Interview with Robert Vrijhof from WHVP Weber Hartmann Vrijhof & Partner Ltd.
Let’s start with a short description of yourself and your background.
I love what I do, being independent for nearly 25 years as an Independent Asset Manager. Having said that, I am also grateful for the 15 years I was able to spend at several Swiss Banks before establishing WHVP.
Deloitte recently confirmed Switzerland as the world’s leading private wealth management center. Why does Switzerland remain on top despite turbulences?
I happen to live in not only one of the safest and best organized countries in the world, but also in one which has proven over and over again that we have a sound economic foundation as well as one of the most stable and strongest currencies in the world. A client's safety and privacy is still guaranteed in Switzerland.
As a Swiss wealth manager, why did you decide to register with the SEC in the United States?
I had the good fortune to spend several years as the head of a portfolio management team at a small private bank where the clientele was mainly American. During those years I realized that I really enjoyed working with Americans and I therefore started WHVP with a main focus on American Clients. Since well over 80% of our clients are American we decided to register with the SEC, enabling us to freely communicate with our clients and/or visit them personally in the United States.
What particular needs does an American investor have?
We have always been of the opinion that a wealthy American should have a part of their overall wealth invested outside of the US and outside of the US dollar. For the past 25 years we have specialized in working closely with US citizens to build foreign currency portfolios with investments in stocks and bonds which are not readily available on the US market. The strength of the US dollar is opening a window of opportunity for Americans to invest abroad.
How do you address these needs?
As always, before we start a relationship, we want to get to know our client. A personal meeting is always preferred but we can start with a telephone conversation, enabling us to create an investment proposal that is suitable for the client's lifestyle. Once both sides are comfortable with the proposal, we assist in opening the bank account at one of the Swiss banks we work with. Once the account is opened and funded we begin the process of making the initial investments. Thereafter, the client will receive a personal phone call from one of our partners during the first year and information as to how the investments developed will be provided. Of course we are happy to answer any questions a client may have regarding performance, account statements or transaction slips at any time.
If you were to give one important piece of advice to American clients, what would it be?
We at WHVP are convinced that a window of opportunity is developing, and Americans with enough wealth available should use the current strength of the US dollar to move part of their wealth into foreign currencies. We are convinced that the current strength of the US dollar will not be maintained over a long period of time and in our eyes, there are some exciting currencies out there that should be looked at.
We also believe that there are several stock markets worldwide that look more promising than the American stock market overall.