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A calculated risk


CEO and Compliance Manager Eric Nols and Fund Manager Jacky Goossens both work in a challenging field. Mr. Nols, who has been with the firm since Bank Degroof decided to create the subsidiary in 2003, likes the diversity as well as the legal and practical aspects of his job.

“We are an independent company,” he stresses. “As management, we have to live up to it.” Mr. Goossens, who started as an analyst in private banking, enjoys the element of the unexpected. “Nothing is certain in life,” he says.

Bank Degroof, which has been active in patrimonium management since 1874, ensures doubly that the fund management is handled as carefully as possible.

“We have our own risk management team of four people, to assess the risks we are taking,” Mr. Goossens points out. “And Bank Degroof has its own team to assess us. We are audited as well.” The funds are divided into four branches. Of the 14 billion EUR assets which are under management, 37% are equities, 27% obligations, 8% alternative funds and 28% global funds.

“The private investors who want to stay on the safe side choose global funds,” Mr. Goossens explains. “Those who want to add their own fingerprint choose a mixture of the other three types. But we are getting nice results in all four branches. Most of our funds are doing better than benchmark funds. We are not taking any huge risks, which is why we do not have flex funds. Instead we are taking small but secure steps.”

The banking department of Bank Degroof is responsible for the commercialization of the funds. “This is an advantage because we can focus on our jobs,” Mr. Nols says. “The commercial structure was already available, and in hindsight it was a good decision to keep it that way. The field requires a different, more analytic staff.”

Said staff consists of 24 people, all seated in Belgium, though the company is also active in Luxembourg, France, Spain and Switzerland, the latter three amounting to 10% of the investments.

“France is an easy market,” Mr. Goossens reveals. “In the Netherlands there are a lot of minor players, which complicates things considerably.”

The customers are 80% private banking clients and 20% institutional investors. “People are now interested in less volatile ways to invest,” Mr. Goossens observes. “There is about 300 to 400 million EUR in more conservative investment, but we also see that the trade in shares is increasing again.”

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