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Zurich boutique boss reveals rationale for cantonal bank deal

Zurich boutique boss reveals rationale for cantonal bank deal

Graubündner Kantonalbank has bought a 25% share in the Zurich-based independent asset manager Albin Kistler, in a move which will see the Chur-based institution increase its holding to 51% over the next three years.

Speaking to Citywire Switzerland, Norbert Albin, who is a partner at Albin Kistler, said the reason behind the move is succession issues, as his and partner André Kistler’s children don’t want to work in the industry.

‘It is very important that even if Albin and Kistler are not around the ownership of the firm is secured in the long-term. It is also good to have an experienced bank as one of the shareholders.’

Albin said the deal, which was announced on July 29, will benefit both his firm and Graubündner Kantonalbank

‘We are very strong in the research department and asset management and the Graubündner Kantonalbank can benefit from that. The bank on the other hand can give us synergies at the time of technological changes.’

While the asset manager doesn’t have finalised guidelines for the cooperation yet, Albin said work groups are going to explore opportunities further in the nearest future. ‘At the moment it is important that we can work in the same way we always did, so clients won’t even feel that we have a new shareholder.’

Albin added employees are positive about the change and said no one is planning to leave the firm. ‘We also informed the network of our clients about this. Some of them are critical and asked good questions but the majority have congratulated us. We advise CHF 4 billion and are not planning to change our research process.’

Research-driven core

Albin said the firm's workflow won’t change, nor will its heavy emphasis on research. For example, Albin Kistler hired seven analysts over the last three years and has plans to add more.

‘We want to beat the competition in achieving outperformance, especially in the bond and Swiss equity spaces. Good research is essential for that, we plan to maintain and invest even more into it,’ he said.

Albin added he has full flexibility to change asset allocation and is overweight equities at the moment. The big share of allocation is bonds issued in Swiss francs, while paper issued abroad adds up to 30% across portfolios.

‘In the bond space we earned quite a lot of money this year. We are investing mostly in bonds of companies issued in Swiss francs and you can still finds good returns on this market.’

When it comes to investments in funds, Albin's team is invests with caution. Albin Kistler has its own fund palette, both in Swiss franc and foreign currencies, for instance the Albin Kistler Schweiz and Albin Kistler Obligationen.

The firm also recently launched  a new small mid-cap strategy Albin Kistler Aktien Small&Mid Cap Schweiz. ‘Small clients like funds but for big clients we are investing almost exclusively directly in equities or bonds. Meanwhile we are not tackling alternative investments’

He said when it comes to regulations, the firm hasn’t experienced issues so far. Albin Kistler complies with FINMA rules and has mainly Swiss clients. ‘However, if new regulations are coming our way, to have Graubündner Kantonalbank as a partner will be definitely an advantage.’

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