What added value do you think the SFF can bring to the financial services industry in Luxembourg and its professionals?
Spain occupies a privileged position in the EU, with a GDP that places the country in fourth position, and Luxembourg is the second financial centre in the world for investment funds, after New York, with more than 5 trillion USD in assets under management. In recent years we have seen international Asset Managers refocus on Spain as a destination country for their investments. At the same time, we have noticed that Spanish Asset Managers, who have a high reputation in the local market, have become interested in Luxembourg as a platform for access to international investors.
Personally, together with other professionals from Luxembourg, we have participated and organised workshops in which we have tried to facilitate these professional activities putting Spain and Luxembourg in common.
It is in this context that I am convinced that the SFF will play a very relevant role in allowing a more proactive and organised interaction between the different professionals, both Spanish and international.
As coordinator of the Asset Management area in the SFF, what actions would you like to implement in the short term?
Firstly, my aim is to ensure that the asset management professionals who are linked to Spain and Luxembourg can have a meeting platform to access both useful and relevant information and to facilitate networking between people with common interests.
As for specific actions, in the future we will have workshops, webcasts, papers on relevant topics as well as events in collaboration with professional associations such as ALFI or INREV.
Do you think it is necessary to improve the image projected by Luxembourg in Spain, mainly in professional environments?
I believe that in the Asset Management environment there is a good understanding between the different professionals involved regarding the role that Luxembourg plays.
Luxembourg has a great reputation, which is confirmed by the important position it holds in the international framework. In my opinion, it is important to differentiate, in order to be able to answer this question, between commercial activities, in particular those that have been carried out in the past, and asset management activities. If we manage to learn to differentiate the nature of these activities, I do not think it is necessary to talk about image improvement since Luxembourg has an unbeatable track record.
What advantages do you think Luxembourg offers in your sector compared to other EU countries?
The advantages offered by Luxembourg are well known in the asset management sector, to mention just a few:
- Political stability
- One-stop shop – Professionals in the sector who offer knowledge throughout the life cycle of an investment fund
- Languages – On average, in Luxembourg each person speaks 3 or 4 different languages
- Consistent and bold legal framework that offers solutions to a wide variety of problems, etc.
How has your sector in Luxembourg been affected by Covid-19? What trends do you think will shape the future?
I believe that our industry has been affected on two different fronts. On the one hand, the impact on the management of the funds and, on the other hand, the impact on the funds themselves.
In terms of management, we have moved in less than a week to operate in a totally remote and virtual environment. I believe that in this aspect the COVID has not been a change for ever but more an accelerator of a trend towards digital in which the industry has been immersed for years.
As for investment funds, and particularly alternative funds, the most relevant impact has been in terms of valuation, especially difficult in those funds that require periodic valuation for their management.
In my opinion, those asset managers who have been operating with high standards of corporate governance and professionalism will be the ones who will navigate COVID-19 satisfactorily and will even find opportunities, while the weaker ones may disappear from the market in the coming months.