Peter Hsu
Office:
Brandschenkestrasse 90
8027
City:
Zurich
State:
Zurich
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 53 94
Fax:
+41 58 261 50 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Peter Hsu is head of the insurance practice and key contact for the practice area of banking and insurance of Bär & Karrer. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers, banks, securities dealers, asset managers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses on regulatory, M&A/corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A transactions as well in other industries outside the financial sector.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN THE BANKING AND INSURANCE FIELDS?

The practice area of banking and insurance as an industry sector-specific practice area is very broad in scope and interdisciplinary (eg, it includes regulatory, contractual, M&A, corporate and other matters). Still it is specialised as it focuses on the financial services industry sector.

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT STARTING OUT IN YOUR LEGAL CAREER?

About 15 years ago, when I started my insurance regulatory practice, there was very little legal literature on Swiss insurance supervisory law and scarce publicly disclosed regulatory guidance from the Federal Office of Private Insurance (the predecessor authority of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) until 2008). At that time insurance regulatory lawyers (other than insurance lawyers focusing on contentious work) have been a “rare species” in the community of lawyers. Insurance groups performed most regulatory work in-house. Therefore, it has been challenging to build up know-how, expertise and networks. I am thankful for the great support from the partners of our firm and many colleagues in the profession and industry, including, eg, several authors who contributed to the commentary on the Swiss Insurance Supervisory Law (Basler Kommentar zum Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz), a publication project to allow practitioners and others to become familiar with Swiss insurance regulatory law.

WHAT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TREND IN YOUR AREAS OF PRACTICE AT THE MOMENT?

Banking and insurance clients have increasingly recognised the importance of good corporate governance, as well as legal and regulatory compliance. At the same time clients have been challenged by the currently difficult market environment (eg, low interest rate, soft market, waves of new regulations after the financial crisis of 2007, weakening of banking secrecy, tax compliance requirements). In this context, we have observed an elevated level of M&A activities and/or return of regulatory licences against the background of a market consolidation and of voluntary group reorganisations.

HOW HAS THE RELATIONSHIP CHANGED BETWEEN THE REGULATORY BODIES AND THOSE WORKING IN THE INSURANCE FIELD? 

In the relationship between FINMA and the regulated insurance companies and insurance groups, in my view, it appears that FINMA has more clearly defined its role as a supervisory authority in recent years. However, in many cases FINMA takes much effort to be cooperative and to find sensible solutions in a dialogue with the supervised financial institutions to the extent it considers the protection of the insured would allow it.

FINMA provides more guidance by issuing circulars, notices or other communication. Furthermore, FINMA has been open to respond to non-action request letters.

HOW ARE FIRMS IN THE MARKET DEVELOPING THEIR INSURANCE PRACTICES? 

Before, “insurance practice” referred mainly to contentious work (litigation/arbitration). In recent years, insurance regulatory practice, including insurance-specific M&A practice, has developed rapidly and became a core element of the insurance practice in many firms. This development can also be observed in the choice of topics of the sessions at international law conferences, such as those organised by the International Bar Association (IBA) and the International Association of Insurance Law (AIDA).

HOW DOES BÄR & KARRER DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION? 

Bär & Karrer is a Swiss leading fully integrated law firm with offices in the German, French and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland (Zurich, Zug, Geneva and Lugano). Teams have been organised in practice groups that have crystallised based on expertise, with an intended overlap among the groups and incorporating our offices in all regions, rather than by a strict departmental system. This, combined with our open-door policy among partners, counsel, associates and trainees, allows efficient cooperation and a know-how exchange. Know-how has a high priority, as we aim to provide our clients with creative, solution-oriented, high-end advice. The firm actively supports publishing projects, submissions in public consultation procedures, and internal and external know-how initiatives, etc.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST INTERESTING CASE YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

An interesting case this year was the Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) insured financing transaction of Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe SA (CELSE). To enable the development, design, construction, operation and maintenance of a thermoelectric power plant by CELSE, in the state of Sergipe in northeast Brazil, the energy company successfully issued bonds for approximately US$1 billion in local currency at a fixed, long-term rate in international capital markets as part of a financing package. The innovative bond issue is guaranteed by SERV, the export credit agency of Switzerland. The transaction was particularly complex because the requirements from the perspective of SERV principles, along with the demands of the capital market, had to be taken into account. Furthermore, creative solutions to address the multi-jurisdictional legal requirements and coordinate timing had to be developed. This has been the first SERV guaranteed transaction with capital market financing.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHERE DO THE FUTURES OF THE INSURANCE AND BANKING PRACTICE AREAS LIE?

Financial regulation will remain or increase and clients will continue to have to ensure legal and regulatory compliance. It is of utmost importance to keep abreast with the constantly changing legal and regulatory developments in the financial services practice area.

Whether or how the new developments in fintech or insuretech will disrupt the market will need to be seen. However, some of these developments have or will have an impact on the industry. Ultimately, it might not be the small start-ups that effect a change, but the large, traditional players. Already, for example, they have been searching for new platforms and distribution channels as their business environment and customer behaviour have been changing. 

Providing solution-oriented, tailor-made, high-end legal and regulatory advice is the future for a firm’s insurance and banking practice.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Banking: Regulatory

Peter Hsu is a partner at Bär & Karrer's Zurich office and a firm's key contact for the practice areas of banking and insurance as well as fintech.

His practice focuses on insurance, banking, financing and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers, insurance intermediaries, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A or corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in insurance, banking and capital markets and is a regular speaker on these topics.

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and obtained an LLM from University of California, School of Law, in 2004. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2002.

Peter Hsu is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the AIDA Swiss Chapter. He speaks German and English.

WWL says: Peter Hsu is a widely recognised figure in the Swiss market, highlighted for his outstanding regulatory work across the banking sector advising both domestic and foreign banks.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Banking which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Banking

Peter Hsu is a partner at Bär & Karrer's Zurich office and a firm's key contact for the practice areas of banking and insurance as well as fintech.

His practice focuses on insurance, banking, financing and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers, insurance intermediaries, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A or corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in insurance, banking and capital markets and is a regular speaker on these topics.

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and obtained an LLM from University of California, School of Law, in 2004. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2002.

Peter Hsu is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the AIDA Swiss Chapter. He speaks German and English.

WWL says: Peter Hsu stands out for “his pragmatic approach to resolving legal issues”. Sources note, “He is not only an expert on regulatory topics, but also has a very profound understanding of other legal areas."

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Banking: Fintech

Peter Hsu is a partner at Bär & Karrer's Zurich office and a firm's key contact for the practice areas of banking and insurance as well as fintech.

His practice focuses on insurance, banking, financing and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers, insurance intermediaries, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A or corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in insurance, banking and capital markets and is a regular speaker on these topics.

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and obtained an LLM from University of California, School of Law, in 2004. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2002.

Peter Hsu is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the AIDA Swiss Chapter. He speaks German and English.

WWL says: Peter Hsu is a top banking and finance specialist who regularly advises fintech companies on a range of matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Banking which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Insurance & Reinsurance: Lawyers

Peter Hsu is a partner at Bär & Karrer's Zurich office and a firm's key contact for the practice areas of banking and insurance as well as fintech.

His practice focuses on insurance, banking, financing and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers and reinsurers, insurance captives, insurance intermediaries, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A or corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in insurance, banking and capital markets and is a regular speaker on these topics.

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and obtained an LLM from University of California, School of Law, in 2004. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2002.

Peter Hsu is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the AIDA Swiss Chapter. He speaks German and English.

WWL says: Peter Hsu is "a well-known expert for insurance supervision law", an area in which he stands out as a go-to figure in the Swiss market.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Insurance & Reinsurance which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Insurance & Reinsurance

Peter Hsu is a partner at Bär & Karrer's Zurich office and a firm's key contact for the practice areas of banking and insurance as well as fintech.

His practice focuses on insurance, banking, financing and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers and reinsurers, insurance captives, insurance intermediaries, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A or corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he often advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in insurance, banking and capital markets and is a regular speaker on these topics.

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and obtained an LLM from University of California, School of Law, in 2004. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2002.

Peter Hsu is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the AIDA Swiss Chapter. He speaks German and English.

WWL says: Peter Hsu is “prominent in the insurance market” and draws high praise for his outstanding insurance regulatory and transactional work.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

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