Steve Bernat (Carne): Gearing up for an alternative fund boom
Carne’s success in becoming Europe’s largest independent management company lies in its ability to attract highly experienced individuals, such as the recruitment of James Bolton as COO and Luc de Vet as European Alternative Investment Funds Leader. These new recruits will strengthen Carne’s services in a sector where the firm sees vigorous growth ahead, according to Luxembourg CEO Steve Bernat.
How has Carne’s business grown recently?
Steve Bernat (SB): Carne has performed very strongly in the past few years, both at group level and in Luxembourg, becoming Europe’s largest independent third-party management company. We now have over 400 asset management clients worldwide, providing governance or substance for funds worth more than €600bn in assets, and management company services for €60bn in assets under management with a team of some 150 people around the globe. In the Grand-Duchy, the firm has grown to more than 40 people on the ground delivering management company services to more than 40 asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds, family offices and other financial institutions.
James Bolton (JB): Our clients include some of the biggest brand names in the asset management industry, both for UCITS and alternative funds.
SB: That’s why we have strengthened our team with several senior recruits who have decades of experience in the fund industry. James has joined us as Chief Operating Officer with a particular focus on maintaining the highest quality service and ensuring we have the scalability to continue our development. Luc has been appointed as European Alternative Investment Funds Leader, the sector from which we see the biggest growth coming in the future.
“Our colleagues in Luxembourg have an average expertise of 18 years’ in the fund industry”
James Bolton, COO, Carne Group Luxembourg
What are the key priorities for Carne’s COO?
JB: We need to keep our clients at the centre of our business. As their management company we must ensure they have access to expert advice and they have full control and transparency on what we do through two types of resource.
Firstly, people: we want to maximise the benefit offered from the great experience of our team. Our colleagues in Luxembourg have an average expertise of 18 years’ in the fund industry. We are also able to leverage a pool of highly experienced colleagues across the group in other fund jurisdictions and financial hubs, many of which have worked for Carne Group for a long time, armed with the insights drawn from our massive track record. Being knowledge partners is as important as being Fund Governance specialists.
SB: No matter whom our clients call, the person picking up the phone has significant experience, which is critical.
JB: Our second priority is that clients can maximise the benefit from our in-house built technology, which acts as the backbone of our business in terms of the oversight and the day-to-day governance activities. CORR (which stands for Compliance, Oversight, Risk and Reporting), Carne Groups’s online portal ensures that our clients have full access to the activities that we perform on their behalf – they remain in control.
Luc de Vet (LdV): It is all about creating a consistent client experience, whether they work with Carne in Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK or the Channel Islands.
Why are you focusing particularly on alternative funds?
SB: The biggest share of growth over the more recent past has come from alternative funds. That is why we hired Luc, who has spent pretty much all of his career in this sector. Unlike other Super-ManCo’s, Carne has CSSF authorisation for all asset classes, including private equity and real estate, illiquid debt, loan, infrastructure, fund of funds and hedge funds. Meanwhile, we have built a great track-record in each and every one of these strategies.
LdV: My role is to focus on alternatives throughout the organisation and help my colleagues to develop greater insight of the various asset classes in order to become an effective partner for the asset managers we serve. I will work with my colleagues in various jurisdictions to ensure that we have the comprehensive suite of products and services we need to support our clients. Alternatives require you to speak the language and understand their complexity. Ultimately, my goal is to promote broader name recognition in the alternative fund segment for Carne Group and for Luxembourg as an alternatives fund domicile, but that will come naturally as we demonstrate our knowledge in the field. In a post-Brexit context, we can also use Carne Group’s UK licence to avoid any risk of discontinuity, and while we expect most funds to come to Luxembourg or Dublin, there will be opportunities in other jurisdictions too.