Switzerland has long been an offshore haven in the heart of Europe, often running money in offshore funds for anonymous clients. As such, its fund managers did not have to submit to formal regulation by their Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), while few did.
M&A is another possible outcome for Switzerland’s fund community. While this may not suit those small managers forced to join larger groups that are more able to pay bills of compliance, it could well bring benefits to larger managers and consolidators.
One private banker said: “We are ready to speak with small teams looking for a suitable new home. We think 40% or more of Swiss asset managers are such small groups.”
Keijsers says: “Larger firms such as Gottex could ¬benefit if smaller players team up with larger players where the unit costs of a regulatory framework are much lower.”
Gottex already has experience of M&A, having brought together $150m of funds of funds from New York’s Constellar Capital two years ago.
A lot now depends on how effectively FINMA can strike co-operation agreements with counterparts around the world – not just with those in Europe, but also with those in the USA and equivalents in the Caribbean centres where many offshore funds are based.