Michael Bonzon is Swiss. After a career in private banking and fifteen years with Crédit Suisse, twelve years ago he founded Aurelys, a company specialising in structured products. And five years ago, he left Switzerland and moved the Aurelys headquarters to Monaco.
Aurelys is a consulting company, not a management company. Can you describe your activity a little more precisely?
We are a regulated profession, under Commission for the Control of Financial Activities control in Monaco. We build customised products to customer expectations. To put it simply, they are a construction of various existing products marketed by different financial institutions. When the end customer has defined their expectations clearly, we determine a number of parameters we use to structure a unique product for them, that meets all the criteria they set in advance.
Are your customers private individuals?
Not at all, we have an institutional customer base of independent management companies or small banks. Furthermore, we work with banks to assemble our products. We put them in competition to get the best conditions. Then we ‘compose’ a product with our financial tools. We offer it to the end customer with a precise diagnostic analysis of the product’s pros and cons.
What if there is a market downturn and the product’s competitiveness is threatened?
Customers are generally aware of the risks connected with their demand. We pre-empt this type of downturn and restructure the product to give us every opportunity to recover the loss.
But this is an extreme case, and we generally propose alternative solutions before that happens. That is also why customers stay with us. We inform them about the performance analyses of their products on a very regular basis, so there is real tracking. We are real partners.
How do you recruit your customers?
In Monaco, the bulk of recruitment is by word-of-mouth. Management companies are growing in number, there are now 55 of them in the financial centre and we have growing demand. The Monegasque Association of Financial Activities has also helped us a lot by introducing us to the financial centre. But we still have a very large number of customers in Switzerland.
Why did you choose Monaco?
Besides the quality of life, when we set up in Monaco we were the only company doing this type of business. Now, that is no longer the case but the market is still far less crowded than in Luxembourg or London, for example.
We are a team of four but our goal is, of course, to grow. We will need to adjust as the regulations are changing very rapidly, with a big mark to top in 2018. But we focus on our core business - the sale of structured products - and nothing else, so as to retain our independence.