Transparency and comparability are vitally important to fund investors who act sustainably
CEO of Swiss Fund Data AG, Zurich
Roman Aschwanden became CEO of Swiss Fund Data AG, a joint venture between the Asset Management Association Switzerland and SIX Swiss Exchange, at the start of April 2020 after a brief stint as a consultant at Alpha FMC. Before that, he was CEO of the fund management business and COO for Continental Europe at GAM. Roman also spent more than 15 years as Head of Portfolio Management in GAM’s discretionary private clients business. Prior to joining GAM, he held various functions in asset management at UBS AG, including Chief of Staff at UBS Investment Bank in Japan.
Roman Aschwanden, what does success mean to you?
Achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself on schedule. You can think of yourself as successful if your achievements are recognized and appreciated.
What was the best decision you have taken in your career?
Despite being very uncertain about it at the time, opting not to attend the UBS Investment Banking School in New York but to pursue a new challenge in Japan instead for personal reasons. The end result was an exciting time in a different culture with a very demanding work environment and some personal successes. I’m proud to have been married to my Japanese wife for almost 25 years.
What is it that motivates you?
Tasks that demand total commitment, a wide range of different skills, and broad experience.
What was the biggest challenge you faced at the start of your career?
That was probably my time in Japan, when I was in charge of merging the corporate finance departments of Union Bank of Switzerland, Swiss Bank Corporation, and LTCB at the same time as getting the onshore private bank project up and running, all within the space of six months. I was working exceptionally long hours, even by Japanese standards.
What drove you to do what you do today?
It’s the challenge of modernizing Swiss Fund Data AG together with our clients and stakeholders and broadening its offering of data, statistics, and marketing materials. My years of experience working in fund and asset management, data, and operations are sure to help me in this respect.
What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?
The things I enjoy most are the diversity and the opportunities to innovate. The company’s manageable size is also a plus as it offers flexibility and a certain degree of independence. I have a tendency to automate routine processes – if something isn’t fast enough, I get impatient quite quickly.
How do you achieve that crucial work/life balance?
I find it easy to switch off while jogging through the countryside. The occasional weekend at my vacation apartment in Davos also helps me to take a break from my commitments and put day-to-day stresses to one side.
What can you not do without?
In vino veritas! My life would be much less colorful without a good bottle of wine.
What are you thankful for?
My health, my friends, and good working relationships.
Do you play a musical instrument?
Yes, I love playing my grand piano. I studied music for my school leaver’s certificate, but then I virtually stopped playing the piano altogether for more than 20 years. Then I got back into it through GAM when I was roped into giving a short performance together with a talented violinist at the Christmas party.
What was your favorite subject at school?
It was Latin because of the logic in its grammar, Cicero’s speeches, the poetry of Catullus, and – last but not least – a teenager’s love of nostalgia for times gone by.
If you could choose any country, where would you like to live and why?
That’s a tough one. There’s a lot of water between Japan and Hawaii, but it would definitely come down to a choice between those two island groups. It wouldn’t be easy weighing up the culture and harmony of Japan on the one hand against the easy-going lifestyle amid the vast Pacific in Hawaii on the other.