Switzerland – the real home of private wealth

Date: 17 May 2023

Karen Jones

The search for the Citywealth Leaders List highly recommended individuals is underway.

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Today we spotlight a selection of professionals from Switzerland. Switzerland is in the news with the Credit Suisse situation but looking beyond that, it is really considered the home of private banking and private wealth and its cluster of skills is beyond question. Increased transparency from an industry steeped in confidentiality has brought many changes to Switzerland but it has stepped up and raised professional standards, particularly in the trust industry.

Switzerland has also pulled ahead with skills in the blockchain and crypto industry so much so that it would be difficult to dispute their world class leadership.  The proximity with Zurich, Zug Liechtenstein and Germany, their taxation, and their languages, that often work with Eastern Europe and the Baltics, make Switzerland a global hub that will continue to attract fintech entrepreneurs.

Listed alphabetically by surname.

Sandrine Giroud, Partner, LALIVE SA

Sandrine Giroud joined LALIVE in 2009 and is a partner of the firm since 2017. Her work spans, “Commercial and private wealth disputes, asset protection and reputation, art and cultural heritage law.”

Speaking French, English, German, Giroud has been at LALIVE for 15 years with 30 in her department and 100+ lawyers overall in the firm. Formerly she has worked in the Federal office of justice and has been Vice Chair at the International Bar Association, a lecturer in international litigation and a lecturer at the University of Geneva in International cultural heritage law as well as many other positions. 

“Keep an eye on the goal”.

She says in terms of going above and beyond for private clients. “Caring for clients means doing more than just taking care of their needs. You must also ensure you keep the line of communication open with an adverse party to find solutions, however difficult this can be at times. I can remember an example of spending months of lengthy negotiations with opposing counsel who were angry and incredibly difficult and who had already exhausted several counsels before I came on board. A settlement was however in the best interest of the client, and it took considerable energy and discipline to keep the eyes on the goal, but we eventually succeeded.”

Do you know Sandrine Giroud? You can leave a review here: Sandrine Giroud | Citywealth Leaders List

Kiril Haslebacher, Legal Associate, Attorney at Law, MME Legal | Tax | Compliance

Before joining MME, Kiril Haslebacher worked at the Institute of Business Law at the University of Bern and in an advisory and litigation capacity between 2021-2022 at LINDEMANNLAW a Zurich commercial law firm. Haslebacher works in a department with 25 staff with 3 years legal experience and a passion for fintech, blockchain and crypto. The total number of staff at MME is 90.

Passion for fintech, blockchain and crypto

In the last 12 months he says he has been, “Assisting and advising various crypto projects in different stages.” These could be from the planning phase as well as advanced and already established crypto companies. He has also been advising and representing a bank who are in proceedings with domestic and foreign regulatory authorities with cryptocurrencies and digital assets involved. Finally, he says “I am advising and representing individuals and companies with financial sanctions because of the situation in Ukraine.” Standout deals “Advising, due diligence, negotiation and closing of an acquisition of a fintech company in Switzerland; establishment of a crypto fund; development of the overall AMLA strategy of a Swiss wealth advisor; investigator in a supervised institution; deblocking of blocked accounts in connection with sanction measures.”

Do you know Kiril Haslebacher? You can leave a review here: Kiril Haslebacher | Citywealth Leaders List

Daniel Leu, Partner, Baer & Karrer

Daniel Leu works in “cross-border succession planning, trust and estate litigation, advising family offices, executors, trustees and foundations.” Leu is a Certified Specialist with the Swiss Bar Association (SBA) in Inheritance Law and a lecturer at the University of Muenster, Germany teaching a Master of Law in Inheritance Law & Corporate Succession.

He has been with Baer & Karrerfor 16 years and they have in the private client department 30 fee earners and 400 across the firm based in Zurich which includes assistants and shared services. Leu is known as a supportive mentor and has helped juniors with career progression his whole career.

Working on parallel litigations

Over the past 12 months he says, “One case that is stand out involves several parallel litigations in Switzerland and Germany for a Swiss estate and the undistributed estate of the testator’s late spouse.”

Peers say of him “Daniel analyses cases quickly, provides his insightful views, is ready to share knowledge and experience, is hands on and very talented.”

Do you know Daniel Leu? You can leave a review here: Daniel Leu | Citywealth Leaders List

Marnin Michaels, Partner, Baker McKenzie Zurich

Marnin Michaels is a senior partner at the Baker McKenzie Office in Zurich. He has spent25 years in the law with the majority being at Baker McKenzie. There are 15 staff in his department and10,000 staff globally.  He handles challenging work that includes tax investigations as well as wealth management and issues with the US withholding tax. He also helps with potential tax evasion and cross-border regulatory issues, as well as money laundering avoidance legislation. Michaels was a member of the Firm’s Steering Committee addressing the firm’s US Department of Justice Initiative for Swiss Banks. In the end, the Firm acted for 45 banks.

He says he went above and beyond to help a client recently, “I represented an institution that was being assaulted from four different countries,” he adds, “Over 4 days we calmed the situation down.” His work in the last 12 months has involved. “A multi-billion dollar restructuring of a family office.” Restructuring is a common theme in the global, trust industry since 2020.

More than 20 tax resolutions”

For his standout cases during his career, he says he has been involved with “More than 20 tax resolutions with the US Department of Justice (DOJ).” His work is mainly with USA clients.

What peers say about Marnin “I have worked closely with Marnin on a number of challenging private client matters over the past ten years. His sharp and analytical thinking has been invaluable in providing the best legal advice for our clients. Coupled with Marnin’s ability to see the bigger picture and a high level of professionalism, this results in far reaching, innovative and holistic solutions.”

Do you know Marnin Michaels? Leave a review here: Marnin Michaels | Citywealth Leaders List

Stella Mitchell-Voisin, CEO, Summit Trust International SA

Stella Mitchell-Voisin has been in the private client industry for 30 years. She was at Coutts private banking and trust subsidiary in Jersey before moving to Geneva in 1996 and becoming a founding partner setting up Summit Trust International in 1999 which now has 31 staff, and she is a board member. She is a regular tutor for the Society of Trust and Estate practitioners (STEP) Foundation and diploma courses.

Working with exotic assets including a space project

Over the last 12 months she says she has working with a few clients, “I worked on the closure of an operating shipping business; then took on a very large family office structure that has had individual ‘lay’ trustees for the last 15 years and required a significant sort out. We are currently taking on a new structure with very diverse and exotic assets including a space project.”

Standout work: “Selling a couple of successful operating businesses to large corporate buyers and a multitude of other transactions involving tricky assets.”

An institutional client said of her, “Stella is a pure joy to work with, competent, efficient, knowledgeable and above all a great personality.”

Do you know Stella Mitchell-Voisin? Leave a review here: Stella Mitchell-Voisin | Citywealth Leaders List

Dr Ariel Sergio Davidoff, Partner, LINDEMANNLAW

Ariel Sergio Davidoff’s practice which is based in Zurich focuses on the modern internationally mobile UHNW entrepreneur, family offices and families in Switzerland and neighbouring countries, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, and CIS. He also sits on the board of selected international companies, associations, charities, and foundations.

Helping a client disinvesting in Russia

LINDEMANNLAW has 18 staff in total and he has expertise as a ‘professional board member’ in roles such as President, Head of Risk Committee and Head of Audit Committee. He helps with succession planning, M&A transactions, escrow, contract law and international relocation. In the past 12 months Davidoff has been extremely busy, he has, “Helped a Swiss client in a large M&A transaction to correctly disinvest in Russia; helped two institutional clients in international M&A transactions in the financial sector, advised on the restructuring of a large conglomerate based in Switzerland and relocated a Swiss UHNW family to the UK and another to Monaco.”

A peer said of him “Ariel is second to none worldwide, when it comes to advising highly demanding entrepreneurs around the globe. Highly recognised professional, utmost efficient and loyal, he gives invaluable wholistic advice, with no international or national aspect escaping his eye. In short, what Ariel doesn’t know is simply not worth to know – the saying goes. He has the track record of 100% of the most challenging tasks to be completed to the clients’ absolute satisfaction and beyond. His strong point is the anticipation and prevention of the fatal pitfalls, as well as saving huge amount of money as a “by-product”, while completing the tasks. Ariel himself is capable to do the work, which normally requires several consulting groups. You wouldn’t blink your eye, while he would already give you a valuable advice, present all the options and outline a roadmap to success. He knows when to use the Lego stones, where the others build the bicycle. And next – he will nail the deal for you. Good luck!”

Do you know Ariel Sergio Davidoff? Leave a review here: Dr Ariel Sergio Davidoff | Citywealth Leaders List

Walter Stresemann, Managing Director, Magnolia Private Office S.A.

Based in Geneva, Walter Stresemann and has been in the private client industry for 37 years. Walter is the Founder and Managing Director of Magnolia Private Office. He was previously a co-founder of Vistra Group and was the Managing Director of Vistra Switzerland and Vistra Monaco until August 2019. Magnolia Private Office has11 staff in total.

Walter advises clients from around the world on their wealth planning, family governance and specific investment structures. He has also worked in executive positions in firms such as UBS. He is fluent in English, German and French. He says a moment he is proud of is “Brokering a lasting family peace,” which is no small feat in a world where litigation and disputes is a trend and something that plagues wealthy and successful families.

Distribution film rights and royalties

In the last 12 months he has been helping “Structure the royalty and distribution rights of a film produced in Europe and the Middle East” and stand out moments included “Managing the royalty structure of a world ranked top three tennis player.” Magnolia Private Office S.A. may be a boutique operation, but it is acting for clients at the top of the film and sports world.

Do you know Walter Stresemann? You can leave a review here: Walter Stresemann | Citywealth Leaders List

Clare Usher-Wilson, Deputy CEO, Summit Trust International SA

Clare Usher-Wilson began her trust career in Guernsey in 1998 and then moved to Liechtenstein, before settling in Geneva in 2004.  She has worked in the trust industry for 24 years with the majority at Summit Trust International. She has wide range of experience in trust and company management, including private trust companies, charitable trusts, and employee benefits trusts, within which a wide range of assets are managed, including fine art and automobile collections, private equity, and commercial and residential property.

Intensive care trusts

Over the last 12 months she has been working on, “An intensive case of a “liquidity starved” trust that required careful and pragmatic solutions.” More generally she says, “Similar ‘intensive care’ trust situations where Summit has taken on cases in which the entire trust fund is at risk of being destroyed in the absence of swift, proactive, and creative steps by the replacement trustee.” This type of challenging or problematic trust structure is a speciality of Summit Trust International which they have developed over many years.

Peers say of her “Responsive, pragmatic, and dependable – provides an excellent quality personal service to clients. No hesitations in recommending.”

Do you know Clare Usher-Wilson? Leave a review here: Clare Usher-Wilson | Citywealth Leaders List

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