Ms. Olsen, do you still see acute risks after the difficulties at Credit Suisse?
Birgitte Olsen: Barely. The economy in Switzerland is rightly considered one of the most stable, but also one of the most productive in the world, with an extremely strong currency. The banking turmoil hasn’t changed that. Gross domestic product is likely to grow by around one percent this year. However, this increase will be slowed down slightly because many banks have slowed down their lending. But the service sector in particular is doing well at the moment. So overall, that’s not a bad prospect.
Your Bellevue Entrepreneur Swiss Small & Mid fund invests in owner-managed companies. What distinguishes these from others?
Olsen: Our target investments are companies with a strong anchor investor, who typically holds more than 20 percent of the voting rights and at the same time plays a very active role in management. As the saying goes: Entrepreneurs don’t think in terms of quarters, but in terms of generations. That’s true, and the result is extremely solid balance sheets: the debt of family-run companies in Switzerland is usually low. This reduces dependency on bank loans and leads to more dynamic growth. For investors, this means higher returns over the long term.
What investment goals is your fund particularly suitable for?
Olsen: Eurozone investors often look for diversification opportunities. The US stock index S&P 500 is considered a classic. It has increased by more than 50 percent in the past five years. But Swiss equities, especially small caps, have risen even more. The first Swiss entrepreneur strategy from Bellevue has yielded a good ten percent annual return in the 17 years since it was launched, which is about twice as much as the pan-European stock index Stoxx 600. Everyone should therefore treat themselves to a piece of Switzerland to diversify their euro portfolio .
What speaks in favor of small and medium-sized Swiss stocks right now?
Olsen: These companies are usually very well prepared for the current challenging times: they are significantly more agile than large corporations and faster when it comes to issues such as sustainability, energy shortages or the complexity of supply chains. Because their decision-making paths are shorter. You act flexibly, with a great deal of foresight. In general, Swiss family businesses are therefore very well positioned for the current challenges.
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