Reto Ringger’s Swiss sustainable bank Globalance eyeing German market

Weighing whether to partner with a local bank or establish own presence

Swiss sustainable private bank Globalance is seriously considering entering the German market, says co-founder Reto Ringger, the former chief executive of sustainable boutique SAM.

In an interview at Globalance’s offices in Zurich, Ringger said that like in Switzerland, there was lots of potential in Germany for Globalance’s speciality – the sustainable management of assets.

“As a result, we’re taking a very close look at Germany. One of the things that would have to be resolved is whether we would partner with a local bank or establish our own presence,” Ringger said.

Entering Germany could be a smart move for Globalance. Although there are numerous German private banks, only one, Sarasin from Switzerland, truly specialises in sustainable asset management. Sarasin has a sales office in Munich and since 2010 a branch in Frankfurt.

Launched in early 2011, Globalance says it has already attracted assets in the low three-digit millions from wealthy private clients, family offices and foundations.In September the bank launched its portfolio footprint tool, which analyses the client’s investments with respect to their environmental and social impact.

“Our mission is to provide our clients the opportunity to realise a double return: financial performance and positive impact on the economy, environment and society,” Ringger said. The bank, which currently employs 16 people, aims to break-even by 2016.

But interest in sustainability is also growing among institutional clients like pension funds and insurers.

Asked why Globalance was not targeting them, Ringger said that the gap between them saying they want to invest sustainably and actually doing so was too wide.

“And besides here in Switzerland, we already have a specialist for institutional clients in SAM, so we really wouldn’t be adding value,” he added.

Ringger himself launched Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) in 1995. SAM, now part of the Robeco asset management business that is up for sale by parent Rabobank, provides sustainable indices and runs assets for institutional clients. At last count, SAM had €8.8bn under management.