Marc A. Moret studied Law at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He specialized in commercial and international law and graduated with honors in 1998. He started his career as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley in London, and then joined Merrill Lynch in New York, USA, as a private banker, looking after U.S. and international Ultra High Net Worth clients. In 2004, he returned to Switzerland to work with WM Partners, a leading independent wealth management company based in Zurich. In 2006, Mr. Moret founded Lobnek Wealth Management in Geneva, Switzerland, providing highly personalized, state-of-the-art financial services to an international base of Ultra High Net Worth clients both in Europe and the United States. He is also a General Partner at Victory Advisors, a leading investment firm focused on real estate and hotels throughout Europe. Mr. Moret is a Swiss national. He resides in Geneva, Switzerland, with his wife and three kids, and is fluent in English, French, Spanish and German. He is an avid skier, nature lover and art collector.
1. What made you want to work in wealth management? Was the financial industry always attractive to you?
I have always been fascinated with the concept of money, it is after all a social construct by which we accept the idea that a piece of paper represents a certain amount of purchasing power. It has been one of the most creative human inventions, allowing trade to flourish and science to progress. It survived the end of the gold parity and allowed our economies to experience a phenomenal development, much more than any kind of barter system.
At the same time, money has no tangible value: you can’t eat it to sustain yourself or use stacks of it as bricks to build a home. Money is like the grease allowing all the parts of a sophisticated machine to run smoothly, thereby making it possible for the machine to produce something of real value. Money takes all of its meaning from what each individual uses it for and ultimately through the material products it helps to create or develop.
It is this complex creative process that has fascinated me since childhood and led me to a career in finance. I was already working in the financial sector when an important liquidity event motivated my family to reconsider our attitude towards wealth. Our efforts ultimately led to my founding of Lobnek Wealth Management. I am a wealth manager, but I am also my own client. I look after the interest of my clients in the same way I look after the interests of my family: free of any conflict of interests, with total independence and with their best interest in mind.
2. How does a normal day look like in your role as CEO of Lobnek Wealth Management?
My day revolves around my clients, so my agenda is mostly driven by their agendas. As a boutique wealth management company, we have the luxury to work with likeminded clients who share our values and aspirations. This allows for a high level of interactions, necessary for the fully bespoke services we provide. Our select clients are all part of our family, they joined our pack, and we strive every day to make them prosper and grow in accordance with their profiles and financial goals.
My day usually starts with a brief news gathering, followed by a look at our clients’ portfolios and performances, and making sure that all systems are working properly. It continues with direct contacts with clients and potential investments targets. We are very active in the healthcare sector, particularly in biotech, so it is not unusual to find me dressed in sterilized gear to visit a lab or at a faculty to discuss new technologies. As we provide our services both in Europe and in the US, I tend to end my day speaking with my transatlantic clients, unless of course I have started my day in the US.
3. What is in your view the most important part of wealth management?
I founded Lobnek Wealth Management because of my increasing frustration with banks and the quality of the services they provided. For all their marketing talk and pledges to put their clients first, banks are first and foremost companies that compete for profits, and which CEOs benefit through astronomical paychecks when their firm delivers high earnings per share. This inevitably leads to conflicts of interest between the banks and their clients, as maximizing profits for the bank unavoidably leads to extracting higher fees from their clients, one way or the other. This may go unnoticed when markets are booming, and returns are high. It is another story when the going gets tough. In my opinion, the most important aspect of wealth management is the independence you can demonstrate with regards to your clients. It is the ability to provide a service that serves your clients’ interests first and to position your company in line with this independence to benefit when your clients benefit, but not when they don’t.
4. What are your clients more interested in at the moment? What would you advise to someone that comes to you under the current situation of the markets?
I believe that the time of marked cycles, where a bull market is followed by a relatively predictable bubble which ends up bursting and leading to a correction that sets the stage for a new rally, is over. The last years have shown us that black swans and gray rhinos do exist, and we are either unable or unwilling to prepare for them. The new geopolitical order announced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic and the looming environmental crisis are all examples of events that were either unpredictable or we clearly underestimated. Under the current circumstances, my clients are clearly looking for protection, they are focused on the preservation of their wealth and its transfer towards future generations. At the same time, these violent paradigm shifts create unique investment opportunities, albeit with a long-term mentality. My clients want to safeguard their wealth first and then position themselves to benefit from emerging discoveries rendered necessary by the challenges we are currently facing.
5. Have you seen a change on the profile of your clients? How would you describe your average client?
My average private client is a family or the head of a family looking to optimize multiple aspects of their wealth: preservation, growth, multigenerational strategies, international situations involving both European and US aspects, etc. They are usually business owners, several of them in the broad technology sector, with a particular emphasis on healthcare. We often start working with them way ahead of any potential liquidity event, accompanying them on the road towards an IPO or the sale of their business. We lend our expertise in this process every step of the way. It is interesting to note that we have an ever-increasing number of women as clients. I believe that our unbiased advice, our transparent process and our entrepreneurial approach resonate with women, particularly in the context of often patronizing attitudes from traditional financial institutions.
6. Which themes or sectors do you think are particularly interesting at the moment?
My family’s background is in pharmaceutical, so I have a particular interest in this sector. At the same time, we are currently witnessing a massive acceleration in the rate of new discoveries, made possible by the merging of technologies: while a few decades ago, technologies tended to develop in silos, independently from each other, they now borrow from each other and cross-fertilize at a never-before-seen rate.
The advent of AI will only accentuate this trend. While tech experienced a bit of a bubble during the pandemic, when we were forced to adopt technologies that allowed us to work from home and made lockdowns more bearable, there was a strong correction that affected biotech and tech alike from the end of last year. We see very attractive valuations at this stage. Security has also been a strong investment focus for us over the past months: the pandemic highlighted the divide between classes, and the war in Ukraine only accentuates this trend. People are eager to seek protection for their homes, their loved ones, or their digital information. Finally, we think that real estate is and remains an investment of choice, providing security and stable returns in a constantly moving environment.
7. How would you define yourself in 3 words?
Trustworthy, transparent and creative.