The NextGen Finance podcast series is an initiative of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (Alfi) in which two experts from the finance sector, one experienced professional, another at the early stages of their career, discuss a particular theme. The latest episode features a dialogue between two lawyers on the legal landscape with regards to the fund industry.

The Luxembourg legal scene, especially for those firms servicing the finance industry, was very local when Gast Juncker, now a partner at Elvinger Hoss, first started doing funds and company management work in the mid-1990s. “There was much less diversity. It was very Luxembourgish, very Belgian, very French,” he says. Gast acknowledges that a lot of outside helped to create the funds centre as it looks today. “There was of course a lot of good work from some politicians to create the environment, some locals which worked towards that, but also a lot of inflow from people which basically gave us the knowledge we needed to develop the centre.”

It is this diversity, and with it the need to be agile, that Jil Lanners, senior associate at Elvinger Hoss, says marks her current work. “We have different partners, different associates with different backgrounds, different ways of doing things, different clients from all over the world,” she explains. Jil didn’t realise it at the time, but she thinks the year she spent doing an LLM at the New York University School of Law prepared her very well for the environment in which she now works. “I was in a class with 300 people from all around the world…who have very different ways of approaching things, approaching the law, but also approaching life in general.”

Gast also spent a year abroad, doing an LLM at the University of London, after completing his studies in Paris. “I wanted to have some international exposure,” he explains. He was later able to travel as part of the effort to convince clients to set up fund structures in Luxembourg. After all, not all the players on the Luxembourg market now were in the grand duchy back in the mid-1990s. “So…we had to bring them here. That was very rewarding…because it was competitive. There was the legal side, but also the more practical human contact side, which was very interesting.”

I think we should at all costs try to keep the approach of being able to innovate, because others will otherwise take that lead

Gast JunckerPartnerElvinger Hoss

Indeed, as Gast explains in the podcast, Luxembourg had a distinct first mover advantage by being the first financial centre to recognise the potential of the initial UCITS directive, which it adopted in 1988 just three years after it was launched. Later, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), was a catalyst in developing a new dynamic in the Luxembourg fund centre by creating much more interest in alternative funds.

Preparatory work

Updating the funds and company law over time to make it fit and proper, often in cooperation with the regulator to make sure that what the industry wants is going to be accepted before it becomes law, is also a crucial feature of the legal industry in Luxembourg according to Gast. “So, there's a lot of preparatory work going on there. This is something that is constantly ongoing, and where I think lawyers in Luxembourg have some merit.”

But amidst all this work and increasing demands for speed that has come with new technology, the human aspect should not be forgotten. Jil says that when talking with colleagues of her own age, managing parenthood while pursuing a career in the finance industry is often in the spotlight. “Work-life balance, and how to achieve that while still serving the clients, for them to be satisfied. That’s a big topic.” But they are also concerned with the accelerated development of digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence, and the impact that may have over the next 10 or 20 years. “That’s a subject, also. How can we adapt to make sure we still have something to provide which a machine cannot.”

On the other hand, Jil says that technology and AI could be used to streamline some aspects of legal work, helping with research for example, to allow lawyers to be more efficient and to alleviate the workload on people who are doing repetitive tasks.

If we want the legal landscape to thrive, we need to be able to attract talent

Jil LannersSenior AssociateElvinger Hoss

Gast, meanwhile, wants the industry and the legislators and regulators to continue to show the same sort of positive and flexible attitude that has served it so well in the past. “I think we should at all costs try to keep the approach of being able to innovate, because others will otherwise take that lead.” And he also warns against what he describes as disrespect for the hierarchy of norms. “I think one of the main dangers for the European legislative process is making things over complicated.”

There is also acknowledgement that Luxembourg is facing a human resources challenge, even for lawyers. “If we want the legal landscape to thrive, we need to be able to attract and retain talent,” says Jil. “And that goes much further than just the finance industry, that goes to mobility that goes to housing that goes to having events that allow people that come from abroad to not to be alone, to meet peers.”

Listen to the full episode of The NextGen Finance podcast at the .