Intertrust happy in a ‘top of the class’ island
Stephanie Miller, group CEO of Intertrust was recently in the Channel Islands. Gwyn Garfield-Bennett went to meet her and Jersey managing director, Simon Mackenzie.
Group chief executive officer Stephanie Miller has been in her post for a year. In that time she has been assessing the various challenges facing the business and its clients globally, including Brexit, President Trump and the various regulatory drivers. The business has been re-organised to reflect the environment.
‘The Channel Islands brings us corporates, funds, capital markets, and private wealth,’ she said. ‘Guernsey specifically is significant with private wealth and so is this office. Our capital markets team broadened its capabilities by becoming a Category 1 member of The International Stock Exchange, last year, and funds is the biggest driver of this office. We are fully committed to the islands – they bring a great source of wealth and we’ll continue investing in them again.’
The group has recently reported an increase in revenue of 3.3% to 132.7 million euros. Jersey revenue accounted for 12% of that total with a slight drop year on year. That drop was down to a large family office deciding to in-source its business. If that is eliminated, revenue grew by around 2.9%.
The local business was formerly Elian, bought by Intertrust in 2016, with the global headquarters now in the Netherlands, where the business is listed. Jersey managing director Simon Mackenzie has just been appointed to chair a new Channel Island leadership team aimed at helping the Jersey and Guernsey offices work more closely together. ‘We’ve got a market-leading position in each of our four core service lines, so closer co-operation across the two islands makes lots of strategic sense. There’s a sense to sharing challenges, but also sharing opportunities and putting in place a clear, coherent strategy across the islands that will allow us to benefit from that makes good sense.
‘This is not a Jersey versus Guernsey thing, it’s closer collaboration and I think both islands will be very well represented on the senior leadership team. But you know, what’s driving us is our clients and how we can continue to be at the elite end of client service – that’s really important to us – and adopting new technology and new opportunities consistently across both businesses.’
Technology is one of Stephanie Miller’s strengths and while group IT comes out of Amsterdam, she says that the Elian legacy has left Jersey with a strong technology skills set that is being utilised globally. In January Intertrust launched its new Client Portal, part of their strategy to be the leading tech-enabled corporate and fund solutions provider.
Ms Miller says the group is ‘very happy with our footprint’ and so their 2019 strategy is unlikely to include opening new offices. That business confidence is very evident in the Channel Islands.
‘We are only in Jersey and Guernsey by selection so we wouldn’t go to a less-regulated island,’ she said. ‘You have a very strong financial services centre here. Your regulators have always been an active participant, the same as Guernsey. So you’re the top of the class. How do you compare to my other offices? You have different legislation, but similar enough, and you are in that top tier. I think some of my offices in the Caribbean will look for this to be leading standard.
‘I meet with all the regulators and I will do a trip to Cayman and have that conversation with them. They are actively looking at substance. They’re actively looking at the AML fifth directive, so on beneficial ownership registries they’re going to follow your lead. We will have challenges for staff and we’ll have to work on an extensive training programme, but the nature of Intertrust is we have a global footprint and will be able to move people around to get that done.’
The group’s results say Brexit uncertainty will continue to provide some challenges, but Ms Miller says with their restructuring, it isn’t a big concern for the group. ‘In the simplest terms, if Brexit is not ideal for some of our clients, they will exit the UK and because they’re good, long-standing clients, they will go to another jurisdiction where we will be able to help them.’
Mr Mackenzie agrees. ‘Our islands are still small enough and nimble enough to respond positively to that change – we see the opportunities in doing that. We are relatively stable compared to many other parts of the world, so almost the safe harbour in uncertain times.’
As part of the restructure across the islands and group, Intertrust has just repositioned its fund services team in the Channel Islands.
Two specialist service teams, private equity and real estate, have been defined within the fund service line in the Channel Islands and will prioritise stronger alignment across Guernsey and Jersey to enhance the profile of their offering.
Michael Johnson, head of funds in the Channel Islands, now oversees both Intertrust’s private equity and real estate businesses. He will lead a team of more than 150 fund service specialists across Jersey and Guernsey, making Intertrust one of the largest fund administration businesses in the islands.
Intertrust employs around 350 staff in Jersey and 120 full- and part-time staff in Guernsey. Like many businesses, finding the right staff is a challenge, says Mr Mackenzie. ‘It’s a challenge for the industry, but it’s a symptom of success as well. We’re a narrow labour market and you narrow that yet further when you’re looking for elite people to do elite jobs. Our response to that is a real investment in people. It’s learning and development.
‘We don’t want somebody here for a year or two years, we want them to spend their career with us.’