Christianne de Roy and Yves Verhulst (ING Luxembourg): a growing force in private equity and real estate servicing
ING Luxembourg established its private equity and real estate business 15 years ago, and it has been growing ever since. Head of Financial Institutions Christianne de Roy and Head of Trust & Private Equity Yves Verhulst say an important factor is being able to draw on expertise and resources from throughout the ING Group.
How have alternative investments evolved over the last years?
YV: We created a dedicated desk for private equity and real estate (PE/RE) 15 years ago, after receiving many requests for account services from clients. Having started with two employees, we now have more than 15 members in the team, which is still growing. We provide account & depository services for both unregulated and regulated funds. However, the Eureka moment came when we realised that our domiciled trust clients wanted to establish their own companies with substance in Luxembourg.
CdR: Of the large PE/RE investment managers, currently more than 50% have their own office here, and the most prominent alternative investment firms employ up to 100 people. As a market leader in payment and cash management services to fund structures, we have been very proactive in order to meet the huge demand. Our added value lies in our Wholesale Banking capabilities and in the interconnectivity within ING Group in other countries. This unique proposition enables us to provide our clients with a wide range of services. And we have found that many employees of our PE/RE clients have now become ING clients too.
« We have experienced double-digit growth in alternative investments over the past 15 years»
What have been the key developments along the way?
YV: An important moment came in 2010 when, while working closely with service providers on payment and cash management service matters for non regulated clients, we saw that they were creating small fund administration teams dedicated to regulated funds within their structures. On our side, Christianne joined the company to build the depositary business so to be able to service regulated fund structures established in Luxembourg with these new fund administrators.
CdR: ING could leverage substantial expertise in custody originating from our private banking experience, our service for ING Group funds and the relationship we have tradionally had with insurance companies, so the development of depositary services was a natural evolution. Our clients benefit from our open model and we build strong relationships with them. They can access data 24/7 through our electronic banking system; we service them with a lot of capital call financings , and regarding other debt, we have expertise in many asset classes available within ING Group. Our clients are often located alongside us in London and New York, thanks to the ING network, so we can be a genuine one-stop shop. But we are equally ready to serve a client that only needs cash management services.
How do you view the outlook for your business and for Luxembourg?
YV: In the past 15 years, we have experienced double-digit growth in our alternative investment business, and this continues today. This is down to our service model – we create a framework with the client through a far-reaching onboarding process, which once completed allows us to focus on the relationship with the client. I believe this is the best approach.
CdR: We have benefited greatly from Luxembourg’s positive response to the AIFMD and would argue that the government is our best ambassador, equally the LPEA and ALFI are strong advocates that we are delighted to support. Having our new offices right in front of the central station, combined with our highly integrated model, means that our clients can meet leading specialists without leaving the building. We have been present in Luxembourg for almost 60 years, so they know we are here for the long term.