Next 1 September, Swiss wealth manager Plurigestion, headquartered in Geneva, will rebrand as Pleion, InvestmentEurope can reveal.
Pleion refers to superior quality and excellence in Greek. At the start of June, the firm announced the launch of Pleion SA in Luxembourg, aiming to bring together under one structure the different companies established since 1980 in order to provide a wide range of services to a demanding clientele.
Having added Luxembourg to its other client geographies (Switzerland, Mauritius, Hong Kong), the firm is actively seizing opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures to sustain its growth in the country.
When Pleion SA (Luxembourg) was established, Patrick Héritier, chief executive officer, said this was a promising step for the group, a new chapter in its history by entering the European market.
Currently the Swiss wealth manager, counting some 150 employees, tallies over €1bn in assets of which 55% are managed under discretionary mandates and 45% are under advisory.
In Switzerland, Plurigestion also follows an external growth strategy through acquisitions or partnerships with other asset managers and hires of relationships managers leaving Swiss banks. Additionally, it seeks to grow through the purchase of investment and compliance tools to further position as a key player of the consolidation in the Swiss market.
“We have investment skills but we also like to have sparring partners such as Heravest for direct line equity investments and Technigest for technical analysis. They take part to the investment committee but they are not voting. In addition, we outsource our fund selection to Wealth Solutions Partners. We need someone to be able to deeply drill asset managers. For that, you need a certain market knowledge. It is not only about quantitative or qualitative criteria and looking at Morningstar ratings is not enough,” explains Plurigestion’s chief investment officer Stephan Germann speaking to InvestmentEurope.
Discussing the impacts of the forthcoming LEFIN and LSFIN regulations on the Swiss independent wealth management and private banking industry, he says: “Independent players are doing relatively fine at the moment. They are all looking at each other. Though I do not have ten wealth managers at my door seeking to partner or merge with us. When LSFIN will be effective, the situation will dramatically change. However there will be a difference between the small private bank that has clients in 20 or more countries and that which has a strong clientele located in a single place. The former may not survive while the latter could still overcome forthcoming regulation.”
European smaller caps and tech favoured
Regarding Plurigestion’s fund selection, for which he works alongside WSP, Germann says he does not invest in funds whose assets are below CHF50m. A three-year track record and at least CHF100m in assets under management form two of the requirements set by the firm’s CIO.
“Fund picking is not all about beating benchmarks. We implement our allocation views through fund selection and we expect funds we invest in to match with these. Nonetheless funds must respect their guidelines if any set in their processes. If I am positive on equities and invest in an equity fund whose manager actually pulls back money to be, say 5% or 10% cash, this is not a situation I want to face. Being supported by fund selection experts helps you avoiding this and taking bets in niche funds you would not necessarily invest by your own,” pinpoints Germann.
On the fixed income segment, subordinated financial debt and senior loans are among asset classes played while the wealth manager returned on emerging debt hard currency.
“European smaller caps in Europe and tech are two segments we favour on the equity side. I do not believe there is a tech bubble. There is growth and important margins, last year tech stocks formed 25% of the S&P total results,” Germann highlights.
“On the European equity bucket, I am invested in active funds like Mandarine Micro Caps or Oddo BHF Avenir as there is alpha to be generated within the small cap universe. Systematic strategies can also extract some value from the European stock market. On the US equity segment, I would rather use an ETF. If you are to underperform the S&P 500, you would likely prefer to pay the fees of an ETF rather than these of an active fund,” he says.