«The main axis of strategic growth over the last 25 years has been the ability of the company to attract new relationship managers»
Mr. Savary, Prime Partners manages and advises on over 4 bn Swiss Francs in assets and it is one of the major players in the Geneva. How did this success come about?
The main axis of strategic growth for Prime Partners over the last 25 years has been the ability of the company to attract new relationship managers, coming from large institutions. The Prime Partners ecosystem, based on independence and the empowering of the relationship managers, has been a major factor that explains the success of the company in terms of assets under management.
May we take a look behind the scenes: What does a classic working day look like for you?
The investment team of Prime Partners is dedicated to the provision of investments ideas and allocations advise. Moreover, we are involved in the management of some in-house products and some client accounts; moreover, we act as a support for the different relationships managers when they meet clients. Considering the diversity of the tasks assigned, it is difficult to define a classical working day. However, getting the best information and try to interpret them as well as possible is certainly what we can consider as the key part of the job. Therefore, each day begins with a lot of reading and trying to figure out the consequences for investment, not only in terms of tactical allocation but also in terms of specific investments ideas. From there, internal communication, meeting different counterparties - fund manager for example - implement some decisions into the accounts and support the relationship managers in client meetings constitutes regular part of a «normal day»!
You constantly make market assessments and forecasts. Isn’t that also very stressful?
Quite a lot indeed, especially in 2022 where things have been so uncertain on many fronts, especially economic outlook, financial markets, geopolitics. Currently, we are facing some major changes like the return of inflation, some form of deglobalization, the end of what was characterized as the peace dividend - post 1989 period, the rising importance of the environmental issue and I could expand the list!! In a nutshell, we are facing moving pieces all around us which makes the situation more difficult to assess. Trying to separate the structural factors from what is less relevant for the medium term has never been an easy task, certainly leading to stress from time to time. I must admit that 2022 has been quite a tough year to deal with!
What has been your best call so far this year?
It is always difficult to answer such a question, because depending on time horizon what seems to have been a good choice today could maybe turn into a bad one a few months from now. In hindsight, maintain a strong underweight in bonds at the beginning of the year has been a good decision. We have recently reversed course on that front, choosing to reduce the equity holdings during the summer rally seem to have been a good call but we will have to wait a bit longer to be sure it was the right decision.
What are your outlook and scenarios for Q1 2023?
Many things depend on what has already been a key driver in 2022: inflation. We need to see price pressure abate over the coming months, to more reasonable levels in the USA over the coming months. We consider it is possible and it should support a recovery in bonds over the medium term. When it comes to equities, it could be a tale of two stories in 2023, for example the beginning of the year could be difficult as a low growth environment should continue to weigh on the earning growth prospects; therefore, we still recommend visibility, dividend, pricing power and leadership in our equity holdings for the time being. A low growth environment seems to be the best scenario you can expect for 2023 with a recession a risk that should not be overlooked. Looking beyond the first quarter, the equity outlook could improve in connection with an end of the monetary tightening process we expect in the USA in Q1, at the latest. In such a scenario the conditions for stock markets should improve from Q2 onwards but the potential return of the year should not be overestimated.
Link to disclaimer
François Savary is an economist and financial analyst and has more than 25 years’ experience in asset management and in the financial services industry in Geneva (previously REYL & CIE, Darier Hentsch & Cie, Deutsche Bank, SBS). Prime Partners, founded in 1998, is a Geneva based wealth Management advisory firm with over 50 employees and 4 bn Swiss Francs Assets under Management (AuM).