Interview with Jan Suykens

JM Finn partnered with Delen Private Bank in 2011, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary the Prospects editorial team put some questions to Jan Suykens.

He is the CEO-Chairman of the Executive Committee of our ultimate parent company Ackermans & van Haaren, Vice Chairman of Delen Private Bank and JM Finn board member.

  1. Delen is a well-established private banking name in Belgium and the Netherlands (the latter through Oyens & Van Eeghen); what made you want to expand into the UK wealth management sector 10 years ago?

Delen Private Bank has always had a strategy focused on both organic growth as well as external acquisitions. We had the ambition to develop a second ‘home market’, but only if we could find the right platform, with the same focus on discretionary investment management for private clients. And with a management team sharing the same ambition, and willing to apply what we have learned in our home market to a new geography. We were introduced to the management team at JM Finn and immediately felt we shared the same values and investment philosophy.

    2. What made JM Finn the ideal partner back then and have those reasons changed at all over the last 10 years?

Both Delen and JM Finn have a focus on discretionary investment management for private clients. The broad offering of wealth management services has clearly helped Delen in developing such a strong client franchise, and this is exactly what JM Finn has focused on in recent years. In the meantime, the current COVID crisis has clearly proven that close proximity, both physically and digitally, with our clients helps to build the trust that is needed in times of uncertainty. We are blessed by the dedicated teams of investment managers and support staff always putting clients’ interest first. Meeting clients, understanding their needs, developing into their ‘first port of call’ for any wealth management question, ultimately being a ‘safe haven’ for their wealth. Focus, personal contact and efficiency are key in building a trusted and successful investment management service.

   3. What have been the highlights for JM Finn over the last 10 years from your perspective?

There have been many successful developments over the first 10 years, notwithstanding some rollercoaster events in the market environments around us!

  • The focus on discretionary investment management, now representing 84% of total funds under management.
  • Excellent portfolio returns for our clients.
  • Our ability to offer our clients wealth management services, thereby anchoring a much stronger way to accompany clients from one generation to another.
  • Our focus on meeting clients and further developing our relationships, which has helped us generate additional inflows both of existing clients as well as new clients.
  • The resilience shown by the whole staff during COVID, in terms of the seamless transition to remote working, whilst keeping communicating with clients.
  • Our marketing efforts promoting the JM Finn brand, by offering high quality events to our clients. Delen has been the main sponsor to the BRAFA Art Fair in Brussels for many years, and similarly, JM Finn became a corporate partner of the Royal Academy ten years ago.
  • The further strengthening of our internal organisation and the recent successful CEO transition from Steven Sussman to Hugo Bedford.
  • And last, but not least, we are hopeful that the recent move to our new London HQ will further boost not only staff morale but also our business proposition.

The result of all of this is that we almost doubled AUM (from £5,5 billion to £11,5 billion) whilst achieving a Net Promotor Score (i.e. the extent to which clients would be inclined to ‘promote’ JM Finn) of 71 (on a scale of 100), which is extremely high in the financial industry! Congratulations to all our staff, and a sincere ‘thank you’ to all our clients!

  4.  Finally, where do you hope to see JM Finn after the next 10 years of a successful partnership?

We have to continue doing what we are good at: staying close to our clients, offering the best wealth management services they need, protecting their assets via diversified investment management and yielding returns in line with the risk appetite of our clients. That way, we will grow with our clients and be able to continue growing our client base. We will also continue to consolidate the position of JM Finn in the market in the UK. This has always been the strategy at Delen and we will continue to support this, both in terms of new teams joining, as well as looking at potential acquisitions, thus strengthening our franchise or the geographic spread of the business. But, make no mistake, we will always prioritise organic growth and supporting our existing client franchise. We remain ambitious, and therefore we need to continue to invest in our organisation, both in terms of people as well as secure IT systems and efficient administration. We are a strong believer that IT and increased automation will free up time for investment managers to focus more on their clients. We should not become complacent while the market environment remains challenging, the financial markets potentially even more volatile and the regulatory requirements becoming ever more stringent. We feel we have the right people and the right culture to remain a solid and secure home for our clients and we remain convinced that the close relationship Delen and JM Finn have established over the first 10 years will prove even more mutually beneficial in the coming years.

I’m truly looking forward to even more collaboration and exchange of experiences as I believe our clients will only benefit from it. Growth is not an objective by itself, but if we continue to focus on building even stronger client relations, I’m convinced it will not take us another 10 years before we double assets under management again! We thank our clients for their trust, and our 315 colleagues for their commitment in serving our clients.


Understanding Finance

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Winter Issue Thirty Seven