Many Happy Returns
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
For all the technological innovations in the world offinance today, when high net worth individuals seek solutions for assetmanagement and wealth planning, one factor never changes: it all comes down totrust.
However, while trust is the bedrock of the relationship, in today’sinternational financial climate, that trust must be supported by a sturdystructure of regulation in order to be feasible.
Uri Krausz and Ronny Pifko are the CEOs of theZurich-based Toledo Capital AG and Blue Rock group respectively. Toledoprovides wealth management and family office services, but is limited in thelegal and tax advice it can give. Consequently, Uri went on partner with Ronnyin Blue Rock, which provides broader services for real estate investments, taxplanning, and asset protection.
Together, Toledo and Blue Rock constitute a “one-stopshop,” providing clients the world over with a full package of wealthmanagement, family office services and opportunities for unique investments –all regulated according to the highest standards existing in Europe today(FINMA and AIFM). Since their founding, both firms have gained renown as beingamong the most respected and stable for facilitating wealth performance andensuring stable returns.
Behind all the sophisticated jargon and complex wealth management skillsare two brilliant yet down-to-earth financiers. Born and raised in Zurich, bothUri Krausz and Ronny Pifko are thoroughly familiar with the language, cultureand mentality of the Swiss banking system, and provide clients with Swiss precision,professionalism and a high level of services, together with innovation andout-of-the-box solutions.
But that superior level of knowhow and experience doesn’t take away fromthe fact that Uri and Ronny are products of the yeshivos of Eretz Yisrael. Bothspend many of the Yamim Tovim in Yerushalayim, maintaining a strong connectionto the Land and its people. Fluent in Hebrew and English, both competentlybridge the worlds of Swiss finance and the heimishe Jewish community.
A Foundation of Chesed
Uri is married and the father of four boys. His extensive experience inthe Swiss banking system includes high-level positions in the prestigious UBSand Credit Suisse banks as a relationship manager for wealthy Jewishindividuals, mainly from Europe and Israel. It was when it became clear to himthat bank regulations prevented him from providing clients with certainfinancial services that they desired that Uri decided to open Toledo CapitalAG. Through this boutique multi-family office for external financialmanagement, he was able to provide clients with the holistic services he wasn’table to offer them in the bank.
Ronny, married and the father of three boys, had been working for a taxoptimization firm, when he identified an opportunity: In the prevailinglow-interest environment, clients were interested in real estate as aninvestment opportunity since it is not correlated to the market, and because itprovides a steady stream of income. That observation led him, together withUri, to establish the Blue Rock Group for real estate investments.
Uri and Ronny met 15 years ago through Chaim Layeled, a chesed projectthat helps children with cystic fibrosis. Chaim Layeled brings these childrento Switzerland for three weeks out of the year for a healthful vacation thatthey look forward to all year. After Uri’s longtime support of Chaim Layeled,Ronny also came to board to lend his support with his superb administrationskills and support in logistics. The two have remained close friends andbusiness partners ever since, bringing about 100 people each year to breathe inthe clear air of the Swiss Alps. “I truly believe that a friendship thatoriginated through chesed is what makes our business sustainable andsuccessful, bsiyata d’Shmaya,” Ronny notes.
Swiss banking has undergone a transformation since transparency lawscame into effect, obliging the banks to disclose client information to theirhome countries. Nevertheless, Switzerland continues to be the location ofchoice for banking and investment, thanks to the country’s political andeconomic stability, as well as the fact that Swiss banks continue to retain thecachet of being among the most secure in the world. No less important is thetrademark customer service.
Following the equity market meltdown of 2008-2009, bank clients,especially those from Israel, England and Belgium, lost their trust in thebanking system and sought a local Zurich resident who was an expert in financeand had their interests at heart. It was around that time that Uri decided toopen Toledo Capital, a multi-family office that provides external assetmanagement services.
Unlike the banks, a family office like Toledo invests clients’ money inthe manner that is most advantageous for them considering the total wealth ofthe clients, and with the greatest risk-to-return ratio, in compliance withtheir risk profile.
And while banks have their own profit centers, the family office has no conflictof interest. That means that Krausz will never push specific products; he seeksthe most advantageous investment, with no other agenda other than to reach theend of the year and achieve the best wealth performance for each client.
“Think of it like someone who wants to buy the most suitable car for himin the market.,” explains Uri. “If I ask a sales person who works for Mercedes,he’ll obviously recommend the newest and most expensive model of Mercedes,since he’s financially incentivized by Mercedes to do so. But an independentadvisor, who I am paying, will make a thorough investigation to determine thebest car for my needs, since he has no interest in any specific brand of car.”
Another advantage Toledo offers is consolidation of all clientsaccounts, for an overview of all investments, allowing for full and efficientdiversification to reach the desired target.
Toledo’s family office offers the added advantage of controllingmistaken bank fees and hidden costs which, even in the Swiss precision bankingculture, still occur with annoying frequency. They handle all the client’scorrespondence for a complete, accurate, transparent record of alltransactions. What’s more, as a large-scale investor, Toledo procures for itscustomers bank fees that are significantly lower for their custodian service.
Not surprisingly, almost one half of all the money deposited in Swissaccounts from high net worth individuals has been turned over to external assetmanagers, like Toledo.
A Piece of the Action
Clients wishing to benefit from the best wealth performance and expandtheir investments into real estate can take advantage of Uri and Ronny’scombined knowhow and experience, as well as their connection to the bankingsystem.
“There are various ways to get involved in our investments, through clubdeals, joint ventures, and many other structures,” Ronny explains, adding thatno other real estate investments in the Jewish European community are regulatedto such an extent.
In the world of finance, regulation is truly what sets apart the “menfrom the boys.” At Blue Rock, every investment is protected by auditingcompanies and external supervisors who verify that the investment isfinancially sound, and that all layers of due diligence has been accomplished.
“In the past, people went into foreign countries where they didn’t speakthe language, and based on some nice, colorful presentation and a trustworthylooking guy (who often turned out not to be!) blindly entered an investmentthat often did not end well,” Ronny explains. “Regulation obviates such ascenario. If I come with a new proposal for a deal, I must first present datato an external investment committee and prove that all the tax and legaldetails are in order. That means we do our utmost at the outset of theinvestment. Of course, every investment has still an element of risk,” Ronnyqualifies, “but these risks must be identified. Consequently, clients areextremely well protected at the actual purchase.”
Ronny sums up, “At Blue Rock, you’re not just trusting a person; we’resupported by a whole transparency mechanism, which amounts to no unpleasantsurprises!”