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«Hard work is the foundation on which success is built.»

 

Jürg Fausch
Lecturer in Financial Economics at the Institute of Financial Services Zug IFZ

Jürg Fausch is an economist and has been lecturing at the Institute of Financial Services Zug IFZ, part of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, since September 2017. In this role, he is also co-author and project manager of the annual Asset Management Study published in conjunction with the Asset Management Platform Switzerland. Jürg completed his Ph.D., specialising in macroeconomics, at the Stockholm School of Economics and the University of Stockholm in 2017. His research is focused on quantitative macroeconomics and empirical finance, and he has had papers published in the Journal of Macroeconomics and Economics Letters. Jürg has practical experience of asset management through his involvement in setting up Liechtenstein’s first microfinance fund.

 

Jürg Fausch, what was the best decision you have taken in your career?

Probably the best decision so far was to go abroad to study for my doctorate. In Stockholm, where I did my Ph.D. in economics, I found the international and highly productive environment ideal for investigating current economic issues in depth. The programme was very demanding, and I learned a great deal, especially in the fields of quantitative macroeconomics and econometrics. That knowledge helps me in my present role in that I can quickly get a grip on new topics that are increasingly important to empirical financial market research, such as machine learning. On top of this, my six years in Sweden forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to rise to the challenge of building a whole new life for myself in another country. Overall, it had a positive effect on me personally as well as academically, and I’m thankful for that.

What is it that motivates you?

I’m a very inquisitive person, and I have the good fortune to be learning new things all the time through my research as well as interesting other projects. Academic research sometimes requires considerable stamina because a lot of time can pass between having the idea for a project and finally getting a paper published. I think that stamina and the will to take on challenges and not be discouraged when things get hard are key motivating factors in my work.

Which values underlie your day-to-day actions, decisions, plans?

I’m very much guided by the principle of treating everyone with due respect and not prejudging people I meet. I also learned the concept of “no pain, no gain” very early in life, and I’m convinced that hard work is the foundation on which success is built.

What are your career goals?

I’m still in the early stages of my career as an economist, and one of my goals is definitely to make a name for myself in this field. That includes having my research findings published in specialist periodicals as well as addressing economic policy issues with broader relevance for society.

What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?

I see the freedom my job gives me to think, learn and grow as a great privilege, and I treasure it. In my lecturing work, I always really enjoy seeing how well young students develop at our university, and the thought that I’ve played a part in that is a source of pride. From a researcher’s perspective, meanwhile, successfully completing a project is always very satisfying. If I’m working on a consulting project, it gives me a lot of pleasure when the goals are met and the client’s happy with the result. I get less pleasure from the routine administrative tasks that come with working at a university, which sadly seem to increase with time. That said, I’m very happy in my job as long as I can work on exciting and relevant economic topics and impart some enthusiasm for financial economics to my students.

Which problems should politicians and authorities urgently address?

Being a younger person, climate change and shoring up the pension system are things I’m quite strongly concerned about. We need to find robust, sustainable solutions to these problems. I also think Switzerland still has rather a lot of catching up to do in terms of balancing work and family life. I think we can learn a lot from the Scandinavian model here. Over half of the students at Swiss universities, for example, are female. From an economic policy point of view, we don’t want these highly qualified women to have to forgo a career completely because of family commitments. They are valuable human resources, and more should be done to keep them in the workforce.

How do you achieve that crucial work/life balance?

Family and friends are hugely important to me in my free time. Doing things together with them at weekends really helps me to unwind after the working week. I’m constantly drawn to nature and the mountains, be it for skiing in the winter or walks and mountain hikes in the spring and autumn. Travel’s also very important to me, and I enjoy discovering new countries and cultures with my wife. During the week, I try to get some exercise on at least three days. It’s a great way to forget about work for a while, and it helps me to relax. I mustn’t forget our dog, who’s always so happy to greet me when I get home from work and kick off my evening with a walk.

What are you thankful for?

I’m most thankful that my family and I are in good health. Apart from that, I’m very thankful that I grew up in surroundings that enabled me to achieve my goals and realise my dreams. The support I get from my family and my wife is especially vital.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading “The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop” by Adam Kucharski. It’s an intuitive, easy-to-understand explanation of how mathematical methods can help us to achieve a better understanding of contagion effects. This doesn’t just mean pandemics like COVID-19, it’s about all the various forms of contagion, including the spread of misinformation on the Internet and how financial crises arise. The book’s written in a very engaging style that makes it hard to put down once you start reading.

What do you do on a short journey?

I love to read on short journeys. I normally take the opportunity to read the latest research papers. Sometimes, I like to watch a good film or an exciting series on Netflix. When I’m taking the train around Switzerland, I occasionally just listen to music and enjoy watching the landscape go by.

What is your favourite food?

I’m a big fan of Mediterranean cooking, and I love to cook myself. My wife and I are always trying out new dishes with great pleasure. I also love a good fondue when it’s cold outside during winter time.

If you could choose any country, where would you like to live and why?

I count myself very lucky to have grown up in Switzerland, and I see it as a great privilege to live here. If I had to choose another country, it would be Sweden. I became very fond of its capital Stockholm while I was doing my Ph.D. there. It’s an incredibly beautiful city in the summer, with lots of greenery, history and the cultural benefits of a big metropolis. Stockholm’s spread out across 14 islands on the edge of the Baltic Sea and has over 50 bridges. It’s rightfully known as the “Venice of the North”. However, the winters, when it gets dark very early, take some time getting used to.

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