The video clip below is a cocktail of mind-boggling statistics. As John Mauldin remarked: “I think that we underestimate the accelerating pace of change we are going to see in the next 15 to 20 years. We will see more change in the coming decade than we saw all of last century. Think back just 20 years and realize how much things have changed. Then double that pace through 2020. The opportunities and displacement are going to be huge.”
Picking the broad waves of change, or “themes”, will be the challenge we face in determining investment strategy.
Personal trivia: Switzerland – more than just a country that works
Switzerland is synonymous with high finance and regarded as one of the world’s leading financial centres. It was also the allure of consulting with the gnomes of the Swiss fund management industry that brought me to Zurich and Geneva for the first time 21 years ago.
It is estimated that Switzerland holds an amazing one-third of the world’s private wealth. Part of the reason for its financial services industry being so powerful is the iron-clad Swiss bank secrecy law dating back to 1935.
Although it is a small country surrounded by members of the European Union, Switzerland has point-blank refused to join the EU “club” and toe the line with “big brother” disclosure measures. This makes Switzerland one of the last remaining bastions of financial privacy.
It is therefore also no wonder that the Swiss franc, or Swissie as it is referred to, has long been viewed as one of the world’s safest currencies.
On a non-business level, if you have ever wanted to find a place where you could stop to recharge your batteries and feed the soul, Switzerland is the place for you. And this is what keeps me coming back for more than just meeting with the gnomes.
The chocolate-box pictures one sees of Switzerland are in fact true! They are not done with trick photography. Nowhere, but nowhere in the world is the sky as blue, the grass as green and the majestic mountain peaks as white with snow. It is the one place where another picture-perfect scene awaits you around every corner – so beautiful it takes your breath away.
Add to that a quaint Alpine village such as Veysonnaz, where I am staying with my family, and you are in Paradise. It is situated high in the Alps in the French part of Switzerland and boasts hiking trails (“bisses” in French) that stretch for kilometres and which were carved out next to the irrigation canals more than 500 years ago.
Walking along these paths is a wonderful experience – babbling water, postcard views of Swiss chalets with window-boxes filled with geraniums, cows with bells around their necks, and the call of a real cuckoo. It makes you want to yodel!
It is a country that has something for everyone: from nature lovers to sports lovers (skiing, walking, cycling, mountaineering, parasailing, etc.) to those who simply want to relax with a glass of wine from the Valais region and enjoy nature.
Switzerland is a very efficient country – everything works and you can literally set your watch by the arrival times of trains. Swiss precision is legendary, and with good reason. It is also a country that is spotlessly clean – the only one I know of where you can actually use the toilets at the train stations!
People are inclined to regard the Swiss as sullen and unfriendly compared with the more jovial Germans and Austrians. But this is not so. In fact, they are gentle people who are inherently shy and who will not approach you first, but they are very helpful when the need arises.
Switzerland is a country that surprises you with its beauty and First World priorities. It is no wonder that Switzerland consistently ranks close to the top on quality of life indices. It is more than just a country that works.