60-second interview with…

 Mark John Barmes TEP, Partner and Head of Private Client Group at Lenz & Staehelin in Geneva


What does your firm do?

Lenz & Staehelin is a full service law firm advising international and Swiss clients in  Switzerland.

What is your perception of STEP and what does it mean to your business?

STEP has been a marvellous development for private clients and practitioners alike.  It provides a forum where practitioners can meet and exchange know-how, it provides training and it disseminates knowledge and acts as an industry representative in all the key projects and challenges facing clients and practitioners.

Private client practitioners comprise a broad spectrum. What do you think links practitioners around the world?

I think private client practitioners are linked by their willingness to deal with just about any problem that affects their clients, including the small ones. 

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners in and around Switzerland at the moment?

Without a doubt, the many and rapid changes that are being introduced in the regulatory and tax arenas, including information exchange, tax agreements with the UK and Austria, FATCA.

How will you deal with these challenges?

These challenges have doubled the need to stay informed, study the changes and help bring the responses to clients who are increasingly concerned by the speed and depth of the changes.  

You will be speaking at the STEP Geneva Conference in April. What have you chosen as a topic and what are the key issues in this area?

I will be sharing the podium with the chairman of the Swiss Association of Trust Companies, Alexander von Heeren. Our topic will be SATC  and regulating trustees and financial intermediaries in Switzerland.

What jurisdictions/regions are currently important to your work and why?

Switzerland is the focus of our work, after that there is no particular jurisdiction or region that I would single out. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

When I was a trainee lawyer (in those days, an ‘articled clerk’), the partner in charge (in those days, the ‘master’) always urged me to only make mistakes that I could correct.

What’s been your career highlight?

I always remember feeling tremendously proud to have been named a Partner at Lenz & Staehelin.

Who has been your greatest mentor and why?

I would have to name three former partners: Dr Raoul Lenz, the founding partner of the firm, Jean-Paul Aeschimann, the brilliant leader of our banking practice in my earlier years and Richard Pease, whose commitment and contribution to private client work is unparalleled.  

What do you do in your spare time?

I watch rugby.

What’s the best book you have read this year?

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.  

What’s your favourite quote?

‘Tough game. No rules.’ Describing Rugby Union football.



Mark John Barmes TEP is head of the Private Client Group at Lenz & Staehelin, Geneva. He is on the board of Swiss trustee companies and contributes actively in the field of wealth planning in Switzerland through membership and lecturing for STEP. He chairs the Regulation and Compliance Technical Committee of the Swiss Association of Trust Companies (SATC).


Would you like to be interviewed? Email [email protected]


Article posted on 25 March 2013



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