Swiss private bank Sarasin’s sustainable investment head Knörzer to join Raiffeisen arm

€16.8bn Notenstein hires senior figure for sustainability push

Andreas Knörzer, head of Sarasin Sustainable Investment and a pivotal figure as the private bank took a leading role in the Swiss sustainability sector, is leaving to join a smaller rival.

Knörzer, who headed asset management at Sarasin, and his colleague Aris Prepoudis are joining Notenstein Private Bank as Head of Asset Management and Head of Institutional Clients respectively on December 1.

St. Gallen-based Notenstein, a 100% subsidiary of retail banking group Raiffeisen Switzerland Cooperative which has 700 staff and CHF21bn (€16.8bn) in client assets, is targeting sustainable investments for institutions.

Knörzer was a key executive as Sarasin become the market leader in sustainable investment in Switzerland via investment funds, mandates and structured products. A 2011 survey by onValues gave it a 35.8% share of the CHF40.3bn Swiss sustainability market. The bank has been involved in sustainable investment since 1989 and offers a range of sustainable equity and bond funds including the pioneering eco-efficiency fund OekoSar, and the Sarasin Water fund. Sarasin has won a host of awards including Sustainable Bank of the Year in the 2011 FT/IFC awards.
His more than 70-member asset management team included 11 “pure sustainability analysts”.

Notenstein Chief Executive Adrian Künzi said: “With Andreas Knörzer we will have an experienced asset manager and pioneer in sustainability investments on board.“This will enable us to further develop our expertise in advisory services for institutional investors such as pension funds and foundations.” Alongside ‘traditional’ asset management, sustainability investment would “constitute an important part of our services.”

The appointments will boost Notenstein’s new “multi-boutique” asset management operation called TCMG [The Capital Management Group] Asset Management AG, under CEO Beat Wittmann.

Knörzer’s departure follows that of Adam Frost, Head of Governance and Environmental and Social Research at London-based Sarasin & Partners, which is 60%-owned by its Swiss namesake.

Knörzer was a co-founder in 2000 at clean energy private equity firm New Energies Invest SA, which is now in liquidation following the collapse of the market.

Sarasin this week named Burkhard Varnholt as head of Asset Management, Products & Sales as part of a wider management reshuffle which saw Edmond Michaan take over as CEO from longtime chief Joachim Strähle.

Board member Jacob Safra said the new executive committee would continue its “successful strategy based on sustainable investing for clients”. Sarasin is to merge with Bank Jacob Safra by the end of the second quarter to become J. Safra Sarasin.

In an article for Responsible Investor in 2009, Knörzer argued that ESG factors could be a valuable addition to credit risk analysis.

With reporting by Jan Wagner.