With nearly a half century’s experience delivering bespoke wealth management, financial advisory and investment services to both private and institutional clients, REYL Group remains at the vanguard of several business lines.
Here, Xavier Ledru, Head of Corporate Advisory & Structuring at the Geneva-based banking group, tells us about its approach to client relationships, and what’s next for REYL following the long-term strategic partnership entered into with Fideuram – Intesa Sanpaolo, one of the largest European banking groups, in 2020.
When did REYL Group launch, and how did the company come about?
REYL Group was launched in 1973. Originally, it was a pure wealth management business, and it grew as such, under the leadership of Dominique Reyl, until 2002. This is the date when François Reyl, our current CEO, joined and started to diversify the businesses of the bank. He set about launching REYL Group’s other business lines and expanded geographically.
First, the business diversified into Asset Management, which grew to CHF 5bn under management until it was sold in 2018, with the intention to create a leader in the field of impact investing, Asteria Investment management. Then, into Entrepreneur & Family Office Services, Corporate Advisory and finally Asset Services. In terms of expanding geographically, REYL has opened offices in Singapore, Luxembourg, London, Dubai, Lugano, Zurich (alongside Geneva) in Switzerland and, more recently, Malta. The goal was to set the foundations of a diversified group that would propose different sets of services to our clients, sustain one another and grow together.
Who are your key customers?
Our services have evolved around one key type of client – the entrepreneur. Servicing entrepreneurs, their businesses and families is what REYL Group is mostly about.
Which are your key services?
The corporate advisory services we provide include mergers and acquisitions (M&A), debt advisory, capital markets, restructuring and private equity. We bring this broad range of services on an international basis to clients active in various sectors including renewables, TMT, premium brands, industrials, healthcare, as well as real estate and hospitality. The transactions we do generally involve companies valued at EUR 100 to 300m, with deal values of up to several billions for M&A and starting at EUR 20-30m for debt or equity raises.
To further illustrate our innovative mindset, we have also set up one of the leading European platforms dedicated to art lending, called Griffin Art Partners, in a joint venture with Luxembourg art advisory firm Link Management.
This range of services is something that a larger investment bank would typically offer, except that we do act in a much more integrated way with our clients and the other business lines of the bank.
What makes your services stand out from others in the market? What are your USPs?
At REYL Group, we have what I like to call a powerhouse: a boutique approach, where our most senior executives – most of whom have experience working in larger institutions – are the ones sitting face-to-face with clients in meetings. Not only will that apply to a managing director, who may be the individual working day-to-day with a client on a particular corporate finance transaction, but also to our CEO François Reyl who is a former investment banker himself and likes to be on deck whenever necessary.
Our ingenuity and empathy also mean a lot to our clients. These qualities generate a sense of proximity and loyalty. Our clients know that REYL Group isn’t going anywhere, and that we’ll stay with them for whatever comes around, through both good and difficult times. Our DNA is to build long-term relationships. Needless to say, confidentiality is another important reason why our clients come to us, and we can guarantee that probably better than a larger institution.
This way of doing business as well as our 360° approach set us apart from other banks. Because clients use several of our services, like wealth management and corporate finance, for example, we tend to privilege the long-term view. If it doesn’t make sense for a particular client to pursue a corporate finance transaction, for example – we’ll tell them. This is because we also want to help preserve that client’s personal wealth, or other dimensions of their estate, and this compares us favourably to our peers.
How do you build relationships with clients?
We like to work with clients we know we can get along well with; companies with a similar culture to ours. We’re increasingly able to choose our clients because our reputation is growing stronger, which is a great source of pride. Many of our clients share the same vision of wanting to maintain a long-term trust partnership.
Although our business has been growing a lot, we’re still a modest size. This allows us to focus and proritise, as well as choose our transactions carefully. For us, this is the best situation to be in, it means we do business only with people who have the same mindset as us. As a professional, I cherish this.
REYL Group has recently signed a strategic partnership with Fideuram – Intesa Sanpaolo, and in our opinion, it will give our clients the best of both worlds. On the one hand, we can continue with this nimble, integrated, agile and flexible boutique-type approach that REYL Group is known for. But they can also benefit from those features that only a large banking institution like Fideuram – Intesa Sanpaolo can provide.
In my view, these two approaches are not contradictory. You can work on large transactions (like the recent EUR 4.5bn sale of a European renewables business) while maintaining and applying your own culture. So, we will keep our responsive and entrepreneurial approach, where we stay close to our clients.
What does a successful client partnership look like?
Any partnership can only be successful when you trust your counterpart, and the other way around. Wealthy entrepreneurs often get referred to us. If we can help an entrepreneur solve a complex issue in their company, they’re more likely to trust us with other parts of their estate. It can involve managing their personal wealth, that of their family or business associate, for example. So, for us, building successful relationships means bringing value to clients in one business line, earning their trust, and getting the opportunity to show that we can bring value to them another way. In a 360° approach.