Whatever perks it has offered, Swiss banking has never claimed to be an exhilarating career: the sobriety, discretion and attention to detail of a Gnome of Zurich don't make for a zingy thrill ride.
At least one of the sector’s majors has now vowed to start putting the fun into fundamental portfolio analysis, however.
Chief executive of Vontobel Zeno Staub recently sent back a help wanted advert for a rewrite in order to attract a looser, funkier class of applicant.
We want to attract ‘people that have an opinion, that challenge our status quo,’ Staub told the Financial Times. ‘We even dared to put in there: excite. We want to have fun’.
Increasingly, clients ‘want to interact with a partner that has a profile’ he added. ‘Being Swiss alone is not enough to win tomorrow’s game.’
Having signed significant information-sharing agreements with global tax authorities, the Swiss banking sector can no longer rely on iron-clad confidentiality to attract business. The sector now finds itself competing on a more level playing field of service levels and investment performance.
Staub added that the search for charismatic staff – who when not in the office might be found taking part in XXXtreme sports, enjoying the latest hip sounds, or just shocking the squares with their unconventional attitudes – was part of a drive to promote value-adding active management.
‘Our “added value” assumes that we have a different picture about the future than the current average market consensus [of increasing exposure to low-cost passives],’ he said.