When Frenchman Pierre Jond’s daughters first arrived in Australia in January 2010 he took them to Bondi Junction. There his eldest tugged at her father’s sleeve to attract his attention.

“Papa there are men barefoot and shirtless; aren’t the police going to do anything?” Jond laughingly recalls his daughter saying in French.

Jond, like his daughters, is no longer surprised by such sights in the antipodes. His youngest speaks English like a local.

The head of BNP Paribas’ custody business in Australia and New Zealand may have chosen to live close to the school that prepares his daughters for French universities, but Jond has made efforts to integrate closely with the local business community since starting work in Australia in November 2009.

He is the chair of the Australian Custodial Services Association. Jond proudly says he has helped mentor those who have gone to work for BNP Paribas outside Australia and New Zealand.

“I’m a great believer in corporate flexibility,” says Jond, sitting in his corner office with floor- to-ceiling glass windows that give a view over Sydney’s Martin Place.

To that end he has encouraged internal job changes within his team. Jond believes the group will benefit from a fund accountant going to work in corporate actions because it will be armed with a pool of knowledge.

Showing flexibility and encouraging people to take on new roles motivate and empower, according to Jond.

“If employees are happy and engaged, you get a better client service,” he says.

Jond wants his colleagues at BNP Paribas’ custody business, the biggest unit of the bank in Australia and New Zealand, to focus not just on winning business but on developing long-term relationships of the like the Paris-based bank has in Europe that have lasted decades.

He believes such an attitude will help BNP Paribas win new clients and more importantly keep them.

BNP Paribas is the third-biggest custodian in Australia with $269 billion in assets under custody, a 15-per-cent market share.

“If I were a betting man I think we will have good news in the course of the year in terms of ranking,” he says.

Confidentiality agreements with asset management companies who have put up their custody business for tender prevent him from disclosing names.

The 46-year old Jond joined BNP Paribas in Luxembourg in 1994 after compulsory French military service and working at the forebear of RBC Dexia. He has worked in Paris and Brussels before being posted to Australia in November 2009.

On his office bookshelf there are black and white photographs taken of the bank more than 100 years ago as well as books on finance and business.

Jond takes out “Two Centuries of Panic”  by Trevor Sykes (Allen & Unwin 1998). His favourite passage in the book is the correspondence between Governor Macquarie, who established the Bank of New South Wales, now Westpac, and Lord Bathurst, Macquarie’s boss.

Bathurst received a 1817 letter from Macquarie in 1819, sailing ships delivered correspondence between New South Wales and England at that time, informing him of the establishment of the Bank of New South Wales. Bathurst wrote to Macquarie that he was not legally empowered to create a bank.

Macquarie acknowledged receipt of the letter. Then he waited until September 1820 before replying, saying the bank was a fait accompli.

What does Jond think of Macquarie’s actions?

“If you’re based in Australia, far from home office, local market specificities are such that you have to have significant levels of autonomy,” he says, returning the book to the shelves, his silver kangaroo cuff links glittering in the sunlight.

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