René Beusch and Christina Beck, CEO/head of funds and head of investor relations respectively at Catam Asset Management, tell us what makes their firm tick and what you should see and do in Liechtenstein.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Citywire Switzerland.
How long has Catam been established, and have you always been based in Liechtenstein?
Catam is an independent asset management company founded in Liechtenstein in 1998. It is a subsidiary of Cat Holding (Zurich), which was established in 1988 as a specialist for investments and convertible bonds in the Asian and Japanese regions.
What are the advantages and challenges of being based in Liechtenstein?
Liechtenstein is part of the European Economic Area and as a result we have access to the European market. This is a huge advantage for Catam, helping to develop relationships and business with other countries and partners. Furthermore, the political stability of Liechtenstein is helpful. We are in close contact with the Financial Market Authority, through which we can adjust to changes quickly and have short decision paths. Generally speaking, Liechtenstein is uncomplicated, has low costs and a well-financed banking system.
What changes have affected your business?
Regulation is changing our business in that there is a bigger
administrative workload. There is a healthy trend of transparency in the financial market. This is a further advantage for both our clients and us.
Who is your average client, and what is their attitude to risk?
Our private clients get bespoke global investment solutions depending on their risk tolerance. For professional investors we offer niche products for different investment styles. These include conservative to directional and absolute return strategies through our convertible bond and equity funds.
What is Catam’s competitive edge?
As an independent financial boutique, we fill a niche that most bigger asset managers neglect. In the convertible bond space, we have more than 30 years of expertise in Japanese, Asian and global convertible bond management. On the non-directional side, we have access to outstanding hedge funds that are not available to everyone. Our mission is to achieve mutually agreed investment objectives while maintaining a perfect equilibrium of safety, liquidity and returns.
What is your view on the markets right now?
For the time being volatility is here to stay. Employment is tight in America and corporate earnings have dramatically improved thanks to the recent tax rebates. Wages are not increasing as much as hoped, which is a global phenomenon, not only something that affects the US.
Higher oil and commodity prices should help global inflation in the short term. It is not quite clear if and when the European Central Bank will stop buying bonds and increase rates, but European equities still look attractive.
Geopolitical uncertainty is an ongoing concern, and trade frictions might continue as long as the US presidency remains so unpredictable. However, our general view is that equities are still the better investment as the global economy is expected to grow by 3.4% this year.
If I were in Liechtenstein for 24 hours, what should I see and do?
Drive up the mountain and enjoy the fantastic view over the whole country. You can see the river, which is our natural border with Switzerland. On the way down have a look at our castle. In addition, please visit our museum and enjoy your lunch in the vineyards of Liechtenstein.