OVER FIFTY FIVE YEARS OF DISCOVERING TALENTS
TALENT IS INTANGIBLE.
YET TALENT EXISTS.
Only a few exceptional managers have the ability to think out of the box
Conventional fund managers can only yield conventional results.
But a few strongly-willed, talented, and independent minds relentlessly invent new techniques and find alternative ways to deliver superior returns in different market conditions.
Focused on absolute performance, these star managers devise complex strategies that are accessible only to the most sophisticated investors.
For the last fifty years, we have identified them, analysed their investment process and combined them to build top-performing and resilient portfolios.
The birth of a new vision
In 1964, Beat Notz, a truly independent and visionary mind, imagined a new wealth management concept. His idea was simple yet revolutionary: to invest with the best fund managers wherever they may be, without limiting his scope to the expertise available in-house.
Therefore, he quit his job at Lehman Brothers, created his own company and started to travel regularly to New York to tap the trading skills of a few incredibly talented money managers that could be found on Wall Street.
He met with them, discussing at length to fully understand their strategy and investment process, and combined them to build robust portfolios, capable of generating superior performances while reducing overall risk. By doing so, he essentially invented hedge fund selection and multi-manager investing.
This pioneering idea met with great success and NS Partners has grown over the past 55 years to become one of the leading independent asset managers in Switzerland.
The arrival of a new generation
During the decades that followed, we discovered and invested with some of the most talented fund managers of the modern era.
In 1967, Michael Steinhardt launched his fund and soon became one of Wall Street’s legendary traders. Focusing in macro market moves, he delivered stellar returns to his investors until he closed his fund in 1995.
In 1970, the young and then relatively unknown George Soros had a hard time finding investors to launch his first fund. So he travelled to Switzerland and met Beat Notz. Together with a few brave investors, we decided to invest in what would later become the world-famous Quantum Fund.
In 1980, Julian Robertson, known as the “Wizard of Wall Street,” founded the fabled Tiger Fund, which after two decades of spectacular performance grew to a whopping USD 23 billion. As early investors in his funds, we developed a very close relationship with him along the years.
The same year, Paul Tudor Jones launched his Tudor fund and became a legend after having predicted the 1987 stock market crash. Thanks to his more systematic approach, he not only appealed to High Net Worth private investors, but also attracted a new clientele: institutional investors, seduced by lower correlation and stable returns.
In 1989, Louis Moore Bacon, one of Wall Street’s macro trading legends, launched his Moore Capital fund. Using financial futures, technical analysis and big directional bets, he earned a reputation as being the biggest of the daredevil managers.
In 1994, John Armitage co-founded the Egerton Long/Short Equity fund with William Bollinger. Graduated from Cambridge in Modern History, Armitage is a typical example of the great British fund managers.
In 1997, London-based fund managers Paul Marshall and Ian Wace launched their Marshall Wace fund. Specialised in global Long/Short Equity, they are one of Europe’s foremost hedge fund managers.
The first UCITS fund
Long before the European fund market took off as it has today and Luxembourg became the largest fund centre worldwide after the US, we understood that the future of asset management lay in the democratisation of investment and the ability to offer a very large audience access to quality managers.
This is why, on 28 April 1967, we established our first Luxembourg-based long only collective investment vehicle, DGC SICAV (later rebranded Diversified Growth Company), which became the first UCITS fund in Luxembourg.
Complementing our multi-manager alternative strategies and sharing with them the same alpha generation objective, its sub-funds are distributed in several European countries. Today, after more than 55 years of compelling track-record, its asset under management exceed CHF 1 billion.
Able to deliver consistent absolute returns, but secretive and often difficult to understand, hedge funds can be a challenging investment for private investors. So in 1974, we pioneered a whole new industry when we co-founded Haussmann Holdings, one of the very first fund of hedge funds.
As hedge funds tend to have high minimum investment thresholds (often as high as 1 million US dollars), this new kind of investment vehicle not only allowed wider access to alternative investments, but also provided significant diversification benefits.
Over the years, the fund invested with some of the most fabled managers worldwide such as George Soros, Michael Steinhardt, Paul Tudor Jones II, Louis Moore Bacon, and Bruce Kovner, to name a few.
The fund of hedge funds market now totals some USD 800 bn in assets and Haussmann Holdings has delivered to its investors nearly 30’000% of cumulative return since its inception.
In 1975, Beat Notz partnered with his friend Christian Stucki to create Notz Stucki & Cie.
Beat Notz and Christian Stucki already knew each other well, as they met monthly in the Smoked Salmon Club, a small group of Geneva financiers who exchanged ideas over a plate of lox.
Christian Stucki, who at the time headed the Bemberg family office, had solid experience in selecting star investment managers, as he sat at the investment committee of Leveraged Capital Holdings, one of the very first multi-manager funds.
Ahead of his time, he not only brought a large clientele, but also initiated an activity that was still very embryonic in Europe at the time: pension fund management.
Expanding to London
Thanks to its long tradition of colonial trade and its liberal regulation of financial exchanges, London established itself in the 1970s as the global hub for international investing and the European centre of expertise in asset management.
At that time, taking advantage of the constraints imposed on American and Continental European banks, the London financial centre played a major role in the development of new financial instruments such as Eurodollars and Eurobonds.
In 1977, we opened our office in the City to benefit from this fertile environment. Our UK venture gave us access to a wide range of international clients and served as bridgehead for our ventures in Asia.
Asia - The new frontier
In the years following the 1973 oil crisis, most developed economies were undergoing a long-lasting recession. At the same time, the emerging Asian Tigers were exporting their manufactured goods worldwide and enjoying exceptionally high growth rates.
So, at the initiative of our partner Ewan Macpherson, we decided to launch our Asia Fund, at a time when these markets were barely open to foreign investment and only allowed long-only investing. Today, as Asian markets have become highly sophisticated, the fund encompasses a wide variety of investment styles, mainly in the Long/Short Equity arena.
At the same time, thanks to the Japanese Economic Miracle, Japan was rapidly becoming the world’s second largest economy. We felt that it was time to take a closer look at the Tokyo stock market and concluded an association with Fukuo Shigeta in 1979 to launch our Japanese fund Kabuto.
A famed Japanese value investor, Shigeta is such a strong believer in the investment principles laid out by legendary US value investor Benjamin Graham that he translated his book “The Intelligent Investor” into Japanese and edited it in 1967.
As the less efficient markets of Europe provided good investment opportunities, in 1987 we decided to look for European hedge funds. At the time, the only place where you could find talented managers was London. Yet the British traders trying to set up their own hedge funds had a hard time finding investors in Switzerland.
Indeed, their mostly long-only investment experience and their “Oxbridge” education, with majors in Medieval History or French Literature rather than Finance or Maths, was slightly off-putting to conventional Swiss bankers. Fortunately, Beat Notz and Christian Stucki had more open minds and rightfully identified these brilliant and independent minds.
We launched Lynx, our Europe-focused fund of funds, and during the following decade were able to invest, since their launch, with some of the major names in European hedge funds.
The United States of Europe
In the 1980s, Europe became a huge market for asset management, thanks to the first UCITS (Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) Directive, adopted in 1985. This allowed the creation of euro-compatible investment funds and thus the advent of a single European market for investment.
Understanding the opportunity this represented, Luxembourg adopted in 1988 a flexible and liberal legislation on collective investment vehicles, which met with great success.
On 28 September 1990, realising that the demand for investment fund administration and management services would grow strongly, we launched our Luxembourg investment management operations to offer fund enginering and administration services.
In 2012 and 2013, NS Partners Europe expanded its activities, with the creation of two branches respectively in Madrid and Milan.
In the 90s, India initiated a deep economic liberalisation program, opening the doors of the world’s sixth largest economy to foreign investment.
So in 1994, well before Goldman Sachs coined the BRIC acronym and triggered international interest for India, we launched the Aruna fund, in partnership with a local industrial entrepreneur.
Aruna was one of the first investment funds investing directly in Indian companies and NS Partners was the first Swiss company to receive an investment licence in India. Until it was closed some 15 years later, Aruna delivered stellar returns to investors.
Nurturing in-house talent
After having relied for 30 years on combining outside talent to build multi-manager portfolios, we decided to complement this unique expertise by launching our own single-manager strategies, in particular with funds based on promising investment themes.
In order to manage them successfully, we developed our own in-house talent pool by attracting the best personalities. Thanks to a motivating working environment and our strong investment culture, these personalities were able to flourish and express their creativity.
Today, they successfully manage a breadth of original and top-performing funds, recognized by many prestigious accolades and industry awards.
The Golden Age
In 2000, the dot-com bubble burst and the world’s stock markets fell sharply. However, while conventional funds followed the markets in their violent downfall, funds of hedge funds resisted and thus proved their worth.
Indeed, thanks to their asymmetrical risk profile and their lower correlation with equities, they can not only go up when markets rise, but most importantly they are able to protect investors in times of meltdown.
As both private and institutional investors then rushed to invest in alternative investments, hedge funds have experienced a golden age, which has led to rapid growth in the industry.
Darwinism in the hedge funds industry
Alas, unlike in 2000, hedge funds suffered heavily during the 2008 financial crisis. Indeed, driven to complacency by the influx of capital and rising markets, many alternative managers massively increased their risk and leverage.
And the consequences were brutal: sharp declines led to great disappointment among investors, who mistakenly thought they were protected. Unable to cope with the massive outflows that followed, many funds restricted redemptions, leading to deep investor disaffection. As a consequence, the industry entered a long dry spell.
As in nature, it is not the biggest and strongest that survive disasters. It is those who are able to adapt quickly to cope with their changing environment. After a thorough reappraisal, alternative investment has thus reinvented itself, adopting new technologies and developing new strategies.
Today, the hedge funds industry is stronger than ever, with assets under management surpassing USD 3,800 billion.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Super ManCo!
In December 2013, our Luxembourg entity became the 1st Super ManCo in Luxembourg to be granted the AIFM License, the Management Company under Chapter 15 of the UCITS Law license and the Wealth Management Activity extended services.
This allows us to provide management company services to alternative investment funds, UCITS funds, as well as discretionary portfolio mandates.
In 2015, we started offering our services to third party funds, launching the White Labelling Business. Today, we manage over 50 funds, including 20 white label funds, with assets that have passed the EUR 6 billion mark.
A New Start
Companies are only so strong as their ability to reinvent themselves and pass on the reins to their successors.
This is why, in 2021, with a new generation on board and in order to reflect the evolution of our activities, we have changed our brand name to NS Partners.
True to our heritage, we remain focused on the future and will continue to deliver superior performance for the next decades.
With always the same motto: INVEST WITH TALENT.