Ivo Hemelraad (ZEDRA): Heroes Work at ZEDRA
Ivo Hemelraad, CEO of ZEDRA, says his entrepreneurial-driven career has taken him from traditional trust and corporate services in the 90s to private banking in the 00s, before rejoining the ever-evolving world of private wealth, corporate and fund services and adding the expanding area of pension services to the mix. On his recent visit to the House of Startups in Luxembourg (HoST), he talks about ZEDRA’s ongoing investment in technology and the firm’s culture that encourages its people to see themselves as heroes.
Can you tell us your story in a few words?
I grew up near Utrecht in the Netherlands where I played a lot of field hockey and reached the highest division. This drive for performance turned into a strong sense of entrepreneurship when I joined leading Dutch private bank, MeesPierson, in the early 90s. My first big professional challenge was relocating to Curaçao to restructure the bank’s largest office. It was there that I met ZEDRA's Executive Chairman and together we closed one of the first major deals in the trust industry: the acquisition of Intertrust. I left the company to take up a new challenge in Singapore where I headed up the company’s operations in mainland China, including the funds administration business. I rejoined Bart in 2009 at Vistra before becoming part of ZEDRA’s founding team in 2016 when Barclays Bank offshore trust business was acquired. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that truly defines ZEDRA’s culture. Heroes work here, means take responsibility and achieve remarkable things together. Today, we have nearly 900 people across 26 offices worldwide and this is just the beginning!
“We actively embrace entrepreneurship and encourage our people to see beyond their specific role.”
What are the main growth drivers at ZEDRA?
Our core businesses are still active wealth, corporate, and fund services. We are not just the partners of choice for entrepreneurs, wealthy families and fund managers, but also for multinationals including FTSE 100, FTSE 250, and AIM-listed companies. What’s more, ZEDRA entered the realm of UK pensions almost two years ago and now provides professional trustee and governance services to UK pension schemes. This additional offering has considerably broadened and strengthened our Guernsey 20-year presence in the employee incentive and pension services space. With four acquisitions in this space under our belts since 2021, we are seeing significant growth. UK regulation has certainly become more complex over recent years, so it’s only normal that the number of pension schemes requiring additional support continues to grow. We recognized this some time ago and planned our expansion to ensure we were well-equipped to support schemes in meeting these challenges. Providing administrative, governance and trustee services in complex regulatory environments is what we’ve been doing all day, every day for decades, so it really is a great opportunity for ZEDRA.
“We invest in technology to free up time that our people can use to give our clients the peace of mind they expect when working with ZEDRA.”
What are the keys to success in your industry?
The industry needs to be alert and ready to deal with rapidly evolving regulatory, geopolitical, social, and criminal threats. We invest heavily in digital technologies. ZEDRA has developed its own robots (ZBOTs) using Robotic Process Automation. Our ZBOTs automate repetitive administrative tasks freeing up employee time to focus on activities that add value for clients. They also reduce manual work and the risk of human error. This means we can give our clients the time, guidance and peace of mind they need to deal with their core businesses. The most fundamental key to success is retaining and attracting the best talent by cultivating and offering an inspiring, flexible working environment that promotes work-life balance. Employees seek greater focus and transparency when it comes to ESG commitments, so we have taken this on board and prioritise getting the right framework in place. It will come as no surprise that we actively embrace entrepreneurship. We encourage our people to see beyond their specific roles and to get involved in other activities that drive and inspire them. We want our employees to achieve much more than they could in other companies and, in doing so, really enroot the feeling that “Heroes work here.”
Video Heroes work here