In advance of the event, Delano spoke with Jervis Smith, country managing director of the fund and corporate services provider Vistra in Luxembourg. He moderates the “Asset servicing: operations focus” panel, Wednesday 1 December at 2:30pm.
Aaron Grunwald: What do you want the audience to get most from the session on asset servicing operations?
Jervis Smith: I would like the audience to appreciate the following themes that prevail:
The increasing demand for more information.
The demand for greater information flows was identified by 71% of respondents to Vistra’s recent survey as the most significant way in which investor behaviour is being changed or influenced by trends within the market--with regulatory reporting and portfolio performance data also high on the PE agenda.
ESG--is this the new normal and what new service lines does it offer?
The evolving role of technology and is the cost driving the slew of mergers of providers? Big is beautiful?
Regulation, transparency and ILPA principles--pressure on PERE firms to comply.
Trend towards outsourcing. An average of 72% of GPs currently outsource one or more functions to a third-party service provider, and 86% of those who aren’t doing so say they will outsource within the next five years.
Global expansion and new markets and investment strategies.
The funds sector has experienced a high level of teleworking since March 2020. From your point of view, what has worked well and what needs to be improved?
What went well:
- Seamless transition of work handled from vommand and control management to virtual management
- Better use of technology (Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc)
- Colleagues found a better work/life balance
- Less stress after the initial crisis
- Broader pool of talent became available because of flexibility and lack of commute
- Healthier environment--less traffic, flights, etc
- Less business travel--more efficient use of time
What did not go well:
- Managers were not used to virtual teams so steep learning curve--some firms closed their premises completely
- Tough environment for new joiners
- Raising expectations about future work environment which may be unrealistic for frontaliers because of income tax and social security issues
- Training was hurried and took a long time to settle
- Informal communication and social side of work
What issues are on your “worry radar” for 2022?
Issues to ‘worry about’:
The pace of growth of business has outstripped supply of labour.
Can CSSF cope with the volume?
Cost of regulation could make investment products too expensive for mass production.
Cybersecurity and fraud risks from the ‘new world’.
Aside from your own talk at the Alfi conference, which session are you most looking forward to hearing, and why?
Looking forward to the Peter Branner session [editor’s note: “Flash update: Raising capital for sustainable private assets”, Wednesday 1 December at 11:40am]. He is a true crusader on ESG and an intelligent pragmatist about the commercial advantages.