Why selection is a ‘people business’
For Christian Riemann of Global Investment Bridge, wealth management and fund selection involve understanding very different kinds of clients.
Christian Riemann’s professional role is to help wealthy individuals and institutions manage assets largely through fund selection and direct alternative energy investments, and to advise them on their corporate finance.
He also assists private banks and other intermediary investors with these matters for their end-clients.
But as he expanded his client base from Germany in 2003, to Russia in 2006 and the Middle East in 2009, you sense Riemann has also become an ‘investment anthropologist’. Along the way, in 2007, he and his business associates integrated their activities into Global Investment Bridge AG.
The nations it serves could hardly be more different to each other. Riemann says: “The regions are very different and distinct with respect to business culture, investment style, the emotional and cultural preferences of our customers, and the regulations for what can be done within the respective frameworks. Thus, products, processes and packaging vary considerably.“
Riemann must understand each group’s nuances. Such ‘sociology’ is a skill Riemann clearly enjoys practising. “It is clear that we can only offer best-in-class products that are very specific/particular. Communicating an investment honestly and unambiguously requires knowledge of cultures, since all investment products embody ‘a promise’ of a certain kind, which should subjectively not be broken with respect to the expectations behind it.
“When recommending funds, the [task] can have a lot to do with what I offer, of course, but also how I come across when I suggest it.
“We use different structures for each market, sometimes for each client. We visit all of our clients on a regular basis and discuss which structures we should use to accommodate a variety of issues, including risk tolerance and preferences, but also legal and tax reasons, to name a few.”
Turning to national characters, Riemann begins with Russian investors. He moved to Moscow in 2007/2008, first to help Russians with M&A services – his background was managing large M&A transactions at Hitachi-Kokusai-Denki and Infineon Technologies.
Russian banks then started asking for advice on how best to prepare for regulation, such as Basel II, on risk management and private wealth management. “Investors wanted more services, and asked me more and more to help them manage assets, too”.