SWISS SEC-REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISOR
Dominique Spillmann - CEO
Short description of yourself and your background.
I am Swiss, born and raised in this beautiful country. I did most of my education in Switzerland and topped it off with an Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I have always wanted to become a private banker, but at the core of private banking is asset management, which is why I initially started in portfolio management. The 10 years in New York City have significantly influenced my career and since then, I have solely focused on the U.S. market. Back in Switzerland, I set up three SEC-registered investment advisers over the last almost 20 years. A great experience and extensive expertise that we now employ at swisspartners Advisors (“SPA”). The vast number of years that I have spent in this industry allows me to find solutions outside the box to help clients in unusual and difficult situations.
Deloitte recently confirmed Switzerland as the world’s leading private wealth management center. Why does Switzerland remain on top despite all those turbulences?
I would say it is the same reason why Switzerland is the number one choice for custodian services for many. First and foremost, it is the country’s stability and prosperity in both political and economic terms. With its over 500 years old well-known neutrality and approximately 200 years of the same currency, Switzerland has established trustworthy partnerships and stable political landscape. In turn, a stable political environment provides the ground for different industries to prosper without the fear of government reprisals, international conflicts and political or monetary insecurity that could lead to fears and risks for international business.
The second and more important factor is the knowhow and expertise in global asset management and private banking. This has played an essential role in attracting wealthy individuals, families, and businesses from around the world. Switzerland has one of the oldest and strongest banking traditions and wealth management experience. Top that off with its geographically central location – this is what makes Switzerland one of the leading private wealth management centers.
As a Swiss wealth manager, why did you decide to register with the SEC in the United States?
Safety, security, and peace of mind for our clients have been our guiding principles since the moment of our establishment. In helping American investors with their geographical diversification and asset protection needs, we at SPA understand the importance of providing our clients and prospects with all necessary information for them to make an educated choice. This is why we recognize that being registered with the SEC is part and parcel of ensuring the highest level of compliance and service to our clients.
We are incorporated in Switzerland and act as an independent asset manager registered with a self-regulatory organization (SRO)-SAAM (VSV). Furthermore, we saw that day-to-day operations and risk management greatly benefit from having a full-time compliance officer on staff. So, instead of outsourcing our responsibilities, we choose the proactive approach of having a Chief Compliance Officer, who monitors our operations and supports the everyday decision-making processes. Ensuring full compliance is not only paramount to us but it is also comforting to our clients.
What particular needs does an American investor have?
The three main reasons why U.S. investors consider Switzerland are, first, the desire to diversify their portfolio geographically, second, to find the best place for custody of their asset protection structures and assets, and finally, to work with specialists in a truly global investment universe. Geographical diversification is as important as asset class diversification. With its long history and reputation in global asset management, Switzerland is one of the few viable alternatives outside the U.S. for such needs. Thus, when shifting investments to Switzerland, American investors want to access both European and international markets. They look for best-in-class global investment solutions and transparent mandate structures, both available at SPA.
From an asset protection point of view, the custody of the underlying assets is an important factor contributing to the overall effectiveness of such a structure. In many instances, you have an asset protection trust with assets custodied in a Swiss private bank. In those cases, it is essential to find the most appropriate custodian bank with competitive custodian rates and a variety of services, which among other things, would also allow for the monitoring of the account from the United States.
How do you address these needs?
When it comes to geographical diversification, SPA provides an investment approach, which aims to combine capital preservation with the potential for long term capital enhancement. Depending on how much risk our clients are prepared and/or able to take and their return expectation, we tailor our mandates to their needs. We offer solutions to achieve the optimal diversification in accordance with their goals. Whether the focus is on Europe, China, or the U.S., whether it is pure fixed income, pure equity, currency overlay strategies, precious metals, or a combination of all, we strive to meet our clients’ investment objectives.
Along with our investment solutions, we offer our clients a great choice of custodian banks to pick from. The private banks we work with are some of Switzerland’s most distinguished banks with teams who are specialized and experienced in servicing Swiss-based SEC registered investment advisers and the particular needs of their U.S. clients. Moreover, the long-standing relationship we have with those banks allows us to negotiate competitive and very attractive custodian rates. The best of all is that the variety of custodian banks – even in Europe and the U.S. if required - offers our clients the choice to select the custody provider, which best meets their particular requirements.
If you were to give one important piece of advice to American clients, what would it be?
As with everything in life, achieving balance in all senses of the word is key to prosperity and happiness. The same principle applies to investments. The best strategy is to minimize the risk, while simultaneously optimizing the return. At SPA we constantly work towards that objective. Yet, it is all up to American investors to take the first step and seek the geographical and/or asset manager diversification. By moving a portion of their assets to a Swiss asset manager like SPA, we will establish a tailor-made investment structure and strategy, enabling them to achieve their long-term investment objectives.