“We need to put the advantages of Zurich as an asset management location even more in the foreground and dispel any prejudices”
Christel Rendu de Lint
Deputy Head of Investments, Vontobel
In her role as Deputy Head of Investments and Member of the Global Executive Board, is Christel Rendu de Lint in charge of the Sustainable Equities Boutique and the Wealth Management Investment & Thematics Boutique. In addition, she leads the Investment Services and Risk & Performance teams. Christel Rendu de Lint holds a PhD in Economics. She started her career in 2000 at Morgan Stanley in Equity Research. At Vontobel she took her role in may 2021 joining from Union Bancaire Privée where she was Head of Fixed Income.
Christel Rendu de Lint, what made you want to work in the asset management industry?
My background is in macroeconomics. I was and still am passionate about understanding, analysing and ultimately trying to anticipate macroeconomic developments. Building on this academic background and my first professional experience as an economist at Morgan Stanley, I wanted to put my views to the test in the markets in practice. In addition, what attracted me to the asset management industry and has kept me firmly rooted there is the constant intellectual challenge that the markets offer, as well as the transparency and objectivity of the results. Performance can be measured and quantified in real time. Asset growth is the objective result of investment success.
London or Zurich: What are the respective advantages of the two cities as asset management locations?
London is still the largest international financial centre in the world next to New York. Many financial service providers are active there, including asset managers. Both locations benefit from good universities and schools and they have international air hubs with worldwide connections. All of this - except for the size - also applies to Zurich. We count many large institutional investors in Switzerland and especially in Zurich. SwissRe, for example, the world's second-largest reinsurer, is based here. Zurich is the headquarters of global banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse. We have globally renowned universities and good schools in Zurich and in Switzerland. Zurich is one of the most attractive cities in the world with an international mindset. Switzerland has always been globally oriented and service oriented because of our size. Then there is Switzerland's famous stability. We stand for a stable political framework and a high level of security throughout the world. Our regulatory framework is at the highest global level. We always orient ourselves to the best international standards.
And as a place to work or live?
Switzerland and Zurich are attractive for employees from all over the world. Again, we have very good schools. Our universities enjoy an international reputation. In addition, Zurich has a high quality of life with its wide range of cultural and leisure activities as well as the lake and the mountains nearby. I moved here myself last year and appreciate the city with its good infrastructure and short distances.
What is missing for the Swiss financial centre to become even more competitive in asset management production?
We need to put the advantages of Zurich as a location even more in the foreground and dispel any prejudices. Vontobel has good experience in this regard and hires investment and other experts from all over the world in Zurich.
What are your guiding principles as an investment manager?
As an investor, I was strongly top-down macro-oriented. My main focus and added value were on allocation views. Accordingly, I was always very concerned about liquidity so as not to be "trapped" in asset allocation decisions and to fulfil my role as an active manager. I also put a lot of emphasis on risk analysis and modelling, especially on how to account for the fact that fixed income segments have very different liquidity characteristics. Of course, the whole team also put a lot of emphasis on fundamental bottom-up analysis as well as relative value analysis, which is crucial in fixed income. Today, I no longer manage a portfolio, but support our portfolio managers as Deputy Head Investments, the unit that represents Vontobel's investment know-how with its approximately 300 globally active experts. For my new role, transparency and communication are the most important guiding principles.
Is the financial sector the right partner for achieving the UN's SDG targets and the Paris climate goals?
The financial sector is an important, but ultimately only one wheel of many that must be moved if the Paris climate goals are to be achieved. Through the allocation of funds, the influence of the financial sector or investors can be decisive. Investors decide who gets their money for further growth. Those who really want to make a difference will not be able to avoid taking an active and intensive look at their investments. Passive investments only support the average. With active investments, you can make targeted investments in the sense of Paris.
Where do you see the investment theme of sustainability in three years' time?
It is certainly not a fad. The topic will become normal and accompany us every day. Sustainable behaviour will be as normal as it is today that we don't cross the road at a red light as a matter of course and thus set a good example for our children.
How do you live sustainability in your private life?
By running after my teenage children to get them to turn off the lights. Joking aside, by minimising, reusing, recycling and composting waste from the very beginning. Furthermore, I was an early vegan in my youth for animal welfare reasons. I am not anymore, maybe because of some attractive wine pairings, but I have a minimal meat consumption and my children and husband are familiar with all alternatives to meat, including insect burgers.
What else would you like to achieve in your professional career?
I want to continue to be as enthusiastic and intellectually challenged as I have been allowed to be throughout my career. I would like to contribute to continuing or even improving the ongoing success of our investment teams and Vontobel.
What do you wish you had done that you have left out because of your career?
I never learned to play the piano or speak Italian...
How do you switch off after a fully charged day at work?
I don't always switch off successfully straight away! But time for the family, sports and reading books that have nothing to do with business definitely help to unwind.