Benoît Theunissen: In private banking, you have a partnership with the Franco-German banking group Oddo BHF. How did this partnership come about?
Romain Wehles: When we redefined our strategy within the bank, we had some factors that we wanted to develop further, such as digitalisation, ESG factors, our human resources, but above all the client relationship. Putting the customer at the centre of our concerns is something that everyone talks about, but it has to be implemented. The important thing is to offer services to customers as they need them and not to suit the bank. This is a paradigm shift that we want to be more involved in.
We offer our own products within the private bank. We have invested heavily in this area, especially with discretionary management offerings. At the same time, we want to open up. With open banking, we offer our clients alternatives.
With Oddo BHF, we share the same vision of the client. We are also two firms with a tradition. Oddo BHF has been around for over 170 years, and we for 165 years.
What is important to consider in such a partnership?
When it comes to private banking, our client base is made up of an international part and a Luxembourg part. So I think that today a partnership with a Franco-German bank is an ideal combination to offer our clients a new investment solution. But this is not enough. You need a partnership that is also credible. And a partnership is only credible if the partners share the same values. With Oddo BHF, we share the same vision of the client. We are also two firms with a tradition. Oddo BHF has been around for over 170 years, and we for 165 years. We are also two independent players.
At Spuerkeess, we do not belong to a large group, and Oddo BHF is the largest independent bank in the Franco-German region to be owned by a family business. Finally, and most importantly, we share the strategic investment vision, which is focused on the long-term. This remains very important to us in view of our responsibility to our clients.
And from a product point of view, how does this play out?
What distinguishes our offering on the market is discretionary management based on the expertise of Oddo BHF. They make direct investments in assets they know well and which are meticulously selected to take account of market effects. For our part, we invest mainly in funds.
Such an offer is quite innovative in the Luxembourg market. So we combine these two elements. On the one hand, the Oddo BHF Group’s expertise in asset management and, on the other, the stability and reliability of Spuerkeess. For clients, it is interesting to know that the securities deposits are at Spuerkeess and that the management is independent, delegated to the Oddo BHF Group.
What does this mean in terms of figures?
The statistics show our aim to further develop private banking. Over the last two years, we have seen a growth of more than 52% in our assets under management. More than 52%. This is a very impressive development. Last year alone, this growth was 34%. As part of this growth, the volume of assets that we manage for our clients with Oddo BHF grew by over 100% last year. This shows that our services are well accepted by our clients as a complementary and diversifying element of our existing offer.
Theoretically, we could do it ourselves, but our strategy is based on partnering, giving ourselves visibility with a partner of excellent quality and expertise.
What is the advantage for Spuerkeess and its clients of using an external group rather than developing expertise internally?
It’s a question of scale. Can we do everything or not? We want to do ‘partnering’. We are looking for partners to go one step further. We have the expertise, as well as our own management company, Spuerkeess Asset Management, but our strategy here is rather to have a management that invests via funds. The complementarity with the Oddo BHF group is management via direct lines, i.e., individual assets that are chosen by Oddo BHF managers in this case. This is a real differentiation in terms of the offer. Theoretically, we could do it ourselves, but our strategy is based on partnering, giving ourselves visibility with a partner of excellent quality and expertise outside Luxembourg, in this case in France and Germany. This is an ideal combination.
Spuerkeess has taken the same approach to operational leasing through a partnership with Leaseplan. In this way we want to go beyond the standard, classic bank process and offer customers a development with external partners. I think it is interesting for the customer to have some diversification of the offer that a bank provides. Thanks to open banking, a customer can, while remaining within our sphere of action, benefit from access to other specialised partners.
Could you also imagine a partnership in the opposite direction, for example, giving access to your services to clients based in Germany?
We are looking into this. We are looking at the greater region, but we have to be careful with the regulations on what we can do, on the distribution level. If we were to do that, we would always fall into specific regulations. Offering our services on the other side of the border is not something we can do today. With the European directives being transposed into national laws, we have to be very careful about what we are allowed to do and whether we fall under the regulations of the country concerned. This is not easy. So when we work with cross-border clients, we do so from Luxembourg.
Originally published in French by Paperjam and translated for Delano