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Do not fall in love with an investment

Life, business, investments, aspirations – our Wealth Architects are here to connect the dots. Thomas Pfaendler is responsible for Julius Baer’s ‘Swiss Focus’ Investment Management Boutique. The self-proclaimed history buff explains why you should avoid ‘falling in love’ and clinging on to your investments.

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You are heading an Investment Management Boutique. Can you please explain what that is?
Thomas Pfaendler: Julius Baer’s Investment Management department governs discretionary mandates. If you wish to delegate investment decisions to a specialist who consequently manages your portfolio, you will meet me or one of my fellow fourteen Boutique Heads at some point in time. We have a Spain Boutique, a Private Equity Boutique, a Sustainability Mandates Boutique and twelve more focus topics. Boutiques own and maintain the respective global model portfolios and manage both standard and bespoke mandates. They serve as our main organisational units.

And what does your ‘Boutique’ offer?
As the head of the ‘Swiss Focus’ Boutique, most of the clients I work with are Swiss, as you might imagine. Today’s world is changing unbelievably quickly, so many of the people I meet are looking for pure and simple investments with as little background noise as possible. The mandates that my team manages are invested exclusively in the Swiss equity and bond universe. 

What is the most common topic your clients ask you about?
What I really enjoy, and I think my clients too, is meeting in person to sit down and talk. One thing that I see time and time again is that they wish to talk about individual investments. All of the securities we invest in have a past and a future, and so I walk you through that aspect, and explain why we bought which titles and how we expect them to perform.  

Talking about the past and the future: You mentioned being a history buff...
I cannot count the number of times I have been to Rome. Whenever I find some time I love to travel to visit ancient ruins. These structures of the past always remind me that although you and I will not live forever, human beings are capable of great achievements that can last for centuries and even millennia.

Which advice can you share with (aspiring) investors?
I am absolutely against chasing trends and losing sight of the overall strategy. Think long-term and invest in a disciplined and diversified manner. Having a long-term goal and sticking to it is the first step to achieving any objective, investment or otherwise.

And what are some of the mistakes you see investors make?
I would like to compare one of the most frequent mistakes I see to human relationships. Sometimes investors fall head over heels in love with an investment, and stop behaving rationally. Even if the time has come to exit, they cling to it, hoping and praying that it recovers, even if the overall story tells us it will not. So sometimes, I have to tell you that you need to let go. Holding on does not help at all in these cases and usually leads to even bigger losses in the end.

Do you have any Italian roots that could account for your passion for ancient Roman history?
Not at all. I am Swiss, and grew up in Naefels, in the eastern part of the country. Maybe that is one of the reasons my career path brought me to manage the ‘Swiss Focus’ Boutique.

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