L ooking for cross-border financial services with a personal touch and a high-tech twist? Meet United, ten years young but packing a wealth of expertise, plus a passion to keep their clients – multinationals, investment industry players and wealthy individuals – successful and, above all, compliant.

United is an independent service provider with nine offices worldwide, two of which are in the Benelux. To find out more, let’s hear from directors Marius de Groot (Netherlands) and Gérard Matheis (Luxembourg). The company was founded in 2009 by a group of financial industry veterans (including Matheis) with years of experience working for large multinational banks. Their drive was ̶ and is ̶ to provide truly personal service, and they are still the backbone of United. By now, United’s workforce has grown to some 150 legal, financial and IT experts.

Truly personal

Asked what they mean by “truly personal”, de Groot replies: “Our people start from day one with their own client portfolio. Their mission: to get to know their clients and their needs, to become partners rather than just service providers, shouldering the responsibility that implies.”

Matheis nods, adding: “Corporates and fund initiators like us because of our ‘boutique’ offering. We can create a custom service package for them, including only the services they want. Because they can choose to outsource more or less to us over time, our services always blend seamlessly with their processes.”

Team spirit

The name United was chosen for a reason, Matheis explains. “It reflects our strong team spirit and the essence of what we do: unite disciplines, connect networks and cross borders to create the best solutions for our clients. Our people worldwide, management included, work closely together to give our clients the benefit of every office’s particular strengths.” But teamwork doesn’t stop there, De Groot observes. “Our experts are an extension of our client’s team, working side by side with them to help their business thrive.”

Headquarters

United’s headquarters are in the Netherlands ̶ a choice with many benefits. “The Netherlands has a long history of international commerce. In IT terms, it’s one of the world’s most wired countries and home to numerous IT multinationals,” De Groot explains. “Today, Amsterdam is a hotspot for fintech and start-ups in general, while the pension system makes it a hub for large institutional investors. As an EU jurisdiction, it offers a wide variety of legal structures and tax treaties. Plus, the Netherlands is at the forefront of developments in compliance.”

United | On the cutting edge of modern finance | Scan Magazine

Business mix

All United’s offices are a one-stop shop offering the full suite of financial and legal services, but they each have their specialties. “In Luxembourg, fund services now account for 30 per cent of our business,” says Matheis. “In the current low-interest environment, private equity and venture capital funds have become increasingly popular, and a lot of these new funds work with United.”

The Netherlands office increasingly supports companies from the US ̶ and in future, likely also from the UK ̶ seeking an operational hub in the EU. “Another growth niche,” De Groot adds, “is facilitating M&A deals for private equity firms.”

Compliance

Core business for United is keeping clients compliant in the face of constantly changing regulations. Matheis gives an example: “The introduction in 2013 of AIFMD (alternative investment fund managers directive) led many offshore funds to onshore their operations in Luxembourg. United responded with a tailored, modular service offering, which has gained recognition and a serious base of loyal clients in the fund space.”

The Netherlands, meanwhile, is the most heavily regulated jurisdiction in Europe, and the only country with specific legislation aimed at trust offices, De Groot observes. “The practical implications are challenging, but the clients who come to us know this, and understand that heavier regulation involves higher costs. At its foundation, United made a voluntary decision to adhere to the heaviest regulation in the financial industry, and our success in doing so is certified year after year by a Big Four accounting firm. Our clients, in their turn, deserve nothing less.”

Advances in IT

Asked what trends they see for the years ahead, Matheis replies: “When United was founded, we expected compliance would become key, and we were right. Its importance will only increase going forward. Meanwhile, work processes in our industry are in many cases still very paper-based, so companies will need better IT to operate more efficiently.”

De Groot agrees. “When we complete the group-wide IT projects we’re working on at United now – including the implementation of a brand-new AI-based compliance decision platform called Pascal – we’ll have a truly state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, speeding up our processes and giving our people more time to spend on personal contact with their clients. That will pave the way for expansion into other jurisdictions and create a solid foundation for our further success going forward.”

Web: uibt.com

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