“Well-Managed Foreign and Trade Policies Are Crucial”

“Well-Managed Foreign and Trade Policies Are Crucial”

The global economy is currently undergoing major changes. The unipolar world order is on the verge of transitioning into a multipolar order, says Thomas Wellauer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SIX since March 2020.

Mr. Wellauer, how hard is it today for companies to do business profitably?

Companies need the greatest possible planning certainty to minimize risks and do business profitably. A key factor here is political and legal certainty, which, however, has recently regressed in many places. The risk of state interference in areas that heretofore have been left up to market forces has increased considerably. Moreover, the economic situation facing many companies has worsened dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Can you cite us examples of the loss of certainty you just mentioned?

A transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order is observable at the moment. China is challenging the reigning hegemon, the USA, and is trying to become the leading political, military, and economic power far beyond the borders of Asia. At the same time, Russia wants to return to its former greatness and prominence in the world and is not afraid of using military means to achieve that ambition.

The USA – with Europe in its tow – accordingly sees its leading position and its prosperity in peril, but is no longer accustomed to being challenged. All of this is causing uncertainties and upheavals, which are also weighing on Switzerland’s economy.

SIX gives the Swiss financial center a genuine competitive advantage.

What does this mean for Switzerland?

The competition between national economies is increasingly intensifying. All players are seeking to secure a dominant position. Various markets accordingly are tending to seal themselves off from outside competition. In this area of conflict, well-managed foreign and trade policies in favor of open markets are crucial to our country’s economic power. We vividly saw this in the debate about stock-exchange equivalence.

Speaking of stock exchanges, SIX just recently took over BME, the Spanish securities exchange and financial market infrastructure group. Why did SIX make that acquisition?

The securities exchange and financial market infrastructure industry has been in a state of consolidation for 20 years. On one hand, there are players that concentrate on the traditional trading business. They are striving for a centralized model and are focused on reaping cost synergies by merging different platforms.

On the other hand, there are players that are strategically seeking to expand and diversify along the value chain and across asset classes. SIX has taken a further step in this direction by acquiring BME, which brings economies of scale to all parts of our securities operations. The takeover makes SIX the number three player today in the European securities exchange and financial market infrastructure sector.

What priorities are you setting as the new chairman of SIX?

SIX makes a substantial contribution to maintaining an efficient and transparent financial center, thus laying the foundation for a thriving economy. The stock exchange functions as a kind of transmission belt between the real economy and the financial economy. Our diversified business model geared to providing trading, post-trading, data, and bank services all from under one roof has proven very resilient, even in tough times like the COVID-19 crisis.

I believe that SIX gives the Swiss financial center a genuine competitive advantage. We want to stress that more clearly by continuing to enhance our clients’ competitiveness in the future. In times of transition, it is especially important to safeguard market efficiency and stability, to invest early on in new technologies, and to continually adapt business models – and, of course, to strive for profitable growth.