Mark Stockley and Pascal Dufour (Carne): Twenty Years of Simplification and Unification
“Our mission is to more efficiently unite investors with asset managers,” says Mark Stockley, Chief Business Development Officer and Pascal Dufour, Chief Strategy Officer and Luxembourg Country Head. Interview.
How is Carne’s business evolving?
Pascal Dufour: We are one of the largest service providers of fund solutions. Our mission is to more efficiently unite investors with asset managers. Around 700 professionals work at Carne, serving 600+ clients with more than €2 trillion of assets under management serviced on our digital platform, Curator. For the past twenty years, our aim has been to unite this historically fractured ecosystem through the simplicity that our work and the technology provide. Our growth has been mostly organic, but we have recently also entered strategic acquisitions with AMX, 3D, and GAM.
Mark Stockley: We are a pan-European entity. Our digital platform gives our clients total control through four main differentiators:
1. Specialized knowledge: We connect more than 600 asset managers around the world, which expands our common knowledge.
2. Ground-breaking technology: We made a conscious decision to invest in a platform that hosts 2,000 funds today.
3. People: Knowledgeable, thoughtful people make a huge difference to our industry.
4. Being a force for good: We are very conscious of the role we have in giving back to society.
“Our clients leverage our know-how and technology to accelerate their businesses.”
What are the implications from a Luxembourg perspective?
Mark Stockley: Luxembourg is central to Carne and has been since our inception here, 17 years ago. Around 75 employees work here, including the Head of Global Sales and Head of Strategy, but most importantly, the Grand-Duchy is the home of Curator. We have reached €350billion AUM, expanding soon to €400bn with the transfer of GAM Fund Management Services. We do things locally which is reflected in the fact that Luxembourg is our fastest growing jurisdiction.
Pascal Dufour: Right now, our clients leverage our know-how and technology to accelerate their businesses. This allows investors to generate performance faster and asset managers to be paid quicker. Everything we do right now is done with that in mind. On the other hand, we enable our clients to save money, which protects them against downside risks. We make their businesses more sustainable, protect their reputation, and together, we become more knowledgeable.
“Asset managers can choose to outsource to “Carne Manco,” our third-party management company, or they can pick and choose whatever service they need through “Carne Select.”
What risks and opportunities do you identify?
Pascal Dufour: The way the regulatory framework has been designed in Luxembourg is successful but there is no slow-down in the pace of regulation in private markets and alternatives. If you are a Management Company you need more people to deal with additional regulations: The trend is only going in one direction. We need to keep in mind that Luxembourg is not inexpensive and that markets are challenging. For example, there is no “taxe d’abonnement” in Ireland and ETFs are subject to a withholding tax of just 15%, compared with 30% in the Grand Duchy. Asset managers can choose to outsource to “Carne Manco,” our third-party management company, or they can pick and choose whatever service they need through “Carne Select”: KYC, AML, investment risks, compliance, corporate services, distribution, and many more.
Mark Stockley: Most of my career was in the asset management industry. We focused on either managing money, improving returns and reducing risk, or on attaining and servicing clients. In Luxembourg, the cost of servicing is high: management companies are constantly having to look for operational efficiencies and cost savings, especially with the increase of active to passive management. Carne helps its clients improve their efficiency in this challenging cost and fee environment. Luxembourg has skillsets that do not exist elsewhere, but with the scarcity of resources and people, cost could be an issue in the long term. For the moment, many asset managers choose Luxembourg for alternative and private markets. The whole fund ecosystem should continue its efforts to maintain this enviable position.