As most of you know, we are in the second generation of leadership at WHVP. We strive to communicate authentically with all our clients, business partners, and prospective clients. With this in mind, we want to present an inside look at who we are as a company and the individuals that make up our team. As a registered investment adviser in Switzerland and the USA working to help Americans bring true diversification to their portfolios, we want to bridge the geographical gap by letting you get to know our team members both professionally and personally. So today, we decided to chat with Jess Roberson, one of our team members, about his experiences working with WHVP.
How did you get into asset management, and what led you to work for WHVP?
Jess: When I graduated high school in the US, I was unsure about the kind of career I wanted to pursue. I knew I wanted to help people, so I started working for an NGO. I worked in Latin America and the South Pacific in various positions and helped run training schools for the NGO I was with. One thing I saw over and over again was that my skills were limited, and communities need not just practical help but qualified individuals to partner with. Working with impoverished communities led me to want to head back to school.
I started with some general classes, including economics and finance. I really enjoyed them, so I switched my major to finance. I finally was learning principles that I saw could change individuals' and communities’ outlooks for the better, but I wanted to work in the industry to learn not just the theory of finance but the implementation of it. It would allow me to build a career and eventually teach others how to be effective at building and protecting wealth for not just individuals but for future generations as well.
I was fortunate to have met Jamie and Urs when I first moved to Switzerland with my new bride (who is Swiss). After getting to know them and what they were doing, they offered me an internship with WHVP. I was more than happy to accept and have been here ever since.
So what role do you actually play at WHVP?
My role at WHVP is a bit of a jack of all trades. I take care of back-office administration work, especially when it comes to onboarding clients and helping them set up their accounts at our custodian banks. A lot of it is making sure the documents are in good order and communicating with the partner banks and our clients. I also maintain our social media channels in terms of marketing strategy implementation, content creation, and producing our podcast “Swiss Money Secrets." I am also involved in supporting our Chief Compliance officer as well as doing research for the investment committee.
Are there any specific challenges or advantages you've encountered as an American in the Swiss job market?
WHVP is a company that caters almost exclusively to Americans. In this respect, I have the advantage of understanding how Americans tick and how to better communicate with them. Working for a company that is owned and managed by dynamic and driven Managing Partners also allows for the American spirit of hard work to thrive, but it must be tempered with the desire to learn and adapt to the culture of a Swiss company. When you mix the American spirit of hard work and a coachable attitude, it can really allow an American to thrive in Switzerland.
What aspects of the Swiss work environment do you appreciate the most, and how does it differ from the work culture in the United States?
I really like the flat hierarchy of the Swiss workplace. In my experience, Swiss managers and owners are willing to take the time to hear, teach, and work on improving you as an employee for your benefit. This may be my personal experience with WHVP when it comes to the financial service industry, but even in my student jobs, the employer was always accessible and showed a genuine desire to see me succeed. I have experienced very few power trips in Switzerland, something that was much more common in the U.S. Fear was used as a motivator in the U.S. with a sprinkle of "atta boy" on rare occasions. In Switzerland, my experience has been the opposite, and it has been really encouraging to have a team and leaders around me that want me to succeed.
What are some of the unique experiences or activities in Switzerland that you would recommend to other Americans visiting or living there?
First, I would say Americans should open a Swiss bank account if they have liquid capital available. And they should do it will WHVP; it's a great experience from start to finish (humor intended). However, I am serious; when I studied finance in the U.S. and Swiss bank accounts got a bit of a bad reputation; much of the bad rep comes from the competition that Switzerland presents to the U.S. The reality is they offer so many valuable options for Americans that are totally legal. When I moved to Switzerland, I started learning about Swiss bank accounts, and I thought to myself, "Man, every American who can open a Swiss account should; otherwise, they are missing out on so much of what is out there." I started telling people to look into it, and eventually, I found myself helping Americans do just that, and I love it. Okay, a bit of a sales pitch, but I truly believe in the value it adds to Americans' wealth structures.
If I was visiting Switzerland for a trip, I would spend the entire time in the Swiss Alps. I am a Colorado boy, and there is a unique beauty that is held in the Swiss Alps. They have so many lovely hikes with hidden lakes and enormous glaciers. Further, if you are not a hiker, Switzerland has gondolas that go to the top of many of its mountain peaks. Eating lunch above the clouds is a unique experience and is one people should notch on their belt if they are in Switzerland.
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