Timothé Fuchs (Fuchs & Associés Group): 20 years of change management
On the eve of its 20th anniversary, Fuchs & Associés has opened an additional 400-square-metres meeting space where its experts welcome their clients. Interview with Timothé Fuchs, Partner at Fuchs & Associés Group.
How would you analyse the current evolution of asset management?
The markets are evolving enormously, to such an extent that it is becoming difficult to define trends. First of all, negative rates are having a considerable impact on management strategies. For example, we are currently moving towards the advent of alternative investments at a global level, which makes the markets less liquid, contrary to what I can often hear. In addition, we have credit disintermediation, political and economic conflicts and a disinterest in financial markets in favour of debt, real estate and impact investment. Investors want to invest their money, among other things, in the real economy rather than in shares of tech companies, the value of which seems to be out of touch with reality. They want to make an impact, give meaning to their investment and, in a way, pass something on to the next generations. Of course, there’s the “Greta effect” in terms of the environment: faced with a climate which can be anxiety-inducing and the fear of various sanctions, investors are afraid to invest, but they underestimate the danger of inaction. However, we must not forget that regulation has enormous benefits for Luxembourg and, of course, for our group. It gives rise to many new needs, which lead to new services and new businesses.
“Although things change very quickly, the fundamentals of our business remain the same.”
How is Fuchs & Associés Group adapting to this transformation?
After 20 years in business, we are continuing to grow. We have just opened a 400-square-metre office extension in Luxembourg. This development reflects a steady increase in our workforce: in 2019 we welcomed about 15 new employees. Among them are wealth and asset managers, who joined Fuchs et Associés in Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland to focus on their core business – client relations and portfolio allocation – while we take care of the operational, regulatory and administrative sides. We have also welcomed legal, compliance, risk and communication specialists, each time with the objective of ensuring that our skills and our organisation are at the forefront of the market. We are observing a similar trend in asset management. More generally, Fuchs & Associés has been able to adapt its organisation focusing on three key areas – management company, wealth management, family office – which ensures that the client is at the heart of the company’s strategy, whatever happens. Tailor-made services make up 80% of our client response: at a time when profound transformations are taking place, we believe that the very essence of our business involves listening and providing solutions to our clients' issues. The remaining 20% is the human expertise we offer to create permanent win-wins. You will note that I don’t mention digitisation, despite our major investments in this area: we see technology as a means, rather than as an end. This differentiates us within the market: we don’t automate anything; the focus is always on human relationships.
What opportunities and threats do you identify?
Whoever they are, clients want to be listened to; when working with us, they find that we are more attentive than anyone else: this is the biggest opportunity for our group. Markets are becoming increasingly complex, but our group’s prospects are good. We are delighted to show how our team is creating value in comparison to robots. As for the threats, I would say that we are not far from the next economic crisis. I am very much in favour of regulation but over-regulation could lead to disaster. Similarly, digitisation which occurs at an overly rapid speed, may also create risks. Saying that, let's not forget that we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2020! We have already been through several crises - in 2001, 2008 and 2011 - and this experience will enable us to face the next market correction as calmly as possible. Although things change very quickly, the fundamentals of our business remain the same! We are simply reinventing ourselves around a core business to focus on responding to our clients in the best possible way.