business forward

Rising Stars: Who to Watch in Swiss Finance -

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An ascending central banker, an audit expert with a tricky mandate at Credit Suisse, and Julius Baer's quick thinker: the technology and finance bankers to watch this year. 

Evie Kostakis: Hands-On Fast Thinker At Julius Baer

The 45-year-old advances to finance chief of Julius Baer next year – just the second women to reach top management of the 131-year-old Swiss wealth manager. Evie Kostakis headed for Wall Street straight after her Master’s in public policy, returning to her native Greece in 2005 as head of investment strategy for Eurobank. Julius Baer snapped her up as a managing director in Zurich in 2013. 

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A fast thinker, Kostaktis is well-liked within the Swiss bank, where she is known for being hands-on, down to earth, and hard-working during stations in corporate development and strategy, investment management, and finally as back-up to long-time finance chief Dieter Enkelmann.

Lukas Gaehwiler: More Than Mere Swissness?

UBS' enlisting Lukas Gaehwiler (pictured below) as its new vice-chairman is possibly the most surprising people move of the year. The Swiss banker is expected in April to be voted in as back-up to designated UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher – an Irish native and veteran of Wall Street.

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Gaehwiler's job is to smooth domestic feathers which might not be overly receptive to Kelleher or to UBS' CEO Ralph Hamers, who is Dutch. It remains to be see whether Gaehwiler, who stepped down from running UBS' domestic business six years ago, is off to a new career high. He is impeccably connected at home, in part through board roles at publishing house Ringier as well as jet producer Pilatus.

Urs Baumann – Generational Change at Zurich's Bank

The local government-backed lender's tapping of an outsider for the first time in its 150-year history marks a milestone: Urs Baumann  (pictured below) takes over in September from long-standing CEO Martin Scholl of Zuercher Kantonalbank translates to a generational change. Six of eight top executives of the local lender are 59 or older, at a bank where the retirement age is 64. Baumann is likely to put his own management team together – what the self-declared entrepreneur banker otherwise has in mind is unclear. 

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«It is among my goals are CEO that ZKB is one of the most appreciated and most respected banks in Switzerland,» he told following his appointment.

Alex Villiger: HR-Guru In Grison

When cantonal banks want to bring their human resources experts up to date, they send them to Alex Villiger (pictured below) at Graubuendner Kantonalbank, or GKB. The local government-backed lender's top personnel expert recognized early on that Grison is on the fringes in terms of attracting talent – one reason GKB began cultivating home-grown talent. This has most recently manifested in a campaign highlighting purpose of work at GKB.

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Villiger has also advocated for continuing education: roughly 500 bankers are set for a certification which GKB developed along with Graubuenden's university of applied sciences. The program is meant to better equip bankers for the demands of digitization.

Martin Schlegel: In Line For Policymaker Role

The recently-disclosed departure of Fritz Zurbruegg opens up a vacancy at Switzerland's central bank that will in turn set up a generational shift: Chairman Thomas Jordan isn't expected to stay longer than his current term, which ends in 2027. As a representative of the SNB's home-grown talent program, Martin Schlegel  (whose image illustrates this piece)  stands excellent chances to be tipped for Zurbruegg's job.

For one, he already is part of the enlarged governing board at just 45. He also looks back on a stint in Singapore overseeing the SNB's Asia-based foreign exchange trading operation, one with the International Monetary Fund, and a teaching job at the University of Basel.

Rafael Lopez Lorenzo: Reinforcing Credit Suisse Compliance