The (non) Rothschilds making a big mark

The Rothschild family's coat of arms

The Rothschild family's coat of arms

Here’s a view on perhaps the world’s most famous business dynasty, the Rothschilds. In recent years, it could be argued that the most influential individuals within the family are two women, and not only that, they aren’t Rothschild by blood, but married into the dynasty.

They are Ariane de Rothschild and Lynn de Rothschild. Ariane is chief executive of Edmond de Rothschild, the Geneva-based private bank and asset management group, and Lynn is chief executive E L Rothschild, a private investment group. She is also the founder of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism.

Ariane, 50, married Benjamin de Rothschild, son of the founder of Edmond de Rothschild. She was appointed chief executive of Edmond de Rothschild last year and oversees one of the fastest growing wealth management groups in Europe. Ariane also heads up other bits of Rothschild empire including a foundation, and backs and promotes various high profile social entrepreneur initiatives.

Lynn, 61, is perhaps even more powerful. A big player in the telecoms world during the 1990s, she married Evelyn de Rothschild, the former chairman of the English side of the Rothschild banking dynasty, and like Benjamin, a billionaire, in 2000. Beyond her senior role at E L Rothschild, she set up the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism a few years back and has links to some of the most powerful people in the world, most notably Hillary Clinton. She also sits on the board of The Economist.

OK, there’s little doubt Ariane and Lynn are among the most powerful outsiders ever to be connected to the Rothschild family - and even more amazing, they are women. The various Rothschild banking dynasties have traditional always followed a male primogeniture approach to running and inheriting the family business. But both women are still outsiders, and aren’t about to inherit parts of the Rothschild financial dynasty.

Ariane acknowledged being an outsider in a recent interview she gave to the Financial Times: “I’ve always said the Rothschild name belongs to Benjamin, not me.” So, when it comes to real power in the Rothschild family, being blood, and probably being a male, still counts.

That said, the two women are broadening the Rothschild brand appeal. For the Rothschild image that’s probably not such a bad thing. Even a dynasty as famous and as resilient as that of the Rothschilds needs the occasional updating. Ariane and Lynn are doing a pretty good job at doing so.