“Global reach is a key differentiation factor, of which we are really Proud”

What distinguishes a prestigious brand from the “others”? What impact does the ability to promote transparency, trust and accuracy in the market have? Joel Cardenas, Market Head Business Development and David Burgos, Commercial Director, from TMF Group, in an interview with Pontos de Vista magazine, talked a little more about the brand, which was founded in Netherlands in the 80s and is today a player of enormous importance and prestige in the national and international market, without forgetting the connection that it perpetuates between Portugal and Luxembourg.

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TMF Group was founded in the Netherlands in the late 80’s and was making its way and building the reputation that we know today worldwide. Believing in the power of global trade to create peace and prosperity, what has been the brand’s role in supporting customers in the process of fostering investment, jobs and economic growth?

Joel Cardenas (JC) Indeed, reputation is key for us and, obviously for our clients, business partners and investors. We are proud of our name and what we have achieved so far.

For decades, we have helped our clients invest and operate safely around the world, bringing levels of governance and quality assurance that inspire trust and confidence. We provide the administrative services they need to run legal entities compliantly and efficiently, including fund administration, incorporation, and fiduciary oversight, regulatory, accounting and tax filings, employee administration and payroll.

We understand the relationship with our clients on a long-term basis. We provide our expertise to our clients in multiple jurisdictions, like this our clients can focus on their core business, and we take care of critical administrative, management, corporate and accounting services. The trust is key for this relation with our clients, and we are known by our confidence and transparency. Reputation is our master key to open the door to trust.

With offices in 86 jurisdictions, TMF Group combines global reach with local knowledge. Does this mean that the company is able to anticipate and deal with local measures, while providing customers with consistent service in each jurisdiction? Is this a strong differentiating factor?

David Burgos (DB) Clearly it is. “Global reach with local knowledge” is in our DNA. We have presence in 86 jurisdictions with 120 offices fully operated by TMF Group. We cover more than 92% of world GDP and 95% of FDI inflow. We serve corporates, financial institutions, asset managers, private equity and real estate investors, and family offices; our clients include more than 60% of the Fortune Global 500 and FTSE 100, and almost half the top 300 private equity firms. These are quite impressive figures when we look at them.

We know that the world is in continue evolution and we work in a very dynamic and fast changing regulatory environment; therefore, high qualified professionals are needed in each jurisdiction and then our local knowledge enters in. We have global training programs and policies which are followed by our approx. 10,000 colleagues worldwide, to keep us updated. We care about our clients, but we care first about our people and that´s why keeping local knowledge is essential for our business.

This global reach is a key differentiating factor which we are really proud of.

The brand claims that some of the most exciting jurisdictions in the world are also the most challenging to operate. In relation to Luxembourg, how has this market been growing and becoming a competitive country with potential?

JC A politically stable country, located in the heart of Europe: Luxembourg is a unique gateway to the broader European market. Coupled with its geographical location, Luxembourg boasts an excellent infrastructure, a favourable tax environment and a high quality of life; all aspects that make Luxembourg a rewarding and interesting location in which to do business.

Luxembourg is leader in global fund distribution and the second largest investment fund centre worldwide, with EUR 5.5 trillion of asset under management. Luxembourg is known internationally by its political, economic and regulatory stability, offering the perfect framework for investors.

TMF Luxembourg office is one of the largest where we serve Funds, Capital Markets, Corporates and Private Wealth clients.

In line with our strategy of growing in the funds business in Luxembourg, TMF Group completed the acquisition in 2021 of a Luxembourg based regulated management company, now named TMF Fund Management, servicing both alternative investment funds (AIFs) and Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS), helping to develop our fund administration business. Their service offering is a key component of our fund strategy and enables us to be a full-service provider. The addition of this exceptional team strengthened our position as a leading provider of integrated solutions for fund managers.

Currently we are more than 350 professionals in Luxembourg. Despite the current uncertainty on the world economic outlook, with the International Monetary Fund predicting just 2% global GDP growth in 2023 and slowdowns and possibly even recessions in the US, Europe, and China, fortunately for TMF Group, given our global reach, diversified clients’ portfolio, and wide range of services, we have a solid base to navigate through out these uncertain times. Our clients need our help to keep their operations running compliantly regardless of whether those operations are profitable or growing. If we continue to provide great service and help them stay compliant, we will keep growing.

We know that TMF Luxembourg’s interaction with TMF Portugal is very good, and it even shares some customers. How to define this relationship at the moment?

DB The relationship between Portugal and Luxembourg is historically a long-time and strong one. Portugal is very present in Luxembourg with a large community, for several generations already, people were born and grown in Luxembourg, together with business and trade between both countries.

We talked before about our global presence and the local knowledge: the Luxembourg and Portugal link can show the importance of this. The possibilities are unlimited at TMF Group to help clients and investors with the combination of our knowledge and expertise. Indeed, Portugal is changing fast with important developments led by the government, modernising and stabilising the economy and increasing its international competitiveness making easier for foreign countries to invest and do business.

An example of our local knowledge in Luxembourg, is that we have dedicated team providing services to clients from Iberia and LatAm, having Portuguese and Spanish native speakers and experience in those regions. In our strategy, this helped us to reinforce the relationship not only with clients but also with our business partners. also, our Country Leader in Portugal, Mariana Verissimo, worked several years in the financial sector in Luxembourg and decided to return to her home country, where she is now the Managing Director of TMF Portugal.

The truth is, TMF Group fully understands the complexity of operating a company or investing on a global scale. In this sense, how important have the digital solutions that exist in this environment been, to increase and improve the response in the countries where you operate? What digital and technological, transformative, and disruptive strategy does the brand assume?

JC We recognize that innovation and technology is one of the more evident keys for the future. Business is and will be very competitive and this point will make the difference more and more in the future. We are keen to our clients recognize us by our flawless service and we will continue investing in innovating and the best business solutions.

The lockdown during the pandemic was a challenge for everybody and changed the way we do business. We are very proud on how we adapted from one day to another, how TMF Group was able to put in place all the necessary to bring all the people to work remotely and ensure business continuity. This was really a challenge, but we were able to respond to our client needs.

Nowadays we combine working from home with presence at the office. Our digital solutions are there to augment and enhance our unique combination of experts and delivery capabilities in the each and every jurisdiction we operate, in an efficient way.

Our digital strategy brings together transformative and disruptive technology capabilities to create new digital delivery models, enhance client experience and provide valuable insights and analytics.

In our main purposes is to make a complex world simple for our clients, so they can focus on running their business or investing around the world which is what really matters to them. In our strategy technology is one of the pillars to accomplish our goal of making TMF Group famous for exceptional service and can already offer today solutions to our clients, our next generation digital client platform or a global payroll intelligence solution.

In addition, the company is also firmly committed to the ambitions of the UN by contributing to sustainable economic growth. Given the different areas where TMF Group operates, in what way is sustainability necessary, advantageous and a factor of business competitiveness?

DB At TMF Group we are really committed with sustainable economic growth. There is only one planet and there is no planet B if we want to mention the title of the famous book by Mike Berners-Lee.

In this sense, more than a question of business competitiveness, we understand that it is the right thing to do and is what our clients and business partners are expecting.

At TMF Group we are externally assessed by EcoVadis (a leading, trusted provider of global business sustainability ratings, as well as intelligence and collaborative performance improvement tools for global supply chains) and we are delighted to retain our ESG silver medal for 2022: our rating shows our clients, employees, suppliers and investors an independent confirmation of our commitment to sustainability. Moreover, we are a PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) signatory showing again our commitment to include ESG factors in investment decision making and ownership. We are also proud of being recently named ‘Best Fund Administrator – ESG’ in Private Equity Wire’s US awards for 2022.

We are held to the highest ethical and professional standards: we operate in over 20 regulated countries, and we have over 200 licenses, which bring us to have a great responsibility so regulatory and operational risk management is very important for us and for our clients.

Also, our aim as a Group is to be the employer of choice wherever we operate. We are proud of our partnership with Ashoka, an international organisation that supports social entrepreneurs to drive real change in communities around the world.

We, as an organization reject any form of exploitation or suppression of human rights, in commitment to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Luxembourg and Portugal share stories and increasingly share business deals. In your opinion, do you believe that the future of the connection between these countries will pass, precisely, through digitalization, innovation, and sustainability? How and what is the role of TMF Group in this coming proximity?

JC Absolutely, we fully understand the complexity of operating a business or investing on a global scale. We believe digital solutions are there to augment and enhance our unique combination of experts and delivery capabilities in the 85 jurisdictions in which we operate, being Portugal one of them.

Our digital strategy brings together transformative and disruptive technology capabilities to create new digital delivery models, enhance client experience and provide valuable insights and analytics.

We make a complex world simple for our clients, so they can focus on running their business or investing around the world.

Luxembourg, as the main funds hub in the European Union (EU), has been a key jurisdiction for a significant part of recent investments in Portugal, especially when it becomes to real estate ones.

Thanks to the legal, tax and financial incentives in force in Portugal, the market is raising awareness and interest in regulated entities, leading to a diversification of stakeholders – both at the investor level and in terms of type of investment structure.