3 questions for the CEOTuesday 26th, May 2015
Reinforcing the senior management.
Symbiotics presented its history and business plan during its 10-year celebration on January 27th. The company’s investment portfolio has experienced a compounded annual growth rate of 40% over the past decade. Symbiotics plans to double its assets under management in the coming three years, from USD 1 billion today to USD 2 billion by end 2017. Several senior management appointments are taking place as a consequence of this ambition.
How is the company managing such unprecedented growth?
The organizational change that paralleled such impressive growth has indeed been quite important over the years. Our staff headcount grew for instance from 42 to 58 (+38%) in 2013 and 58 to 85 (+47%) in 2014. Together with our board, the general management has decided to reinforce itself with the nomination of Vincent Dufresne as Chief Financial Officer and Yvan Renaud as Chief Operational Officer, both seconding me. The creation of this more classical triumvirate will allow for a stronger general management adequately covering the markets, clientele and governance of the firm. Vincent and I are pleased to see Yvan join the general management and clarify further our distribution of tasks. We also rely on a larger Management Committee, which meets twice a month, composed of each head of our six business units.
Managing USD 1 billion in 50 frontier markets through 150+ counterparty risks must be much different from where you stood a couple of years ago in terms of investment process?
Our internal value chain has indeed become more sophisticated over the years, with a clear separation of tasks to better manage client interest, business efficiency and distinct value propositions. We have recently created two new units called: “Financial Institutions” and “Market & Credit Risk,” successors of the “Research & Analysis” unit. The former will manage our relations with buy-side clients and the latter will serve as a four-eye risk overlay on quality control. Both will work upstream from our “Investment Operations” unit, where all transactions are originated and serviced, and from our “Asset Management” unit, where portfolios are managed.
Vincent Lehner former head of our Cape Town office covering Sub-Saharan Africa, has been appointed head of the “Financial Institutions” unit. Jérôme Savelli, former head of our new markets initiatives, after having been head of both the European and Asian regions, has been appointed head of our “Market & Credit Risk” unit. Both enter the Management Committee as directors. I’m personally pleased to see two of our most experienced and meriting colleagues receive these internal nominations which reward them for their accomplishments over the years. I look forward to working more closely with them.
How does the company cope with innovation outside of your core business?
We have defined our core business as encompassing everything that includes “fixed income investments to financial institutions in emerging markets”. We have regrouped all other initiatives into our internal venture lab in the “Equity Investments” unit, including Private Equity, Listed Equity and Technical Assistance.
Daniel von Molkte was recently hired to head up this new unit, having previously worked in all three of these areas, in companies such as Triodos Bank, Ethos Foundation & Wegelin Bank. Mariano Larena, who has been very successful in leading the REGMIFA Fund and Technical Assistance Facility for the past three years, will join the unit in the spring to head its Technical Assistance team, a new key area of development for the firm. This is a logical promotion for Mariano now spearheading our business development on capacity building, in particular with development banks and agencies. I’m very pleased with these reinforcements of our core business as well as our innovation capacity which have set the stage for the coming years.
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