"You almost had to apologise for your profession..."
An interview with Kevin Graf, Member of the Executive Board ZWEI Wealth
You have been with ZWEI since its beginnings. What made you want to join?
I completed my banking apprenticeship in the mid-2000s and then worked for a Swiss financial institution for several years. At that time the profession was very well accepted. But only a few years later, crises and scandals turned the respected banker into a bankster. One almost had to apologize for his profession. Mistakes were made and the industry as a whole had moved far away from the strengths and values that once made it great. A rethinking had to take place. We are driving this rethinking forward with ZWEI Wealth. With increased transparency and competition, there is a growing number of innovative and exciting financial services providers which are pushing their way into the limelight - and there are many of them. This helps both the Swiss financial centre and its clients.
How would you describe good wealth management?
Good wealth management is modular. In order to completely eliminate conflicts of interest, the still predominant value chain of bank, asset manager and bank advisor must be broken up. For example, after a year of below-average portfolio returns, a bank advisor would hardly come up to me and say: "Mr. Graf, our wealth management has done poorly again this year. I suggest you switch to provider XY, they do it much better than we do."
The three components must be able to work together modularly, independently. That way, each piece of the puzzle achieves the best results for the client independently.
What do you think is the big advantage of ZWEI Wealth for clients?
As a ZWEI client, you have an independent expert by your side. Independent because as a client I am the one paying him or her - and nobody else. That again prevents any conflicts of interest. This expert in turn has access to over 300 financial service providers. So he, or she, is a kind of gateway to a huge asset management universe. That makes everything so much more convenient.
ZWEI Wealth is a relatively young company which has taken up the cause of doing things differently. Does this show in the daily work routine?
The fact is that 99% of us at ZWEI have earned our spurs at banks. Breaking out is not always easy. But we're doing pretty well now. For example, we do not see our premises on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich as static offices, but as a hub where we all visit as and when required. When you enter the hub, you don't associate the appearance and feel with the offices of a financial services provider. We don't want to lose the start-up feel completely and want to remain innovative. The ZWEI-internal bar, which was installed last year and now has a nice range of drinks, also helps in this respect.
Finally, a few either-or questions:
- Return or risk? Risk. Like in sport: first of all, concentrate on defence before going over to the attack.
- ETF or single stocks? Single stocks.
- Apple or Google? No favourite - both want my data above all.
- Sunrise or Swisscom? Whoever offers the better deal.
- Beer or wine? Beer. Wine in a stadium or an arena? Rather not.
- Cinema or Netflix? Netflix. All conveniently available on demand, whenever I like.
- Fast or accurate? Accurate.