Bernard Vischer, head of private clients at Swiss law firm Schellenberg Wittmer tells Citywealth about his life and keeping things simple.
Tell me about your role at Schellenberg Wittmer.
I am head of the Private Clients and Estates team in Geneva.
How has the private client industry changed?
The industry has become more sophisticated. The shift from domestic and nuclear families to cosmopolitan and recomposed ones, the globalisation of wealth and the new transparency rules require more elaborate planning and solutions.
What lesson have you learnt?
You cannot go wrong in putting the client's interest first, it is also in your own long term interest. Always.
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
A client who wanted to relocate to Switzerland told me why he had chosen Geneva: on a business trip to Geneva as a young professional, driving his rental car back to the airport, he stopped at a red light and the driver behind him bumped into his car. When the police arrived, the client explained in English what happened and that he was in a hurry to catch his plane. The policemen then told him in broken English that they understood what happened, that they would complete the paper work with the offending driver and when done, return his car to the rental agency. They immediately drove him to the airport so that he could catch his plane. This shows that everyone's contribution, big or small, to a business, institution or country matters when considering its attractiveness and success.
What challenges do your clients face?
The biggest challenge is the pace of change of the regulatory environment that requires constant review and adaptation of the plans.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Keep it as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
What was the last book you’ve read?
Casimir mène la grande vie by Jean d'Ormesson, a very comforting novel showing the power of culture and humour to face the big challenges of life, especially that of passing time.
How do you relax after a long day?
Half an hour of yoga and then talking to my wife.