1924 - 1950
It all began with Maurice Delubac
Banque Delubac & Cie was founded by Mr Maurice Delubac in Le Cheylard, in the Ardèche region of France. Maurice Delubac was a native of Saint-Etienne-de-Boulogne, a small farming region in the Ardèche near Aubenas. On his return from the 1914-18 war, he joined Banque Privée, a Lyon regional bank which had offices in the Ardèche. At the request of his employer, Mr Delubac opened the Le Cheylard branch of this bank..
These few years spent in Le Cheylard helped him to build a solid professional network. It was at the request and with the support of the local industrial community that, when the Le Cheylard branch was closed that he decided to set up his own bank, in “personal banking” form. The “Banque de l’Eyrieux Maurice Delubac” emerged on 2nd January 1924 - Eyrieux is a river that flows through Le Cheylard. It offered a range of services dedicated to businesses and individuals and was already a securities business.
Le Cheylard, a cradle of industrialisation
The local history in Le Cheylard is marked by the industrialisation and the development of an essential activity in the 19th century: tanning. Even today, Le Cheylard exports its products all over the world, in the fields of textile, jewellery and cutting-edge mechanics.
Maurice Delubac, passionate about his job, supported his industrial clients, artisans and traders. His motto followed the old peasant saying: We must not live beyond our means or even within our means, but below our means. This vision of life helped him to escape the 1929 stock market crash.
“I have three obsessions,” he liked to say: “liquidity, liquidity, liquidity”! He never lost this wisdom. Long live boldness and innovation, but away with dangerous positions and deadly speculation! Equity is life and freedom. A deep seated and ineradicable belief within Banque Delubac goes as follows: liquidity first, profitability later.
The art of weathering a crisis
As the Great Depression came and went, liquidity remained. Ten years passed and another crisis, a much more dramatic one emerged: World War II. In 1939, Maurice Delubac was once again mobilised. Imprisoned in Dunkirk he was sent to Oflag in Poland, from where he was released in 1941. In his absence, his wife managed the bank with two employees and a Belgian refugee who had worked in the banking sector.
Between 1941 and 1946, and in spite of the very difficult conditions of the time, Maurice Delubac constructed a building on the Saléon Terras square where he established the bank and his own home. During this period and being strongly opposed to the Vichy regime and its banking regulations (set up during his absence), he was forced to hide a Jewish friend and his son. The latter, Jean Samuel, and Maurice Delubac’s daughter, immediately formed a connection and this encounter that occurred under dramatic conditions ended happily in marriage.
1960 - 1980
After studying law, Jean Samuel joined Banque de France in Lille and worked in different branches, learning about different banking activities.
Maurice Delubac, planning his retirement, proposed that his son-in-law join him and become his successor. In 1960, Jean Samuel returned to Le Cheylard. The “Banque de l’Eyrieux Maurice Delubac” - its official name - gained a real advantage. The handover was smooth. Liquidity, heredity, continuity: the future is assured.
Consolidation for the bank
With enhanced family governance, a loyal client base and dynamic local industrial activity, the 30-year post-war boom enabled the bank to consolidate. However, the 1970s were not easy with the development of competition from retail banks. Shrewd management, closeness, expertise, a “people-centred” approach to the business – and always the sacrosanct liquidity! - enabled it to stay on course.
Change of status to limited partnership
Maurice Delubac died in 1976. Almost as a premonition, ten days before his death the bank was converted into a limited company. It became “Banque Delubac & Cie”. It was a limited partnership, a status that favoured a modern and flexible management style. It was therefore a partnership, which corresponded well, through the responsibilities and duties it assigned to the active partners (responsible for their personal property), to the demanding philosophy of the founders and managers of the bank.
When the limited company was founded, there was only one managing partner: Mrs Josette Samuel-Delubac; Jean Samuel was the General Manager. The latter, who no longer had his father-in-law by his side, soon had to face the new challenges of the coming decade.
1980 – 1990
A decade of consolidation in a changing banking world
The 1980s were the scene of major upheavals for all stakeholders in the financial sector. With the arrival of Jean-Michel Samuel, a decade of rapid changes and big moves was opening up to Banque Delubac. After his studies in Grenoble and Paris - and twenty years after his father - the founder's grandson joined the business in 1980. It was time for the third generation to take part in the adventure and contribute to the writing of new chapters, respecting the roots and the “DNA” of the bank ... and of course its irrefutable iron law: liquidity first!
In the early 1980s, Banque Delubac received numerous buyout offers. Flattered to be so coveted, Banque Delubac however cherished nothing more in the world than its independence, its family values and its loyalty to its native region. The Samuel-Delubac family nevertheless understood that they needed to develop and expand beyond their region.
1988: The turning point
Serge Bialkiewicz, who Jean Samuel often met at gatherings held at the Office de Coordination des Banques Privées (now known as OCBF), wanted to take over a bank and develop it. After a first meeting in Paris with Jean Samuel, he went to Le Cheylard to explain his intentions. Mr Bialkiewicz, Mr and Mrs Jean Samuel and their son connected immediately and decided to continue the discussions.
In September 1988, Banque Delubac set up its first premises in Paris, located on Boulevard Haussmann. New partners, a new work environment, a brand new ball game: all the conditions were there for the bank to develop without turning its back on the past. Liquidity, liberty, modernity. Banque Delubac stayed on Boulevard Haussmann until 2014, when its Paris premises were moved to Rue Roquépine. An process that started in 2009 and ended when the bank was about to celebrate its 90th anniversary.
In 1988, they entered into partnership. Mr Bialkiewicz brought along investors. The capital of the bank increased from 3 million to 30 million francs.
1990 – 2018
1990s: Strategic specialisations
Led by Serge Bialkiewicz in the early 1990s and in agreement with Messrs Jean and Jean-Michel Samuel, Banque Delubac’s development strategy was directed towards a specialisation of its activities, notably with the creation of the Restructuring Banking which became a reference in the field of insolvency proceedings.
In 1992, Banque Delubac & Cie set up the Property Administrators Banking, a new department that offers a range of banking services for property management professionals.
In 1998, Banque Delubac strengthened its private management activities with the creation of an asset management structure.
Through its subsidiary Delubac Asset Management, the bank now offers a wide range of CIUs and manages several dedicated funds.
Finally, in 2008, the bank rolled out its expertise in a new branch "Corporate & Investment Bank". Thanks to this new activity, the bank can offer a complete range of products and services dedicated to entrepreneurs who are heads of listed or non-listed companies.
Whatever the expertise sought and sector concerned, clients of the bank appreciate the direct relationship, closeness, this kind of “extra soul” they find with their bank representatives.
Banque Delubac & Cie has endeavoured to expand its territorial reach with the opening of offices in Lyon and Toulouse, parallel to the development of its specialisations and niche markets.
Furthermore, the bank operated a correspondent banking business for businesses located outside the euro zone.
Family governance continued
Family governance continued and was reinforced in October 2010 with the arrival of Joël-Alexis Bialkiewicz, who, after obtaining an engineering degree and a PhD in theoretical computer science, chose to join the bank despite attractive proposals from global giants in the new technology sector. He was able to assimilate banking regulations at an incredible speed and get involved in the day to day management of the bank, to the point of becoming managing partner in 2012.
With a background in science and experienced in modern management methods, Joël-Alexis Bialkiewicz brought Family Banking into the 21st century, modernising its processes and governance.
The three managing partners are: Mr Serge Bialkiewicz, 1st Managing Partner, Mr Samuel Delubac, grandson of the founder, Managing Partner and Mr Joël-Alexis Bialkiewicz, Managing Partner.
What are the prospects for the years and decades ahead?
Grow even further, offer additional customer services based on opportunities that arise. Maintain the family nature of the bank and remain true to its values, which have been unchanged for over ninety years.
This is how Banque Delubac can look to the future with confidence and boldness. It is rich in its history, the men and women who built it, its clients, the skill and dedication of its employees, its know-how.
From one century to the next, from the gold standard to the euro, from paperwork to paperless transactions, from a bank set up in a small town in the Ardèche for personal banking to a much larger business, there have been so many changes! But also, what amazing continuity! The bank’s head office is still located in Le Cheylard, where some of its support services are based, namely IT, payment methods and financial management.
Its values have not changed since Maurice Delubac laid the foundations of a family business that is resolutely independent, proudly rooted in its region. A business that develops closeness and a passion for the job, that never tires of making security and creativity work hand in hand. Of course, not forgetting liquidity!... Values that have been shared since 1988 by the two families, Samuel Delubac and Bialkiewicz at the helm.
Adapted from Banque Delubac & Cie, 90 years of expertise and independence - David Brunat