The advent of a new era for the portfolio manager industry?

Portfolio manager industry: 360° market view

Portfolio manager industry: market view
  • Report
  • 10 Minute Read

Key takeaway No. 1 The number of portfolio managers declined by 26% compared with 2020

Number of portfolio managers over time

Compared with 2020, the first wave of impact of the regulation led to an overall decline of 26% in the number of portfolio managers to 1,578 as of October 2023, but also welcomed new entrants.

Estimated number of portfolio managers, development from 2020 to 2023

* Sources: PwC analysis, data retrieved from

Whilst around 650 portfolio managers decided not to apply for the licence, over 40 newly founded portfolio managers companies embarked on the entrepreneurial journey. In our view, going forward the industry will continue to attract entrepreneurs, and provided their business model and operations are efficiently set up and scalable for growth, licensing will not represent a major barrier to entry.

Currently, 66% or 1,043 of the 1,578 PMs are licensed. The licence is a seal of quality providing transparency in an industry that was previously opaque, as well as allowing stricter regulation that increases investor protection. According to FINMA, the total AuM of the 898 licensed portfolio managers as of June 2023 (latest statistics available) comes to as much as CHF 177bn (the regulator has, however, not disclosed the total industry AuM). The median AuM amounts to CHF 61m, meaning that 50% of the licensed portfolio managers manage less than CHF 61m, albeit with a large spread from one institution to another. In terms of company size, the median number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) of the licensed PMs is three.

Key takeaway No. 2 Scalability and critical size will be key in the future to remain competitive

Estimated market segmentation by AuM size bucket and number of PMs as of October 2023

Estimated market segmentation by AuM size bucket and number of PMs as of October 2023

* Sources: PwC analysis

Obtaining the portfolio manager licence is an achievement. The regulatory costs are expected to increase thereafter. There are numerous multiple business model setups of PMs, in particular to meet the requirements for compliance and risk management (e.g. outsourcing or in-house). This depends on factors such as the nature of the activities, size of the PM and risk profile. Key will be to have both the adequate setup and processes to comply with regulatory requirements and operational platform scalability to grow in order to address the increasing compliance costs. 

Key takeaway No. 3 Accelerated consolidation can be expected in the next two to three years

In 2023, there were 11 publicly announced M&A transactions. However, the actual volume of transactions could be higher, as most small cap deals are not disclosed publicly. In the next two to three years (2026-27), we expect a moderate consolidation in the range of 10-25% in the number of portfolio managers.

It has often been speculated whether the entry into force of the licensing requirement would trigger a significant consolidation of the industry. In reality, up to the end of the transitional period the consolidation was relatively limited, but we are observing a tide change across all size clusters of the market which, based on our experience, we expect to accelerate in the next two to three years.

The primary drivers of this accelerated trend in M&A activity and strategic considerations are, for example:

  • Smaller PMs experiencing, for instance, challenges when undergoing their first regulatory audits after obtaining the licence and searching for opportunities to merge with other PMs to gain economies of scale
  • Succession planning considerations as founders look ahead to their retirement
  • Large players acting as consolidators on the market
  • Several private-equity-backed PMs actively pursuing a buy-and-build strategy
  • Strategic alliances and partnerships being concluded to realise synergies

The challenge remains for PMs to find the “right” partner in terms of cultural fit and chemistry in a relatively fragmented market.

Key takeaway No. 4 The new era for portfolio managers also sets the scene for opportunities

The new era for portfolio managers also sets the scene for opportunities within the entire ecosystem of portfolio managers, managers of collective assets, custodian banks and compliance outsourcing companies.

From the 13 expert interviews we conducted, some of the key success factors to remaining competitive in the future are:

The importance of client centricity in their success so far and their prospects going forward. Some point out that this is an area where portfolio managers, with their independent approach, can better satisfy their clientele than banks, and can attract clients with shared values and aspirations.

The key competitive advantage of being able to innovate in terms of service offering and investment expertise. The challenge for portfolio managers will be to craft a unique selling proposition that appeals not only to the legacy client book, but also to a new generation of clients with their specific expectations.

Organisational agility and digitalisation to achieve a scalable and efficient business model and be able to navigate current (and upcoming) regulatory challenges.

“The portfolio manager industry is thriving and there are exciting times ahead, with the chance for all players in the ecosystem and value chain to seize strategic growth opportunities. With their entrepreneurial spirit, portfolio managers will continue to be a key driving force of the Swiss economy, further cementing Switzerland’s position internationally as one of the world’s leading centres of wealth management.”

Christian Bataclan,Director, Deals Financials Services, PwC Switzerland

This site contains just some of the findings of our study of the Swiss portfolio manager industry. For more details, please download the full study below. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss the findings or any other topics related to portfolio management with us in person.


Portfolio manager industry: 360° market view*

The advent of a new era for the portfolio manager industry?

Download the study (PDF of 31.34mb)

* New version - please note the updated chart on page 11

Contact us

Christian Bataclan

Director, Deals Financial Services, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 00


Bastien Glauser

Manager, Deals Financial Services, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 72