Page 1

Courage Vontobel Portrait 2014

Courage and investment –a

contradiction in terms?



exist without

risk? Being

confident of success. Is


a characteristic

can be learnt?


Physical, moral or psychological: What exactly is


About Vontobel Vontobel’s mission is to protect and build the wealth our clients have entrusted to us over the long term. Specializing in active asset management and tailor-made investment solutions, we provide responsible and forward-looking advice. In doing so, we are committed to Swiss quality and performance standards. With their good name, our owner family has stood by these principles for generations. Our core capabilities Protect and build wealth: Over the long term, we are committed to protecting and building the wealth our clients have entrusted to us. In doing so, we provide our clients with responsible and forward-looking advice, transcending generations. Manage assets actively: As active asset managers, we create financial valueadded for our clients. To accomplish this, we elaborate first-class solutions for optimizing returns and managing risk. Deliver tailor-made investment solutions: We implement tailor-made investment solutions for our clients. Our forward-looking research, as well as our competence in developing products and processes, assure our clients that we are the right partner. Our company values Forward thinking, responsible action and first-class engagement for our clients. As of 31 December 2013, Vontobel held approximately CHF 163 billion of assets. Around 1,400 employees work for Vontobel at 21 locations worldwide. The registered shares of Vontobel Holding AG are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. The Vontobel families and the Vontobel Foundation hold the majority of shares and votes in the company.

> The “Vontobel Portrait 2014” is available as an e-paper at for you to read or share.

Dear reader If you ask people what courage means, you will get a whole array of different answers. This is only to be expected given that we all have our own individual take on this character trait, and the situations where it is required also vary greatly. In certain instances, courage lies in daring to do something, while on other occasions doing nothing may be the bolder course to take. We will be exploring this diverse facet of human nature in more detail in the “Portrait 2014”. In doing so, we will be taking a broad look at this theme since we want to also explore avenues that might be less familiar. Top Swiss diplomat and UN Special Representative Heidi Tagliavini tells us of her experiences as a negotiator in conflict zones. The staff of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also face considerable challenges, providing immediate medical aid wherever it is needed amid humanitarian disasters. The article by Bruno Jochum, General Director of MSF Switzerland, was written immediately before and after a fact-finding trip to Syria. But the question of courage also arises in everyday life and at work as well as in critical situations. The German psychologist Hans-Werner Bierhoff from the Ruhr University Bochum has spent many years studying moral courage, fairness and helpful behaviour in society. In our interview, he outlines what courage is, how it arises, where it is appropriate and where it would be ill-advised. For stuntman Oliver Keller, his work is all

Herbert J. Scheidt Chairman of the Board of Directors

about professionalism, with courage therefore playing a lesser role. When he puts his body on the line for prominent actors, everything is planned right down to the last detail. As we can see, courage has many facets. It has to do with conviction, determination, personal responsibility and also optimism. These are all characteristics that we need again and again if we are to make progress. We also need these characteristics as investors, be it private or institutional. Many aspects of investment once taken for granted are currently being called into question. For this reason, even investors who want nothing more than to protect their wealth need to adopt a bold approach when reaching investment decisions. Having the courage to invest is the order of the day but so too is a new awareness of risk. And what is equally important is having a partner who takes a measured, long-term approach. A partner who will have the courage to say “no” on occasion, when many others would simply acquiesce. We are helped in this respect by our independence, which is built on the firm foundations of a shareholder base focused on the long term. Vontobel has long been committed to a clear set of values. These help us pursue a secure course in times when there is no shortage of challenges. And thus provide a good platform for protecting and building your wealth.

Dr Zeno Staub Chief Executive Officer

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Contents 06













Dr Zeno Staub Having the courage to be independent.

Dr Heidi Tagliavini Courage in crisis diplomacy.

Conflicts, peace missions and Switzerland. Facts and figures


Christophe Bernard All eyes on the US central bank.


Vontobel Portrait 2014

Professor Dr Hans-Werner Bierhoff Courage is contagious.

Georg Schubiger A bold approach to investment.

Dr Hans Vontobel Being confident of success.

Oliver Keller When planning is more important than courage.

Axel Schwarzer Courage and investment – a contradiction in terms?

Roger Studer New and unconventional approaches.

Bruno Jochum Moral fortitude – not bravery.

Médecins Sans Frontières worldwide. Facts and figures

Herbert J. Scheidt The importance of standing strong.

Vontobel in figures.















Vontobel Portrait 2014


“We should only be courageous if we are willing to accept the consequences of our actions.”


Vontobel Portrait 2014

Dr Zeno Staub has been CEO of Vontobel since 2011. Prior to that, he served as CFO of Vontobel and was later appointed Head of Investment Banking and then Asset Management. Zeno Staub studied Economics at the University of St. Gallen, where he also completed a doctorate.

Having the courage to be independent. Interview with Dr Zeno Staub Chief Executive Officer The Greek historian Thucydides once said: “The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage.” Is there really a link between happiness, freedom and courage? Yes, I think so. Thucydides was describing a period when people were considered brave if they were willing to fight for their freedom. Nowadays, freedom is still something that is worth fighting for. However, happiness, freedom and courage are concepts that we need to place in a broader context today; we need to find something to connect these three values. In what respect? Freedom is about opportunity. Courage is about being prepared to seize one specific opportunity from a range of options. However, courage can only lead to happiness if we actually succeed in our endeavours. It is only when we see the results of our actions that it is possible to determine whether or not they have made us happy. We often associate courage with physical actions. However, courage goes far beyond that. Every entrepreneur requires courage to run their business each day. However, this courage goes virtually

unnoticed by those around them. Consequently, it is often only analysts or industry experts who are able to appreciate and assess the bold thinking behind a new strategy.

it makes it impossible to arrive at a fair assessment. Within my area of responsibility, I always strive to act fairly and to give people enough time to prove themselves.

There is also a link between courage and responsibility. Yes, but it is freedom that should first and foremost be associated with responsibility. In reality, we should only be courageous if we are willing to accept the consequences of our actions. If we are not willing to do so, then we are not acting courageously and responsibly but are, instead, being both reckless and irresponsible.

Which of the decisions that you have to make as CEO of Vontobel require courage and determination? Decisions generally always entail a degree of uncertainty. No one knows every last detail at the exact moment when they have to decide; there are always certain elements that are missing. Furthermore, part of the information that is available is based on scenarios and probabilities. Decisions involving people – such as reorganisations or far-reaching changes – are very difficult. In these cases, I know that my actions will have a direct impact on the lives of other people. These decisions have to be carefully considered in order for them to translate into responsible actions.

Why do so many people have difficulty recognizing the moral courage that is needed in business life? That is because business strategies are complex and take time to implement. Success or failure is not visible from one moment to the next in the way that it is when we watch a performer walking the tightrope at a great height in front of a large audience. It takes two or three years – and careful analysis – to assess the courage of an entrepreneur or manager. Managers don’t always have that long. That is correct. I think the current trend where everyone wants to see immediate results is regrettable because

Anyone with management or decision-making responsibilities knows that there are times when it is clear what they should decide – but they nevertheless hesitate. Is this because they lack the necessary courage? Not necessarily. Courage does not really help in situations such as these. What is more important is experience and the knowledge that in everyday

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Courage is needed time and again in order to go beyond one’s physical and mental limits.

“Our courage to remain true to ourselves gives us a clear direction.”

business life there is sometimes such a thing as a lack of alternatives. When that is the case, there is nothing to be gained by deferring the decision. Do you often feel as if you are under pressure from external parties to reach a decision? All managers probably feel that kind of pressure – but they have to withstand it, since decision-making and leadership are two sides of the same coin. Anyone who takes on management responsibility very soon learns that there are situations in which neither the company’s shareholders nor its stakeholders will allow them to avoid making a decision. After all, managers are paid to make decisions – including those that are unpopular. Every industry has certain characteristics that are essential and others that are desirable. How important is courage in the banking industry? Is it vital, desirable or unnecessary? In our business, we have to adopt a forward-looking approach, plan well in advance and act responsibly. Courage is sometimes needed in this context – but it is a different kind of courage to the type that we have already discussed. If we think about asset allocation, for ex8

Vontobel Portrait 2014

ample, it could be said that it is brave to put all of your eggs in one basket and follow a high-risk strategy. However, this would be pure recklessness – and a banker is not paid to be reckless. We display courage by thinking ahead, properly analyzing the facts and subsequently defining smart, well-considered measures – and then executing them systematically. Integrity and a sense of responsibility are qualities that are also related to courage and are – justifiably – demanded by clients.

What does Swiss banking symbolize today? Swiss banking is synonymous with expertise, performance, service and reliability. Viewed without any ideological bias, it therefore has an excellent track record. There is no reason why the Swiss banks should be made to hang their heads in shame. We deliver top wealth and asset management services and certainly have nothing to fear when it comes to competing with other banks in Europe, the US or Asia.

Are you currently seeing any approaches in banking that can prevent negative developments and show where a new direction needs to be taken? I think that nowadays, it takes courage to continue endorsing Switzerland as a business location and to insist that the Swiss financial centre remains an outstanding centre of professional international wealth management. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be forced into a corner and should fiercely oppose the numerous unfounded allegations that are being directed at Switzerland. When public attention becomes focused on individual areas of business that are considered problematic, this causes people to overlook the fact that there are fields of activity in which the Swiss banks excel.

Do the Swiss banks need to reinvent themselves? No. What they need to do is to return to the areas in which they have always excelled. I am referring here to their ability to provide comprehensive advice in order to protect and build wealth over the long term, from one generation to the next. This is where we can draw on our expertise in actively managing assets and implementing customized investment solutions. In addition to this, clients expect legal certainty and reliability. This may sound banal but it is not – especially not when you see the unbridled appetite for taxes that is developing in many countries or if you consider that there are still many regions of the world where ownership

has little meaning or is permanently threatened by wars and conflict. Let’s switch perspective. We often hear from banks that clients and investors are holding large cash positions. Do investors lack the necessary courage to invest? The risk perception of many investors is tied too closely to asset classes as a whole. Those who adopt this position are basing their views on the following premises: cash is a safe asset class, bonds are relatively safe and equities are unsafe. This type of assessment is, of course, based on experience – but it is the experience of the last 20 years. It is extremely doubtful that this view will continue to apply in the future. Why is that? Because the risk landscape has fundamentally changed. Risk is ultimately always measured in terms of the willingness of an individual to accept certain changes in value. No investor can avoid defining a basic level of risk. Banks may have expected too much from occasional clients by using overly technical terminology and only talking about volatility, risk budgets, maximum drawdowns or lower partial moments 1–3. After all, this language is often

difficult to understand. They therefore then returned to a simpler approach and effectively retranslated this language by saying to clients, for example: You are a cautious investor. We therefore recommend that you hold 20% cash, 60% bonds and 20% blue chip stocks. Many clients and many banks have got caught up in this type of approach. How is it possible to find a way out of it again? We are stuck in a continued low interest rate environment, which is rightly referred to as “financial repression”. Western nations will continue to pursue this low interest rate policy for as long as at all possible. Unfortunately, we have to recognize that these countries probably have no better alternative, since this seems to be the least painful means of emerging from a debt-induced crisis. However, the situation could become uncomfortable for investors since the principles that applied for the last 20 years are suddenly no longer valid. Anyone who assumes that nominal investments, i.e. bonds, are a safe option in the current environment is living dangerously. To dispense with old certainties takes courage – on the part of private investors, banks and even regulators.

Is Vontobel seeking to pursue a different approach to other banks in this environment? Yes, that is what we are striving to do. However, we too are operating in an uncertain environment and are experiencing how extremely difficult it is to counter conventional market mechanisms and beliefs. I am convinced that the atypical market environment will remain a dominant theme in the coming months and will present many challenges for us as a bank as well as for our clients. We all need courage and a very flexible mindset to address these challenges. We have discussed various forms of courage. Is there a type of courage that is particularly important to you? Yes: it is the courage to remain true to yourself rather than doing what everyone else is doing. Vontobel can afford to take an independent approach because we have a stable majority shareholder in the form of the Vontobel families. Our courage to remain true to ourselves gives us a clear direction. It helps us to continue following our own path – with optimism and pragmatism and without fearing the future. <

Vontobel Portrait 2014



Š Serge Hoeltschi, 13photo

Vontobel Portrait 2014

Heidi Tagliavini was a Swiss Ambassador and UN Special Representative with more than 30 years of experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy in Switzerland and abroad – primarily in states of the former Soviet Union. From 1995, Heidi Tagliavini headed UN and OSCE peace missions in conflict zones in the Northern and Southern Caucasus. In 2008, she was appointed by the Council of Ministers of the European Union as Head of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia and wrote a report on the causes and real circumstances of the August 2008 war. On behalf of the OSCE/ODIHR, she headed various international election observation missions in Ukraine, Russia and Armenia. In 2010, Heidi Tagliavini received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Basel and the University of Berne. She also received the Human Rights Award from the International Society for Human Rights (Switzerland), and her work was honoured by the Republic of Austria, which awarded her the “Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeichen”. Heidi Tagliavini is a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Courage in crisis diplomacy. Dr h.c. mult. Heidi Tagliavini What would your reaction have been if, at the end of a normal working day, you were informed: “You and five we other diplomats are expected at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) tomorrow as members of a peace mission. The day after that, you will fly to Moscow for a further briefing and will then travel on directly to a conflict zone in the Caucasus …”? War had broken out in Chechnya. The front line was just to the south of Grozny, the capital of the small republic. I agreed to go. Was that courageous? Was it reckless, daring or even foolish? It was perhaps a little of each, since war is war. More than a dozen Swiss diplomats (all men) had been asked to go on the mission; each of them declined. But for me, with 13 years of experience in the Swiss diplomatic service, the principal motivation was the desire to do something meaningful in an environment where I knew the language and had an understanding of the culture and history. And in my eyes, what could have greater meaning than to act as a negotiator in a war and to support the victims of the conflict and stand by them? At the time, however, I had little idea of what war involved. What it means to be brave My intention here is not to provide a basic definition of courage. I believe that courage is a very personal matter; it is an individual mindset. To know what courage means, a person must first have experienced both “good” and “evil” in life and know “right” from “wrong” when dealing with other people. To achieve this, people require a system of values that they are willing to uphold and defend. I consider courage to be about assuming responsibility while being fully aware of the negative consequences this could entail. Courage also means doing what you know to be right – irrespective of whether

this could be detrimental to you personally. However, courage in the context of war seems to me to be an entirely different matter; there is always an existential element to it. Back in April 1995, when I embarked on the mission to Chechnya, we flew into Grozny in a military helicopter and landed at the airport, which had been entirely destroyed. Our kit – which weighed around 600 kg – consisted of camp beds and sleeping bags, two laptops, a small generator and the equipment needed to operate it, as well as emergency rations similar to the food eaten by astronauts and, of course, water. My rucksack also contained a heavy bulletproof vest and a helmet. We were taken to a house in the centre of the bombed-out city, which was virtually deserted. The building had no doors or windows, although it still had a roof. There were no chairs, tables or other furniture – and no water, electricity or gas. Unable to find our matches and torches, which were at the bottom of our rucksacks, we spent our first night sitting in the dark in the midst of the war – with flashes of artillery fire as the only source of light. Our role on this OSCE mission was to help the different sides to reach a peaceful solution, to assist in restoring the rule of law, to support humanitarian aid efforts, to help displaced people return to their homes and to monitor the human rights situation. I was soon put to the test. In the first week after our arrival, all five of my colleagues drove to a remote village and were then unable to make it back before dark. They stayed away all night and were unable to contact me (there were no mobile telephones in 1995). I therefore found myself alone in our house without windows and doors, surrounded by constant artillery fire across the city – with shots being fired close to the building. It was definitely not the most pleasant moment in my life. I didn’t exactly feel brave at the time – but it was clear to me that I would never give up.

Vontobel Portrait 2014


“What really matters in life – be it in times of war or peace – are our basic values and the way we live them.”

“Serzhen-Jurt, a village with a single street. When our delegation visited it in spring 1995, one house after another had been ravaged by fire after being set alight. The following September, when we passed through the village again, we saw baskets of apples at the door of almost every house – the only thing of value to have grown and ripened despite all the war and destruction.” From: “Zeichen der Zerstörung” (Signs of Destruction), photo: Heidi Tagliavini


Vontobel Portrait 2014

We had to show courage repeatedly in this environment. When you are on a peace mission, you constantly face unforeseeable challenges and your bravery is always being put to the test. In the case of many of our missions, the dangers could not have been predicted – such as on one trip when we found ourselves in the centre of a burning village following a revenge attack and didn’t know how to get out again. Even our trips behind the front line as the OSCE escort for the Chechen negotiating partners represented a potential danger since the soldiers manning the checkpoints were under instruction to open fire if in any doubt. The artillery fire that broke out at dusk each day was a constant reminder of where we were and of the precarious conditions we were working in.

The courage needed to carry on in spite of all this is not something you automatically possess; it has to be mustered time and again. Courage is not an innate quality. Over time, your resilience weakens, even if you are able to establish something of a routine amid all the destruction – I never ceased to be amazed, for example, that despite all the atrocities and terror and against the backdrop of ruins and rubble, young Chechen women dressed as nicely as possible, put on make-up and took care of their appearance. Courage requires composure During my later missions as a negotiator in various conflicts, courage was always vital. When you are on peace missions, you repeatedly have to use diplomacy to help truth prevail without jeopardizing the success of the mission. The question is: How can you make it clear to high-ranking politicians who won’t usually tolerate any argument that you know they are not telling the truth – especially since you cannot mediate between the two sides in a conflict without their agreement? It takes courage to stand up to them. At the same time, diplomatic skills are needed to do so without being shown the door. Over time, you develop a whole range of methods to deal with situations such as these as effectively as possible. “Did I understand you correctly, Mr. President? Are you sure that it is the other side that was responsible?” This kind of language will be accepted more readily than if you declare: “You are lying!” Over and over again, diplomacy is all about saving face. In conflicts where you are dealing with the perpetrators and their victims, it is important to pay particular attention to this aspect. It is a kind of balancing act between having the courage to not let matters rest and having the verbal skills – and the right facial expressions (neutral or as emotionless as possible), language (polite) and conduct (calm) – to make it clear to the other side that you do not entirely agree with them. Negotiators are often regarded as somewhat naïve by the parties engaged in the conflict. It is necessary to calmly accept this while making it clear that it is better for everyone involved if we can ensure in our role as international negotiators that they are not left alone to deal with their seemingly unresolvable conflict – and the victims are not left at the mercy of others. Experiences and fate Let’s return to Chechnya. The way in which the courage shown by individuals in conflicts can sometimes end in tragedy is illustrated by the example of the Russian General Anatoly Romanov. After the ceasefire agreement was signed in July 1995 following difficult negotiations, he was sent to Grozny by Russia’s military leaders to implement the agreement. In specific terms, this meant that together with the Chechen Colonel Aslan Maskhadov, he was to explain the terms of the agreement to the local population – instructing them that they

Vontobel Portrait 2014


“The only window that had not been destroyed in a long, multi-storey residential building. With its curves and gentle colours, this window awakened memories of another world of rich colours and shapes – the world of art nouveau.” From: “Zeichen der Zerstörung” (Signs of Destruction), photo: Heidi Tagliavini

were to stop fighting and shooting at each other and were to surrender their weapons. Romanov and Maskhadov were also supposed to ensure that the population remained calm and displayed restraint – which actually happened for a while. The gunfire at night stopped, which was a huge relief. As members of the OSCE mission, we accompanied the two high-ranking military officials on their rounds through the Chechen Republic in our capacity as international observers and in support of the agreement. Before one helicopter flight, General Romanov warned us about snipers and left us to decide whether we wanted to travel with him. We all decided to go on this unnerving flight. We were around 50 meters above the ground and the helicopter’s doors were left open so that soldiers with Kalashnikovs could keep a lookout and eliminate any snipers. It is questionable whether this would really have prevented us from being shot down in the event of an attack. Was this courageous or daring? I am no longer certain – especially in view of what happened to General Romanov, who was trusted by all sides, shortly afterwards. During a discussion with journalists, he was once asked how he protected himself from attacks and other risks in view of his status as a high-profile Russian general. Romanov said that it was an illusion to think that he could really protect himself; he explained that he always carried a hand grenade in his pocket in case of emergencies, but that even the best security measures would not protect him if he personally came under attack. Not long after that, Romanov was the victim of a brutal attack while travelling through the centre of Grozny in an 14

Vontobel Portrait 2014

armoured car. As a result, he has been lying in a coma for the last 18 years! This attack marked the end of the ceasefire. The war began all over again – as did the fears that again had to be conquered. This event had a lasting impact on me. Displaying courage can be a positive and empowering ex­ perience. This is what I have often experienced. In the case of General Romanov, however, his courage did not pay off. In our part of the world, it is considered brave to go and work in a conflict zone. I was repeatedly asked why I exchanged the safety of Switzerland for a region torn by conflict. Compared to the civilian population affected by war, however, we faced a calculable level of risk in our work. These missions last for a limited period of time and precautionary measures are taken to mitigate the risks involved. In most cases, we are not a direct target. The situation is very different for the population in a conflict zone, which is at the mercy of others and is exposed to atrocities – generally without any form of protection. It was only when I saw this that I realized what courage truly is.

“Displaying courage can be a positive and empowering experience.” Bravery and moral courage were demonstrated, for example, by Ramsan, a headmaster who returned to Grozny after a winter of war and the evacuation in order to reopen his school – or what was left of it – and teach his pupils. What he found was a building that had been partially destroyed by direct grenade attacks: the second and third storeys had collapsed and the window panes and doors had been blown out by the blasts from explosions. Ramsan immediately got to work – together with the parents and children – and began teaching as soon as the worst of the damage had been repaired. He started off with 120 pupils and the number then grew to 147 and then 475. All the parents and children wanted to return to normal­ ity and to a relatively fixed programme of schooling. This continued until Ramsan saw armoured vehicles and troops searching for rebel fighters in that part of Grozny one morning. His protests that there were no rebel fighters in that area had little impact. He wrote: “Snipers sit or lie behind every fence with their weapons at the ready. One of them aims his gun at the school windows (…). I go up to him, introduce myself (as the headmaster) and say: ‘Please don’t aim at the windows, there are children and teachers inside. You could frighten them.’ The sniper turns to me. ‘But I am not firing,’ is his response.”

in an anthology in 2000, had a big impact on a lot of people at the time – including one European Foreign Minister, who paid tribute to Ramsan and provided a substantial amount of foreign money to fund the renovation of his school. What really matters When I took a flight back from Grozny via a Moscow airport in the depths of winter after those difficult months in Chechnya, one of my fellow passengers approached me with a bunch of flowers. He said: “On behalf of the Chechen people, I would like to thank you, Heidi, for all that you have done for us! You were the human face of this mission.” This touching gesture made me aware once more that what really matters in life – be it in times of war or peace – are our basic values and the way we live them. I had to leave behind people with problems and was able to return to our comfortable life where we enjoy freedom and security. It became clear to me what a privilege it is to live in peace. And I also understood that real courage is not so much what was required of us as international diplomats on the ground – but rather the bravery that people in conflict zones like these have to demonstrate day after day under the most unjust conditions in order to preserve a little humanity for themselves and others. <

Ramsan’s actions on behalf of the school took real courage. They were inspired by his belief that you have to give young people hope and offer them a future. He was willing to accept humiliation and to expose himself to danger – even putting his own life at risk – for their sake. His diary, which we published together with other articles about the Caucasus

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Conflicts, peace missions and Switzerland. Facts and figures

Conflict barometer 2012 396 political conflicts occurred around the world in 2012. They were classed as follows:




highly violent conflicts

violent conflicts

non-violent conflicts

396 conflicts, 311 were 82 were between states.

Of the internal and

Breakdown of conflicts by region and intensity Low High Europe 45 1 Sub-Sahara, Africa 34 19 America 22 4 Asia, Oceania 63 10 Middle East, Maghreb 24 9

Source: Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research

Peace operations in 2012

The 10 most peaceful and 10 least peaceful countries in the world*

Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2013

Source: The Economist, 2013 *Ranking among 162 states based on 22 criteria


personnel served with multilateral peace operations

Most peaceful Iceland 1. Denmark 2. New Zealand 3. Austria 4. Switzerland 5. Japan 6. Finland 7. Canada 8. Sweden 9. Belgium 10.


peace operations were conducted in Africa


peace operations were conducted in Europe


Vontobel Portrait 2014


peace operations were conducted worldwide

Least peaceful

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Afghanistan Somalia Syria Iraq Sudan Pakistan Congo-Kinshasa Russia North Korea Central African Republic

Switzerland in the world – the world in Switzerland Source: Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA)



of Swiss diplomats

are women. The EDA represents Switzerland in around

It employs

Switzerland is a member of

100 countries.

100 international organisations.

350 diplomats and

500 consular staff.

Switzerland has been home to various international organisations for over

100 years.

1–2 state visits take place in Switzerland each year. The OSCE – chaired by Switzerland in 2014 Under the leitmotif “Building a security community for the benefit of everyone”, Switzerland wants to achieve the following objectives:

170 countries have an ambassador who is accredited to the Swiss Federal Council.

Strengthen the OSCE’s capacity to act. Improve people’s living conditions.

Switzerland has concluded a “headquar-

Promote security and stability.

ters agreement” with

25 international

organisations. 22 are headquartered in Geneva, 2 in Berne and 1 in Basel.

Source: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Christophe Bernard is Vontobel’s Chief Strategist. As Chairman of the Investment Committee, he is responsible for the bank’s investment strategy. Christophe Bernard has more than 20 years of investment experience.

All eyes on the US central bank. Christophe Bernard Chief Strategist of Vontobel Six years after the outbreak of the financial crisis, the global economy continues to be fragile and is still critically dependent upon massive liquidity support from central banks. Public debt levels remain elevated – a situation only made bearable by extremely low or even negative real interest rates. In 2013, fiscal policy in the US and the euro zone weighed heavily on economic activity. However, the good news is that we expect such headwinds to subside in 2014 and subsequent years. Market watchers need a discerning eye when looking at developments around the globe. The fundamental picture is quite different when analysing the US, the euro zone, Japan or emerging economies. Differentiation will be key to successfully navigating the markets during 2014 as fiscal and monetary policies will start to diverge. No European grand plan – Germany powers ahead Commencing with the euro zone: under the guidance of Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been successful thus far in reining in systemic risk by allowing interest rates in the so-called periphery to come down signifi­ cantly. This is a precondition for economic stabilisation. At the same time, the root causes of the euro-zone crisis, name18

Vontobel Portrait 2014

ly large current account imbalances incurred by single countries, have been resolved, albeit at a huge price – sky-rocketing unemployment in the “periphery”, i.e. Southern Europe. In 2014, we expect the economy to grow by around 1.2%, once again driven by a dynamic German economy, compared with the contraction of 0.4% seen for 2013. While European leaders eventually managed to avert the immediate threat to the common currency, they have yet to come up with the grand plan to boost long-term trend growth. Poor GDP growth rates of 1%, with inflation running below 1%, do not allow for a reduction of the debt burden or unemployment. Over time, such a constellation would most likely lead to mounting public opposition to mainstream political parties, a situation which could have dire consequences for the European project – including the euro. Switzerland continues to shine While the euro zone recorded an economic contraction in 2013, Switzerland managed to grow by 1.9%, with growth of 2.2% expected for 2014. This is a testimony to the competitiveness and strength of the Swiss economic model. Will the Japanese revival continue? Under prime minister Shinzo Abe, Japan is attempting to break its vicious deflationary cycle. The shift in policy at the Bank of Japan has been simply extraordinary, with immediate and substantial consequences for the Japanese

“The US, Canada and Mexico are becoming the driving forces of the global economy.” yen (down) and Japanese stocks (up). Economic activity has picked up and corporate earnings have surged. However, politicians must now tackle economic reforms to encourage trend growth, whilst ensuring that public debt remains manageable. Inevitably, adverse demographics and the resulting ageing of Japanese society pose the biggest challenge to profound changes, not to mention entrenched lobbies defending the status quo. Emerging markets a letdown In 2013, emerging markets disappointed the investing public, with growth forecasts revised down significantly in the course of the year. Some countries are suffering from lower commodity prices, others from lacklustre export growth to advanced economies. Most have become complacent and are not doing enough to attract foreign capital. Countries with deteriorating current account balances such as South Africa, India, Indonesia, Turkey or Brazil are faced with a dilemma. Either they let their currencies depreciate, which could drive inflation higher, or they raise interest rates – as Turkey has done – to stabilise their currencies, which could slow economic growth. However, with advanced economies in recovery mode, the export prospects of “deficit” countries have improved. China: an ambitious reform plan China, the long-standing “workbench” of the West, is a special case. After a surge of excessive investments and debt-fuelled growth since 2009, the country aims to adopt a more balanced model, allowing market forces to play an increasing role in the economy. A range of measures in areas such as pensions and land ownership, interest rate and currency liberalisation, the fight against corruption and the promotion of the rule of law are intended to increase China’s growth potential and make it sustainable. As always, implementation will be key and one should never underestimate the power of vested interests.

US brinkmanship shrugged off In the US, despite the acrimonious political row between the Democrats and Republicans over the budget and the debt ceiling, we expect the economy to gather steam in 2014, growing by 2.9% versus 1.8% in 2013. The pentup demand for housing and cars should continue to support the expansion, while companies, at long last, will likely start to increase their capital expenditure. This should boost employment and broaden the recovery. In addition, the booming oil and gas production from shale deposits and offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico should decisively reinforce the competitiveness of the US economy via lower energy prices. We believe that the US as well as Canada and Mexico will emerge as driving forces for the global economy in the years ahead. Equities may continue to go up Stock markets were remarkably strong in 2013, with most gains stemming from an expansion of earnings multiples – i.e. primarily from a rise in the stock price – not earnings growth. The central banks’ zero-rate policies and liquidity ­injections which exert downward pressure on ­interest rates across maturities, leave return-seeking investors with no choice but to increase risk. Such an environment is conducive to high valuations, possibly asset bubbles. While we remain confident about a further rise in equity markets in 2014, we are aware that valuations are no longer attractive in absolute terms. As long as there is no credible alternative to equities, this is not an issue. However, the US Federal Reserve’s scaling down of asset purchases and, ultimately, higher interest rates in the US will be the biggest test to the rally that started back in March 2009. < Forecasts based on our views from February 2014.

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Professor Dr Hans-Werner Bierhoff is a psychologist and university lecturer. He has held the Chair in Social Psychology at the Ruhr University Bochum since 1992. His main fields of interest include helpful behaviour, close relationships, fairness and justice. Professor Bierhoff is the author of numerous books, including reference works and specialist publications on subjects such as moral courage, narcissism, stress and solidarity in the age of globalisation.

Courage is contagious. Interview with Professor Dr Hans-Werner Bierhoff Courage exists in many forms. Each individual experiences courage in a different way in an everyday context. Some find it easy to be brave, while others do not. Why is this the case? What exactly is courage? Professor Hans-Werner Bierhoff lectures in Social Psychology at the Ruhr University Bochum. He has been studying the subject of courage for many years and has an in-depth know­ ledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of this phenomenon. Professor Bierhoff, please tell us: what is courage? Courage is a human strength that can be divided into three different categories: physical, moral and psychological. It is a subject that was already of interest to the Greek phil­ osophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Moral courage is all about adhering to the truth and defending your own beliefs. Physical courage is the type of bravery demonstrated by people such as firemen, whose work involves fighting dangerous fires. A further category is psychological courage – a term ori­ginally coined in the area of psychotherapy. It describes an individual’s ability to overcome fear through determination and perseverance – despite being faced with adversity. 20

Vontobel Portrait 2014

Is courage a strength that we require first and foremost in perilous or frightening situations? Not exclusively. People may need courage in simple everyday situations. For example, should a head of department accept the popular view or give precedence to his own personal judgment? Should a teacher defend her students’ interests or perform her duties strictly according to the rules? In addition to moral courage, people may also need psychological courage if their health is threatened by an illness or if they have to deal with stress in order to achieve a higher goal. It takes courage for a patient with a phobia of snakes to overcome this fear by touching a reptile. Does moral courage tend to be a type of conduct that we regard as heroic or exceptional? Courage can certainly motivate people to take actions that are regarded as heroic by society and that are of enduring importance. History provides us with numerous examples of extraordin­ ary feats of courage. They include the actions of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, who publicly defended their democratic beliefs in the face of huge opposition. There were also impressive displays of moral courage by many silent heroes during the era of National Socialism. In very general terms, moral

courage is also shown by opponents of violence and injustice. In that respect, this kind of courage is not an extreme exception and has, instead, repeatedly been demonstrated by people at many different times. Where does psychological courage come into play? Psychological courage may be needed to overcome individual weaknesses – often without it being noticed by other people. One example is that of passengers with a fear of flying who nevertheless manage to board an aeroplane. Another is that of public speakers who have to overcome stage fright in order to give a presentation before a large audience. Those who are un­ able to muster the courage to do these things are held back by their fears and are left suffering from feelings of insecurity. Individuals who display courage are able to draw on their own personal strength to master challenges and are rewarded with a sense of achievement. Psychological courage may also be needed to strive for an ambitious goal or to transform an idea into an important invention. Courage appears to be an individual character trait. Is it also possible to instil courage in other people? If a person performs an act of bravery that helps to free people from

Š Thomas Schweigert, 13photo

Vontobel Portrait 2014


© Ullstein

a difficult situation or to alleviate their problems, then this gives rise to a feeling of moral fortitude. This happens, for example, when a person displays moral courage. They then become a role model for others who are then inspired to show similar courage. Role models have a major impact on the willingness of others to act bravely. In this respect, courage can spread to other people provided one person sets an example. Is it in an individual’s own interests to show courage? Yes, absolutely. By displaying courage, we gain a sense of fulfilment, since we feel good about having done the right thing. This is what we experience if we overcome our own doubts and fears. A sense of moral fortitude comes about if we ourselves – or if others – have performed an act of bravery that is in line with moral standards. Acts such as these can serve as a moral example for others who hear or read about them. Feats of courage that are the subject of reports or are observed directly create a warm feeling of wonderment because they confirm the good in people. Knowledge about the courage of other people makes it easier for observers themselves to take account of the needs of those around them. It 22

Vontobel Portrait 2014

can generally be said that courage is contagious. Brave decisions can, above all, be an inspiration for those who are contemplating their own identity and the related issue of self-knowledge. This is reflected by their moral identity: the more important moral issues are for the self-knowledge of that person, the stronger their moral identity becomes. This makes it sound as if anyone can be brave. In principle, they can. However, a gap often emerges as people with good intentions shy away from acting upon them. This is especially the case when it comes to translating good intentions into good deeds. Many people who are confronted with violence on a daily basis in their social environment want to take action to prevent it but then fail to intervene. Over time, many inventors develop the intention to establish a company, but few of them actually turn this goal into a reality. Obstacles often stand in the way of our good intentions – whether this is due to insufficient planning or a limited willingness to act. Why do inhibitions such as these develop? They can happen if, for example, an individual is the only person in his

environment who wants to take a brave course of action – and he or she is surrounded by observers. This type of social inhibition stands in the way of that individual performing an act of courage. The attitude that people should act in the way they want to can help to counter this. Who wants to spend their entire life acting in a manner that is not in line with what they believe? Discrepancies such as these are a source of irritation and undermine a person’s feeling that they are acting in a genuine way. This is basically because their actions are always governed by external forces. To free themselves from this role where they are constantly only able to act in a manner dictated by the situation – without being able to realize their own ideas – they need the courage to do what they consider to be right. Is it difficult to overcome obstacles and inhibitions such as these? In the area of social psychology, this concept is referred to as “do it” motivation, whereby people tell themselves to behave in the way they want to – in other words: to do what they consider to be right. Some people realize only late in life (or never) that they can achieve fulfilment. It is vital for the “do it” motivation to create a genuine experience

Through their exceptional courage, Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) and Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) brought about far-reaching changes and became role models for many people around the world.

© Reuters

“Courage is about doing what you think is right.” of life that is characterized by personal fulfilment. It may not be possible to achieve the ideal scenario of always acting the way you think. From a tactical perspective, it may be smarter to take a step back in certain situations and to consider the obstacles that exist, if they are too high to be overcome. One thing that can definitely be achieved, however, is to act in accordance with your views and values with increasing regularity. Is courage a characteristic that can be learnt? In the case of all three forms of courage – physical, moral and psychological – it can be said that feelings of competence and resolve have an important role to play. Training can increase the likelihood that a bold action will succeed. By practicing repeatedly, we can strengthen our belief in our ability to master challenging situations. This involves gradually addressing tasks with a rising degree of difficulty. What prompts people to show courage? Brave people do not always act reso­ lutely in all perilous situations or when faced with every conceivable challenge. Instead, they mainly do so in situations that are of key importance to them personally and in which they feel particu-

larly challenged. For example, someone may excel in the role of a rescuer and display bravery when a natural disaster strikes. Alternatively, an individual may be especially sensitive to discrimination against people with disabilities and make a stand if they are treated unfairly. Equally, people may feel challenged if they find themselves in a difficult situation in which they have to perform well – but they have the self-confidence to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. Does a neurological stimulation of the brain occur in situations requiring courage? It is only possible to give an indirect response to that question, since the link between these two elements is still unclear. Insights into related phenomena such as a love of adventure or optimism point to the role of neurotransmitters. The change in dopaminergic brain activity is believed to be connected with types of conduct that require courage. Further neurological processes are thought to occur, depending on whether a person displays physical, moral or psychological courage. As we all know, there is such a thing as too much courage. Courage itself does not take account

of risk. There are no guidelines governing courageous actions, but it is nevertheless possible to define a few principles. For example, we can ask ourselves whether – when measured in terms of social values or our own specific values – it is worth being courageous, or whether the issue concerned is trivial and insignificant. It is also sensible to consciously assess whether one’s own courage can be exercised in private or public situations without us being exposed to danger or avoidable mistakes and setbacks. This is a calculated form of courage that can be seen as a sens­ ible compass to guide us in our actions. So you would advise us against blind courage? Blind courage is always the result of an impulsive reaction. This tends to be counterproductive. The concept of courage assumes that we are acting in a carefully considered manner based on an assessment of the risks involved. It is a matter of considering the available options and finding the one that entails the lowest level of risk while, at the same time, being an effective means of putting a courageous decision into practice. <

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Georg Schubiger has been Head of Private Banking since 2012 and is a member of Vontobel’s Group Executive Management. Prior to this, he held management positions at Danske Bank in Copenhagen and Sampo Group in Helsinki during a period of 10 years. He studied Finance and Accounting (lic. oec.) at the University of St. Gallen and obtained an MA in Political Science from the College of Europe in Bruges.

A bold approach to investment. Georg Schubiger Head of Private Banking More than ever, successful investment today calls for courage. As the financial markets grow increasingly dynamic, private wealth generation has become a more complex undertaking for investors, and the decisions involved fraught with greater risk. If there is one thing that has been clearly apparent from the demanding market environment of recent years, then it is certainly this. For example, the massive debt crises faced by many states have turned supposedly safe bonds into risk assets. Coupled with the low level of interest rates, this has meant conservative investment strategies have been weakened, or have even been transformed into the opposite. Today’s investors face entirely new challenges Globalisation is penetrating the markets to an extraordinary extent, continually creating new interdependencies. Complexity is thus rising sharply and so, too, is the interdependence between economies. The greater international networking this entails is also leading to an ever increasing density of information. In parallel with this, new digital technologies are massively accelerating the exchange of news as well as transaction methods and speeds. Market participants are therefore faced with the increasingly demanding task of processing data quickly and interpreting it correctly. In other words, staying focused and keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Another issue is the unprecedented amount of influence being brought to bear on the markets by politicians and central banks in key economic regions. This does not make investing any easier, especially given that many of these measures and announcements trigger considerable short24

Vontobel Portrait 2014

term volatility on the markets and prompt uncertainty among investors. As a result, it has become more difficult to achieve satisfactory diversification in portfolios in recent years. With the global markets now so extensively intertwined, the correlations between the various asset classes have reached extreme levels. Individual risk analysis is crucial No one wanting to protect or build their wealth – be they private individuals or institutional investors – can escape these changes. The developments outlined here bring with them opportunities, but also entail consider­ able risks. They require even deeper analysis of individual objectives, risk tolerance and capacity, and call for brave investment decisions. This is why we say that investing requires courage.

For many people, courage is associated with emotions and feelings. In the case of investment decisions, the two pivotal aspects are risk tolerance and risk capacity. The risk capacity in any portfolio can be defined objectively. Working on this basis, investors can be said to be courageous if they know how much risk they can take on in their portfolio and use this to the full. The willingness to take on risk thus corresponds to the actual ability to bear risk. Anyone who goes far beyond their individual risk capacity when making investments would be imprudent. Experience shows that investors fare significantly better in achieving their long-term goals if their risk capacity and risk tolerance are optimally attuned. The right partner is crucial That is why you need a forward-looking partner by your side to advise and support you responsibly throughout this process. After all, the issue at hand is no less than protecting and building your wealth: assets that may be the result of your life’s work or amassed over generations. This makes it all the more important for clients to give due consideration to choosing the right partner, with a view to having a professional, long-term working relationship with someone you can trust with key wealth issues. It is therefore essential to look very carefully at the skills and values a bank can deliver when it comes to this demanding task.

• Your interests are paramount, and no compromises are ever made in this regard. •

Your personal advisor takes the time needed to handle your affairs. Working together with you, they will carry out a thorough analysis of your objectives, and your willingness and ability to take on risk. With a relationship rooted in ongoing dialogue, they are there for you whenever you need them.

Our independent advice is centred on optimal solutions that are consistently aimed at meeting your needs. Focusing on your wealth and your investment success, we bring together the best global investment competence Vontobel has to offer, coupled with state-of-the-art risk management.

Active investing with first-class investment ideas is one of our strengths. With tailor-made solutions for optimizing returns and managing risks, we create financial value-added for our clients.

Particularly against the backdrop of the demanding market environment, our aim is to exceed your expectations and to build a viable long-term relationship on this basis. <

At Vontobel, we do our utmost to make sure we are the ideal partner. In keeping with our claim “Performance creates trust”, we provide personalized and reliable advice to discerning clients:

“Risk capacity and tolerance have to be attuned.”

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Being confident of success. Dr Hans Vontobel Honorary Chairman “A thousand things advance, nine hundred and ninety-nine retreat. That is progress.” I like this idea for three reasons. First, it was said by the philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821–1881), an intelligent man who came from the city of Geneva, where I spent a year living and working as a young banker in 1942–1943. Second, the notion is calmly pragmatic and demonstrates the kind of rational thinking that is rightly associated with the people of Geneva and the Swiss in general. Third, Amiel’s idea also indicates that every society must struggle to advance – and that progress cannot be achieved without courage. An example from my home city of Zurich shows how, in 1856, it displayed the courage needed to progress. At the time – and despite protests from many of its citizens – the city introduced gas lighting, thus immediately bringing an end to the darkness in its streets and squares. This development was not well received by opponents of change. However, the gas street lighting did not turn night into day as they had feared. Instead, it was seen to provide greater security and it made life easier. In 1881, the gas company and the city authorities held a celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the introduction of gas lighting. The director of the gas company declared with pleasure that the use of paraffin lighting would soon be a thing of the past – adding: “The second rival – the electric light – is not something we need to worry about here in Zurich. I doubt that it will ever be able to seriously compete with gas lighting.” He was wrong. The gas company remained in business for several more years. However, as the price of electricity decreased and electric lights became more powerful, the commercial outlook for gas lighting soon deteriorated. If the director had been more courageous in 1881 and had diver26

Vontobel Portrait 2014

sified his business at the right time, his company would have successfully entered the 20th century. However, by remaining focused on technology that would soon cease to be competitive, he took the company in a direction from which there was no return. What is the purpose of this story? I have recounted it because it is a perfect illustration of the unpredictable nature of progress. The director of the Zurich gas works was not wrong in being firmly convinced of the quality of gas lighting. In technical terms, it was extremely reliable. However, the director lacked imagination and was therefore unable to properly appreciate the much greater potential of electric lighting. And he was unable to see that the fast pace of change means that those who are overcautious are left behind – sometimes forever. Major changes can occur at any time and in any industry – as we are witnessing in the banking sector at present. In periods such as these, it is not always the different players in the industry that set the pace. Dramatic developments are often driven by external forces – compelling the managers of companies to address these changes. The practical constraints are considerable and the timeframe in which business activities need to be realigned is very narrow, while the strategic challenges are enormous. It is at times such as these that the true vitality and innovative strength of a company becomes visible. Centenary in sight Having reached the age of 97, I regard my longevity as a matter of good fortune rather than something I have earned. It allows me to pass on the experience I have acquired over the decades. Being able to look back over such a long period means that I rarely find current events truly surprising. Although history does not repeat itself, many of its patterns remain very similar over time. For example, when econom-

ic, technological or cultural progress occurs, it almost always happens in three phases. It initially proves controversial and – in the first phase – meets with euphoric longing from some and fierce opposition from others. If progress prevails, it then becomes established as a normal way of life in the second phase: everyone uses it and no one questions it. In the third phase, when the life cycle of an innovation has been exhausted or is nearing its end, it once again meets with widespread opposition in a somewhat remarkable development. Everything that was considered good about it before is now systematically overlooked or dismissed. The same pattern can be seen in a host of different areas. This is what happened in the case of gas lighting in the streets of Zurich 125 years ago. It is also what is being seen today in the aviation and automotive industries, in the area of genetic engineering, in the food industry, among commodities

companies and even in orthodox medicine. The more diseases that medicine is able to cure, the greater is the tendency in parts of society to regard medicine itself as an illness. When I see this happening, it doesn’t make me pessimistic. On the contrary: opposition and friction are always an incentive to rethink or alter things or to search for alternatives. Everyone who assumes responsibility knows that in the long term, it is impossible to succeed in the face of resistance from large sections of society. At the same time, the major challenges that we are encountering today mean that we cannot afford to simply adopt a wait-and-see approach. New challenges call for new courage and new optimism. If, after carefully assessing all the options available to us, we can find the courage to attempt new and meaningful things, then we can be confident of success. This is my firm belief. <

“Progress cannot be achieved without courage.”

Dr Hans Vontobel studied Law at the University of Zurich. He spent decades at the helm of Bank Vontobel. Now aged 97, he is Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Oliver Keller is one of the most sought-after stuntmen in Hollywood. After graduating from stunt school, he began working on film productions in Germany and Switzerland. He moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and still lives there with his family. The breakthrough in his career came in 2002, when he doubled for Joe Manganiello in the blockbuster Spiderman. Today, he not only acts as a stunt double for international stars but also works as a stunt coordinator and writes scripts. Furthermore, he is the Director of the leading Swiss stunt company KStunts and one of the head instructors at the Swiss stunt school Stuntsquad.

When planning is more important than courage. Interview with Oliver Keller Picture the scene: the hero in a film bravely leaps from an unbelievable height and plunges into the depths below. In most cases, however, it is not the film star himself who completes this daring feat – but rather a stuntman such as Switzerland’s Oliver Keller, who is now one of the most famous stunt doubles in Hollywood. In the following interview, he talks about his daily work and his approach to risk. Being a stuntman is no average profession. Why did you choose this as your career? When I was seven years old, I happened to watch an episode of the cult American television series “The Fall Guy” from the 1980s about a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter. It was not the actual storyline that fascinated me but rather the action scenes. From that moment onwards, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. Everyone thought it was just a childhood dream – apart from my mother. She took me seriously and sent me to stunt school when I was 17. At first, this didn’t do anything to change the views of everyone around me. Even my career advisor laughed when I said I wanted to become a stuntman: he told me that I should forget the idea and embark on 28

Vontobel Portrait 2014

a proper career. I am proud to say that despite all of this, I never lost sight of my goal. Nowadays, I shoot films with stunt legends like Tim Gilbert, who performed the stunts for the leading actor in “The Fall Guy” in his day. Did you display a lot of courage as a child and during your youth? Courage? I don’t know. What I can say is that I was extremely sporty as a child. I did a lot of BMX racing when I was young and I was in the “Züri Leu” juniors ski team. I began to develop an interest in films and film-makers during my teenage years and I then became a real film buff. Is courage an essential characteristic for a stuntman? It is important to remain calm and focused in difficult situations – in fact, that can be a matter of life or death. Regardless of whether you are jumping from a helicopter onto a moving train, being engulfed in flames or driving off a ramp at 100 km/h: the smallest error could have fatal consequences. Planning is more important than courage. Which people do you regard as cour­ ageous? I think firefighters, bomb disposal experts, special police units and the navy seals are brave people. They risk

their lives for others. They get involved in situations without knowing how they will unfold. Danger is a permanent factor in their lives and they have no safety net. In contrast, the risks in my line of work can be assessed. It is simply a matter of knowing what the dangers are and of preparing for them. It is also about having a back-up plan in mind just in case something goes wrong in a show. Stuntmen are tough guys. What brings out your softer side? I think it is a bit of a cliché to say that stuntmen are tough guys. Each individual has strengths and weaknesses. I am no exception. My daughter, who is seven years old, knows exactly where my weaknesses lie and how to exploit them. Does your family worry about you? No, they don’t. The members of my family know my abilities and understand the way I work. I have been in this industry for more than 20 years and I have had very few injuries compared to other stuntmen. What would you describe as easy stunts – and when do they become really difficult? There is simply no such thing as an easy stunt. For example: I was in a television show where I had to pretend

Š Serge HÜltschi, 13photo

Vontobel Portrait 2014


to have a fight with an actor. That is a classic scene that you see in a lot of films. The moves are normally perfectly synchronized so that you don’t actually touch one another. In this case, the actor wasn’t really meant to punch me – but he did. I had a black eye straight after but still had a long night of shooting ahead of me. Is there any type of stunt that you have not done before or an idea for a stunt that you have rejected? I can only recall one stunt that I refused to do. Stunt scenes are often shot at the end of a day of filming. The plan was that we would drive a 4×4 vehicle off a ramp at high speed and then collide with a camper van. It was already very late and the producer came and said to us that it would start to get light in around 30 minutes and that the scene needed to be in the can by then. I thought this didn’t allow enough time for a proper stunt and I told the producer so. Fortunately, he was a professional. He didn’t dwell on the matter and simply said: “Safety first, man! Whatever you say, we trust you.” In which situations in life have you taken risks? When I got married! (laughs) The risks I take in the course of my work are not always 100% predictable – no matter how well you plan for them. I consciously took a risk in a film in which I was acting as the stuntman for Jim Caviezel. There was a fight scene in which I was beaten and pushed along a wooden dock until I reached the end and then dropped into the river. Since we were shooting on an alligator ranch I asked the alligator

wrangler whether there were still alligators in the river. He confirmed that there were and advised me not to stay in the water for too long once I had fallen in. I asked what he meant by “not too long”. His answer was: “Once you have fallen in, you need to get out of the water immediately.” However, the director asked me to float in the river for a longer period of time – so I ended up acting dead for what seemed like an eternity and I kept looking all around me and watching for any movements in the water. Fortunately, the alligators weren’t hungry. You moved to the US in 1999 – at the age of 24 – in order to pursue your car­ eer there. Was this a difficult step to take? No, not at all. I was really happy to move to the US. It was an adventure and was definitely an important step in my career. What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to achieve what you wanted? When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had to start from scratch despite already having experience as a stuntman. I had to build up a new network of contacts and become a member of the Screen Actors Guild of America. It takes years for some people to become a member but I managed it in six months. After that, I looked for an agent who could put me in contact with film producers. That process took a further two or three months. However, one of the best agents in the business – Michelle Braverman – took me under her wing. The first couple of years were, of course, very tough for me financial-

“It is a cliché to say that stuntmen are tough guys.” 30

Vontobel Portrait 2014

ly. However, I managed – including by working part-time as a chauffeur for a limousine service – and I continued to believe in my dream. I was right to do so, as I now know. You are one of the world’s top stuntmen. What makes you so successful? Professionalism. And hard work, a clear focus, stamina and determination. You not only work in front of the camera as a stuntman but also write scripts, coordinate the filming of stunts and are the director of a stunt school. How do you manage to do all of that? I work extremely hard and devote a lot of time to my job. And I am supported by an excellent team – including in Switzerland. However my 7-year-old daughter Geneva always comes first. She has been competing in go-kart races for two years now and is one of the fastest children in her age group – traveling at top speeds of 103 km/h. She needs her Dad to help her out – both as a team manager and mechanic, almost every weekend. Which particular memories have stayed with you since you began your career? I had to learn to manage with very little money and few material comforts. The things that I learnt in Switzerland helped me in this aspect. Back home, I often had to make my own equipment. In Los Angeles, there are special effect shops that can prepare a stunt vehicle for you. I am able to do this myself and this meant that I was able to save money at the start of my career. I am also proud to have been the first – and, so far, the only – person to offer stunts in Switzerland.

© Vera Hartmann, 13photo

© Serge Höltschi, 13photo

Like father, like daughter: Oliver Keller and his daughter share a passion for speed – without forgetting the importance of safety.

Which setbacks in life have helped to make you the person you are today? “There is no business like show business”, as the saying goes. That is especially true in Hollywood. Everyone in the business here has suffered knocks. You fall down and then you get up again and move on. If you are ambitious, professional and have talent, you will succeed. Are there situations that you find disheartening? No, not really. You only have one chance at life and you have to make the most of it – both professionally and personally. You travel a lot outside Europe when you are involved in productions such as the television series “Grimm” or the blockbuster “Need for Speed”. Do you sometimes also take part in film shoots in Switzerland? Last summer, I was involved in a film shoot at the Verzasca dam in Ticino.

Pierce Brosnan leapt from that dam while playing James Bond in Golden Eye. This was the location for the shooting of the final action scene in the film “Dhoom:3”, the most expensive film ever made in Bollywood – India’s equivalent to the US film industry. Since the film location in Arizona was not available, I proposed this spectacular backdrop to the director and producers. They were so impressed by it that they flew the 80-strong crew, including Aamir Khan – India’s answer to Tom Cruise – to Switzerland. As the stunt coordinator, I had a budget of 10 million dollars to work with. I hope that I’ll soon be able to attract another film production on that scale to Switzerland. Filming in my home country is a special experience. Not all stunts are actually performed by stunt doubles nowadays; a lot of them are produced with a green screen and a computer. Do you think your profession will eventually die out? I often talk about that with col-

leagues who generate film scenes for blockbusters using 3-D computer graphics. They believe, as I do, that there will still be a need for stuntmen. After all, despite all the technology that is avail­ able, the action shots only look real when they have actually been filmed. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, Ashton Kutcher, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joe Manganiello and Jim Caviezel are just some of the stars you have worked with as a stuntman. Is there any other actor for whom you would like to work as a double in an action scene? I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to work on all the greatest film sets in the world with these fascinating individuals. In terms of the people I would still like to work with: Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg and Mark Wahlberg are names that come to mind. I am confident that this will be possible within the foreseeable future. <

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Axel Schwarzer is Head of Asset Management and a member of Vontobel’s Group Executive Management. Before joining Vontobel in 2011, he held various management positions at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and New York. Axel Schwarzer studied Law in Mainz and Frankfurt.

Courage and investment – a contradiction in terms? Axel Schwarzer Head of Asset Management At first glance, courage and investment do not appear to be terms that sit well together. But if we also consider aspects such as risk, dialogue and trust, the interplay becomes clearer. Bold gambits and “hot tips” are certainly not the right basis for investing your own money. However, as is the case with life in general, if we combine courage with an understanding of the risks involved, then we are on the right track. Do you have a clear picture of the potential consequences when you make an investment decision? Awareness of the risks is the pivotal aspect that has to be determined in any advisory discussion.

“Cooperation that is based on trust calls for clarity.”

Open and realistic discussions There are two groups of investors who have to muster up the courage to invest I mentioned at the outset: private investors and professional asset managers. From the client’s perspective, it all starts with the consultation with their advisor, which should be aimed at determining their expectations with regard to returns and also their risk budget. Although many people express a wish for high returns without any risk, it is important to talk about realistic return expectations. And the risks involved in the investment decisions should also be addressed. In other words, both parties need to have the courage to talk openly and remain realistic. The discussion on the desired restrictions must be just as open. After all, these do not always make sense, and can even be detrimental and stand in the way of proper portfolio construction. Experience shows that restrictions such as excluding entire asset classes or individual securities, or setting percentage weightings, often make it harder to achieve the investment objective. In every case, the restrictions should be viewed as part of the assessment of the overall portfolio, and taken into account ideally within this context. When it comes to working together on financial matters on the basis of trust, it is therefore important for all those involved to adopt a clear, straightforward approach to dealing constructively with the consequences and results of investment decisions. Profiting from market knowledge From the perspective of the professional asset manager, the question of courage takes on a somewhat different


Vontobel Portrait 2014

“Too many restrictions hamper professional portfolio construction and thus curb good performance.”

form, particularly when active management is called for. For committed asset managers, the key is to have the courage of their own convictions and to have a specific opinion on markets or themes. Investment decisions taken in line with the consensus, keeping as close as possible to a benchmark or index, mostly do not deliver satisfactory results. The correct approach is to work on the basis of your own firm beliefs to generate additional returns or to minimize the market risk.

We at Vontobel are convinced that jointly setting a realistic investment objective, coupled with determining the risk budget and having an investment policy as free from restrictions as possible, are the cornerstones of successful asset management. If these are in place, having the courage to invest should generate rewards. <

Taking a balanced look at asset classes, portfolio construction and the risk budget should be at the core of any consultation. Forming a mutual evaluation of these points is a relatively simple but nonetheless essential prerequisite for a working relationship where a client places their trust in their advisor to construct a promising portfolio. Let’s take an example from a different area: in a gourmet restaurant, you usually only take advice on the ideal pairing of food and wine. And you don’t go into the kitchen to tell the chef how to cook your meal.

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Roger Studer has been Head of Investment Banking since 2008 and is a member of Vontobelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Group Executive Management. He has held various management positions at the bank for almost 25 years. Roger Studer also gained management experience at DG Bank, ABN Amro and Swiss Life. He holds a Rochester-Berne MBA.

New and unconventional approaches. Roger Studer Head of Investment Banking It takes courage to explore new avenues: the courage that creates the basis for progress by providing the spur to drive things forward. But bold actions also entail certain risks. In seeking to achieve our goals, we do so in the knowledge that it will not be easy. This is true of many facets of life, investment being just one example. Investments by their very nature involve some degree of risk. Leaving the necessary prior analysis and valuation to one side for the moment, purchasing a financial product always demands a measure of courage, irrespective of the investorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal risk appetite. None of us can predict the future, and nobody can therefore say for sure whether an investment will deliver success. Realizing visions, adhering to strategies Much the same can be said of entrepreneurial decisions. Strategic choices and investments are part and parcel of strengthening a companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long-term competitiveness. Future market situations have to be anticipated, but in a dynamic en34

Vontobel Portrait 2014

vironment it is impossible to forecast developments with certainty. On their own, though, clear visions and good ideas are not enough. When venturing into new territory, you need to have courage and perseverance to see things through. That said, taking an unconventional route does not mean being imprudent and throwing caution to the wind. Instead, every entrepreneurial idea should be well considered, and formulating a specific market expectation is essential. This is also the case for the financial industry, which is operating in an increasingly difficult environment and time and again faces the need to rethink its business models. It takes courage to see new regulatory standards as an opportunity, and to strengthen your own position in these areas or move into niches where others back away. You also need to stick fearlessly to your defined strategies and focus markets in difficult periods, while at the same time responding to more demanding client needs and delivering on the promises made. With this in mind, Vontobel set its strategic course for the further expansion of its US business back in 2008. Private

US clients are served by a company registered with the US authorities. Back then, the changing regulatory environment in the US posed major challenges for financial institutions. From Vontobel’s perspective, it took careful analysis and courage to buck the trend and find a sustainable way of providing quali­ fied client services for US clients. Naturally, this decision was given careful consideration. The strong growth rates we see today show that it has proven to be correct. Question the tried-and-tested To prevail in a competitive environment, it is not enough to stay on the beaten track. If you want to lead the way and establish a strong market positioning, you should also be the one that “shapes” the market. This means not only taking new paths, but also daring to be unconventional. Another facet of courage is questioning what is accepted and doing something different from everybody else, continually developing features that set you apart from the rest, and using these to sustainably add value for clients. A properly established market positioning and astute timing are key to success. Frequently, offerings and business processes also need to be adjusted. Investments in knowhow, talents and systems are usually required, and anti-cyclical approaches are not uncommon. New business models can, for example, entail a massive expansion in high-tech infrastructure, fixed costs and ultimately significant risks. Think unconventionally, trust others Vontobel is known for innovations that create sustainable added value in the form of product and process solutions. One good example of this is deritrade®, the issuing platform for structured products set up by Vontobel. Initially developed only for internal purposes, it was extended to other financial intermediaries in 2008. The idea behind it is to give financial service providers a tool that allows them to independently create and implement bespoke investment solutions in real time for their clients – even during consultations. When it was launched, it was uncertain how the market would take to this new business model, and the strategic decision to go down this path was a bold one. However, having the courage of

our convictions has paid off here, too. In fact, things have turned out even better than we expected, and Vontobel now ranks among the pioneers when it comes to fully integrated multi-issuer platforms in the structured products segment. More than 4,000 users in Europe and Asia now actively use Vontobel deritrade® to create their own tailored investment solutions for their clients. The Vontobel deritrade® business model actively involves financial service providers in the product development process. Vontobel is thus handing over key process steps and relinquishing part of its control over product development. As a result, financial service providers as a client segment are being integrated as partners and fixed elements in the process chain – an unconventional approach that calls for courage. The advantages are plain to see: financial service providers can structure their processes more efficiently, while at the same time focusing more rigorously on their core area of competence – advising clients. deritrade® thus allows for high-quality advisory service and simplifies the processes by “industrializing” key elements of the value chain. Having the courage of your convictions Vontobel deritrade® has developed into a multi-issuer platform, and as such has also become an attractive distribution option for other issuers. Third-party issuers are gradually being integrated, thus allowing deritrade® users to access the offerings of different providers and find the ideal solution for their clients at the best terms. For clients this means real transparency, and for the integrated providers it ensures a level playing field. In other words, the issuer that wins is the one that delivers the greatest benefits for the clients. There is another bold idea behind the deritrade® concept: Vontobel views its competitors as partners. This makes it possible to create structured products aimed at wealthy private clients that are perfectly tailored to their individual needs. And ultimately, this is all in keeping with Vontobel’s fundamental vision of constantly striving to offer our clients the best possible solutions. <

“Good ideas should be implemented with courage and determination.” Vontobel Portrait 2014


Bruno Jochum studied Political Science in Strasbourg and Paris before graduating with a Masters in International Relations and International Law from the Sorbonne and the University of Nancy. He has been the General Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Switzerland since June 2011. Before assuming this post, he worked as Director of Operations at MSF’s Operational Centre in Geneva for five years and was responsible for setting up its aid programmes in 21 countries.

Moral fortitude – not bravery. Bruno Jochum Moral courage and the will to help those in need are undoubtedly the most important factors that motivate the teams at Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in their daily work. I often hear words of praise for their boundless dedication. However, I would like to look at further aspects which – in my view – reflect the nature of MSF’s commitment especially well. Everyday courage I joined MSF 12 years ago and I have worked in the field of medical humanitarian aid since 1993 – first in Sudan, Congo and Rwanda, followed by Iran and Afghanistan. Before being appointed General Director of MSF Switzerland, I spent many years as Director of Operations at MSF’s Operational Centre, where I was responsible for projects on the ground. Among the different aid organisations that exist, I believe that MSF stands out because it combines effective local aid with critical reflection. This means that where necessary, our organisation distances itself from preconceived ideas regarding humanitarian aid. If we look beyond the cliché about the physical bravery of volunteers who risk their lives for others, it is the determination to overcome numerous obstacles and to tackle the problem of neglect affecting the weakest members of society that form the real basis of our courage. It is a matter of not giving up and, instead, of understanding the positive impact that aid campaigns can have on people who have long since lost all courage. Our teams work in very challenging conditions day after day. They do so with one single goal in mind: to provide assistance to individuals who have been left to fend for themselves in the wake of conflicts, pandemics and natural disasters or as a result of social exclusion. In Syria, for example, we are one of the few international organisations to work in the 36

Vontobel Portrait 2014

north of the country. Armed attacks are often deliberately targeted at medical facilities in this region in order to prevent the injured from being cared for. We have also been operating in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo for many years. This region, which is so rich in natural resources, has virtually no medical infrastructure and its population is continuing to suffer the effects of ongoing conflicts and devastating epidemics. In total, we run around 70 projects in over 30 countries – including in challenging locations such as the disadvantaged districts of Tegucigalpa in Honduras or the camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Iraq. Our doctors, nurses, midwives, logistics specialists, administrators and drivers – in fact, all our employees – often face risks. They do so in the knowledge that “as volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out”, as our Charter states. This applies in equal measure to our expatriate employees of all nationalities and to the local people we recruit in the countries where we work. Local personnel account for more than 90% of our entire workforce worldwide. Reporting – a key function of MSF A commitment “without borders” is not just about working in dangerous regions and taking the associated risks. As well as providing aid directly, it requires courage to negotiate with the authorities in the countries where we work and to publicly take a stand. MSF’s position is not always in line with the prevailing political opinion – but it is always focused on improving the lives of people in need. It shouldn’t be forgotten that MSF was established by doctors and journalists during the Biafra war in Nigeria in 1971. This explains the organisation’s raison d’être. It not only focuses on helping and caring for people but also on reporting on the plight of populations who suffer hardship if aid efforts

Š SÊbastien Agnetti, 13photo

Vontobel Portrait 2014


are hampered or exploited for other purposes. We speak out to criticise failings in the aid system, to remind people about forgotten crises and to make the public aware of the attacks and incursions that occur far away from the television cameras and the eyes of the press. We also report on instances where aid is misused in order to serve the political interests of different sides that are locked in conflict. When MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, it was in this spirit of reporting that the then President of MSF, Dr James Orbinski, used the award ceremony in Oslo as an opportunity to publicly condemn the bombing of the Chechen city of Grozny by Russian forces at that time. It is also for this reason that – since the outbreak of the crisis in Syria – we have not ceased to publicly condemn the repeated attacks on medical facilities and personnel while, at the same time, providing medical assistance to the civilian population. With the two sides failing to observe a ceasefire and in view of the lack of a lasting political solution, we have called for the injured, as well as medical professionals and healthcare facilities, to be granted immunity from attack. In June 2013, we also called on the international community – especially the donor countries that had gathered in Geneva – to assume their responsibility vis-à-vis thousands of civilian victims. The following August, our teams saw it as their ethical duty to immediately publish information to which they had direct access about the use of nerve gas on the civilian population. We took the exceptional measure of calling for the launch of a swift international investigation by the United Nations into the use of chemical weapons in order to document what was happening in Syria. Medical care for all MSF played a pioneering role in supporting the treatment of patients infected with HIV in developing nations and has rejected the use of cheap drugs for sufferers in poor countries. The money from the Nobel Peace Prize that MSF received in 1999 was therefore used to launch the global Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, which calls on pharmaceuticals companies to reduce their prices – especially in the case of medicines to treat HIV/AIDS. The aim is to make these drugs affordable even for patients in poor countries. As an unexpected consequence of this campaign, MSF is now able to ensure the antiretroviral treatment of over 300,000 patients with HIV. These individuals have not only survived but are also enjoying a better quality of life and are making an active contribution to their social environment. MSF has, for many years, been publicly calling on the pharmaceutical industry to provide all people with improved access to essential medicines by lowering prices and releasing patents. At the same time, we have urged the industry to develop new forms of treatment to combat tropical dis­ eases such as Buruli ulcer, sleeping sickness and kala-azar and are contributing to the introduction of innovative treatment 38

Vontobel Portrait 2014

strategies and medical procedures. It is unacceptable that these diseases, which are fortunately unknown in our part of the world, claim so many lives in Africa and other regions because of a lack of investment in research. MSF’s work – as well as our freedom to act and to speak out on different issues – is largely based on the generosity of thousands of private donors. In Switzerland, more than 200,000 people provide us with financial support year after year. It is thanks to them that MSF enjoys a level of autonomy that is rarely seen in the case of humanitarian organisations. This autonomy allows us to set priorities based on our own assessments and considerations – meaning that we can focus on the real needs of affected populations without being influenced by geopolitical interests that are often linked to questions of public funding. Knowing one’s limits Courage is about acknowledging your own limits. Last summer, we had to reach one of the most painful decisions in the history of MSF when we ended our presence in Somalia. We have been helping the civilian population in Somalia – which is suffering the consequences of an interminable war – for more than 30 years. However, the large number of incidents and attacks directed at our personnel resulted in a decision to withdraw from the region. We were deeply distressed by the murder of two employees in December 2012 and by the plight of two MSF nurses, who were kidnapped and held hostage for 21 months. Following their release in July 2013, we were forced to see that the very people with whom we had negotiated minimum guarantees of safety were the same people who were allowing attacks on humanitarian aid workers. It was therefore decided that although the local

Médecins Sans Frontières Charter Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions. Médecins Sans Frontières observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions. Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and to maintain complete independence from all political, economic, or religious powers. As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them.

© Francesco Zizola, Keystone

Médecins Sans Frontières: The Doctors Without Borders provide emergency medical assistance in countries where the healthcare infrastructure has collapsed or sections of the population are underserved.

“Our teams work in very challenging conditions day after day.” population is gravely in need of help, we could no longer expose our employees to this danger. Going forward, we will negotiate the terms of future missions on the ground with each individual party. Knowing your limits means reaching sometimes painful decisions. Since we do not have an unlimited supply of resources, our teams in the field must decide each year which programmes will be most useful for the sections of the population that we want to help. This process of defining priorities – and of subsequently limiting the aid we provide – is, of course, frustrating. Each time we perform this process, it reminds us that we have a duty to strive for the very highest standards in each one of our projects. It also highlights the importance of continuously improving our performance by engaging in further training, by learning from past mistakes and by evaluating our medical programmes.

Wars, diseases and natural disasters: for more than 40 years, the teams from MSF have been providing emergency aid to the victims of these crises. Even if some people speak of courage in this context, what I wish to emphasize most is the amazing dedication that motivates the teams at MSF to offer emergency medical aid to the most vulnerable populations day after day. I also wish to express my thanks once again to all of our donors, without whose help we could not achieve our mission. Together, we are strong enough to bring about change. <

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Médecins Sans Frontières worldwide. Facts and figures

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) – assisting people around the world Humanitarian aid without national borders, political interests or sympathies

Source: Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières International, 74 countries Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland, 20 countries


of employees are recruited in the regions affected by crisis. They are supported by a small number of international aid workers.



MSF was established in Paris.

MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


Iraq Lebanon Niger




Mexico Guatemala Honduras




Nigeria Chad Cameroon


Congo Mozambique Swaziland

projects were carried out in 2012.


Around aid workers worldwide: doctors, nurses, midwives, psychiatrists, psychologists, epidemiologists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, logisticians, hydraulic engineers, administrative staff.


Vontobel Portrait 2014


4.6 mn 55%

of deployments were made in areas suffering from unrest in 2012.

private donors accounted for 90% of the income of MSF International in 2012.

Médecins Sans Frontières – specialists in emergency aid Source: Médecins Sans Frontières (International Activity Report 2012)



surgical procedures

measles vaccinations

8,316,000 outpatient consultations

1,642,800 cases of malaria treated

784,500 antenatal consultations


197,000,000 litres of water distributed


Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland

The countries with the highest and lowest concentration of doctors Number of inhabitants per doctor

Source: Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland

Source: The Economist, 2014

142 Monaco

149 Cuba

162 Greece

68,027 Columbia

71,429 Liberia

125,000 Tanzania

Vontobel Portrait 2014


Herbert J. Scheidt has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vontobel since 2011. He served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer from 2002 to 2011. Prior to this, he held various international management positions at Deutsche Bank over a period of two decades.

The importance of standing strong. Herbert J. Scheidt Chairman of the Board of Directors Like everything else in life that is worth striving for, courage is a “rare commodity”. There is an even greater need for it in difficult times, since without courage, major challenges cannot be resolved. Wherever complex and sensitive issues have to be addressed, it is necessary for decisions to be taken. And it is those decisions that are of far-reaching significance and have a long-term impact that will secure the future direction of the economy, the state and society. By focusing on four different theories, I would like to highlight the kind of courage that is called for today to meet the challenges we currently face as a society – but also as a company. Theory 1: We need courage to face up to reality. As banal as it may sound, one of the key traits of people who shoulder responsibility – be it in business, politics or 42

Vontobel Portrait 2014

society – is their ability and, in particular, their will to face up to reality. Periods of political or economic uncertainty cause feelings of insecurity, undermining the values and convictions that people previously held. Such periods are marked by major swings in sentiment. There is a significant danger that people will refuse to accept the reality because facing up to it can, of course, prove uncomfortable. Nowadays, we often have the feeling that the facts are being embellished in order to avoid truly unpopular measures for purely political reasons. After all, the fear of significant change runs deep in our societies. To illustrate this point, we need only look at the situation in Europe, where the majority of countries are confronted with major challenges that will have to be resolved decisively with specific measures: • •

demographic shifts, coupled with efforts to secure pension systems going forward; unresolved sovereign debt problems that demand drastic structural reforms;

• •

high unemployment, insufficient economic momentum in the core countries of Europe, and the significant social tensions they create; the protection and subsidising of national industries, which are preventing the necessary adjustments from being made in response to global competition.

Time is of the essence here. Decision-makers need to face up to the facts in full – but so, too, does every individual, bearing their own personal responsibility. For a start, this means having the courage to voice inconvenient truths before accepting and then dealing with them. The same goes for companies. To rank among the leaders in today’s fiercely competitive global environment, you have to be able to contend with the changes and realities of the market more swiftly than ever before. This is the only way to reach forward-looking decisions and to get them right. Theory 2: We need courage to dare to try new things. John Maynard Keynes once stated very aptly: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” Change can be curbed and, at times, even contained – but, ultimately, it cannot be halted in the long term. The driving forces of human nature are too powerful for this to be the case. Curiosity, the joy of discovery, industriousness, ambition, the thirst for knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit – all these and more mean that the courage to change things and to venture forth into new territory will never die. The more a country motivates its inhabitants to have the courage to innovate, the more successful it will become. However, if a country seeks only to stand still – preserving what it has, serving special interests and favouring isolation – it will have to live off its reserves and will sooner or later see its competitiveness and prosperity wane. In the western industrialised nations of Europe, this is being reflected in the vague fears surrounding the irrepressible forces of globalisation, which are driving the opening-up and liberalisation of markets. Remaining mired in fear when faced with the realities of a globalised world characterised by the movement of goods and capital, as well as labour, will lead to economic decline and isolation in the medium term if such realities are not accepted and tackled with courage. Theory 3: We need to have the courage to say no. Change creates opportunities but also entails risks. This calls for experience and measured judgement. Our industry has also seen its share of very attractive and purportedly lucrative trends that many financial providers have followed with great enthusiasm, lured by the appeal of quick profits. The most prominent example of this may be the subprime debacle – Lehman to cite just one instance – which, as we all know, led to a global financial crisis and even drove states to the verge of bankruptcy. Here, too, many players allowed themselves to be temporarily dazzled by high profits. Potential risks were deliberately or negligently disregarded. Especially in times of such all-pervading euphoria, experience and sound

judgement tell us that we must analyse things and resolutely counter such trends. This takes courage. We were unanimous on this point at Vontobel. During this difficult period, Vontobel took the right course of action, avoided posting losses and continued to gradually strengthen its capital position. Where fundamentally proven principles and values are called into question, we have to stand firm in their defence. Here, I am thinking in particular of protecting the financial privacy of the individual, rather than simply relinquishing it. It is essential to uphold the protection of property, since we know that once the system of ownership is threatened, fundamental freedoms are also very quickly put in jeopardy. Theory 4: The courage I refer to is based on conviction. Courage must go hand in hand with clear convictions and with a fixed set of values and visions. The latter serve as a compass, showing us the direction we must take. At Vontobel, we have long assigned considerable importance to this. Trust is at the very heart of our business; it is our most valuable asset. As a long-term partner, we act responsibly and adopt a forward-looking approach in order to best serve the interests of our clients, employees and shareholders. We always strive to strike a balance between our focus on generating profits and our willingness to take risks. We have the courage to seize opportunities – but also to say no on occasion to short-term chances and transactions. Even in periods in which our industry faces major changes and challenges, we can actively shape the future – and can do so resolutely and with confidence thanks to the clear direction provided by our values. Our stable, family-based shareholder structure and the entrepreneurial, longterm view of our major shareholders ensure that we can do this. At Vontobel, this is how we see free enterprise functioning successfully – a view that we have now held for 90 years. <

“The more a country promotes the courage to embrace innovation, the more successful it will become.” Vontobel Portrait 2014


Record inflow of new money – sustained profitability. Vontobel in figures, 2013

2013 will be remembered as a turning point. After five years, the equity market attracted substantial inflows of funds again. The stock markets soared to new historical highs, driven by the upturn in the global economy, a continued expansionary monetary policy, low inflation and solid corporate earnings. However, the emerging markets, which were the engines of growth in recent years, gave occasional cause for concern. Furthermore, the structural aspects of the euro zone crisis have not yet been resolved. As a result, the sustained recovery that people hope for is not without risks. At the same time, the global finance industry is undergoing a fundamental structural transformation, and the entire sector must therefore be willing to adapt to these changes. Vontobel recognized these signs at an early stage and already anticipated many of the developments that are now occurring. In this evolving operating environment, Vontobel delivered a respectable net profit of CHF 122.3 mn for the financial year 2013, in line with the previous year. It should be noted that the 2013 result was impacted by significant one-off costs

of CHF 20.7 mn relating to the adjustment of Vontobel’s cross-border business model, the tax agreement with the UK and the measures concerning the bank’s participation in the US Program. The fact that the wealth and asset management business – combining Private Banking and Asset Management – accounted for 74% of Group profit should also be highlighted. The record net inflow of new money, which totalled CHF 9.1 bn, confirms Vontobel’s attractiveness to investors – based on the competitiveness of our products, our expertise in the areas of investment and risk, and our rigorous client focus. The return on equity was 7.6%. This represents a solid result, especially in view of our very strong capital base. With a BIS tier 1 capital ratio of 25.5%, Vontobel’s capital position is more than double the regulatory requirements. The Board of Directors will propose a dividend of CHF 1.30 per registered share to the General Meeting of Shareholders of 1 April 2014. The proposed increase in the dividend demonstrates the profitability and stability of our company and the Board of Directors’ confidence in the strategy we are pursuing.

Key figures



Dividend per share (CHF)

1.30 2



Equity per share outstanding at the balance sheet date (CHF)




Share price at the balance sheet date (CHF)




Return on equity (%) 3




Cost4/income ratio (%)







BIS tier 1 capital ratio (%)


Headcount (full-time equivalents)

2 3



Equity ratio (%)




Earnings per share (CHF)1

Basic earnings per share; basis: weighted average number of shares As per the proposal submitted to the General Meeting of Shareholders Group net profit in % of average equity (monthly figures)

4 5







Operating expense, excl. value adjustments, provisions and losses Tier 1 capital in % of risk-weighted positions

Group net profit

Client assets

Net new money

Shareholders’ equity

in CHF mns

in CHF bns

in CHF bns

in CHF bns

163.1 160

160 140 120


140 122.3






9.1 1.60

























Vontobel Portrait 2014















1.55 1.45








Private Banking We are committed to operating a client-oriented Private Banking business that focuses on delivering high-quality service and advice and is founded on our proven capabilities in the area of wealth management. In Private Banking, the successful execution of cost and income initiatives not only resulted in a substantial improvement in profitability in 2013 but, at the same time, led to significantly higher growth in new money. The systematic implementation of our cross-border approach – which is based on a central booking and investment platform in Switzerland – produced considerable efficiency gains. This led to an impressive 56% increase in the segment result to CHF 59.4 mn and to a pleasing net inflow of new money in the amount of CHF 1.4 bn, driven primarily by Central and Eastern Europe. We want to continue this organic growth through the selective hiring of new relationship managers. Overall, the Private Banking segment has established a solid basis for future organic growth. Investment Banking Vontobel Financial Products remains well positioned as a leading issuer of structured products in its target segment of Swiss retail and private investors. Subdued market volumes are, however, having an impact on the business. The issuing platform deritrade® developed by Vontobel is now successfully established as a marketplace for leading providers and professional investors. In Germany, Investment Banking gained further market share and now ranks among the top seven market players. The business with external asset managers (EAMs) has achieved continued and substantial growth. The overall result in Investment Banking declined by 18%. In 2014, we are planning to roll out deritrade® internationally and to further expand our EAM Desk.

Asset Management Vontobel Asset Management attracted substantial net new money in 2013, thus replicating its extremely successful performance in the prior year. At the same time, the business unit recorded a marked increase in profit, which rose by 37% to CHF 103.3 mn. As a result, this unit once again made a significant profit contribution and is positioned in the institutional market as a globally established active asset manager with a proven multi-boutique approach. The team domiciled in New York has further developed the Quality Growth product line so that it is now broader based and has a stronger focus on Global Equity. In addition, investments were made in the expansion of the Fixed Income and Multi Asset Class boutiques in Zurich. At the end of 2013, Vontobel concluded a partnership with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) with the aim of strengthening its activities in Asia Pacific. In Asset Management, we are continuing to focus on the quality of investment performance and on the diversification of our product lines within the framework of our multi-boutique concept.

Private Banking

Investment Banking

Asset Management

Pre-tax income in CHF mns

Pre-tax income in CHF mns

Pre-tax income in CHF mns


60 50 40



80 33.6




30 20 10 0























Vontobel in figures Facts and figures as of 31 December 2013

Client assets (in CHF bns)


109.6 assets under management 46.5 custody assets 7.0 structured products outstanding

Shareholders’ equity (in CHF bns)


Net new money in 2013 (in CHF bns)


Ratings for Bank Vontobel AG: Moody’s: A1 Standard & Poor’s: A+

Further information:

BIS tier 1 capital ratio (in %)


Awards We received the following awards in 2013. They confirm our expertise in different areas of business, which enables us to create sustained value for our clients.

Rajiv Jain received the prestigious “Global Equity Fund Manager of the Year” award from Morningstar in Europe.

Vontobel won the “Equities Manager of the Year” award at the UK Pensions Awards 2013.

Vontobel Fund – New Power received the “Best Clean Energy Fund” award at the ESG Investment Awards 2013.

Vontobel Fund – Global Equity was named as the “Best Fund in the ‘Equity Global’ category over 3 years” in Austria, Germany, Spain, the UK, France and the Netherlands.

In the Thomson Reuters Extel Pan-European Survey 2013, Vontobel ranked first in all categories and thus secured the top place in the overall classification.

“Swiss Derivative Award – Top Service 2013”: for the third year running, the jury awarded this accolade to Vontobel in recognition of its outstanding performance in delivering top service.

“Best in Switzerland”: recognized by the renowned specialist magazine Structured Products Europe as the “Best Swiss Derivatives House 2013”.

< Awards << Our locations

Our locations Switzerland Zurich Vontobel Holding AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 59 00 Bank Vontobel AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 71 11 Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors AG Tödistrasse 17 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)44 287 81 11 Vontobel Fonds Services AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 74 77 Vontobel Securities AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 71 11 Harcourt Investment Consulting AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 54 00 Basle Bank Vontobel AG Basle Branch St. Alban-Anlage 58 CH-4052 Basle Telephone +41 (0)58 283 21 11 Berne Bank Vontobel AG Berne Branch Spitalgasse 40 CH-3011 Berne Telephone +41 (0)58 283 22 11 Geneva Banque Vontobel SA Geneva Branch Rue du Rhône 31 CH-1204 Geneva Telephone +41 (0)58 283 25 00 Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors SA Geneva Branch Rue du Rhône 31 CH-1204 Geneva Telephone +41 (0)22 809 81 51

Lucerne Bank Vontobel AG Lucerne Branch Schweizerhofquai 3a CH-6002 Lucerne Telephone +41 (0)58 283 27 11 China Hong Kong Vontobel Asia Pacific Ltd. 3601 Two International Finance Centre 8 Finance Street, Central HK-Hong Kong Telephone +852 3655 3990 Vontobel Wealth Management (Hong Kong) Ltd. 3601 Two International Finance Centre 8 Finance Street, Central HK-Hong Kong Telephone +852 3655 3966 Germany Frankfurt on the Main Bank Vontobel Europe AG Frankfurt on the Main Branch WestendDuo Bockenheimer Landstrasse 24 D-60323 Frankfurt on the Main Telephone +49 (0)69 695 99 60 Vontobel Financial Products GmbH WestendDuo Bockenheimer Landstrasse 24 D-60323 Frankfurt on the Main Telephone +49 (0)69 297 208 11 Hamburg Bank Vontobel Europe AG Hamburg Branch Sudanhaus Grosse Bäckerstrasse 13 D-20095 Hamburg Telephone +49 (0)40 638 587 0 Cologne Bank Vontobel Europe AG Cologne Branch Auf dem Berlich 1 D-50667 Cologne Telephone +49 (0)221 20 30 00 Munich Bank Vontobel Europe AG Alter Hof 5 D-80331 Munich Telephone +49 (0)89 411 890 0

Great Britain London Vontobel Europe S.A. London Branch 3rd Floor, 22 Sackville Street GB-London W1S 3DN Telephone +44 207 255 83 00 Italy Milan Vontobel Europe S.A. Milan Branch Piazza degli Affari, 3 I-20123 Milan Telephone +39 02 6367 3411 Liechtenstein Vaduz Bank Vontobel (Liechtenstein) AG Pflugstrasse 20 FL-9490 Vaduz Telephone +423 236 41 11 Luxembourg Luxembourg Vontobel Europe S.A. 2–4, rue Jean l’Aveugle L-1148 Luxembourg Telephone +352 26 34 74 1 Vontobel Management S.A. 2–4, rue Jean l’Aveugle L-1148 Luxembourg Telephone +352 26 34 74 60 Austria Vienna Vontobel Europe S.A. Vienna Branch Kärntner Ring 5–7/7 A-1010 Vienna Telephone +43 (0)1 205 11 60 1280 Sweden Stockholm Vontobel Europe S.A. Stockholm Branch Norrlandsgatan 22, Box 7046 SE-103 86 Stockholm Telephone +46 8 611 0670 Singapore Singapore Vontobel Financial Products (Asia Pacific) Pte. Ltd. 8 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 1, Level 07–04 SGP-Singapore 018960 Telephone +65 6407 1170

Spain Madrid Vontobel Europe S.A. Madrid Branch Paseo de la Castellana, 95, Planta 18 E-28046 Madrid Telephone +34 91 520 95 95 US New York Vontobel Asset Management Inc. 1540 Broadway, 38th Floor New York, NY 10036, USA Telephone +1 212 415 70 00 Vontobel Securities AG New York Branch 1540 Broadway, 38th Floor New York, NY 10036, USA Telephone +1 212 792 58 20 Dallas Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors AG Inc. Dallas Branch 100 Crescent Court, 7th Floor Dallas, TX 75201, USA Telephone +1 214 459 3250 United Arab Emirates Dubai Vontobel Financial Products Ltd. Liberty House, Office 913, Dubai International Financial Centre P.O. Box 506814 Dubai, United Arab Emirates Telephone +971 (4) 703 85 00

Front cover: Getty Images Disclaimer The “Vontobel Portrait 2014” is intended solely for information purposes. The information and views contained in it do not constitute a request, offer or recommendation to use a service, to buy or sell investment instruments or to conduct other transactions. In addition, there is a risk that forecasts, predictions, projections and results described or implied in future-oriented statements may not prove correct. Information and statements concerning audited financial results and corporate governance should only be taken from the “Annual Report 2013” of Vontobel Holding AG. It is available at or can be obtained by post upon request. The opinions expressed by external authors in this publication are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Vontobel Group.

as Vontobel Porträt 2011 ist noch in den weiteren Sprachen Englisch, Französisch, Italienisch, Spanisch, Russisch und Chinesisch erhältlich.

3/11 15 000 DE

02/14; The “Vontobel Portrait 2014” is also available in German and French. Printed byproduziert Linkgroupdurch without impacting the climate. Klimaneutral Linkgroup.

Vontobel Holding AG Gotthardstrasse 43 CH-8022 Zurich Telephone +41 (0)58 283 59 00

Vontobel Portrait 2014 - Focus theme: Courage  

Courage has many faces and can be manifested in many different forms: physically, morally, and psychologically. This nuanced differentiation...