"AMAS should be the defining platform for pension provision"

Marbach Alex

Alex Marbach
Head of Asset Management, Schwyzer Kantonalbank

Alex Marbach is Head of Asset Management at Schwyzer Kantonalbank (SZKB) and, together with his teams, is responsible for SZKB fund management and discretionary asset management. He started his career at SZKB in 2012 as Head of Portfolio Management. Prior to this, he worked for around eight years at UBS in Investment Management as a Mandate Specialist. Alex Marbach is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Manager (FRM). He holds an Executive MBA in General Management from the University of Zurich.


Schwyzer Kantonalbank is certainly no newcomer to Swiss asset management. Now it has become a member of AMAS. What prompted you to join?

Over the last few years, Schwyzer Kantonalbank (SZKB) has been able to grow very successfully with various initiatives in the investment business. Not only in traditional private banking and institutional client business, but also in branch sales, which is particularly pleasing. We are proud of this. We want to be perceived as the "first investment bank" in all client segments in the future as well and anchor this decisively in the DNA of SZKB. Membership of AMAS is a clear commitment that SZKB will continue along this path. The joint exchange of associations should help SZKB Asset Management to meet the highest standards of quality, performance and sustainability and to continue to develop.

What are your expectations of AMAS?

It is about creating the optimal framework conditions for the industry. To manage the right dose of regulatory requirements so that the integrity of investment products can be maintained and secured, but not too much to stifle any innovation. Even the smaller asset managers should still be allowed to find their way in the regulatory environment. In addition, every regulatory requirement causes costs, which the client ultimately pays. As a cantonal bank with a strong local client base, the framework conditions surrounding the topic of pension savings are particularly relevant. And here I am speaking not only from the bank's perspective, but also as a private individual. Strengthening voluntary pension provision is in the foreground. Making the investment directive more flexible would be desirable, but also, for example, the implementation of the "Motion Ettlin" regarding retroactive purchase into pillar 3a. AMAS should be one of the defining platforms for this and participate accordingly on the political path.

What set you on the career path to asset management?

My father - he signed over shares in Sarna Kunstoff AG (taken over by SIKA in 2005) to me in my early teens. Every year I attended the general meeting and was fascinated by the figures, the agenda items and the visible result in dividend payments and share price. At lunch afterwards, there was discussion with other shareholders. I listened a lot and was impressed by the many interesting influencing factors. Since then, financial analysis has been my world.

What do you do when a turbulent market phase breaks unexpectedly?

The capital market thrives on turbulent market phases. The triggers of a correction phase often come unexpectedly. Exaggerations can be observed in both positive and negative market phases. Therefore, one must constantly expect the unexpected and consider swings on both sides as an opportunity. Here it pays off to advise the client in depth on the strategic level regarding the investment objective and the risks in advance in order to be able to stick to the strategy even in these volatile phases. This is the most important basic prerequisite for sustainable performance. On a tactical level, we make targeted use of volatility strategies for specific client categories in order to maintain stabilising properties at the portfolio level.

What are the strengths of a cantonal bank in asset management?

I can only speak for SZKB. In addition to retail strategy funds, we pursue a clear niche strategy. We only manage funds where we believe that active management is worthwhile and where we are convinced that we will deliver sustainable results. In the institutional fund business, we therefore concentrate on the two themes of "Swiss equities" and "ethics", where we have already built up many years of expertise and a successful track record from the discretionary mandate business.

What would you recommend to your younger self who is looking to start a career in asset management?

For me, the following five factors are crucial for a successful entry and establishment in asset management: Interest, Education, Work Experience, Team/Mentor and Chance. A broad intrinsic interest in the economy and its many influencing factors is fundamental to work around the investment decision process. If this interest is present, I would certainly consider entering AM. Ideally, the first professional experience - before you specialise too much - would be in a modular trainee programme where you get a first insight into the various sub-areas of the investment process from different specialists. This should be combined with specific financial training. In the early years of professional life, a certain humility is certainly appropriate. Exuberance is rarely good, especially if you have only experienced good stock market cycles. A mentor who passes on the joy and enthusiasm and also takes time to share his experiences are eminently important. This can also be a team that gives the beginner the necessary support. And as is often the case in life, chance decides whether you get the right opportunity at the right time in the right place.

What is the perfect balance to the financial markets working around the clock?

Sport is the ideal balance for me to switch off and also to strengthen my mind again. I like to spend time in the mountains hiking and skiing. This year, my wife and I are aiming to walk the last Swiss stages of the Via Alpina. It's on multi-day tours that I can really recover and recharge my batteries. During the Corona period, I set up a gym in the basement at home, which I still use persistently.