Conventional fund managers can only yield conventional results.
But a few strongly-willed, talented, and independent minds relentlessly invent new techniques and find alternative ways to deliver superior returns in different market conditions.
Focused on absolute performance, these star managers devise complex strategies that are accessible only to the most sophisticated investors.
For the last fifty years, we have identified them, analysed their investment process and combined them to build top-performing and resilient portfolios.
In 1964, Beat Notz and Christian Stucki, two truly independent and visionary minds, imagined a new wealth management concept.
Understanding that there were a few incredibly talented money managers in Wall Street, they decided to tap their legendary trading skills to complement their in-house expertise.
So they travelled to New York to meet the best of them, discussed at length to fully understand their investment process, developed a methodology to select and monitor them, and basically invented hedge fund selection and multi-manager investment.
This pioneering idea met with great success and Notz Stucki has grown to become today one of the leading independent asset managers in Switzerland.
Michael Steinhardt is one of Wall Street’s legendary traders.
He began analysing charts as a teenager and, after starting his career as an equity analyst, he soon launched his Steinhardt Partners fund in 1967. A frequent traveller to New York to hunt for talented fund managers, Beat Notz was one of the early investors in Steinhardt.
Aggressive and short-tempered, Steinhardt liked shorting stocks, a trait which allowed him to protect his investors and even make money in the 1973-74 bear market.
Focusing on macro market moves, he delivered stellar returns until he closed his fund in 1995.
In 1970, the young and then relatively unknown George Soros had a hard time finding investors to launch his first fund. So he travelled to Switzerland and met Beat Notz and Christian Stucki. Together with a few brave investors, they decided to invest in what would later become the world-famous Quantum Fund.
Both revered and controversial, George Soros is known as the “Man Who Broke the Bank of England”. He became a personal friend of Beat Notz.
Following a negative period in 1981, Beat Notz decided to talk with him before making any decision. After they met over the week-end at Soros’s Long Island home, we not only stayed invested but nearly doubled our holdings.
In 1974, we pioneered a whole new industry when we co-founded Haussmann Holdings, one of the very first fund of hedge funds.
As hedge funds tend to have high minimum investment thresholds (often as high as 1 million US dollars), this new kind of investment vehicle not only allowed wider access to alternative investments, but also provided significant diversification benefits.
The fund of hedge funds market now totals some USD 800 bn in assets and Haussmann Holdings has delivered to its investors nearly 30’000% of cumulative return since its inception.
In the years following the 1973 oil crisis, most developed economies were undergoing a long-lasting recession. At the same time, the emerging Asian Tigers were exporting their manufactured goods worldwide and enjoying exceptionally high growth rates.
So, at our partner Ewan Macpherson’s initiative, we decided to launch our Asia Fund. At the time, these markets were barely open to foreign investment and only allowed long-only investing.
Today, as Asian markets have become highly sophisticated, the fund encompasses a wide variety of investment styles, mainly in the Long/Short Equity arena.
At the same time, thanks to the Japanese Economic Miracle, Japan was rapidly becoming the world’s second largest economy.
We felt that it was time to take a closer look at the Tokyo stock market, so Christian Stucki concluded an association with Fukuo Shigeta in 1979 to launch our Japanese fund Kabuto.
A famed Japanese value investor, Shigeta is such a strong believer in the investment principles laid out by legendary US value investor Benjamin Graham that he translated his book “The Intelligent Investor” into Japanese and edited it in 1967.
Known as the “Wizard of Wall Street,” Julian Robertson is one of the pioneers of modern hedge fund management and accurately predicted the Dotcom Bubble.
In 1980, he founded the fabled Tiger Fund, which after two decades of stellar performance, grew to a whopping USD 23 billion. As early investors in his funds, we developed a very close relationship with him along the years. He enjoyed Geneva and used to come every summer in the 90s.
A generous mentor, Julian Robertson seeded and recommended many of the funds launched by his disciples, dubbed the Tiger Cubs.
After trading cotton bales at the New York Cotton Exchange, then working as a broker, Paul Tudor Jones launched his Tudor fund in 1980.
He became a legend when he rightly predicted the 1987 stock market crash. He was so concerned with a possible meltdown that he invested his cash in Treasury Bills and even asked for physical delivery.
Unlike many of his fellow traders, often driven by their gut feelings, Paul Tudor Jones has a more systematic approach. His investment style therefore appealed not only to High Net Worth private investors, but also attracted a new clientele: the institutional investors seduced by the low correlation and stable returns delivered by some hedge funds.
As the less efficient markets of Europe provided good investment opportunities, in 1987 we decided to look for European hedge funds. At the time, the only place where you could find talented managers was London. But the British traders trying to set up their own hedge funds had a hard time finding investors in Switzerland.
Indeed, their mostly long-only investment experience and their “Oxbridge” education, with majors in Medieval History or French Literature rather than Finance or Maths, was slightly off-putting to conventional Swiss bankers. Fortunately, Beat Notz and Christian Stucki had more open minds and rightfully identified these brilliant and independent minds.
We launched Lynx, our Europe-focused fund of funds, and during the following decade were able to invest, since their launch, with some of the major names in European hedge funds.
Louis Moore Bacon is one of Wall Street’s macro trading legends. After learning the ropes trading commodities while studying at Columbia, he worked as a commodities and currencies trader, before launching his Moore Capital fund in 1989.
Using financial futures, technical analysis and big directional bets, he earned a reputation as being the biggest of the daredevil managers.
Over the years, Beat Notz and Louis Bacon became close friends. After Beat Notz lightly hurt him with a stray pellet during a grouse hunting party in Scotland, Louis Bacon teased him for years by telling investors that, even if he’d had a few disappointed clients during his career, Beat Notz was the only one to actually shoot him.
In 1994, John Armitage co-founded the Egerton Long/Short Equity fund with William Bollinger.
Graduated from Cambridge in Modern History, Armitage is a typical example of the great British fund managers. Very thorough, he is known for his ability to forensically analyze financial information and for his close attention to the detail.
By relentlessly hunting for undervalued European companies, he consistently delivered annual returns of over 15% and amassed USD 18 billion in assets.
In the 90s, India initiated a deep economic liberalisation program, opening the doors of the world’s sixth largest economy to foreign investment.
So in 1994, well before Goldman Sachs coined the BRIC acronym and triggered international interest for India, we launched the Aruna fund, in partnership with a local industrial entrepreneur.
Aruna was one of the first investment funds investing directly in Indian companies and Notz Stucki was the first Swiss company to receive an investment licence in India. Until it was closed some 15 years later, Aruna delivered stellar returns to investors.
London-based fund managers Paul Marshall and Ian Wace launched their Marshall Wace fund in 1997. Specialised in global Long/Short Equity, they are one of Europe’s foremost hedge fund managers. In 2017, they became famous well outside the financial community when they made EUR 5 million shorting Juventus Football Club stock.
While many star hedge funds are one-man shows that are often unable to scale up, others, like Marshall and Wace, have the rare ability to federate talents and to delegate successfully.
This has allowed Marshall Wace to grow from 2 to 300 people managing more than USD 30 billion.
As Asian economies have become mature, with domestic consumption replacing exports as the driver of growth, their financial markets have also transformed into modern exchanges, adopting the full range of investment tools and techniques used by alternative managers.
Despite this modernisation, they remain less efficient than their developed counterparts and provide many mispricing opportunities.
Always scouting for new talents, in 2011 Grégoire Notz launched Arowana, an Asian-focused multi-manager fund which selects promising fund managers to take advantage of these unique investment openings.
As the digital revolution forces most business sectors to reinvent themselves, we know that the traditional Swiss banking model is no longer sheltered from change.
So when, one fine day in May 2015, our CFO Antonio Mira bumped into his old friend Guillaume Dubray who was launching the first Swiss Fintech accelerator, we knew that this was a project we wanted to be part of.
And just a few days later, we became a founding member of Fusion. With over 40 ventures launched in 2 years, Fusion is today one of the fastest growing incubators in Europe.