Indosuez Wealth Management, Crédit Agricole’s wealth management brand, has seen three high-ranking executives step into new roles in the past year: Olivier Carcy, CEO of Indosuez Wealth Management in Europe and senior country officer for the Crédit Agricole group in Luxembourg, took on his new position in December 2022; Vincent Manuel, deputy CEO in charge of development, started his new role in January 2023; and Andras Takacs, deputy CEO in charge of operations, took on his new responsibilities in May of this year.
But the three of them have known each other for quite a while, Carcy points out during our interview, given that they’ve all worked for Crédit Agricole for many years. Manuel joined the Crédit Agricole Group 15 years ago, Takacs has worked for the group for over 20 years and Carcy started at Crédit Agricole more than 25 years ago. “So we have to reach--all together--100 years!” Carcy says with a laugh.
This familiarity between the CEO and the two deputy CEOs is a major strength as they “transform and accelerate the growth of Indosuez in Luxembourg,” argues Carcy. “It’s always easier when you know people, and you’re used to working together.” For Carcy, “strong loyalty” is not only an important part of Crédit Agricole’s culture, but also “a key element of [its] global strategy to run businesses.”
Luxembourg as a “key market”
The Crédit Agricole Group is composed of several “brands,” explains Carcy: it carries out asset management through the Amundi brand, for example, fund administration through Caceis, and fund distribution through the Fund Channel platform. It also has two different companies of the “Crédit Agricole insurance universe,” as Carcy describes it, here in Luxembourg: Camca (Caisse d’assurances mutuelles du Crédit Agricole) and Cali (Crédit Agricole Life Insurance).
Luxembourg is an important place for Crédit Agricole
Although the group’s head offices are located in Paris, “Luxembourg is an important place for Crédit Agricole,” says Carcy. The group had 1,600 employees in the grand duchy before the The group had 1,600 employees in the grand duchy before the acquisition of the European asset servicing activities of RBC Investor Services by Caceis--finalised in July 2023--and before the Degroof acquisition, which was announced in August, but has not yet closed. Carcy expects that they’ll soon have more than 2,000 employees.
Luxembourg is a “very key market for the Crédit Agricole Group, and it’s quite a long-standing market,” he adds. “The bank here was incorporated in 1920. So we are really a part of the ecosystem of Luxembourg. We’re sitting on the board of the ABBL [the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association], we’re sitting on the board of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.”
Degroof acquisition: a “fantastic opportunity”
Indosuez’s recent acquisition of a majority stake in Degroof Petercam, of course, comes up during our discussion. What does this mean for Indosuez’s business?
“We believe that it’s a fantastic opportunity,” answers Carcy. “On one side, we will be able to capitalise on [Degroof’s] asset management activities, on their investment banking activities.”
“On the other side, we will bring to the table the size of the Crédit Agricole Group, which is a unique opportunity also for Degroof clients to benefit from the size of the group, the balance sheet of the group and the resources of the group to accelerate also their own commercial development,” he adds. “It’s also the opportunity to build up a new, larger domestic market.”
Becoming a pan-European player
“With this project, we become a truly pan-European, continental player, we become a leading player in Belgium, we build huge complementarities” in areas such as asset management and ESG, continues Manuel, deputy CEO for development. “For the clients of Degroof, it also means being able to be serviced in a wider number of geographies where we have a strong position,” he adds, citing locations including Asia, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
We intend to continue to grow organically also in several European markets
“We intend to continue to grow organically also in several European markets, so there are strong mutual benefits to this partnership,” says Manuel. “We see that there is a very strong culture match between the DNA of our two firms,” which, he argues, is “paramount” for success. The Degroof acquisition can therefore be seen as a “development project” that combines the “synergies” of the two groups.
“Improving the human capital”
Carcy and Manuel have clearly highlighted the importance of the Degroof acquisition in Indosuez’s growth strategy. What are some of the company’s other plans to continue to build up their business and maintain competitiveness?
We are also working on the efficiency of our processes and the industrialisation of our processes
Besides Degroof, “we have many other projects that are in process now,” explains Takacs, deputy CEO for operations. Digitalisation, for instance, is very important. “We are also working on the efficiency of our processes and the industrialisation of our processes,” he adds, referring to Indosuez’s use of Azqore, a common IT and back-office platform, “as well as improving the human capital in Indosuez. That means we try to improve the environment of our staff.”
To do so, Indosuez has set up satellite offices at the Belgian and French borders--in Windhof and Belval. “This is a real success, because besides the home office, our colleagues have the possibility to work from these sites, and they’re able to reduce their transport time,” says Takacs. The company also plans to modernise its main building on the Glacis Square, creating new spaces for both client reception and staff.
On the “human capital pillar,” Carcy adds that it’s not just a matter of remunerating staff, but also giving them responsibility, ensuring that they’re “fully empowered” and feel like they’re “part of a global strategy.” For this, “communication is key and creating the right atmosphere is fundamental.”
“A hub of activity” and a “centre of excellence” in Luxembourg
Indosuez is also working on centralising common activities amongst the Indosuez entities in a single hub. “For example, the execution desk is already centralised here in Luxembourg,” says Takacs. “Now we’re working on another aspect, which is client data management. This one, we will also centralise here in Luxembourg. So, Luxembourg will become a real hub of activity for the Indosuez group.”
We believe that we should capitalise in Luxembourg to be, really, a centre of excellence to serve the full Indosuez group
“This is a very important aspect for us,” emphasises Carcy. “We want Luxembourg as a real hub. We know that there is a long-standing experience, expertise here in wealth management. Of course we have offices across Europe, but we believe that we should capitalise in Luxembourg to be, really, a centre of excellence to serve the full Indosuez group.”
“Of course, it’s a challenge,” Carcy adds, mentioning issues such as turnover or maintaining attractivity. “But we believe that having this kind of centre of excellence, [this] central hub, will also bring value to employees and to candidates. They [can] participate in the transformation of the group itself from Luxembourg.”
Contributing to the Luxembourg community
“When we speak about Luxembourg, it’s important to highlight that for the past decade, we’ve been focusing a lot on growing our European branches,” adds Manuel, who points to Belgian, Italian and Spanish developments in the past several years.
We need to make more efforts to invest in the Luxembourg market
“Our perception as newcomers here is that we need to make more efforts to invest in the Luxembourg market: by growing our teams, by being more visible in markets, by investing as well in the community,” explains Manuel. That means being part of both the financial industry, but also the Luxembourg community.
Carcy notes that Indosuez has “many initiatives” to “contribute positively to the territory.” This could be contributions to associations, he offers as an example, “but more than that, it’s really to bring our employees with us in that kind of project.”
Growth across geographies, types of clients and time
“We are in a competitive market, and clients and competitors don’t wait for us,” says Manuel. In terms of growth, he points to some ways that Indosuez can grow. Geographic growth--the development of southern European markets, for instance--is one of them.
The client should be the first thing that we have to focus on
There’s also growth by expanding the type of clients the bank serves. Indosuez’s “core clients” are wealthy individuals, entrepreneurs and families. “But we also want to strengthen our capacity to bring value to professional clients: institutionals, third party external asset managers, multi-family offices, for which we think the Indosuez platforms have great value to bring through custody services and execution,” says Manuel.
The third perspective to look at growth is through time, he adds. “We want to think about the next generation and how does that affect the way we need to bring our services to clients.”
Focusing on the client to remain competitive
There are five points that the executive committee discuses on a near daily basis, says Manuel: how to become a more client-centric bank; simplifying processes; measuring and improving client experience and satisfaction; team empowerment; and bringing experts and tailor-made solutions to clients.
The world is changing, the world is digitalising
Carcy elaborates further. “We build our strategic plan around that--the client. The client should be the first thing that we have to focus on. And we strongly believe this is the only way to maintain the long-term competitivity.”
“The world is changing, the world is digitalising,” Takacs replies, when asked about digitalisation plans. “We have an important project about client lifecycle management, we have set up a new tool to do that. For this, we use a fintech in the UK--Wealth Dynamics.”
Indosuez acquired 70% of Wealth Dynamics, a firm that provides client lifecycle management solutions for private banks, wealth management and asset management firms, in January 2023. “We have to deploy this tool in all our entities, in our branches,” he continues. “It took time, that is true, but it’s a real success.”
Commitment to sustainable finance
Manuel concludes with a few words on a topic that it seems like everybody is talking about: ESG and sustainable finance. “There are some areas where we were pioneers, and some on which we need to catch up,” he says. “We were pioneers in delivering--since a decade ago--ESG ratings of portfolios in Switzerland, leveraging the Amundi capabilities in the ratings of companies, bonds and equities.”
“Compared to some other wealth managers or asset managers, I think that the transformation of our fund ranges to ESG has been relatively more recent, but has accelerated a lot since, I would say, 2020,” Manuel adds. “We have launched successfully some mandates dedicated to those thematics. And I think that we need to continue those efforts.”
Sustainability and the energy transition are important, of course, but it needs to be done properly, says Carcy. “We see that as an opportunity, not only as a way to comply with regulation,” he adds. “[Our] company, but also our clients--with their own money and savings--could play a significant role within that transformation.” Education of clients and employees will be essential.
Quality of bank “reassuring” for clients in uncertainty
Finally, in times of high inflation and economic uncertainty, Manuel thinks that “the banking component of wealth management takes a greater importance. In the past decade, it was all about providing advice and accompanying clients in financial markets, diversifying and trying to find an extra way to create performance in a negative rate environment.”
In comparison, “today, I think the capacity to provide financing to clients, where financing and liquidity could become a more scarce resource, is key,” says Manuel. “The quality of the bank signature--and the rating--is also very reassuring for domestic and international clients, especially in the context that we’ve experienced in 2023.”
This article was published for the Delano Finance newsletter, the weekly source for financial news in Luxembourg. Subscribe using this link.
Updated Wednesday 27 September at 3pm to clarify that the Degroof Petercam transaction has not yet been completed.
Updated Thursday 28 September at 16:45 with clarifications around the acquisition of RBC Investor Services.