This month we’ve been celebrating a major milestone at IQ-EQ: our 70th anniversary in Luxembourg. Indeed, our history in the country dates all the way back to 1953, when the business was first established within Kredietbank Luxembourg.
While I wasn’t around back then (!), my founding role came into play in 1998 when Carlo Schlesser and I supported the acquisition of Kredietbank’s trust business by Andersen, and in 2001 when we completed our first management buy-out to create SGG (as IQ-EQ was previously known).
Reflecting upon our incredible journey since then, becoming a global, top-tier investor services group, I’m brought back to our original vision for the business.
In the early 2000s, we were a local Luxembourg business. We were successful and quickly established ourselves as a leading provider in the jurisdiction, but we were still only local. So, in 2010, we decided that to serve our clients and compete with the key players we needed to go beyond Luxembourg’s borders and add a broader range of capabilities both within Europe and further afield.
To achieve this, we needed to build capabilities for private asset managers, asset owners – be they family offices or institutional investors – as well as for banks and multinationals. We also recognised the need to move quickly in order to become a significant force in our industry.
From that point on, we aimed to acquire and create a range of solutions for our clients across the three segments we were building, which we now define as Fund and Asset Managers, Private and Institutional Asset Owners, and Debt, Capital Markets and Corporates. And so, from a local actor, we became a European player predominant in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
But it wasn’t until our private equity partner Astorg’s investment in 2016 that we really started moving with speed. Their confidence in our vision and their support completely transformed the business. Some 24 acquisitions later, here we are today in 25 jurisdictions with a robust three-segment offering and over 5,000 talented professionals working for us worldwide.
Even at the peak of our acquisitive growth, we have always recognised that the value of a business is primarily in its people. Meaning in an acquisition, the people were and will always be the most important asset.
Yes, you buy a business for its clients. But without the people who’ve been looking after them, the clients disappear. So, we didn’t only keep the people who service the clients but we made it completely clear what positions the entrepreneurs or managers who joined us would occupy. And in almost every case, they stayed on board for the journey, and we have acquired incredible talent.
We tried to build a real meritocracy. With each acquisition we ensured we took the best from either side (be that a system or a person) and integrated them into the combined business. In fact, the development of our Group Management Team was partly thanks to acquisitions. For example, Mark Pesco, our Group CEO, was the CEO of First Names Group, which we acquired in 2017. He proved himself in integrating his own business into the combined Group.
I’ve been trained and coached with one thing in mind: stewardship. As leaders, we don’t work for our own good; we work for the good of the company. And, in fact, when you play it like this, you still make good for yourself.
I’m extremely confident in the team we’ve built and their ability to lead our business successfully towards future milestone anniversaries. They’re managing the Group with a clear vision and strategy, ensuring our sustainability not only in the sense of being green, but also in terms of the services we render, catering to real needs in the market.
Above all, IQ-EQ is united by a shared purpose: to power people and possibilities. This purpose isn’t about being bigger, it’s not about being number one, it’s about putting our people at the heart of our business, a premise I believed in from the outset.
I’m proud of our growth and our success. I’ve heard so many times that our industry would disappear due either to regulation or to the tech revolution. So, for me, it’s not the size of the Group. It’s not that we’re a world leader. It’s the fact that we’re here, thriving and well equipped to go to the next stage.
Although we already have 70 years behind us, when it comes to our ambitions for IQ-EQ, we’re only at the start of our journey.