In September 2019, Candriam, one of Europe's leading asset managers, launched its project to migrate the Asset Servicing activities for its Luxembourg and French funds to CACEIS.
The migration was carried out in 3 phases in 2020 for a total amount of assets of €43 billion. Pascal Dequenne, Global Head of Operations at Candriam, shares his experience following the transfer of these activities and the new relationship with CACEIS.
Can you give us a brief presentation of your group?
Candriam, which stands for "Conviction and Responsibility In Asset Management", is a multi-specialist European asset manager, pioneer and leader in responsible investment - a field of competence we have been developing for 25 years. We currently manage around €130 billion of assets. Our 600 employees are spread across our four management centres in Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris and London and the 20 countries that our client managers cover across continental Europe, the United States and the Middle East. In terms of management, Candriam offers innovative and diversified investment solutions in several key areas: bonds, equities, absolute return strategies, asset allocation and illiquid assets - unlisted real estate and private credit.
What are the main reasons that led you to choose CACEIS?
This decision is the result of a long strategic process that began in October 2018 and was carried out in several phases through a call for tenders. In May 2019, Candriam's strategic committee selected CACEIS to carry out the activities of custodian bank, fund administrator and transfer agent. Several factors convinced us.
On the one hand, CACEIS is a financially solid and growing European leader thanks to a targeted acquisition policy. Its core business is asset servicing. This is very important to us. It is a guarantee of sustainability.
In addition, with its decision centre based in Europe, CACEIS has a comprehensive range of services that meet the needs of our fund range, both in terms of geographical presence and products.
Thanks to its investment capacity, its strong presence in the institutional client segment, its recognised expertise in value-added activities and its dynamic external growth, CACEIS will enable us to broaden our range of management solutions, support our international expansion and seize opportunities to redesign our operating model.
Finally, what stood out during the RFP phase were the common values and corporate culture that we share with CACEIS. We also noted a sustained mobilisation of the teams throughout the selection process and their strong willingness to support Candriam.
How did the migration phases of your assets go?
First of all, I would like to remind you of the figures for this migration: 115 sub-funds, 900 share classes, under two jurisdictions - Luxembourg and France - for a total amount of €43 billion in assets.
As this is a highly strategic project for Candriam, our priorities in this transition were to ensure continuity for investors and distributors, to avoid any reputational or regulatory risk and to preserve the assets under management, as well as Candriam's image.
The three waves of migration were carried out in accordance with the initial schedule announced to the regulators (CSSF/AMF) and without interruption for Candriam and its distributor clients. The first wave of migration took place between the end of March and early April during the lockdown. CACEIS and Candriam achieved the feat of migrating funds with their teams almost all working remotely. The migration was completed with the 3rd wave in October 2020.
This is clearly a success that Candriam and CACEIS can be proud of, given the scale of the assets transferred and the exceptional circumstances linked to the Covid-19 crisis. The project has also enabled Candriam to refine its modus operandi by abandoning proprietary flows and processes, and to outsource certain key processes resulting from new regulations such as SFTR reporting.
In your opinion, what are the key elements for the success of this project?
The first thing that comes to mind is the human aspect, which is essential in this type of project. Clearly, the professionalism and continuous mobilisation of CACEIS and Candriam from the RFP phase onwards, and then the close collaboration between the teams in project mode were the decisive factors. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the CACEIS and Candriam teams who worked together to make this transition possible.
The implementation of a solid and aligned governance between CACEIS and Candriam was fundamental: 10 business streams were set up throughout the project, involving the business, IT and project experts from Candriam and CACEIS, all under the supervision of a global Candriam/CACEIS steering committee. The post-migration support set up by CACEIS also played an important role in the successful completion of the project.
We also provided close support to Candriam's strategic partners as well as to the main distributors.
The flexibility, mobilisation, commitment and delivery capacity of CACEIS have been remarkable throughout the transition process.
Last but not least, I am not forgetting the unfailing support of Candriam's senior management, who gave the necessary confidence to the teams throughout the process.
What do you now expect from CACEIS?
With CACEIS as a solid and strategic partner, Candriam will be able to adapt to an increasingly competitive environment and develop products that meet its clients' expectations. We therefore expect CACEIS to accompany us in our future development both in terms of geographical areas covered and in terms of products, and to continue its investments and developments to increase its service and product offering.
In the short term, we are working to implement the projects that had been taken off the critical path of the transition phase.
We are confident in CACEIS' support capabilities and in Candriam's willingness to redeploy its modus operandi in the long term within the framework of various projects. In this respect, we have already planned for 2021: the takeover by CACEIS of our range of ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) under Luxembourg law.
Géraldine Valentini, Head of Division – Business Development-Nordics & Benelux Clients, CACEIS
"The success of this project is the result of a collective effort by the Candriam and CACEIS teams who have worked in perfect coordination, efficiently and tirelessly over the past two years. Pascal Dequenne, a visionary and pragmatic leader, played a key role in ensuring the success of this project. We are doing everything we can, as we committed to do, to support Candriam, CACEIS' strategic client, in its development".