"I understand the needs of these clients 100 percent"
CEO Schroders Investment Management (Switzerland) AG
Andreas Markwalder has been CEO of Schroders Investment Management (Switzerland) since the beginning of 2017. Before joining the British asset manager, Markwalder, an economist, worked at Gastrosocial, the pension fund of the Swiss restaurant association Gastrosuisse. Initially, Markwalder was head of investments at Gastrosocial, and from 2014 he served as director.
Mr. Markwalder, with over 55 years of presence in Switzerland and a total of almost CHF 100 billion in assets under management, Schroders Switzerland is one of the largest financial companies in the country. Is this deliberate discretion?
Switzerland is, was and will always be a very important market for Schroders. But it's true that our company is not as well known among the Swiss public as it is in the UK, for example. This is also since although Schroders is listed on the stock exchange, it has with the Schroder family a significant anchor shareholder. Their shareholding is over 43%. So, it is more of a family business with a century-long tradition than a large corporation. Our Swiss clients, many of whom are institutional investors, know and appreciate us and our culture.
Schroders is also one of the few foreign asset managers that produces in Switzerland. Can you give some key figures on this?
Around 500 people work for the Schroders Group in Switzerland. Apart from the UK, Schroders does not employ as many people in any other country in the world. A total of five investment desks are managed locally. In terms of assets under management, the private equity business is the most important. Real estate, insurance-linked securities, convertibles and Swiss plus European equities are the other desks. In addition, BlueOrchard, the impact investing pioneer, is also part of Schroders Switzerland. And finally, Schroder & Co Bank and the associated service centre account for almost half of the local staff.
What role do "Swiss" Schroders products play in the global organization of the company?
The private assets business in Switzerland is a strategic cornerstone for the entire Group. The 150 or so employees who work in this area manage approximately CHF 23.4 billion in assets locally. The team has more than 20 years of experience in private assets and is one of the most experienced in the entire industry.
In recent years, Schroders has acquired several Swiss investment managers: Were these simply opportunities or rather targeted strategic acquisitions?
We are constantly looking at opportunities, but the acquisitions of the past few years were all part of our strategic growth strategy. With the recent acquisition of BlueOrchard, we have strengthened ourselves in impact investing in particular.
Are there plans for further expansion of Swiss asset management?
Our service offering is comprehensive. This is also confirmed by our clients. For now we see no need for further action.
Before becoming CEO of Schroder Investment Management Switzerland AG, you managed a pension fund for a long time: What are the similarities between these jobs?
What the two businesses have in common is, on the one hand, the long-term investment horizon and, on the other, the focus on the investment business. Since many of our clients are active in the institutional sector, I knew them before I joined Schroders. I personally understand the needs of these clients 100%, which makes it possible to conduct a dialogue at eye level.
What distinguishes the Swiss asset management location in terms of its competitive characteristics?
Switzerland benefits from its political and legal stability, its dual education system with excellent universities and universities of applied sciences. In recent years it has become an innovation hub in the digital sector, especially in the Zurich area. These characteristics are not so easy to copy from other financial centres with which we compete.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for the Swiss asset management industry in an international comparison?
Concentrating on niches is probably the most effective strategy. We can differentiate ourselves from competitors not through "me too", but through innovation. I am thinking here of the areas of sustainability and natural capital, impact investing and private assets. Additional efforts in digitalisation will help to consolidate our excellent international position.
What do you personally like to do most - apart from asset management?
I am an exercise person - physically and mentally. In winter, I love the mountains, especially skiing. Fortunately, my wife and I share a love of sport. As a balance to the sometimes-hectic everyday working life, we can spend time together and switch off. I prefer to nourish myself with classical literature - provided I have the time and the leisure to do so.