Person of the Month

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"The combination of „science and art“ in asset management is unique."

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Philipp Bärtschi
Head of Investment Management, Bank J. Safra Sarasin

Philipp Bärtschi is Head of Investment Management at Bank J. Safra Sarasin. Since 2016 he is responsible for all investment teams within the Asset Management of the company. Philipp Bärtschi started working for Bank J. Safra Sarasin in 2006. Before that, he worked at Threadneedle Asset Management in London and Zurich Financial Services in Zurich. Philipp was appointed Chief Strategist and Chairman of the Investment Committee in 2009. In 2013 he was promoted to Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Bank J. Safra Sarasin Ltd.


Philipp Bärtschi, which was the best decision you took in your career?

I believe it is important to always be open for new opportunities and be willing to try something new. One such opportunity presented itself at a quite early stage in my career: the chance to go and work at an Asset Management firm in London. The years I spent in London provide me with a new perspective– career wise but also in my private life.

What motivates you?

I was and still continue to be fascinated by the financial markets and was fortunate to be able to turn one of my hobbies into my job. Everyday is full of surprises and calls for a new assessment of the markets. I find it very interesting to work in a field in which you need a combination of expert technical know-how as well as business experience and the ability to interpret what you see. This combination of „science and art“ in asset management is unique.

Which are the values on which you base your decisions, plans, everyday actions?

As a guiding principle I use a word from the Bible which describes what God’s expectations of his people are: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). In my daily life, I try to search for righteousness and keep the law; I try to treat others with respect and not to take myself too seriously.

What kind of leadership principles do you apply?

One of my most important guiding principles – besides the one which I mentioned above – is “what you sow, is what you reap.” Said differently this means that every person is responsible for their own destiny. As a business manager I set the goals which need to be reached. I try to define an optimal framework and see my responsibility in supporting my team members to reach the goals. It is however the responsibility of the individual to solve the task and to deliver the necessary performance.

What brought you to where you are today?

Already at an early age I had contact with the financial markets as my father worked for a bank. The trading of shares fascinated me early on. Already at the age of 10 I bought my first shares and regularly read financial market letters. With the stock market crash in 1987, my interest in the markets diminished temporarily. However, when I had to decide which studies to take on, it was clear to me early on that I wanted to study economics in order to better understand how the economies and the financial markets function.

What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?

The financial markets are full of surprises and call for an examination of new and exciting topics. I find the discussions with team members from various areas as well as with experts around the globe very stimulating. The least enjoyable parts of my job are the regulatory tasks which unfortunately seem to increase all the time – despite the technological progress.

And how do you find a balance to your job?

J’apprécie énormément les activités en pleI enjoy very much being outside and treasure the quietness away from the chaos of the big cities and everyday life. Hiking, swimming in the lake or playing a round of golf helps me relax. The best is, however, riding my snow board down a fresh powder slope!

De quoi ne pourriez-vous pas vous passerWhat can you not do without?

Sleep! In order to being able to perform, I need to have a good amount of sleep. I do not hold with the attitude that one needs to sleep as little as possible. On the contrary, I admire people who consistently go to bed early.

What would you recommend someone starting out in Asset Management?

Do you have a passion for the financial markets? If you can answer this question with yes, then you’ve got a good foundation. Besides the passion, I believe, you also need to show performance and endurance in order to be able to shape a successful career. Don’t focus too early on one specific career goal but be open to take an opportunity when it presents itself. Being at the right place at the right time cannot be forced.

What are you grateful for?

Every day is a gift. I am grateful to God for having given me life and all the opportunities with it. It is a great privilege to have been born and to have grown up in Switzerland, to have been able to obtain a good education and therefore optimal conditions to start a career. At the same time, I also see this as a responsibility to use my own talents and skills in a meaningful way. In order to give society something back, I use some of my time as a volunteer in non-profit organisations.

Do you play an instrument (in a band)?

In my youth I played the piano, the saxophone and the guitar. I was part of a band which produced a couple of CDs and also played concerts. After my studies, unfortunately, my musical career ended. I was therefore very happy to have a comeback in the last few years when I was able to accompany my son on the piano when he took up playing the trumpet.

What does your screen saver on your mobile show?

It is a picture of the Swiss mountain, the “Eiger” which I climbed on my last alpine mountain tour. This picture reminds me that big challenges can be tackled one step at a time.