as it faces tougher times due to the ending of Swiss banking secrecy.

Of course, Ariane isn’t technically part of the family. She’s also not Jewish and said that she has never considered converting. This makes Ariane’s appointment interesting in respect to succession at the various parts of the Rothschild empire.

In the 19th century, the bank had a rule that only male with a direct blood line to the family could run the business. This rule has long since disappeared but it still has resonance in the Rothschild family - outsiders have come into the extended family business as senior managers, but the family, and particularly the male side, always remain in control.

This is probably still the case, after all, the Rothschild males still ultimately run and control the different parts of the empire, which includes the London-based Rothschild Group. Benjamin and David de Rothschild at Rothschild Group both have powerful executive chairmanship roles.

Nevertheless, that Ariane has ascended to such a strong position hints that the intensely patriarchal character of Rothschild up until now might be beginning to soften.