Head Corporate Responsibility
Systematic client focus, a long-term growth strategy, and a solid capital and risk policy: these are the core elements of economic sustainability at Vontobel.
"In today’s rapidly evolving financial world, it is essential that we remain true to our values," says Dr. Maja Baumann, a member of the Vontobel Board of Directors. As part of the fourth generation, she represents the Vontobel family’s legacy with its strong focus on values.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent bail-out of some of Switzerland’s biggest banks taught the company’s founder Jakob Vontobel two things: have a strong capital base and take on as little debt as possible. In the early 2000s, some financial analysts felt that our company was overcapitalized. But we stayed true to our principles, and sustainability and good capitalization are now seen as virtues again by financial analysts. As a result of this principle, Vontobel has mastered every financial market or stock market crisis since it was founded using its own financial resources – without ever having to raise additional capital.
Due to our core profitability and solid capital position, we are able to pay an attractive dividend. For example, since October 2002, Vontobel shareholders have earned a return of more than 10% per annum, well above the industry average.
"Moderation" conveys the meaning of sustainability better than any other term. Dr. Hans Vontobel was committed to this principle throughout his life; he always warned against exaggeration and put security before returns.
Our objective since the very beginning has been to protect and grow your assets. We achieve this with long-term, forward-looking strategies and investment decisions that reflect the market conditions. Vontobel has been operating sustainably in a social and economic context since the founding generation. This has enabled us to grow from a small brokerage firm in the crisis-torn 1920s into an international asset management company that offers top-class wealth management in Switzerland and abroad.
Our work is made easier by the stability and legal security of the Swiss financial center.
Vontobel in category 3
The sound business policy also proved its worth during the US tax dispute with Switzerland: At the end of 2016, Vontobel was able to conclude its discussions with the US Department of Justice with no requirement to pay a fine. Vontobel did not apply for or receive a non-prosecution agreement or a non-target letter.
Proper conduct in relation to Jewish funds
After the Second World War, Jakob Vontobel commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to carry out a study. It revealed that Vontobel had conducted itself properly during the ethically difficult period of National Socialism. In 1999, the Volcker Commission also ruled that Vontobel’s business conduct relating to the nameless bank accounts of Jewish clients had been proper and correct. It worked in the company’s favor that Jakob Vontobel had known almost all his clients personally.
Proprietary trading means that companies trade financial instruments in their own name and at their own risk. In serious cases, the associated risks, which can be difficult to manage, must be borne by all stakeholders. Hans-Dieter Vontobel decided to cease proprietary trading at Vontobel back in 1987. Decades later, this forward-looking decision proved a major factor in Vontobel’s relatively unscathed passage through the financial crisis.
The strong base of family shareholders allows our company to think long term and act independently. At the same time, the public shareholders benefit from the transparency of a listed company.
With Dr. Maja Baumann, granddaughter of Dr. Hans Vontobel, and Björn Wettergren, his grand-nephew, on the Vontobel Board of Directors, the company is now managed by the fourth generation of the Vontobel family.
The attitude of the main family shareholders was first put into words by Dr. Hans-Dieter Vontobel at the annual general meeting in 1996: "Those who force shareholder value will cause an inverse reaction in the other stakeholders, encouraging... the same egotistical and myopic behavior among them."
In 2001, the Vontobel family shareholders voluntarily relinquished some of their voting power and committed themselves to the principle of "one share, one vote". Instead of registered shares and bearer shares, there is now one standard voting share. In addition, Vontobel introduced a modern stock purchase plan in 2005, giving all employees a share in the company’s success.
Head Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Sustainability Manager