«There’s a good reason why the windscreen’s bigger than the rear-view mirror.»
Head of Asset Management, Luzerner Kantonalbank
Stefan Angele has been Head of Asset Management at Luzerner Kantonalbank since 2018 and is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of LUKB Expert Fondsleitung AG. He has a degree in economics and more than 25 years’ experience in asset management, having held executive functions at GAM and Julius Baer Asset Management as well as management functions at Zürcher Kantonalbank.
Stefan Angele, what does success mean to you?
For me, success has two main aspects: dealing with the current situation – also known as reality – and preparing for the future. On the one hand, therefore, I believe that success means achieving as much as you can with the means and opportunities available in a given situation. In short, it means not letting reality get the better of you. The other aspect is all about dealing with unknowns, anticipating trends and changes. In this respect, I think success means setting a course in good time and making the right forward-looking decisions – to quote ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, you have to “skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” I think this closes the circle perfectly. If you’re prepared for the future, you’ll be better placed to cope when it becomes reality.
What is it that motivates you?
My motivation consists in not simply applying the knowledge, experience and technology at my disposal but combining them to create something new, interesting and future-proof. It’s the only way to achieve qualitative progress. This applies to asset management especially, where it’s not enough to rest on your laurels, you’ve got to anticipate what lies ahead, develop a suitable response and come up with solutions that work.
Which values underlie your day-to-day actions, decisions, plans?
I’d describe myself as a curious, cosmopolitan and flexible sort of person, but there are certain principles and values I hold dear both professionally and personally, and they’re non-negotiable. I see honesty, transparency and dependability as essential prerequisites for trust, which in my view is the cornerstone of healthy interpersonal relationships and thus the basis of every kind of constructive problem-solving.
What are your guiding/leadership principles?
A central element of my understanding of leadership is that each and every one of my staff is better at many specific tasks than I’ll ever be. That’s precisely why I need them on my team. In the rather pointed words of Steve Jobs, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” In particular, I see my role as creating the right environment for orchestrating and bundling the available know-how and individual capabilities so as to yield the best possible outcome. That includes eliminating disruptive factors. A properly functioning team is greater than the sum of its parts.
What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?
For more than 25 years, I’ve been gripped by the thrill of constantly facing new challenges and finding solutions for them. Being confronted with uncertainty and never-ending change is why I chose a career in asset management. I still enjoy it a lot, and I also find interacting with interesting, analytical people on a daily basis highly rewarding. Obviously, there are downsides that sometimes get on my nerves, like when a good idea can’t be put into practice because we don’t have the resources or our priorities lie elsewhere. It’s unavoidable, of course, as is the notorious Dunning-Kruger effect.
What are your goals – professionally and personally?
My overarching goal is to make good decisions – both personally and professionally. To this end, I try to understand people, the economy, the world and what makes them tick a little better every day. That helps me to identify trends and work out what might happen going forward, which in turn improves my decision-making.
How do you achieve that crucial work/life balance?
By exploring my creativity making nature photos and films and then editing them digitally on the computer. I enjoy the process as much as the results.
What, in your opinion, is the best anti-depressant?
I actually manage to get through life quite well without anti-depressants, but a meal – ideally cooked by myself – with good friends, a glass of fine wine and interesting conversation certainly has that effect. The anti-depressant effect can be further enhanced when the friends in question work in totally different professions.
What do you do on a short journey?
If I can, I use the time to think. It’s vitally important, especially if you work in asset management or an executive function, but unfortunately it can easily get neglected day to day, be it due to a packed agenda or too many distractions.
What book are you reading at the moment?
“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. In the book, he vividly describes our tendency to adopt a dramatised view of the world, which is often at odds with the facts and thus doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. It couldn’t be more relevant right now.
How often do you look at your mobile phone in a day?
My smartphone has more or less become an indispensable companion for both my work and my private life, so I use it all the time. It’s emblematic of the rapidly advancing digital revolution that presents society with so many new opportunities, but also risks.
What background picture do you have on your phone?
A close-up of a musk ox I took in Norway’s Dovrefjell National Park. Its primal, wild dignity and resilience to wind and weather are a constant source of inspiration.