"We combine the professionalism of the big players with the agility and customer proximity of a boutique"

Bartenwerffer Torsten 1920

Torsten von Bartenwerffer
CEO Fisch Asset Management

Dr Torsten von Bartenwerffer has been CEO of Fisch Asset Management since November 2023. He is also responsible for portfolio management. He has two decades of experience in the financial industry with a focus on investment management, the development of investment solutions as well as strategy and business development. Before joining Fisch in October 2021, he was Head Multi Asset in the Zurich office of the FERI Group, where he was responsible for multi-asset investments and equity strategies. He was also a member of the Steering Committee of the FERI Cognitive Finance Institute in Frankfurt. Other positions include leading positions at the Aquila Group (Hamburg) and various roles at ISP Family Office, Clariden Leu and UBS. Torsten von Bartenwerffer studied business administration and technology management at the University of St. Gallen, where he also gained an award-winning doctorate.


Mr von Bartenwerffer, your Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pius Fisch, once spoke of a "radical corporate philosophy" at Fisch Asset Management. What is your experience in this regard?

When Pius Fisch spoke of a radical corporate philosophy, he was ahead of his time. Even today, the Fisch brothers' signature is still clearly recognisable at our company. Asset management is still at the centre of what we do, we work hard for our investors and avoid conflicts of interest. To be fair, a lot has happened in recent years with regard to the last point, including in the areas of regulation and compliance. We think that's a good thing. Since Pius' statement in 2015, a lot has changed, both in the financial world and at our company - for example in terms of infrastructure, risk management and, of course, sustainability. "Radical" implies a departure from the conventional. For Fisch, this means that as a boutique, we combine the professionalism of the big players with the agility and client proximity of a boutique. In this respect, we are still radically on course.

How does Fisch Asset Management differ from other asset managers, apart from the focus of its product range?

As a boutique asset manager focussing on convertible bonds and corporate bonds with 30 years of experience, we are unique in this form. Firstly, our employees have an above-average command of their tasks; secondly, we have an unrivalled infrastructure in terms of technology and portfolio management; and thirdly, we have exceptional financial stability thanks to the foresight of the Fisch brothers, together with a private ownership structure with employees as co-entrepreneurs.

What are your management principles?

I have three. Firstly, meritocracy: for me, professional success should be based on the individual performance of the employee. It is important to me to create an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to progress based on their abilities. Secondly, employee empowerment: To perform optimally, an employee must be able to develop their skills. It is therefore up to the company to promote personal and professional potential. And thirdly, accountability: I believe in clear responsibilities coupled with clear expectations. This improves both efficiency and transparency.

The company has recently invested heavily in infrastructure and processes. Are you ready for the next growth spurt?

Yes, we are. All our processes and our infrastructure are designed to manage more than the CHF 12 billion we have already achieved. And that remains the case. The higher interest rate level means that fixed income is once again a yield driver these days. As a specialist in this area, we want to benefit from the corresponding demand from investors.

The internationalisation of asset management from Switzerland is a major hurdle. How are you tackling this?

First and foremost, we are committed to our core markets of Switzerland and Germany. This is where our past and our future lie. However, our employees are extremely international and 18 nationalities work together at our headquarters in Zurich. We cover neighbouring countries, such as Italy, with sales partners, which is a very efficient solution for us. So far, we have refrained from activities on other continents or jurisdictions. A change in this stance would depend on the respective framework conditions.

What do you think of the financial services agreement between Switzerland and the UK?

The Bilateral Financial Services Agreement (BFSA) between Switzerland and the UK is a forward-looking step, but it still harbours many unanswered questions, as it must first be ratified and transposed into national law. For Swiss financial service providers, the required registration with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) offers both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, it increases credibility and can strengthen investor confidence; on the other hand, it requires compliance with UK regulations and annual reporting to the FCA. It is important to emphasise that the agreement only relates to the marketing of portfolio management mandates and has no impact on the marketing or authorisation of funds. Overall, the agreement requires a careful assessment of the associated benefits and obligations. It may represent an opportunity for us, as well as for the two financial markets.

The last few years have been a bad cocktail for bonds and equities with the turnaround in interest rates, geopolitical uncertainties, fears of recession and so on: How has Fisch adapted to this?

We have increased efficiencies without reducing the quality of our services. We have positioned the company accordingly in order to benefit from the upturn in the fixed-income and convertible bond segment. And finally, we have consistently developed our staff. We are delighted that we have been able to attract some promising young talent. For the future, we are not even so concerned about whether interest rates will fall again, remain the same or even stabilise at a higher level in the long term. We are of the opinion that after the long period of low interest rates, especially for our signature asset class of convertible bonds, but also for our top products in the areas of high yield, emerging markets and global corporates, there is no alternative to a longer upswing phase.

You have worked in both Germany and Switzerland during your career: Are there differences between the respective markets and asset management cultures?

In my opinion, the Swiss are more pragmatic. It may be more difficult to convince people at the beginning, but once the commitment is there, it generally runs smoothly, purposefully and with responsibility for closing the deal. Other countries can take a leaf out of their book.

If you hadn't chosen the world of finance as your career: What would you have become otherwise?

Working under pressure, with decisiveness and precision - that's how I like to work. Coming from a family of doctors, I might also have become a surgeon. But I like the world of finance. It suits me like this.