Franck Maisonnave worked as a bond market trader for many years. He left the financial sector in 2016 as he was unhappy in his work and embarked on a radical career change: the Swiss Life customer opted for independence and entered the hospitality sector. Three years later he has opened three restaurants in Paris with financial support from Swiss Life and he is planning to open two more.
You worked in the most prestigious trading floors in London, Paris and New York. You earned very well. Why did you want to give it all up?
As strange as it may sound, I was actually unhappy. Yes, I earned well and worked for major banks including JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley and my first years as a trader were really amazing. But after 14 years I had had enough. I was just unfulfilled. I had actually already tried to change career several times. A serious motorbike accident that left me bedridden for two months was the trigger that finally made me move on from the financial markets.
What happened after the accident?
I had a lot of time during my two-month convalescence to think about what I wanted in life, including my goals and sources of motivation. I also had time for other people, including a longstanding friend of mine, Laurent Caucé. We had been talking about setting up in business together for a long time. As chance would have it, he had just quit his job and wanted to do something new in the catering business. Laurent had the idea, I contributed the rational financial side. We launched our partnership in 2016 and my life as an entrepreneur began.
It was more about being an entrepreneur for me than about catering in particular. Moreover, as I am convinced that people are the key to success in business, Laurent was the right partner for me. So the project was to my taste and to our customers’ taste.
What came next for you?
A symbiosis developed between Laurent with his many ideas and innovative concepts and me, a strict and possibly even boring numbers man. Everything moved very quickly after that. We bought a restaurant in 2016 and redesigned it. Three years later we have a new design, popular and traditional menu and 30% annual growth. It’s going so well that we are currently buying a second restaurant. We also established Bill the Butcher, a fast food concept based on meatballs. We opened the first restaurant in the centre of Paris in January 2017 and the second one in the 17th arrondissement, a third one is also being planned.
How did you come to know Swiss Life?
It was also through an acquaintance. I got to know Sébastien Mariano at university, he’s a General Agent in Paris now. Our first meeting was to attain a level of security for our restaurants and employees. Then he analysed my financial situation in light of my personal and professional needs as they are all interconnected. Sébastien displayed an excellent understanding of my situation. When the banks didn't want to deal with me, Swiss Life offered a loan to finance our restaurants. That was how I was able to get started as an entrepreneur.
What matters most to you in your relationship with your insurer?
The ability to react, effectiveness and the ability to analyse my needs. The human side should also not be overlooked. That’s what I like about my contact person Sébastien. He also knows which experts to consult in every situation.
How do you understand self-determination?
I see it as a luxury. I first had to break away from my previous life and now I feel entirely free in my decisions. I am convinced that this freedom is what makes being an entrepreneur so special.
What is the price of this independence for you?
I no longer have the financial comfort of being a banker. I also work more than I used to and obviously get stressed. However, I now get stressed for the right reasons. I am the one who makes the decisions and has to see that everything adds up at the end of the month. It’s stimulating and I wouldn't want my old life back. You can't put a price on freedom and independence. I have only one regret: not having made the move earlier.
“Customer’s Life” portrait series: three customers – three stories
In a portrait series, Swiss Life presents three clients from the company’s various units. The pieces show how Swiss Life enables people in a very wide range of circumstances to lead a self-determined life. The portraits also demonstrate the variety of clients and requirements served by Swiss Life.