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«You can’t be a leading institutional asset manager in Switzerland without a presence in the German-speaking part of the country.»

 

Stefan Bichsel
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise

Stefan Bichsel, a member of Banque Cantonale Vaudoise’s Executive Board, runs BCV’s Asset Management & Trading Division since May 2009. Mr. Bichsel makes no secret of what institutional clients are looking for in their asset managers: competence, reliability, and stability. Stability in an institutional asset manager is measured not solely by its solid balance sheet, but also by the loyalty of its employees. These are two core tenets at BCV and, according to Mr. Bichsel, one of the keys to BCV AM’s success. Stefan Bichsel, who trained as a lawyer, began his career in banking at UBS before moving to Pictet, Robeco, and Lombard Odier. Along the way, he was chosen to help set up and then head Swissca (which became Swisscanto); he has also served as chairman of the boards of the Swiss Funds Association (SFA now SFAMA) and the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA). For Mr. Bichsel, BCV AM’s success is also due in no small part to its steadfast, long-term approach to asset management. In other words, an asset manager that is at once deeply rooted, open to new ideas, and quick to respond in turbulent times. He adds that you can’t be a leading institutional asset manager in Switzerland without a presence in the German-speaking part of the country. And for good reason: the Swiss pension system holds CHF 890 billion in assets, yet only 20% of that is based in the French-speaking cantons.

 

Stefan Bichsel, how would you define success?

For me, long-term success is built on three pillars: satisfied customers; skilled, engaged, and satisfied employees; and sufficient profits to finance the growth of your business.

What was your best career decision?

One good career decision I made was to accept the cantonal banks' offer in 1993 to help create and run Swissca, which later became Swisscanto. Another was to join BCV. I believe in its values and I see its employees applying them day in and day out.

Do you regret any of your decisions?

Yes, that is inevitable in any career. You just have to learn from the experience.

Who comes to mind if you are asked to name a “high achiever”?

Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He has succeeded in changing the world – his technology has fundamentally changed how people work across the globe. And now, with his Foundation, he has become one of the biggest philanthropists on the planet.

Is social media an important part of your life?

I must admit that I don’t really spend any time on social media in my private life. Professionally, however, it is becoming increasingly important. Asset managers can no longer ignore its utility as a channel for content – both content they distribute and content they receive.

What do you like most – and least – about your job?

What I like most is the exchanges with clients and with motivated, skilled colleagues and staff. I’m proud that we’ve been able to instill a genuine asset-management culture within our bank. My division has extensive experience managing investment funds and institutional-client mandates across all asset classes. And through the Fondation BCV Deuxième Pilier, we offer a full slate of occupational pension services – whether packaged or bespoke – including both managing pension assets and administering plans for companies. This foundation was set up even before Switzerland passed its occupational pension fund law. The less-attractive side of our business is the constant stream of new regulations that we have to incorporate into our daily processes, even when their well-intended purpose is not evident.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Normandy.

What book are you currently reading?

I just finished Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and am now reading his next book Homo Deus.

How often do you look at your phone throughout the day?

Too often.

What was your favorite subject at school?

History.

What’s the background image on your smartphone?

My dog.

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