SAM founder and former CEO, Reto Ringger, outlines plans for new sustainability bank

‘Globalance’ has launch team in place and has applied for licence

Reto Ringger, founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), has pulled together a team to launch a private bank focused on sustainable investment. Ringger, who launched SAM over 15 years ago, told a conference in Zurich this week that the new bank had applied to the Swiss banking authorities for a licence.

The new firm has the working title of Globalance Capital and team members lined up include former top SAM executives Urs Landolt and David Hertig as well as Adrian Lerf (ex-Valiant Bank), Thomas Pfyl (ex- Bank Vontobel) and Sebastian Epp (ex-Clariden Leu). The new outfit will outsource its back office functions and employ around 20 people.

It will operate on seven key principles including a long-term business model, full transparency of fees to clients and a clear ‘impact’ assessment of what the banks investments were making on topics such as the environment. On the issues of fees, Ringger said: “We will avoid any conflicts of interest; banks have a lot of these. One is that they are often paid by the suppliers of other financial products and not just by their clients, so you can’t be sure who the bank is working for.”

On the issue of sustainability ‘impact’, Ringger said: “Most people don’t know what is happening with their investment funds. Their portfolios should show what their impact is from a sustainability perspective.”Ringger, who is 47, left SAM in February 2009, just over two years after Dutch fund manager Robeco bought a 64% stake in SAM Group for a price tag believed to be in the region of SFr60-80m (€37-50m).
He has been feted as a pioneer in sustainable investing; he won the Cleantech Pioneer Award for successfully establishing the world’s first globally diversified cleantech private equity fund and the Global Green Award from Green Cross International for launching the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
 Before establishing SAM, Ringger was managing director of Vontobel Pacific AG and a former advisor to the CEO of Bank Vontobel.

In a separate development, Robeco’s Swiss subsidiary has been dissolved and taken over by SAM. Robeco (Schweiz) AG was removed from the register of Swiss companies as of October 7 after being bought by SAM in an internal share transaction valued at CHF13.8m (€10.1m). The move follows an announcement last month that SAM and Robeco would be “optimizing” their organizational and legal structure in Switzerland.

Under the new format, SAM will distribute the Robeco range alongside its own sustainability products. Joint sales will now come under SAM’s Head of Clients & Distribution Michael Baldinger, who joined SAM from Credit Suisse in 2009.

There’s a chart here which shows the new structure.