Pension, asset services: the Sturdza group remains very much a family business but is in the process of diversifying its activities. Nicolette de Joncaire of allnews.ch interviews Banque Eric Sturdza’s CEO, Michaela Zanello Sturdza.
After a few years of managing operations alongside her father, Michaela Zanello Sturdza took over the reins at Banque Eric Sturdza in March 2021. This was not some kind of childhood plan, but rather a fate which unfolded naturally, and one she sees as a good omen, given that the transition happened so smoothly.
Pension planning for retirement accounts and asset servicing have been added to the already-existing business segments — wealth management, asset management, third-party managers, multi-family office and wealth planning.
Nicolette de Joncaire of allnews.ch provides the questions for the interview below:
You took over management of the bank a little over a year ago shortly before a tough economic turnaround. How have things turned out?
After a solid performance in 2021 and despite the current very poor market conditions, our net position is up. It’s been a tough year, but our client-centred business model is much appreciated in these difficult times.
In addition, we’re seeing a renewed appetite among our clients for traditional bond management with the end of negative interest rates, something that we have anticipated and nurtured in our product and service offering. We’re not afraid to go against the grain… After all, we were successful in starting Paris Bertrand Sturdza in 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis.
Our current success is the culmination of all the effort put into new products and talent, specifically since 2018. Our share of managed mandates is higher than the average of other banks, which reflects the trust our clients have in us.
“Most recently, we launched a long-short US equity UCIT fund exclusively with Crawford Fund Management.”
Our strategy has always been to identify and attract the best talent to benefit our clients and to develop our high-performance and differentiated management competencies over time. In order to perpetuate it, we partnered last year with Phileas Asset Management, a specialist in equity management and Long Short Market Neural on European equities, for the management of our quality European stocks.
Most recently, we launched a long-short US equity UCITs fund – the Strategic Long Short Fund – exclusively with Crawford Fund Management.
Finally, this year we are witnessing the “revival” of our historic Japan fund – the Nippon Growth (UCITS) Fund – managed by Yukata Uda and Maiko Uda, a segment of the market that has been ignored by investors for years but is now booming.
What cards are you laying on the table?
Two business lines have been developed within our group: pension planning for retirement accounts and asset servicing. With regard to pension planning for retirement accounts, in recent years there has been a considerable increase in the private management of pension accounts by financial players such as banks or specialized financial intermediaries.
Through Coges Corraterie Gestion, we offer dynamic and efficient solutions, such as plan 1E or 3a accounts, via a network of partnerships with independent pension funds. This line has integrated particularly well into our activity as a third-party manager.
Our latest business line is asset servicing with a range of value-added services offered to institutional investors. Alongside the ManCo in Luxembourg we aim to become a Super-ManCo in the near future, enabling us to structure liquid and illiquid funds.
Private equity is particularly sought after at the moment. What do you offer clients in this regard?
Through our network, we have often been able to source private market opportunities in the past through access to certain exclusive funds or through pre-IPO transactions in recent years. To complement this approach, we have partnered with a platform which offers access to major private equity strategies and names on a more consistent basis and with reasonable entry fees.
There are 87 banks left in Geneva. Where do you position yourselves on the market?
We are a family group which means that we make time for each other in order to get across our vision of the sector. Our clients often have a similar dynamic to ours and find themselves operating and managing their assets and estates using a similar approach to ours.
“With some 120 employees, 76 of whom work in the bank, we are a mid-sized company with a positive workplace culture.”
With some 120 employees, 76 of whom work in the bank, we are a mid-sized company with a positive workplace culture. Everyone knows everyone, management listens to employees and the average length of service is 15 years.
How does Corraterie Gestion, which you also managed, fit in?
Corraterie Gestion represents a set of mutually beneficial specialisations at the service of our clients.
Your father once said that the “critical size of a bank is not the size of its balance sheet”. Do you agree with this view?
Definitely. Growing is great but provides the potential for other challenges and is not necessarily a sign of success.
How do you see the future of the group?
This group is my father’s baby, which he entrusted to me. We will keep doing what we have always done — listening to our clients. What drives us forward essentially is what we learn from them.
Are there other projects in the pipeline?
Yes, but it’s a bit early to talk about them. In the meantime, we will be completely refurbishing our headquarters and therefore moving the entire company to one floor for 10 months. This will further boost the sense of team spirit among our staff.
The original French article «Nous avons le temps pour nous» is available on allnews.ch.
About Michaela Zanello Sturdza
Michaela joined the Eric Sturdza Group’s private banking division in 2011. When it was bought out in 2013, she joined Coges Corraterie Gestion as the group’s third-party manager. In 2017, at the request of the Board of Directors, she returned to the bank as the Head of HR to assist her father, Eric, in general, and assist in the transition to the new generation.
Michaela joined the Executive Board in 2018 and co-led the bank with her father. In 2021 Michaela was appointed Managing Director and Eric Sturdza as a member of the Board of Directors.
About the Eric Sturdza Group
In Switzerland, the Eric Sturdza Group focuses on its private banking and wealth management activities. Outside Switzerland, the Eric Sturdza Group has honed its asset management expertise by delegating the management of its investment funds to experienced managers through the E.I. Sturdza Funds plc, in Ireland and VIA AM SICAV, in Luxembourg.
As always, we invite investors and prospective investors, to contact us should they wish to understand our views on the current situation and the positions held in the portfolios.
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The views and statements contained herein are those of Banque Eric Sturdza SA as of 14/11/2022 and are based on internal research and modelling. Please click on BES Disclaimer to view Banque Eric Sturdza’s disclaimers. Please click on Disclaimer Page to view full disclaimers.