There are many fund representation services companies in the Swiss market, but what makes REYL’s offering unique?
Colin Vidal, Head of Business Development for Fund Representation Solutions at REYL talks about how the department has fared over the last two years
What is the FRS team’s role within the wider REYL Group?
Colin Vidal: Fund Representation Solutions (FRS) as a department was set up within REYL two years ago and the team is growing all the time, with a new team member joining shortly. We act as a Swiss representative and paying agent for funds that want to enter the Swiss market to raise assets. We become the point of contact for Swiss investors and FINMA regarding these funds in Switzerland, and a place of performance and jurisdiction is created at the Representative’s domicile.
So if, for example, the Swiss regulator or any investors need to confirm the bona fides of a fund, FRS can deliver the relevant information. And as we are regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), we are officially authorised, and are deemed to have the necessary experience and credentials to provide these services.
We obtain and verify all corporate information of the fund wanting to be offered in Switzerland.
REYL Group has five business divisions:
- Wealth Management
- Entrepreneur & Family Offices Services
- Corporate Finance (Investment banking)
- Asset Management
- Asset Services
What is the relationship with REYL’s Asset Services business?
Colin Vidal: FRS sits within Asset Services business line, which is located in Geneva, Malta and Dubai, where we can act as a custodian and depository. We work closely with all of REYL’s divisions, as the Group takes a 360-degree approach to their business and to the clients. The beauty of being a part of REYL, and also part of the larger group Intesa Sanpaolo, is that this “commodity” service (FRS), suddenly has a much more valuable proposition by enabling a broader range of clients to being able to call on the specialist function that FRS can provide.
We can help funds navigate throughout the larger REYL Intesa Sanpaolo group network. Some funds want to gain access to the group’s private wealth management teams, while other funds will speak to their corporate advisor and start a structuring team. Essentially, FRS’s clients understand that there is a family of businesses and services with which they can have a direct relationship, and gain access to, through this team. We like to say that no discussion is off the table.
What services is the FRS team licenced to provide?
Colin Vidal: REYL is well established and regulated as only Swiss banks are, and this provides security and comfort to prospective clients. We have the advantage of receiving the financial credentials, support and backing of a large private banking group. Therefore, we can comfortably take a private banking approach and take the time to develop solid relationships with clients and, in time, present a broader range of products and services to them.
The FRS team itself is licensed directly by FINMA to provide fund representative services. Regulations require anyone signing up for representative services in Switzerland to appoint a bank as a paying agent, a function we also provide.
Which clients do the FRS team target, and why?
Colin Vidal: FRS has a business development team that actively looks for any funds that want to enter the Swiss market to raise assets. These can be large mutual fund houses, hedge funds, private equity, real estate or venture capital funds.
What can FRS offer clients that other players in the market can’t?
Colin Vidal: If our client is seeking a service that REYL/Intesa group cannot provide, the FRS team will find a suitable provider. We make such connections a part of our representative services, and we don’t charge any more than the original annual contract value the client signed with us. There have even been instances where we have introduced our competitors to clients, to ensure their requirements are fulfilled.
FRS offers regulatory back-office administration, to help prospective client fund managers enter the Swiss market and raise assets in full compliance with local regulations. Once the big challenges of raising assets and setting up the management of those assets are over, the regulatory burden is removed. However, we continue to monitor Swiss market regulations and provide periodic updates on changes to clients.
What are clients typically looking for?
Colin Vidal: Many clients, especially those from the USA or Asia, find it simpler and cheaper to utilise our services to investigate possibilities that may be available in Switzerland and other European markets. They might be exploring setting up a new fund structure, but are not sure where the best option would be, and ask questions such as:
- Should I look at Ireland or Luxembourg?
- What jurisdictions for Hedge Funds or other AIFMs do you recommend?
- Who do you do know we can speak to?
- What type of investors group would suit a fund like ours?
These are just a few samples, but they give an idea of the areas a client might ask to be investigated and reported on. We save them both time and money by helping them avoid unnecessary steps and regulatory hurdles they might face through a lack of local market experience and knowledge.
What is the significance of REYL’s partnership with Intesa Sanpaolo for FRS?
Colin Vidal: Intesa Sanpaolo is the largest bank in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, which brings additional credibility to the group and increases its footprint to many more physical locations with entities worldwide. This in turn has dramatically increased the ability for FRS to approach new clients and win their business based on a paradigm shift in the products and services we can offer.