Interview with Grégoire Pictet, CEO
Deloitte recently confirmed Switzerland as the world’s leading private wealth management center. Why does Switzerland remain at the top of rankings despite the difficult environment and changing regulatory landscape?
Switzerland in general has always had a reputation as a country where the quality of service is peerless. The wealth management industry is part of this tradition. Pictet has been cultivating this strong service-oriented culture since the bank was founded over 210 years ago. We have been helping clients manage their wealth and transmit their estates to the next generation for two centuries in Europe. Our expertise and global reach that of our North American peers. For example, here in Switzerland opening a bank account in any currency of your choice is not a problem. Try doing this in North America!
As a Swiss wealth manager, why did you decide to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States?
In order to provide the same high-quality investment offering in today’s world one needs to be fully compliant in the markets we want to serve. PNAA was set up in 2006 at a time when the Pictet partners believed there was a need for diversification in terms of investments and regions, which many HNWI and UHNWI in North America were neglecting to a large extent. Today we have a well-established business as an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and can provide custody outside the US at our parent company Banque Pictet & Cie SA, which is a great additional advantage for our US clients.
What particular needs do American investors have?
Being a US citizen comes with some very special requirements (e.g. you need to file a tax return in the US whether you reside in the US or not). So every US client needs IRS-compliant investing, which is something we can offer thanks to our expertise in that area. US tax reporting is another value-added service that the custodian Banque Pictet & Cie SA can offer HNWIs. Our investment approach also seeks to generate after-tax income, which is very important in an environment where short-term capital gains are taxed at significantly higher rates than long-term capital gains. Additionally we practice SEC compliant investing which is crucial for our clients. We have noticed that this is poorly understood by many international asset managers.
How do you address these needs?
At PNAA we are well placed to service the needs of US clients in a fully compliant fashion. We have expertise in building bespoke investment portfolios on a client-by-client basis in light of their specific needs, risk aversion and return requirements.
Additionally, in order to provide investment advice, PNAA acts as an investment advisor and its employees are all registered with the SEC so they can meet prospects and clients for financial advice on US soil. We are here to serve North American clients and are open for business.
If you were to give some important advice to American clients, what would it be?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: diversify your assets in terms of currencies and regions. Make sure your advisor is fully licensed to provide you with the compliant services you need.