Alex Schütz On His Activity In Eastern Europe & His Family Office's Private CEE Wealth Summit
Nearly 30 years ago Alex Schütz founded C-Quadrat and set the course for his firm to become one of Austria’s largest Asset Manager that is active in 20 countries across Europe and Asia. As a supervisory board member at Deutsche Bank AG, investor and entrepreneur, Alex Schütz is considered to be a role model in the world of finance and investment.
1. Alex, C-Quadrat is one of the largest asset managers in Austria with offices in cities like Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Zurich. But you also have an office in Yerevan. That is rather exotic and unusual. What was the reason to go so far east?
The reason why C-Quadrat is active in Armenia is that we were selected by the Armenian central bank to implement the state pension reform. We see it as a reward and confirmation for our work that we became together with Amundi the first international asset manager active in the region. This unique opportunity was the starting point for the expansion to the Middle East and through this mandate, we got to know the region better. Situated in the heart of Armenia, our office in Yerevan allows us to actively conduct business with middle eastern and other Asian countries. It enables us to constantly be present on-site and helps us gain insight into local markets. Meanwhile, we are also active in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
This region, and in particular Armenia, is very entrepreneur-friendly and has experienced extreme economic growth. Over the past 15 years, the GDP per capita has risen by more than 150 percent. At the same time, the inflation rate has stayed low. These factors create a very attractive environment for investors like C- Quadrat.
2. What fascinates you about Eastern Europe, both business-wise and personally?
I have always been fascinated by eastern Europe both on a business and on a cultural level - the region simply has so much to offer. It is rich in culture and at the same time full of economic potential. The level of development and the speed of innovation in this region is incredible which makes it such an interesting place to visit and to invest in.
3. In April you gave an interview to the magazine Das Investment where you said, and I quote: "We are active in almost all CEE countries and believe in the sustainable economic growth of these markets." So, allow me the question: Why 6 offices in Western Europe and only 1 on the brink of Eastern Europe?
The question is not why we only have one office on the brink of Eastern Europe, but how many we are planning to open in the future. “Think big, start small” - We aim to grow steadily and sustainably rather than uncoordinated and simply for the sake of expanding.
4. On December 03rd 2020 you and your single-family office will host the first Central & Eastern European Wealth Summit in Vienna. What was the motivation to do this?
I am convinced that keeping up with the latest trends and exchanging information about what is continuously going on in the market is tremendously important when it comes to being successful in the investment business. Being aware of the world around you, perceiving and grasping opportunities is what counts the most. Therefore, I wanted to create a platform of exchange – an environment, where family-owned companies and Europe ́s leading investors can meet in private and in confidence to discuss relevant topics.
I aim to encourage discussions amongst industry leaders and want to raise awareness of the highly motivated and skilled workforce in Central and Eastern Europe. Especially, the young people in this region are extremely well educated and work with great enthusiasm and an innovative mindset which is unique these days.
Business has thrived in this area for the last years! After the end of communism only 30 years ago, many new firms were built from scratch. Entrepreneurial spirit flourished and innovation was seen everywhere. This new drive fascinated me and sparked my interest in Central and Eastern Europe. I consider it a region full of potential and many opportunities to invest in. Thus, it is important to stay on track – what better opportunity is there to do so than organize a Summit that focuses on the development of Central and Eastern Europe?
5. What can participants expect from the event and you as a host?
I like to think of the summit as an exclusive event, where high-end investors and family businesses come together with representatives of leading private companies from the CEE region to further educate themselves and simultaneously create something new: new investments and new partnerships!
We have put together an extraordinary program that features interesting talks, engaging discussions, and plenty of networking opportunities. The “Central & Eastern European Wealth Summit” will grant all participants access to new markets and will, at the same time, allow everyone to meet remarkable new people that share the same passion for the investment business.
I am looking forward to the event, a day full of thought-provoking debates with inspiring people from all around Europe.
6. What do you answer to those who say you just want to promote your firm?
It is important to highlight that “Schütz Family Office” and not C-Quadrat is organizing the event and that I host it as a private individual. The event has nothing to do with the publicity of C-Quadrat – on the contrary! The focus of the event clearly lies on discussions and networking and not on advertising. Rather than promoting my firm, I aim to create a platform where other companies and individuals can meet, interact and engage.
7. Do you think Eastern Europe needs to polish its image to become more attractive in the eyes of the West?
History has clearly impacted the way we think about Eastern Europe. Many people have looked down upon this region for a long time, did not recognize the region ́s potential or deliberately did not want to take note of it. I think that this is a big mistake – they fail to see what these countries have to offer. Instead of recognizing the potential that lies within these countries, they turn away – or worse, they try to force them to change and to “polish their image”.
This is counterproductive and has destructive effects on the region’s development. Change should never be imposed but should come from the people. Rather than imposing our way of thinking on them, we should be open to new ideas and other ways to conduct business. As they can learn from us, we can learn from them. We should always keep this in mind!
8. Strictly speaking, Russia is not Eastern Europe, yet Russian family offices and family businesses are invited. Why?
If you talk about Eastern Europe, you have to talk about Russia. Russia has influenced Central and Eastern European countries over centuries on multiple levels and this influence can, to some extent, still be felt today. Considering the shared history and the economic ties between Russia and Central and Eastern European countries, it would be naïve to exclude Russia from our discussion.
Furthermore, think about what role Russia plays in the global economy and how much impact the country has on international politics and don ́t forget that Russia is an active investor in many parts of CEE. As the aim of the summit is to bring influential investors together, Russia cannot be missing.
9. What is your personal outlook for the region?
I am convinced that CEE countries will develop immensely within the upcoming years. Their visionary approach to conduct business combined with the entrepreneurial spirit that is present in this region will lead to exponential growth and rapid development. Therefore, we must always be on the outlook! We must cooperate with companies situated in Central and Eastern Europe, we must learn from them and ultimately, we must invest.
Alex, thank you so much for answering our question and we are very excited about the upcoming Central & Eastern European Private Wealth Summit in Vienna, Austria.
If you are interested in the CEE Private Wealth Summit, then please visit www.cee-wealth.com or contact David Grammig at email@example.com
You can also connect with the event's LinkedIn Page.