Timothé Fuchs (Fuchs Asset Management S.A.): Man vs Machine
Since its inception Fuchs Asset Management has placed people at the center of its business. How does the company combine this approach with the inevitable adoption of new technologies? An interview with Timothé Fuchs, CEO, Britta Borneff and Jean-Jacques Lava, Deputy CEOs and Hervé Coussement, Managing Director.
What are the contributions of technology to your industry?
They are numerous! Today some of the processes are so complex and numerous that it is no longer possible to meet regulatory obligations without automating. Technology makes it possible to integrate thousands of data in real time and inform our employees in the event of anomalies. Employees also take advantage of the work done by the machines to obtain quality data and focus on high value-added analytical work. Clients who want it, on the other hand, easily access their portfolios to get a granular view of their investments. Finally, for a company like ours, machines improve the quality of life of our employees: relieving them of the stress of boring tasks facilitates well-controlled growth. In short, technology continues to develop humans instead of replacing them. In hedge funds, where most operations are still carried out manually, the room for technological progress is even greater than in liquid funds.
"Technology continues to develop humans instead of replacing them"
How does a firm like Fuchs manage to keep people at the heart of its model?
Since our creation, our model has been to put people at the center and to seek profitability second. At a time when most management companies are in the hands of private equity companies, in constant search of profitability, our model attracts clients and entrepreneurs who want their asset manager to take care of them in a personalized way. They seek in us a relationship of trust and strong proactivity. But above all, an alignment of our common interests over the long term, as well as organizational and managerial stability. This model focused on our employees is not, moreover, philanthropy: we have known for a long time that the quality of life offered to our teams has a positive impact on the performance of our firm! We were pioneers in this area and the Covid pandemic illustrated the resilience of our approach: Fuchs Asset Management continued to serve its clients diligently throughout the confinement. Providing flexible hours and telecommuting benefits all parties as our culture is built on strong engagement and trust. In the meantime, the ESG fashion is popular with our model and motivates many candidates to join our family. We are totally passionate about what we do here, and it is proving contagious!
"We are totally passionate about what we do here, and it is proving contagious"
Is there a risk that humans will become useless in the long run?
It all depends on the Man with the capital H. Machines ask a lot of ethical or AI questions. These issues need to be taken up by politicians to create an appropriate framework. But it also depends on the individuals who must ensure that they remain at the heart of the model. In management companies the trend today is focused on very high volumes with very low prices. This leads to “tick the box” services for substance creation, reporting and so on. Companies that adopt this approach no longer really do asset management. This creates a real opportunity for a firm like ours, capable of providing a tailor-made service based on strong expertise in asset management. In our model, technology occupies an important, but not central, place. For example, our clients can get automatic reporting, but many opt for regular appointments with their advisor. Tech is a means, not an end. From the point of view of our customers, the priority expressed is the need for support and guidance to put in place effective strategies and select the right providers in an extremely complex world. No single technology provides this kind of added value on its own. Experts are needed, preferably those who are passionate about their profession!