Swiss asset management specialist A&M is on a mission to strengthen its bonds across the Middle East region and grow its customer base
A&M Global Family Office SA is an independent asset management company firm registered in Switzerland underpinned by more than 15 years of experience in the financial markets and a strong network of preferred partners in global financial institutions. The company specialises in building and managing investment portfolios that are tailored to the specific needs of its discerning clients.
A&M clients can exercise the option of mandating the Global Family Office to manage assets directly through existing banks or oversee portfolios with one of its top-tier custodians. The company is also able to provide investment advice without execution with an advisory mandate.
The ultimate goal of the investment management services firm is to protect and grow capital and generate a secure and regular income from the financial assets invested in A&M.
A&M is a boutique Swiss-based family office serving the needs of global high-net-worth families with a concentration in the Middle East and emerging markets. As an independent asset manager and family office, A&M has the freedom to offer clients impartial advice based on unbiased analysis. The aim is to deliver tailor-made financial solutions, unparalleled financial service and absolute privacy with an enduring commitment to Swiss banking confidentiality and the stringent guidelines of FINMA (Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority).
A&M has built its reputation by ensuring the growth of family wealth by understanding the professional and personal situation of its clients. This includes assessing financial risk, liquidity and investment objectives to structure an optimal solution to meet the family needs.
Whereas many private banks put the interests of the institution before the interests of the client and often struggle to deliver quality service, A&M acts independently to protect the financial interests of the family and ensure that wealth is preserved and enhanced for present and future generations.
FINMA is the governing body responsible for financial regulation in Switzerland. These responsibilities cover the combating of money laundering, financial restructuring and bankruptcy proceedings, granting of operating licences to financial entities in Switzerland, and overseeing that the various entities comply with required regulations. FINMA has supreme authority over all financial companies in Switzerland including asset managers such as A&M. It helps protect clients and further strengthens confidence in the smooth functioning, competitiveness and integrity of Switzerland’s financial services market.
The senior partners in A&M are Dr Alexandre Valladier, Global Family Officer and Maria Roumy, Global Financial Officer.
Valladier is a French national who has lived and studied in Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Italy. Valladier holds a PhD in Macroeconomics and is fluent in English, French and Italian and began his wealth management career with KBL Private Bank in Geneva.
In 2004, Valladier joined Société Générale Private Banking in Monaco and headed the establishment of a specialised desk to serve the needs of Middle Eastern clients. In 2008, he was appointed head of the Middle East desk and the following year was acknowledged as one of the rising stars in the private banking industry for his work in strengthening Société Générale’s presence in the Middle East.
Roumy is an internationally focused French national, fluent in English, French and Arabic, and holds a business degree from the International University of Monaco. Prior to her role as a senior partner with A&M, Roumy’s professional experience included private banking roles in several international financial institutions including Merrill Lynch, Banca Svizzera Italiana, Credit Agricole, and Société Générale Private Banking.
At Société Générale, Roumy worked as a private banker with Valladier and helped develop the Middle East desk within the bank’s Monaco office.
Explaining the development of A&M to Arabian Knight, Valladier says: “The firm was founded in 2011, first in Zurich, then we moved to Geneva, following our private banking experience in Monaco and the Middle East. We are six including myself and Maria. Basically, we are four support and two administration and two investment advisors.
“A&M is very specialised and actually the strategic decision we took at the beginning was to incorporate A&M as an asset management company. It was incorporated as a family office because we have clients in the Middle East. As you know in this industry, it is a face-to-face type of interaction, so in 2011 we applied to the regulatory authorities in Switzerland to become categorised as an asset manager. Today, we both offer asset management and the family office, overseeing and specialising in the Middle East and emerging markets.”
A&M can provide discretionary mandates, ideal if clients do not have the time or resources to commit to researching and monitoring the global financial markets. This way, a client can delegate day-to-day investment decisions relating to the portfolio to A&M following the investment strategy established at the beginning of the asset management relationship. The client is then provided with a tailored service, regular valuations and performance updates on the portfolio.
For active investors with a keen interest in the financial markets, A&M can offer an advisory mandate for asset management needs. An advisory mandate gives access to investment recommendations from A&M, which a client can choose to implement in its investment portfolio.
A&M can act as a strategic partner in managing banking relationships and help simplify banking by sourcing the right partners, negotiating preferential rates, and assisting in the set-up of personal and corporate accounts, debit and credit cards, and managing day-to-day banking needs. A&M bank partners include top-tier institutions in a number of international jurisdictions including Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, the UK and Singapore.
“Confidentiality, financial expertise and strong experience are essential when dealing with A&M clients. You have to be a very special type of banker, not only personable but also you need to know you are talking about large sums of money and serious assets. The teams we have are experts and specialise in their own sectors,” says Valladier.
Importantly for A&M, the company has also broken the traditional approach to asset management and the family office.
“I wanted the people who work with me to be experts but not to be conditioned by the traditional banking industry mentality. A&M does not have a typical client as its clients include private individuals, merchant families and institutions. We have individuals and a new generation of people, many of whom have inherited wealth from their fathers and grandfathers and have decided to appoint A&M as a family office for asset management and financial consultancy,” he adds.
Valladier is planning to open a fully serviced office in Bahrain in the near future.
“I decided to open a branch in the Middle East and Bahrain seems to be the relevant place because of its location, regulations and closeness to Saudi Arabia. It is very, very important to be in Saudi Arabia too and we might also set up in Dubai (UAE) later. We will open first in Bahrain because this is our priority in 2016 and then probably in Dubai at the beginning of 2017,” he says.
“Bahrain is strategic for A&M as we are also serving Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is a gateway to the Saudi clientele. We have also distinguished clients who are based in the UAE who require our attention there. Many Qatari, Kuwaiti and Omani families approach A&M through our Geneva office.
In the initial stages, A&M will operate an information office for our Bahrain and Saudi clients providing them with access to quick information and analysis. Later, the status of the office may change into a regulated asset manager company in Bahrain,” says Valladier.
Valladier also has deep knowledge of Bahrain. “I lived in Bahrain from when I was four years old as my father had been appointed as a trainer for the then Crown Prince of Bahrain, who is now His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. We stayed here five years, including my education, and became very close to the Bahraini people and this experience gave me very strong and special links with Bahrain.
“My father worked in the UAE and Oman for various Royal families and he returned in 1999 to work for HM the King to continue equestrian projects. During this period, I would visit Bahrain regularly and whatever I did in my life and whatever my parents did, always seemed to bring me back to Bahrain because this is where I have the strongest ties in the Middle East.
“I have the highest regard and respect for the people of the Middle East. Thanks to them, I was able to develop as an individual with new perspectives and new ways of thinking that has conditioned my own thoughts. I want to be in the Middle East and to help people in managing their assets. I have always been welcomed in Bahrain and the Arab world and I know what it is like to live in a foreign country. I want to make sure that A&M continues to serve the financial interest of our discerning clients in Bahrain and the wider Middle East as well as being welcomed in Europe,” concludes Valladier.
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