Asset Management Opportunities in New Realities

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
September 06, 2012 /

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Ernst & Young have released a joint study at the NZZ Capital Market Forum in Zurich on September 3, 2012. The study proposes how asset managers in Switzerland can take advantage of business opportunities in a rapidely changing environment.

Growth opportunities outside Switzerland can be found on the Asian markets. Yet entry barriers in growth markets such as China may present serious challenges. Feeder markets such as Indonesia can offer equally promising growth potential in a less competitive environment.

“In Switzerland, asset management has a major chance to play an important role in the country’s position as a financial center”, explains Olaf Toepfer, Senior Partner and Global Head of Asset and Wealth Management at Roland Berger.

Asset managers that are not large enough to diversify should concentrate on their core competencies.

The increasing polarization between asset managers and distributors can be leveraged by asset managers to increase cooperation and shore up confidence with their distribution partners. This in turn can be used to improve the quality of products and services and address client needs in a more targeted way.

Asset managers should intensify their cooperation with independent financial intermediaries, as these know their clients very well. In certain EU markets such as Germany, Italy or the UK, independent financial intermediaries provide an interesting way to access the market.

Innovations in asset management should be systematically promoted, making it possible, for example, to address demographic changes by offering comprehensive solutions for retirement.

Toepfer says: “A Swiss based asset management company has credibility and offers the prospect of global growth.”

The 10 hypotheses regarding the market, competition, product portfolio and demand reveal concrete levers that asset managers can use to strengthen their business over the long term, even in today’s difficult market environment.

“Opportunities will arise for asset managers who are capable of responding more decisively to increasingly fast changing environments and new client demands. Even regulatory challenges such as the AIFM directive offer asset managers opportunities, in that they open up new sales channels and markets,” says Christian Soguel, Partner and Head of Asset Management at Ernst & Young in Switzerland.

Selected hypotheses were discussed with industry experts in a workshop at the NZZ Capital Market Forum. The discussion highlighted how important it is for asset managers to position themselves clearly.

“The asset management landscape in Switzerland is currently more stable than that of wealth management. Therefore, asset managers have a prime opportunity right now to actively position themselves and hone their unique value proposition,” explains Toepfer.

“We expect asset management to continue to gain importance in Switzerland over the next few years,” explains Carina Schaurte, Project Manager with responsibility for Roland Berger’s asset and wealth management practice in Switzerland.


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