As a proud sponsor of Citywire‘s award recognizing the top 50 IAMs across Switzerland (details here), we would like to give you an insight into the daily work of the winning companies. Arleta Więch asked 5 questions to selected top 50 IAMs to learn more about their success factors as well as the future of wealth management and the role of wealthtech in the upcoming years. Here’s what she found out.
Sebastian Ochalek leads the Legal, Risk and Compliance department at Clarus Capital Group AG. Founded in 2011 in Zurich, it’s one of the fastest-growing asset managers in Zurich’s financial market in terms of headcount and assets under management. It’s already the second time that the company receives the award, which makes us especially happy because it leverages WealthArc’s technology.
What is your role at Clarus Capital Group? What differentiates your company from other EAMs?
Clarus functions as a platform for client advisors, giving them an opportunity to benefit from various services but leaving them free to decide which of them they want to use and to what extent. We believe that the relationship manager knows the client and their needs best and can therefore decide what to offer, to what extent and in what form, be it different kind of mandates, exotic products or basic banking services. This freedom of the relationship manager also means that there are no requirements from Clarus to distribute proprietary products or mandates.
How has wealth management changed since you started working in the industry?
We are a relatively young company, especially with regard to our employees, which fortunately means that most of our relationship managers were confronted with an increasingly regulated working environment when they were still working for banks. Thanks to that, the current increasing regulation of our industry has not been impacting us drastically. What is more, Clarus founders recognized early on that an internal independent asset management and compliance function are not just cost factors but central pillars of a sound asset management company. We benefit from it now.
You are one of the top 50 IAMs across Switzerland and Liechtenstein. What do you believe to be your success factors?
We perceive each client as an individual and tailor our services to them. Instead of approaching them in a standardized way, we address the unique needs of each of our client, giving them a holistic view of their assets (both bankable and non-bankable).
Through this approach, we build close relationships based on trust, which is the cornerstone of the activities of an asset manager.
It is also due to the fact that we communicate compensation clearly and transparently. For example, our clients do not pay any additional (hidden) fees when investing in our own products.
What were your major challenges in 2020? Were they rather strategic or operational?
2020 was, of course, marked by COVID-19. On the one hand, there was great turbulence on the markets in the first half of the year, which had significant impact on customer portfolios. On the other hand, various political events made it more difficult to decide how, when and in which products to invest. Fortunately, our client relationships are based on long-term partnership and we have weathered this stormy period well. Of course, as FINIG/FIDLEG came into force, numerous strategic and operational questions arose. And they continue to arise, because the transition period is still running (by the end of the year, we will have reached the first deadlines). This is a topic that will be accompanying us for the next few years.
What do you think about the importance of technology in asset management? Is it going to rise in 2021?
I think that the need for technological support in our industry will definitely increase not only in 2021 but also in the next few years. Smaller asset management companies will still be able to work with Excel and physical folders, but this will no longer be the case for medium and larger companies.
Taking compliance as an example, there is an increasing number of topics where technological solutions could support the automation and simplification of monitoring processes.
We are also observing ever more interest in technical solutions on our clients’ side as they want to view their consolidated assets in one place and monitor them in another.
5 to Top 50 is a series of interviews where we ask 5 questions to selected top 50 IAMs across Switzerland. For live updates on the rest of the interviews, follow our LinkedIn profile.