NZZ: Savings Account Alternative from Central Switzerland

30. January 2022

The RealUnit wants to offer investors the necessary stability and security even amid a cloudy outlook and great uncertainty.

By Roberto Stefano, published in NZZ am Sonntag (Sponsored Content)

With its shares and tokens, RealUnit Schweiz AG wants to offer private individuals the opportunity to invest their savings in a crisis-resistant and value-preserving manner. Allocations in real assets are intended to protect the investments from inflation and loss of purchasing power in the long term.

Anyone who leaves their money in a bank account today has to watch their savings continuously lose value instead of earning interest. The reason is simple: due to inflation, the purchasing power of money is steadily decreasing. While inflation in this country is still a moderate 1.5 percent, in Germany it has already reached 5.3 percent, the highest level in almost 30 years. And in the USA, it recently climbed to 6.8 percent – and it is still rising. Most recently, high energy prices and global supply bottlenecks have fueled inflation.

One long-standing cause is the glut of new money that central banks have been pumping into the markets for years to stabilize the economy. In lockstep with the expansion of the money supply, public and private debt is rising, while the stock markets are climbing to new highs as a result of the liquidity injections. Those who are not invested can only lose. How much longer can this go on? Opinions are divided. Some experts compare today’s financial system to a powder keg that could blow up at the slightest spark and herald the next financial crisis.

An alternative to savings accounts with inflation protection and yield

In view of this gloomy scenario, new solutions are needed. A new approach has been put forward by the investment company RealUnit Schweiz AG in Baar. It invests in a diversified manner in steadily performing and tangible real assets and thus aims to protect the capital of its investors as effectively as possible both from a crash and from inflation losses. “Our ultimate goal is the long-term preservation of purchasing power as well as increased resistance to crises,” confirms CEO Daniel Stüssi.

Rather than depositing their cash in an account at a bank and having to accept a loss of purchasing power and sometimes even negative interest rates, savers can instead invest in RealUnit shares. The company’s performance target is to outpace GDP growth, thereby maintaining purchasing power even in an inflationary environment. Over the past four fiscal years, the average net return has been 1.60 percent per year. This may seem meager compared to the stock market performance over the same period. However, the focus of RealUnit is not on maximizing returns. “Our focus is on value preservation and long-term stable growth. Anyone looking for a quick profit is in the wrong place,” says Stüssi.

RealUnit generates the necessary income through investments in companies with strong balance sheets, crisis-resistant business models and sustainable dividends. Among the largest positions in the portfolio are therefore many Swiss solid companies, such as the two pharmaceutical groups Roche and Novartis, but also regional companies such as Wasserwerke Zug (WWZ). The strong focus on asset preservation at RealUnit is also reflected in the fact that even these value stocks are hedged against a price slump with derivatives, depending on market conditions.

Real tangible assets outside the banking system

The three largest positions are not securities, but physical investments in gold, Swiss francs and silver – safely stored in bunkers in Switzerland. At least half of the invested assets are allocated to real tangible assets outside the banking system. Here, the focus is not only on value preservation but also on crisis protection. “By stashing away Swiss francs, for example, we don’t have to pay negative interest rates, we have access to the funds if there are upheavals in the financial system, and we also have the necessary funds to buy undervalued company shares in the event of a crash,” says Stüssi, explaining the concept. Thanks to its physical investments outside the banking system, the investment company can remain operational and flexible even in a severe crisis.

This flexibility is precisely the reason why the RealUnit Fund was converted into the investment company RealUnit Schweiz AG in June 2017. “The guidelines for investment funds are very restrictive and would limit our ability to act, especially in a crisis,” Stüssi said. The company’s longer-term vision goes even further: thanks to its stability, security and tradability, RealUnit shares could even serve as a parallel currency for storing value and as a means of payment. A currency backed by real assets that cannot be created out of thin air.

For investors who have a critical view of today’s financial system and want to be independent from banks, the investment company offers the choice to also hold their stock as a token on the Ethereum blockchain. These are digital representations of the shares and grant investors the same rights – with one big difference: instead of keeping the shares in a securities account at their bank, token owners keep them on a blockchain with their own “private key”. If this is lost, unlike cryptocurrencies, the company can freeze the tokens and transfer them to a new “wallet” for the shareholder.

A savings product for prudent individuals and SMEs

The man behind the RealUnit idea is Karl Reichmuth, a private banker from Central Switzerland. He first explored the concept in the 2000s before implementing it in the investment vehicle, first as a fund and, as of 2017, as an investment company for “Friends & Family.” He has since retired from the company and handed over the management to a dynamic team led by the long-time NAB branch manager Daniel Stüssi. Reichmuth, however, remains an anchor shareholder.

With the IPO on the BX Swiss at the end of November 2021, RealUnit Schweiz AG has now fully opened up to the public. The main target group are private individuals who are critical of the current financial system and are looking for security. There seem to be quite a few of these, and demand for real asset investments is high. “In February 2022, in addition to trading our shares on the stock exchange, we will also offer a direct investment by means of a capital raise,” says Stüssi. In view of the currently still low volume of 18 million francs, further capital increases are also planned in the current year – so that as many savers as possible can participate in the RealUnit and protect themselves against inflation.

Image montage cover: zippypixels – Envato Elements

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