"We want to be a role model on digitalisation and sustainability"

Sandra Gasser 1 002

Sandra Gasser-Habermacher
Head Compliance Switzerland, Partners Group

Sandra Gasser-Habermacher is Head of Compliance Switzerland at Partners Group and a member of the management team. The mother of two boys studied at the University of Zurich (Lic. iur.) and at King's College London (LL.M.). As a lawyer, Sandra Gasser worked as an associate at the law firms Pestalozzi and Bär & Karrer, and moved to the auditing and consulting firm KPMG in 2015. There, she most recently headed the Asset Management & Fund Consulting division. She moved to Partners Group in Baar a year ago.


Mrs. Gasser-Habermacher, about a year ago, you moved from KPMG to Partners Group, where you head Compliance for Switzerland. What major change did you experience?

The biggest change is the focus on one company or one group. At KPMG, and also before that in my work as an attorney in law firms, I advised various clients in parallel. Even though I accompanied some clients for years, the cooperation was limited to individual projects and limited in time. In my new "in-house" role, I am responsible for a financial institution and do so in a breadth and depth that cannot be achieved in consulting. This holistic work is very satisfying and motivating for me. Partners Group is a global asset manager in the private markets sector with around 20 locations worldwide. My work has become even more international.

You work part-time in a global asset manager where time never stands still. How does that work?

Since the birth of our first child six years ago, I have been working 80 percent. That only works because I'm not alone in that. Both in my professional and private life, I benefit from a strong network that supports me and is able to fill gaps. In both areas, it is not the individual but the team that is the key to success. My husband and I share the care work equally. At Partners Group, I am part of a global compliance team. At ten locations from Denver, London and Luxembourg to Singapore and Japan, a considerable number of employees take care of Partners Group's compliance. In addition, my work is usually easy to plan and I can organise it flexibly. I regularly work again when the children are asleep. I consider my situation a privilege for which I am very grateful.

You head compliance in Switzerland, and there are compliance units for practically every jurisdiction in which Partners Group operates. That sounds like a high degree of complexity.

We are a global asset manager. In most jurisdictions, we face increasing regulatory density and have to comply with ever stricter regulatory requirements. In addition, we want to be a role model on important topics such as digitalisation and sustainability. This alone brings a certain complexity, which we counter with clearly defined processes. These are constantly being scrutinised in order to make them even more efficient and "to the point". Open communication and cooperation across national borders are essential. I am in daily contact with the compliance teams in the other jurisdictions. There should be no inhibitions about calling a colleague to discuss a common issue, get a second opinion and share experiences. Especially in Switzerland, where we often take up international topics, it is worthwhile to look abroad.

Partners Group has quite a significant compliance department in Manila. What is it all about?

It is an internal group support function. A lot of the compliance controls for the whole group are centralised in Manila. The team in the Philippines includes several compliance specialists, mostly with an audit or accounting background. They perform controls according to global and local instructions and report regularly to the local compliance teams. All non-standard cases are also escalated to them. I am in daily contact with the team in Manila and usually have the first conversations on my way to work to allow for the time difference.

Five years ago, would you have dreamed of once working for the leading Swiss alternative asset manager?

No. I probably wouldn't have considered it two years ago either. Partners Group had to come along before I even saw this path for myself. Initial non-binding discussions soon turned into a serious exchange about a change. At that time, I had already been working in an advisory capacity in the area of funds and asset management for a good ten years and specialised in the area of regulatory & compliance. So a change to the "client side" was at least theoretically obvious. It was a logical consequence of my entire career so far. That I would and will remain loyal to the asset management and fund industry has not been in question for a long time. This is where my expertise lies and working in this area gives me great pleasure.

What ultimately made you switch to Partners Group?

One of the main drivers was the culture of Partners Group. After all, it is the people who shape a company, who determine the company's success through their actions. What distinguishes Partners Group's culture is "start-up mentality" and entrepreneurial action. Partners Group has definitely outgrown the infancy of a start-up. Nevertheless, this creative and innovative energy is palpable here. I can identify with this DNA of Partners Group. Even during my time as a consultant, I always found it particularly meaningful to accompany companies that have a vision, take social responsibility and do not regard their employees as numbers. In addition to this energy, I was also fascinated by Partners Group's professionalism and best-in-class approach from the very beginning. I learned that it is often worth trying new things and daring to do something, especially when your gut feeling is right.

What is being done to maintain this culture?
Partners Group has been growing strongly for several years. There are now over 1,900 employees working here worldwide. In order to preserve the original spirit, the entrepreneurial DNA of Partners Group, various measures are taken. For example, people who have a strong entrepreneurial mindset and can contribute appropriate ideas and initiatives are specifically recruited and promoted. Partners Group is committed to entrepreneurial ownership, flat hierarchies and a working environment that encourages initiative and innovation. This is also clearly felt in the Compliance team. Togetherness and the perception as a "partnership" are also specifically promoted. This usually starts with a hike up the Wildspitz - it builds team spirit.

A demanding job and being a parent at the same time: What else do you like to take time for?

There is not much time next to work and family. But I regularly take small time-outs to recharge my batteries. That can be a jog, a few hours in the garden or a visit to a classical concert. Afterwards I feel grounded and have new energy.