"Transparency is the key to a good reputation"

Foto DKB 002

Dagmar Kamber Borens
Member of the Executive Management Board of State Street Bank International GmbH Country Head Switzerland and Head Depository Bank Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and the Nordics

Dagmar Kamber Borens has been active in global finance for over two decades. She joined State Street Bank in August 2021 as a member of the Executive Management Board of State Street International GmBH, Country Head Switzerland and Head of the German custodian banking business. In early 2023, she also took over as overall head of the Investor Services business for the Netherlands, Austria and the Nordic countries. Prior to State Street, the doctor of law held positions including Chief Operating Officer for Credit Suisse's Swiss Universal Bank. Prior to that, she spent 17 years at UBS, including as Group Chief Financial Officer for the Asia Pacific region in Singapore.


Mrs. Kamber Borens, you were recently elected to the AMAS board. What are your personal goals that you would like to bring to AMAS?

I am very pleased to bring an additional perspective to the AMAS Board as a representative of the custodian banks. Custodian banks are an elementary part of the value chain of our financial system and at the same time take on a certain special role. It is important to link complementary perspectives in the discussion on the future of the asset management industry. In addition to this aspect, the technological development of our industry is particularly close to my heart.

The strategic priorities of AMAS are sustainability, pensions and technology - as well as fundamentally shaping the framework conditions for a sustainable industry. Is there a topic missing from your point of view?

These are clearly the most important topics. Another relevant area is the international integration of the Swiss fund location. Not only in the sense of distribution, but also increasingly as a production location. This in turn is closely linked to the question of how we succeed in using new technologies such as blockchain and digital assets for our benefit. It is pleasing that innovative providers in these areas are increasingly locating in Switzerland, because we have a certain backlog demand for these technologies here. It is elementary for our industry and the location to take a leading role in this.

State Street Bank primarily serves as a custodian for asset managers. Is there a need for change in this area to further improve the framework conditions for the asset management industry?

Yes, certainly, the environment has changed a lot. Asset managers have long since stopped asking for traditional custody products, but the discussions with our clients are increasingly focussing on topics that span the entire value chain, towards a holistic view of front, middle and back office for both traditional and alternative assets. Increased customer needs require holistic solutions that include technology and service components and are based on an integrated data platform. State Street has invested heavily in such a platform solution in recent years and plays a leading role as the world's largest custodian. I also see attractive opportunities in the fintech sector. State Street, for example, has chosen Zurich as one of the competence locations for digital assets. This is where our new technologies must come in - keyword tokenisation. At the same time, we need to intensify our efforts in the megatopic of sustainability and thus drive the transition to more sustainable growth.

You are a lawyer - and during your banking career you were mostly responsible for topics such as finance and operations. What is the attraction of that?

These are indeed all so-called "back-office" functions, whose importance for the value creation of a bank is often underestimated, in my opinion. Because without these areas, clients cannot be served and ultimately not a single franc can be earned! It's not very glamorous in the "engine room", it's very technical and challenging, but that's what I personally find exciting.

You worked in Singapore for a long time. How does the financial centre culture there differ from the one here?

First of all, there are many parallels between Singapore and Switzerland: the international importance as a financial centre, high per capita income, renowned universities. In addition, there are stable political systems and currencies with comparatively low tax rates. Not to mention that both locations are multicultural and multilingual. In Singapore, there are almost optimal opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop; the country ranks well ahead of Switzerland in the World Bank's "Ease of Business" index. But a direct comparison of the locations is difficult, because the two countries ultimately differ very fundamentally in terms of their political system and social self-image. This requires a differentiated view.

The reputation of the Swiss financial centre is mainly shaped by banks and private banking. What can asset management contribute to the reputation?

Switzerland has always been a preferred location for investors because they benefit from Switzerland's business-friendly climate, stable politics and large talent pool. Meanwhile, the topic of sustainable finance has quite rightly become a high priority. AMAS aims to establish Switzerland as a leading asset management hub for Sustainable Finance, to align financial flows in a climate-friendly way and to fight "greenwashing". For me, this striving for transparency is the key to a sustainably good reputation.

The goal, which AMAS is also pursuing, is to build a leading international ecosystem for sustainable finance. Do you see advantages for Switzerland in this competition for locations?

Switzerland has excellent prerequisites for an absolute top position in the field of sustainable finance. The growth in the area of climate-friendly and sustainable investments is large; most recently, the total volume of assets under management amounted to more than CHF 1.5 trillion. Now it is a question of exploiting this potential. If we succeed in creating suitable national and international framework conditions and establishing governance and best practice guidelines, we are well on the way to becoming a leading hub for sustainable finance.