In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Heini Rüdisühli, head of private client at Lenz & Staehelin in Zurich, about becoming a trusted advisor to successive generations of clients.
Tell me about your role.
I started out as a tax partner at Lenz & Staehelin. While maintaining my interest in tax law, over time my focus shifted to private clients and inheritance law therefore four years ago, I resigned as head of our tax team to assume the role of head of our private client team. During this time, I also completed a one-year training course in inheritance law and acquired the title of Certified Specialist Inheritance Law, from the Swiss Bar Association.
How has the private client industry changed?
Over the past few years, many private clients have closed down their offshore structures or have at least reduced their complexity, as a result of increased transparency and increased compliance costs of such structures. However, today the trend seems to have changed. We see an increasing demand for state-of-the-art offshore structures mainly for the purpose of estate planning. For Swiss domestic clients, wealth created over the last few decades requires careful planning to secure a smooth transfer to the next generations.
What lessons have you learnt?
The demand for high quality trust and estate planning is constant. Clients with compliant tax situations and a high regard for sustainable tax planning hold long-term relationships with their trusted advisors in high esteem.
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
For me the most interesting client situations are those where I am closely involved in family matters such as succession planning and investment, often involving family businesses. The reason behind this is the personal contact with the ruling generation and the next generation. Furthermore, such mandates require holistic thinking and a combination of know how in different legal fields such as tax law, inheritance law, corporate law etc.
What challenges do your clients face?
I think one of the major challenges clients are facing is the transfer of family wealth to the next generation. Often we see that the values of the younger generation are not necessarily identical to the ones respected by their parents. For example, younger family members often put a greater emphasis on sustainable investments in terms of ecological footprint and ethical standards, and are prepared to sacrifice performance, if necessary.
What‘s the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is if, after having advised the older generation for years, I also gain the trust of the younger generation and become a trusted family advisor.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best piece of advice I received from an older partner was not to try to please the clients with what they want to hear but to express my own opinion and my point of view.
What was the last book you’ve read?
It was the book ‘Why we sleep’. Despite being a rather scientific type of book, I was fascinated to learn about the importance of sleep for the wellbeing of all creatures. Our everyday life is dominated by the stress of 24/7 availability, distraction by information overload and sleep deprivation. It is more than obvious that in such a state we do not make the best decisions. Since I read this book I make sure I get a sufficient amount of sleep every night. It‘s worth it.
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
My last business-related trip was to Brussels last week, where I was invited to celebrate the closing of a successful transaction for a client. My last pleasure trip was to Kenya last November where we enjoyed the wonderful wildlife and got an insight into the conflict between the increasing population of Africa and the wildlife.
How do you relax after a long day?
By going through my large library of photos and editing some of them to create new pictures, and at the same time re-enforcing my memories of past experiences and adventures.