Frank Walenta (ZEDRA): Servicing Clients the Sustainable Way
“The best way to grow a business in our industry is by word of mouth,” says Frank Walenta, Managing Director at ZEDRA Luxembourg. Interview.
Why did you acquire BIL Fund and Corporate Services (BFCS) and what challenges did you face?
This move was driven by client demand. It took us some time to screen the market to find the perfect match. Our priority was to have a target with a solid business, a good track-record and a robust corporate framework and governance . Buying BFCS from a local bank was great added value. The business book was a strong point of course but we wanted to expand our value chain by getting into central fund administration and the regulated environment. In parallel, we created an AIFM to offer the full range of alternative investments: AIFM, central administration, and corporate services to the underlying assets. Integration was successful but, as we all know, M&A always brings challenges! We took all required time to transfer and integrate staff, data and systems. Considering that we were buying from an institution, the biggest challenge was actually to define and share a common culture, for which we took the best of the two worlds: ZEDRA’s group presence and entrepreneurial spirit on the one hand and the BFCS’s bold procedures and granularity when it comes to regulation and client relationship on the other. This acquisition allowed us to double the size of our team and turnover but more importantly, the AIF will be the driver of our growth in the years to come. It also fits in the overall group strategy to expand our presence in the fund industry around the world. Luxembourg is at the heart of this strategy.
What risks and opportunities do you identify for Luxembourg in general and for your company in particular?
We see more advantages than risks in Luxembourg. The country has gained increasing maturity and awareness and the ability to address any risk in the market. Governance, legal framework, professionalism: everything reaches the highest standards. Prospects and clients value the security and transparency that we can deliver, thanks to regulation and the robust local framework in which we operate. We can deliver certainty: our clients know the rules from the start and in case of doubt, they can be guided by the regulator and the authorities. On the risk side, I feel we should ensure that Luxembourg continues to be agile and competitive as other jurisdictions will come up with new propositions. Another risk lies in human resources. Sometimes it feels harder to find the right talents than it does to find clients. But the demand is so strong that such problems are a luxury!
“Luxembourg is at the heart of our global strategy”
How do you attract clients and employees?
We are privileged to have staff that includes at least ten nationalities and we pride ourselves in entertaining this cultural diversity, particularly for our clients. For example, a South American client can have direct contact with someone who knows the language, culture, expectations, and concerns. We also have a very open mindset. That works well to solve issues and deliver client satisfaction. On top of it, our clients choose us for our culture which is reflected in our tagline, “Do More. Achieve More.” In our times, this is a very strong demand! We focus on building and nurturing long-term relationships, and, for us, sustainability is not just about the environment and energy, it is also about sustainably servicing clients: Living it through our communication, availability, responsiveness, and solution-driven spirit. This approach serves us well, as ultimately, the best way to grow a business in our industry is by word of mouth”