The InFinance team recently met with Robin Haack (Senior Manager) and Adrien Delogu (Manager), who, at Alpha FMC, thrive at helping innovative companies succeed in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and develop their disruptive products and/or services. During our conversation, the two specialists notably listed the key challenges for FinTechs and RegTechs to enter the market and also discussed some of the latest tech trends, while highlighting the pioneering role of Luxembourg.
"In Luxembourg, startups benefit from a lot of support thanks to the many initiatives launched by the government. Startups have many opportunities to their disposal, from the LHoFT and the House of Startups, to the presence of many public and/or private incubators, as well as the high level of research and innovation produced by the University of Luxembourg," begins Adrien Delogu. On numerous occasions, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel stated that he plans to develop Fintech, Regtech and digital, in general, in order for the country to reinvent itself and be at the forefront of innovation, hence the recent creation of the Ministry of Digitalization. The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg’s dedication has been evidenced by the country’s ability to transform itself in the past from an agriculture-based economy to the funds industry, and more recently to information and communication technologies (ICT). It is now recognized as the second largest fund center in the world and as a pioneer in digital and cybersecurity, providing an attractive landscape to startups.
Focusing on collaboration and exchange
One of the country's main strengths lies in its cultural diversity, by bringing people of different origins together to share and build strong ecosystems. Yet, several challenges still lie ahead for the country to become an even stronger startup nation and compete with the likes of Berlin, London and the Silicon Valley. According to Robin Haack, "Luxembourg is still lacking early adopters, which can be seen as a significant cultural challenge. As a matter of fact, in order for a startup to succeed, you need people who are open to trying new services and later advocate for them." The specialists also highlighted that Luxembourg represents an easy entry for companies wishing to conquer the European market. Therefore, they consider the country the perfect place to build European Headquarters in order to centralize operations. This is enabled by a strong talent pool with diverse language skills, capabilities and knowledge in the finance and IT sectors, etc. "In Luxembourg, collaboration is also key", as expressed by Adrien Delogu, who highlights the growing number of bridges built between traditional banks and innovative startups, with experts from "two opposite worlds" working hand in hand and developing disruptive services and even entirely new business models. "The PSD2 Directive and the advent of APIs will further develop these types of collaborations and will force people to be even more open to innovation," he explains.
In this respect, the local Alpha FMC team, backed by international experts, aims to leverage their knowledge of the wealth and asset management industry to help startups find their niche and target new markets. "With the development of our global Fintech practice led by Olivia Vinden in the UK, we are perfectly equipped to guide newcomers in their entire innovation journey, from building their business and operational model as well as the internal structure, to assisting them with their benchmarking, solutions pricing, and specific recruitment challenges," underlines Adrien Delogu.
From AI to ESG
When it comes to the main trends banks and startups should definitely keep a close eye on, Robin Haack first insists on the use of technology and its benefits: how will it change the business and improve processes? What is the objective of using innovative technologies? As such, the Alpha FMC specialists focus on three main themes rather than technological tools: "Automation, which can be achieved by having better data management processes, could lead to the advent of shared data models. On the other hand, better decision making will be the result of AI-powered advanced analytics, while blockchain, through a potential common data model across industries, will also be used to improve decision making. Luxembourg actually has the potential to be at the forefront of crypto-innovation by stabilizing the movement and allowing the development of more PoCs and projects. Finally, the creation of new business models and notably platform business models, are redefining the way businesses exchange and interact."
Robin Haack, who also specializes in ESG and sustainable investments, foresees this theme finding more and more success in Luxembourg, especially with the newer generations – notably the Millennials, as well as with a growing number of women investing and caring about the environment. From the UN taskforce on climate change to the creation of the Luxembourg Green Exchange, or LGX, in 2016 – the world's leading platform dedicated exclusively to securities that are green, social or sustainable – companies and investors can now effectively measure how ESG impacts their performance and revenue.
With the numerous digital initiatives launched by the government, the open-mindedness of the regulators to new technologies, as well as the presence of hundreds of disruptive startups, Luxembourg could very well become the new innovation platform of Europe.
Interview by Alexandre Keilmann
Publié le 06 février 2019