Robert Brimeyer (Alter Domus): extracting value from complexity
“Our vertical integration allows us to serve all our clients’ structures from end to end” says Robert Brimeyer, the new Luxembourg Country Executive for Alter Domus. Interview.
What goals are you setting for yourself in your new position?
My approach is: empower employees to excel. When they are successful, I’m successful. I realize that this makes me almost redundant, but that’s my management style! In my life, I’ve had only two employers in 23 years, but they’ve both allowed me to evolve through functions and geographies and I was always working for leaders who supported me to deliver at my best. As Country Executive for Luxembourg, I’ve set three main objectives for myself and my team here. Firstly, I want to be a great employer. Talent in Luxembourg is scarce and expensive, so we need to attract great, highly motivated people who are willing to build a good career path with us. Secondly, I want us to be recognized as a strong partner for our clients through our very specific business model. We provide vertical integration, or a one-stop-shop, if you like. This allows us to serve all our clients’ structures and the whole chain from end to end - investors, investment vehicles and the additional aspects needed to structure the investments. Managing the whole chain in an integrated manner creates value. This results in an operating model where our experts are not specialized by function – legal, compliance, etc. - but rather by our clients' specializations, such as debt, real estate and so on. To service these asset classes, we need people to understand all aspects of the client’s business. Without that, we cannot deliver quality. Our operating model allows us to align our processes to the specific way that the client is organized. That is how we create long-term relationships and become an extension of our clients’ businesses. Thirdly, I want to maximize our operational efficiency. Many of our competitors outsource parts of the value chain to low-cost jurisdictions, but this is incompatible with our vertical integration approach. Instead we look to innovation, automation and training to boost our team’s efficiency. Electronic signatures or digital board solutions, for example, have been a blessing during the coronavirus crisis.
“It is the integrated manner of managing the whole chain that creates the value."
How are your clients’ needs evolving?
The main challenges facing our clients at the moment center on complexity – on regulation and on structuring investments. Our benchmark client, for example, is a large international investment firm, which raises funds in many places around the world and invests them in many different jurisdictions with many different regulatory requirements. Our ambition is to relieve them of this burden so that they can focus on their core business, which is raising funds and making the right investments. A consequence of regulatory complexity is that structuring investments is becoming increasingly difficult. Setting up an alternative fund requires a collection of vehicles in many jurisdictions, for example, so Alter Domus aims to provide a seamless solution to managing the complexity of such strings of structures, and is uniquely placed to do so.
How are you dealing with the current Coronavirus situation?
I took over as Country Executive one week before the pandemic really took hold. My first decisions were aimed at how to best protect our employees while maintaining the level of excellence that our clients expect and deserve. Globally, 100% of our employees have quickly been able to work from home, which offers them maximum protection. I am very proud that this was achieved successfully. Here in Luxembourg, we dispatched 150 additional laptops, beefed up our remote connection systems and went one step further by enhancing the home office working environment with additional screens, headsets and digital tools sent to our colleagues’ homes. We pushed hard to deploy electronic signatures and digital board tools to clients and other counterparties, which resulted in the same quality of service for our clients - but from home. We are assessing the impact of this crisis on our clients, our growth rate and our liquidities on a day-to-day basis, and we make sure that we are prepared for what will come next. To do that, we need to be flexible and constantly reassess our setup. This is how we will strive in this very new environment. When I took over, I thought I would be in charge of 850 people in one office. A week later, it was one team spread over 850 home offices! The way back to a common office could take several months but we are in no hurry. In today’s world, you need to be ready for anything.