The presence in Moscow is a great catalyst, and it is also a sign of a strong commitment to the country, says Michael Kuenzi, director of the representative office of Marcuard Heritage in Moscow, in an interview with finews.asia.
Michael Kuenzi, when did Marcuard Heritage open its representative office in Moscow?
At the very beginning of 2003, when Marcuard Heritage went live. I joined the firm in June 2013. The representative office is now located in the city of Moscow, which is a prime location that has excellent infrastructure: transport infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, fitness centers or whatever. that you like.
What is the role of a representative office?
It supports other companies of the Marcuard Heritage group. Marcuard Heritage is a wealth manager who employs around 60 people and has offices with a license to manage money in Switzerland – its head office – as well as in Singapore and Limassol, Cyprus.
“A representative office is also a center of expertise”
In addition, we have an institutional asset manager who creates and manages funds in Zurich called Alpinum Investment Management.
This is quite a complex setup for a relatively small business.
This is because it supports authorized offices and affiliates, and it acts as a support office for field staff.
Can you expand on this topic?
Of course, for the relations officers who come from Zurich to Moscow; it offers meeting rooms; it helps with document processing, reception and dispatch. A representative office is also a bit of a center of expertise.
âIt’s not a bank; it is not an asset manager â
We have five people locally at the moment. Of course, we have a very good understanding of the legislation and regulations that affect us. We support our affiliated companies and their staff in all matters relating to specific Russian know-how.
Is it a licensed asset manager?
No, as mentioned, this is a representative office and not an operating company; it is not licensed for securities trading or payment transactions. It is not a bank; it is not an asset manager.
Are you considering upgrading to a licensed setup?
Well, I’ve learned that you should never talk about M&A plans, and never deny or confirm anything. You should always be careful when talking about the future. What I can say is that we have been looking at options for a few years.
“The presence in Moscow is also a sign of a strong commitment to the country”
But at the moment, we are not ready and it all comes down to needs when you have a strong need and a strong demand from business partners and customers to satisfy. Then you finally move on to setup and deliver the products that can help you. In the immediate term, I think the configuration will not change.
Why was it a good decision to create this representative office?
It is clearly a desire to be close to our core market and our customers. The representative office is something that flows from it. It is an indicator of the fact that we understand that we have to be and want to be close as an institution and as a brand to our customers.
We have many Russian customers, and we have always had Russian customers from the beginning. The presence in Moscow is a formidable catalyst, and it is also a sign of a strong commitment to the country. He is a great help and aid to existing relationships, as well as traveling relationship managers.
“I am 50 years old and I have lived 21 years in Russia”
This is the point where people want to meet if they want to have an explanation on the spot and they cannot travel to Switzerland, and this is the point where travel counselors meet their business partners.
Over the past two years, the representative office has been a big help in bridging the distance between people when travel was impossible or difficult – because of the virus, obviously. This experience has shown us how valuable it is to have an office with experienced staff in Moscow.
Tell us a bit about the man behind the Moscow office, it’s you.
I am 50 years old and have lived 21 years in Russia. I am an economist and linguist and a specialist in Russian literature by training. I joined Marcuard Heritage eight years ago and previously worked at Lombard Odier and UBS. So I have a clear banking biography.
Why is this important?
Because it shows that I am also very attached to Russia. I have been here for over 20 years. I have tried with my family to emigrate twice – in 2009 and 2016 respectively to London and Zurich.
But after a year, we returned to Moscow. For me, this is the place where I want to live. I am very determined to be here. I think maybe that’s the whole point of talking about myself in this context, and the culture. I have a lot of good things to say about the cultures of other companies where I have worked. But, I think a lot of the cultural differences have to do with the size.
“The place where I work should also feel a bit like home”
In a place like Marcuard Heritage, you know everyone. People stay with us normally for a long time. There is a lot of trust between people. We know each other very well. It’s very important because work is a big part of my life. The place where I work should also feel a bit like home.
And finally, the smaller an organization, the more people are at the center of everything.
Michael kuenzi is the main representative of Marcuard Heritage in Moscow and member of the group’s executive committee. He joined the firm in June 2013 after four years as head of Lombard Odier’s Moscow office. Before Lombard Odier, he was Managing Director at UBS, where he was responsible for setting up the Russian wealth management platform in a banking subsidiary in Moscow. He holds a doctorate. in Russian Literature and Linguistics and a BA in Economics and Politics from the University of Bern.