Thomas Steiger VP Bank (Luxembourg) SA: Moving into a new dimension
CEO Thomas Steiger says VP Bank’s move to bigger premises on the Kirchberg represents a step toward the bank’s long-term growth ambitions as it tackles the wide-ranging challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
What prompted your decision to move to new offices?Up to now our two Luxembourg entities, VP Bank and VP Bank Fund Solutions, operated in separate buildings, and this represented an opportunity to bring them together under the same roof. Our existing premises were becoming a bit tight – we now have more open space and the capacity to accommodate further growth, which is vital given that we will be onboarding the employees of our latest acquisition Catella and the assumption of the fund management and custodian function for Luxembourg-based Carnegie investment funds. The building’s modern infrastructure offers an attractive work environment to our employees, including catering and fitness facilities, and certainly increases our appeal as an employer. Kirchberg is a sought-after location and facilitates increased interaction with financial intermediaries based in the area, in addition to its proximity to the airport and access to the tram system. We have received very good feedback from employees. It is understandable that people don’t always welcome change, but our staff have quickly warmed to the new experience, the view and the extra space. Ultimately this will also benefit clients through easier parking and access. One of our longest-standing employees, who joined the team almost 30 years ago as our sixth recruit, initially was uncomfortable about the move but has been won over very rapidly.
«We strongly believe in a hybrid model combining digitalisation and technical support with personal input and contact from client advisors»
What challenges and opportunities do you face in the medium term?
We expect the market environment to remain challenging for financial services providers. The regulatory framework will continue to be an issue in the future as well, contributing to higher costs and lower margins. The low interest rate environment in Europe does not help, and we do not expect the situation to change very soon. We are seeing an ongoing evolution in the preferences of customers, who are seeking a wider range of digital options. We certainly see an opportunity in digitalisation and this year we have revamped our e-banking service. We are also constantly seeking to improve user-friendliness and develop new tools to meet clients’ need for self-servicing features that enable them to make decisions outside standard working hours. We strongly believe in a hybrid model combining digitalisation and technical support with personal input and contact from client advisors. Today’s market is unstable, with many banks facing consolidation in the marketplace and internal reorganisation that lead to frequent changes in client relationship management. We are among those institutions that enjoy greater stability than most, enabling us to establish more durable relationships with our clients.
How is VP Bank adapting to the changes in the market?
Our Kirchberg move has enabled us to provide an improved client zone with modern presentation facilities. Our choice is to be proactive in involving the client in the advisory process. We have introduced tablets to help advisors interact with their clients, and in combination with our simulation tools, this enables us to offer real-time portfolio simulation based on the client’s particular circumstances. This goes beyond simple proposals and greatly enhances the client experience. We are also focusing on new target markets. Along with Luxembourg, the Scandinavian countries are becoming more attractive, but it requires onboarding more people as part of a long-term expansion strategy. We have to develop our brand, although we are clearly more visible now than a few years ago, and we can see the results. We are in discussions today with client portfolios managers and client advisors that we would not have been able to three years ago. We are now seen as a serious competitor with good prospects, and our new building is a forward-looking statement that also enhances VP Bank Luxembourg’s visibility.