“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.”

~ Lee Iacocca

Dear Mountaineers,

I wish all of you a Happy New Year!

I know, this is a little late, but in Switzerland it’s fine – albeit not optimal – to wish a Happy New Year until January 31st. In that respect, I guess I made it just in time!

I must apologize for not writing for quite a while. We have had numerous inquiries in this regard over the past few weeks, with some concerned, some curious, and even with some a little upset. This is one of the few instances where I am relieved that we offer this newsletter for free… Nevertheless, I am one that likes to stick with my commitments. I do feel guilty for “staying away” for so long. But rest assured, I was not hanging out at the beach.

Me and my team’s workload over the past 3 months simply left no time for writing. We always have a lot of work toward the end of the year in any case. But, this year was, truthfully, a bit borderline. Part of what takes up a lot of our time these days, as you can imagine, has to do with the growing flood of rules, regulations and all the bureaucracy that comes with it. Unfortunately, I don’t expect that element to go away any time soon.

However, what added to our load was the fact that one of our Swiss partner banks, Bank Frey, decided (or, was forced by regulators and US pressure) in October to stop its operations and hand in its banking license, another small private bank falling prey to the US “tax hunt”. Bank Frey’s short-term notice pushed our team at BFI into the “Sisyphus job” of opening new accounts for our clients – an eerily paper-heavy and overly bureaucratic process these days – and transferring portfolios. We’re done with that now – Hallelujah!

In the midst of it all, I am proud to say that we were still able to push forward on a number of exciting projects. Here is a brief summary, just to prove to you that your Mountain Vision Team was not idle…

Launch of the Zurich High Reward Fund

We have launched a new fund called the Zurich High Reward Fund. The fund is geared toward our high net-worth clients who seek a growth-oriented and long-term investment strategy.

The investment in the fund is not suitable for most investors. First of all, it comes with a one-year lock-up period and entails investments that are not instantly liquid. So, a long-term investment horizon is required. Secondly, it is structured as an insurance-dedicated fund to afford our US clients tax-free growth. Thus, it can only be acquired via a suitable variable annuity or life insurance structure.

However, this is exactly what some of our investors (and I myself) have been looking for. The investment strategy allows us to take advantage of best-in-class investment management funds in the most interesting long-term trends and themes.

Launch of Global Gold Malta

In November, we launched Global Gold (Malta), a joint venture between Bastion Holdings Ltd, the holding company of Fexserv Financial Services Ltd, and Global Gold Ltd., Switzerland. As you may know, BFI Capital Group’s subsidiary Global Gold offers brokerage and storage services for bullion gold, silver, platinum and palladium bars and coins.  Storage is available in high-security storage facilities in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.  Global Gold (Malta) was set up to market these services in Malta and a number of North African and Maghreb countries.

Founding of Global Gold Hong Kong

We are also in the midst of setting up Global Gold (Hong Kong). The purpose of that company is, in essence, the offering of what we call a “Plan B” option. While clients of Global Gold can already store their metals in Hong Kong via their contractual relationship with Global Gold in Switzerland, we can perceive scenarios in which clients from different parts of the world may choose to use Hong Kong as their preferred jurisdiction.

While at this point, I personally still consider Switzerland the best jurisdiction for the purpose of safekeeping physical precious metals as a means to hedge your wealth against systemic risks in financial markets and the banking system, we don’t know where Europe is headed. Fragmentary tensions could quickly build again in the Euro-Zone as soon as the debt crisis re-erupts. No, I don’t think it’s contained or solved quite yet. Under such a scenario it could be prudent to have a “Plan B” in place; that plan will be ready in June.

Zurich Office

Last but not least, we are adding an office in downtown Zurich. Our SEC-registered investment management unit, BFI Wealth Management, will be opening a new office on May 1st. Our growth has forced us to look for new space. So, part of our team will have to leave our offices in beautiful Zurich-Ebmatingen and move to offices in the city of Zurich, approximately 15 minutes away by car.

The new offices will be quite impressive, very spacious and located up above the University of Zurich with a great view of the city. We look forward to welcoming you there!

So, while you thought we had forgotten about you, we were following Lee Iacocca’s advice verbatim, working harder than ever and putting our anger and energy into some positive things…


Frank Suess

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