«Institutional asset management is all about managing locally but investing globally.»
Head GAM Investment Solutions Continental Europe
Andrea Quapp is Investment Director and Head of GAM Investment Solutions Continental Europe. She has worked as a portfolio manager for more than 30 years, including almost two decades with GAM Investments, an active asset manager with its origins in Julius Baer Asset Management. Before joining GAM, Andrea worked at UBS Asset Management.
Andrea Quapp, what does success mean to you?
Happy, satisfied customers who choose us as their asset manager. They appreciate how successfully we meet their needs, adapt to a changing environment, and actively support them with advice and recommendations. Of course, this hinges on our track record in terms of performance, and good performance comes from teamwork. Everyone has to play their part and be passionate about what they do. As serious as that is, keeping a sense of humor and enjoying yourself while achieving results are also success factors that shouldn’t be underestimated. I think this mix works well in my team, which makes striving to meet my targets a rewarding experience.
What is it that motivates you?
I ask myself how things relate to each other, how different events influence each other, and how they affect society, the economy, and frequently the natural world. How can what we do in the here and now make a difference, and to what? I find posing these questions in the context of capital market trends exciting. On top of that, my motivation as an investment manager also comes into play. I want to create a competitive asset allocation that delivers superior performance while taking all relevant aspects into account – and this increasingly means ESG criteria as well. In this respect, I have a strong moral compass. Integrity, honesty, and trust are core values driving everything I do.
What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?
What I enjoy most is dealing with the unpredictable. It requires quick thinking and a competitive attitude, which I find highly motivating. I also enjoy working together with colleagues to find the best possible solutions for our customers, which demands attention to detail and a keen interest in world affairs. We don’t just work with raw data, we use every conceivable form of information. We need to know who’s in charge, who has influence, and what that means for the capital markets, as well as where the innovations are and what impact they’ll have on the economy and society at large.
Which problems should politicians and authorities urgently address?
Politicians should take a liberal, democratic approach to addressing the divisions within society and the current turmoil. I’d like the authorities to let the common sense of a free market economy inform their decisions on laws and regulations. Dogmatism is the enemy of progress.
How do you achieve that crucial work/life balance?
Mostly through sport. That means weekly mountain bike tours with friends as well as several weeks of motorbike holidays a year – I’ve even been to the North Cape and back. They always remind me that good health is an amazing gift and that experiencing other cultures enriches your outlook on life.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in asset management today or your younger self?
Define your goals, follow them with courage and commitment, and view market fluctuations as opportunities. Keep an open mind as regards opinions that differ from your own, and don’t take anything for granted, but also be humble about your own limited knowledge. Above all, never forget that the capital market is always right! You’ll find that out for yourself sooner or later. I’d like to wish everyone embarking on a career in our industry – and they’re still too few in number – the good fortune to end up in an environment that lets them develop and flourish as I was able to.
What is your favorite travel destination?
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. If you’ve seen the movie “Jurassic Park”, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was shot there. It’s an incredibly beautiful place.
What is your favorite anti-depressant?
I’m happy to report that depression isn’t an affliction I suffer from, so I’m not the right person to recommend a means of combating it. Obviously, there are days when my mood isn’t so upbeat. I find meeting up with friends to have a relaxed chat and put the world to rights helps.
What do you do on a short journey?
I go on a “short journey” virtually every day – all the way to my garden! It’s my oasis of calm. As any amateur gardener will tell you, gardening is also a great way to unwind. It’s rather like a journey in itself. Plants grow and bloom, changing with the seasons, so there’s always something new to discover. Watching the creatures that visit my garden is interesting, be it the birds, the neighbor’s cat or the various slugs and snails. It’s important to distinguish between the good and bad. Seeing a fox staring through your living-room window at night keeps you grounded. I’m just as passionate about caring for my garden with its wild hedgerows as I am about observing and analyzing capital markets.
If you could choose any country, where would you like to live and why?
I absolutely love living in the canton of Zurich’s idyllic wine-growing region, the Weinland. It’s close enough to the city but far removed from the hustle and bustle. The half-timbered houses are a wonderful contrast to all that modern architecture with lots of concrete and glass. I also think it would be nice to live on Hawaii’s Big Island at some point, preferably near the Volcanoes National Park. I find the wide variety of natural landscapes there fascinating: black sand beaches like Lanzarote, volcanoes like Iceland, blue sea like Capri...