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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Peter Hsu is a “very well-known” expert in the market who is “very active in regulatory and M&A work”, according to interviewees.

Questions & Answers

Peter Hsu is Bär & Karrer’s head of insurance and a key contact for the banking and insurance practice. His practice focuses on financing, banking, insurance and capital markets. He regularly advises Swiss and foreign insurers, reinsurers, banks, securities dealers and other financial intermediaries, as well as fintech businesses, with regard to regulatory and M&A/corporate law matters. Moreover, he is often involved in complex financing transactions where he represents either lenders or borrowers. Further, he also advises clients on M&A transactions in other industries.

What attracted you to a career in the banking and insurance fields?

Banking and insurance as a sector-specific practice area is very broad in scope and interdisciplinary – it includes various legal aspects such as regulatory, M&A, corporate, contractual and other topics. Yet it is still specialised as it focuses on the financial services industry sector. I was – and continue to be – attracted to the challenges and possibilities of this unique combination.

What have been the most significant challenges for the insurance market and the banking industry?

In recent years, low interest rates have challenged Swiss life insurers in particular, but also other branches of the insurance industry. Further challenges for insurers have been stiff competition, a soft market and shrinking margins. Swiss reinsurers also incurred significant damages stemming from natural hazards, in an aggregate amount of approximately 70 billion Swiss francs: half the cost of damages in 2017, but still above the 10-year average. In contrast to earlier years, reinsurers have not been able to fully compensate this by increasing premiums. Health insurers have also had to adapt to increasing health costs. Despite the challenges, Swiss (re)insurers overall still provide for a robust solvency ratio. As a response to the challenges, many insurers cut costs and slimmed down product lines (for example, several life insurers stopped offering guaranteed life insurance products to focus on asset-linked programmes).

The Swiss banking industry has also been challenged by low interest rates for several years in a row, while at the same time facing an increasing regulatory burden, including, for example, cross-border restrictions that are challenging to navigate. While Swiss banks incur most costs in Swiss francs, often a big share of the revenue is generated from their business with foreign-domiciled persons. Consequently, the strong Swiss franc further negatively impacts the business.

The Financial Services Act (FinSA) and Financial Institutions Act (FinIA) is currently expected to come into force in January 2020. What impact do you think it will have on the market?

Among many other changes under the FinIA, asset managers and trustees will become subject to prudential supervision. This might result in a further consolidation of the market. Until now, the Swiss inbound cross-border regime for the offering of financial services has been very liberal. FinSA will, for example, introduce a registration requirement for client advisers. This may affect foreign-based client advisers that have so far benefited from the current regime. Moreover, market participants in the scope of FinSA will have to address the new rules, including rules of conduct, and might have to align and re-document their client relationships.

How has the growing importance of FINMA’s role as a supervisory authority in recent years affected client demands and priorities?

FINMA takes its role and mandate as a supervisory authority – in particular, to protect creditors, investors and insured persons; to safeguard the functioning of the Swiss financial marketplace; and to foster its reputation, competitiveness and sustainability – very seriously. In doing so, it makes use of its supervisory powers and instruments – including, for example, onsite inspections, and (informal) intensive supervision and enforcement procedures – and imposes regulatory sanctions, as the case may be. Against this background, legal and regulatory compliance has become a key priority for financial institution clients. In this context, clients appreciate the expertise, experience and resources of external counsel.

As regulatory burdens become heavier and frameworks more complex, how do you ensure you are well equipped to provide clients with up-to-date, cutting-edge counsel?

To stay at the forefront of legal and regulatory developments, it is essential to closely monitor such developments along with the practice of the regulator and courts; to share know-how and expertise within the firm, including other practice groups; to train the team; and to exchange ideas with colleagues.

In what ways has recent consolidation changed the landscape of the Swiss insurance market?

The consolidation process has probably been more prominent in the banking industry than in the insurance sector. However, some insurers have reorganised their business operations and the M&A market has been active. Interestingly, private equity investors have become increasingly active investors in the insurance market, especially in the area of run-off carriers. Investments by experienced private equity investors appear to have become readily accepted by the regulator. Many insurers have also streamlined their product lines to focus on fewer products in their core business.

What opportunities and challenges do you think the rise of fintech and insurtech will bring for the traditional banking and insurance markets?

New distribution channels and business models evolve from the application of new technology. One example is the new payment systems replacing traditional banking payment services. There is usually still a bank involved somewhere in the value chain. However, the point-of-sale contact with the client has shifted from the bank to the provider of the payment app – the bank is more like a back office. Platform providers have access to an enormous amount of data (which technology enables it to exploit) and very sizeable network. Consequently, financial institutions have to explore new distribution channels and ways to stay connected to their clientele.

Another example, in insurance, is purchase platforms. If a customer can buy a good or service, and by way of a few mouse clicks take out insurance at the same time, the customer might be inclined to do all this on a single platform (ie, a new distribution channel for insurance products). As a consequence, to assure preferred rights in these new distribution channels, some insurers have entered into joint ventures with platform providers or acquired them.

What advice would you give to a younger lawyer looking to pursue a career in insurance law?

Find out what you are interested in. Be interested, fully committed, business-oriented and open-minded for new ideas. Focus on a practice area but keep a holistic view. Most importantly, serve and appreciate your clients, and enjoy your job.

Global Leader

Banking - Fintech 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Peter Hsu is a highly respected lawyer recognised for his strong expertise assisting fintech clients in a range of sector-related issues including regulation and transactions.

Biography

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

He regularly advises Swiss and foreign banks, securities dealers, insurers, reinsurers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A, corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in banking, insurance 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.
Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.
Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Banking - Regulatory 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

 Peter Hsu is recognised for his strong knowledge of Swiss banking and insurance industry and regulatory law, an area in which he frequently advises international groups of banks and insurers.

Biography

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

He regularly advises Swiss and foreign banks, securities dealers, insurers, reinsurers and other financial intermediaries as well as fintech businesses with regard to a wide range of regulatory, M&A, corporate law and contract law matters. Moreover, he advises clients on M&A as well in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in banking, insurance 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.
Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.
Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Insurance & Reinsurance 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Peter Hsu is a “very well-known” expert in the market who is “very active in regulatory and M&A work”, according to interviewees.

Biography

Peter Hsu is Bär & Karrer's key contact for the practice area of banking and insurance. He has been a partner with Bär & Karrer since 2009 and works in the Zurich office.

Peter Hsu regularly advises Swiss and foreign financial institutions as well as fintech businesses on M&A, transactional and regulatory matters. Furthermore, he represents clients in regulatory licensing and enforcement proceedings. Moreover, he is often involved in complex financing transactions and advises clients on M&A transactions as well as in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in banking, insurance and capital markets, and is regularly invited to speak on these topics.

Peter Hsu holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and an LLM from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (2004). He is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Associations as well as of the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the Association Internationale de Droit des Assurances - AIDA Swiss Chapter. 

He speaks German and English.

Peter Hsu is ranked as a leading individual in the practice areas of banking and finance as well as insurance and reinsurance, and listed as a "most highly regarded" practitioner in insurance and reinsurance (Who's Who Legal 2018). The Legal 500 2014 refers to him as a "key individual within the banking and insurance sector" and recommends him for insurance advice. In Who's Who Legal, he is quoted as "the 'go-to guy' for clients in need of insurance and reinsurance regulatory advice" (2013, 2018) and a "key player in the Swiss insurance and reinsurance regulatory field" (2014), and wins praise for his "unparalleled abilities". In addition, he is described as "extremely knowledgeable" in insurance and regulatory matters, lauded for his "business oriented approach" (2016) and it is further noted that "he is not only an expert on regulatory topics, but also has a very profound understanding of other legal areas". Moreover, he is praised for "his pragmatic approach to resolve legal issues" (2018). In IFLR1000, a client characterises him as "very knowledgeable, detail-oriented and very open to novel solutions and approaches" (2016).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

National Leader

Switzerland - Banking 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Peter Hsu focuses his practice on banking and insurance law, areas in which he stands out as a top name in the Swiss market. He is particularly highlighted for his strength in related regulatory matters.

Biography

Peter Hsu is Bär & Karrer's key contact for the practice area of banking and insurance. He has been a partner with Bär & Karrer since 2009 and works in the Zurich office.

Peter Hsu regularly advises Swiss and foreign financial institutions as well as fintech businesses on M&A, transactional and regulatory matters. Furthermore, he represents clients in regulatory licensing and enforcement proceedings. Moreover, he is often involved in complex financing transactions and advises clients on M&A transactions as well as in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in banking, insurance and capital markets and is regularly invited to speak on these topics.

Peter Hsu holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and an LLM from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (2004). He is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as of the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the Association Internationale de Droit des Assurances - AIDA Swiss Chapter. 

He speaks German and English.

Peter Hsu is ranked as a leading individual in the practice areas of banking and finance as well as insurance and reinsurance and listed as a "most highly regarded" practitioner in insurance and reinsurance (Who's Who Legal 2018). The Legal 500 2014 refers to him as a "key individual within the banking and insurance sector" and recommends him for insurance advice. In Who's Who Legal, he is quoted as "the 'go-to guy' for clients in need of insurance and reinsurance regulatory advice" (2013, 2018) and "key player in the Swiss insurance and reinsurance regulatory field" (2014) and wins praise for his "unparalleled abilities". In addition, he is described as "extremely knowledgeable" in insurance and regulatory matters, lauded for his "business oriented approach" (2016) and it is further noted that "he is not only an expert on regulatory topics, but also has a very profound understanding of other legal areas." Moreover, he is praised for "his pragmatic approach to resolve legal issues" (2018). In IFLR1000, a client characterises him as "very knowledgeable, detail-oriented and very open to novel solutions and approaches" (2016).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Peter Hsu is a “very important player in the market, and definitely an expert in the field”. He is highly skilled in regulatory matters, and advises a number of banks, fintech businesses and insurers.

Biography

Peter Hsu is Bär & Karrer's key contact for the practice area of banking and insurance. He has been a partner with Bär & Karrer since 2009 and works in the Zurich office.

Peter Hsu regularly advises Swiss and foreign financial institutions as well as fintech businesses on M&A, transactional and regulatory matters. Furthermore, he represents clients in regulatory licensing and enforcement proceedings. Moreover, he is often involved in complex financing transactions and advises clients on M&A transactions as well as in other industries.

Peter Hsu has published several books and articles on topics in banking, insurance and capital markets and is regularly invited to speak on these topics.

Peter Hsu holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich (1999) and an LLM from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (2004). He is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss Bar Association as well as of the International Bar Association. Moreover, he is a member of the organising committee of the Association Internationale de Droit des Assurances - AIDA Swiss Chapter. 

He speaks German and English.

Peter Hsu is ranked as a leading individual in the practice areas of banking and finance as well as insurance and reinsurance and listed as a "most highly regarded" practitioner in insurance and reinsurance (Who's Who Legal 2018). The Legal 500 2014 refers to him as a "key individual within the banking and insurance sector" and recommends him for insurance advice. In Who's Who Legal, he is quoted as "the 'go-to guy' for clients in need of insurance and reinsurance regulatory advice" (2013, 2018) and "key player in the Swiss insurance and reinsurance regulatory field" (2014) and wins praise for his "unparalleled abilities". In addition, he is described as "extremely knowledgeable" in insurance and regulatory matters, lauded for his "business oriented approach" (2016) and it is further noted that "he is not only an expert on regulatory topics, but also has a very profound understanding of other legal areas". Moreover, he is praised for "his pragmatic approach to resolve legal issues" (2018). In IFLR1000, a client characterises him as "very knowledgeable, detail-oriented and very open to novel solutions and approaches" (2016).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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