Fund Directors Series: Portrait Of... Véronique Gillet, Independent Director, Adeis
Portrait of… Veronique Gillet
Changing the world to a better one while bringing stability to the Funds industry.
By Isadora Pardo – Director – TechFin Luxembourg
When I think of Veronique Gillet, the words « actor of a changing world » come to my mind. Give me these five words, and I will tell you who she is. Throughout her education, experiences and social endeavors, Veronique has not only shaped the person she is today, but also worked in moving the world around her, to a greater good. As we were bringing tea, coffee and cheesecake to the table and taking seats for our conversation, I felt as if I had known her for a long time, although we had just met. Let me share her story with you.
At the age of 17, Veronique left Belgium to be an exchange student in Princeton, New Jersey. « This experience abroad really shaped the person I am today, curious, independent and eager to get things moving. » In her studies, she became passionate for sociology, and soon graduated with a Master Degree, specialized in sociology of the organizations. In 1986, Veronique graduated with an “Agregation” (teaching licence) in social sciences, soon followed by a Master in Business Administration.
She started her career in Luxembourg with Fiduciaire Générale de Luxembourg (ancestor to Deloitte Luxembourg) as a financial auditor. This was in 1988, a year that sounds familiar to everyone in the Luxembourg fund industry as it is that of the UCITS Law of 30/03/1988. From then on, Veronique’s career has been growing hand-in-hand with investment funds. In 1989, she joined Credit Lyonnais Luxembourg (CLL) and was later appointed Head of Fund Administration. For the following 11 years, she followed the CLL funds and the team, through the CLL’s history of restructuring and mergers & acquisitions: in 2000, CLL’s Fund Administration department became part of Bysis and she became Managing Director for the Luxembourg entity. In 2002, Credit Agricole / Fastnet took over both the Bysis and the CLL Custody business. “All my colleagues and former colleagues were reassigned to positions within Fastnet and this was a great achievement”, she highlights. Véronique became Head of the Transfer Agency department.
2005 started with a complete career shift for Veronique, as she joined the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Luxembourg, to participate in the launch of the first management company exclusively dedicated to offering substance and management company services to third party investment funds. “As we got started, we were only four of us. The one thing I recall is this white sheet of paper, waiting for us to draw the operational model, the procedures, the reporting we were going to implement. As Head of Operations I was doing a bit of everything, not only transfer agency and fund administration oversight, compliance, organizing due diligence, but also handling the office management, from human resources to finding office space! We had a great operating model and it was working very well. During the four years I was there, we grew the team from four to forty staff!”
In 2009, Veronique was feeling ready to fly her own wings. She left RBS and, together with a former CLL colleague, Yvon Lauret, they created ADEIS, a consulting firm aimed at providing advisory and fund governance solutions exempt from any conflict of interest “because we are a fully independent boutique”. “At first, we were only the two of us. We have be growing a little (up to five people), but we really want to remain a small structure, so we can concentrate on our clients rather than people management”. Veronique Gillet focuses on the consulting services offered by Adeis: “We have a wide range of clients, from over 18 countries, needing our pragmatic feedbacks based on our professional experiences. My sociology background is of great help in these projects, as I work on creating a whole alchemy between the people, the organization, the regulations … “As the crisis had hit strong, the role of the Directors within the Board of the funds has changed drastically: Directors were now expected to know how to react and to pilot the fund out of the turmoil. There was a real need for thorough field expertise within the Boards. As we built an intuiti personae relationship with our clients, I was asked to join some Boards as an Independent Director on a personal assignment basis.” The Independent Directors mandates concern separate clients, so as to not interfere with our consulting activities. We pay close attention as to avoid any conflict of interest and to put our clients’ interest first!”
Veronique’s 27 years career has been characterized by her continuous support to the development of the fund industry in Luxembourg. Moreover, what strikes most is her strong convictions and dedication to change the industry, and make the top management workplace a better one, for women in particular. “I am engaged in promoting actions to allow for a greater number of women in the Boards of Directors. As of today, we are only a handful of women sitting in the boards of directors in Luxembourg. We need this to change, to reach a better parity between men and women. Men and women are complementary, and perform better when working together. Only through a better diversity will the industry benefit from the productive mix of benefits each gender is bringing to the plate.” In 2009, Veronique Gillet registered in an executive Master program in Social and Economic Politics from the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve, to reconnect with sociology. She completed the program and her graduation is pending write-up of the final thesis. “The subject I am working on is the one dear to my heart: ‘ Women quotas in boards’. Bringing the women up to the board is not the final goal. They also need to remain there long enough, and to be in a favorable environment, so that they can give their best contribution to the board.” Veronique is truly dedicated to the causes she believes in. She gets involved in a number of volunteer works. “I act as a volunteer in the Luxembourg Family Planning Center. I also went to Cambodia for a month to serve as a volunteer in a local NGO that builds kindergarten schools within the poorest areas. This way, the children get food and care everyday, while their parents can go and work, and improve their living conditions.”
Veronique Gillet is also very much involved in the fund industry related education: throughout her career, she has been teaching a number of classes for finance professionals, transferring her knowledge and expertise to the future generations. “The industry ten years from now? To me, we tend to an enhanced specialization within the workplace. When I started working with investment funds, we had to have a sort of helicopter view of the situation, as we were handling everything. The vision of today’s professionals is increasingly segmented as the work is organized in silos. Unless professionals walk the extra mile to gain a more global picture, this specialization trend will keep growing.” As an Independent Director, consultant and teacher, she leads her clients and students towards the big picture. “In 2009, we were convinced Independent Directors would have a significant contribution to make to this industry. A few years later, the industry proves we were right. Although we are constantly keeping up with new regulations, we cannot be experts in everything. For this reason, working in small groups and sharing opinions, as we do at Adeis, makes a real difference going forward”.
She has been here when UCITS placed its first milestone; she will be here for the future UCITS and AIFs generations. Veronique Gillet is one of these few people who change the world while bringing a solid ground in the industry. As the last crumbs of cheesecake had vanished, contributing to making the afternoon a sweet one to enjoy, we parted, each going to further meetings. Thank you Veronique for sharing your inner views of the industry with us today.
Adeis is a Luxembourg boutique, incorporated in 2009 as a public limited company (S.A.). The partners have spent their professional lives supporting high standards of ethics and professionalism. They put their skills, network and experience on offer for international asset management companies and family offices. The word Adeis has latin roots and means those "who accompany".
More information? Visit Adeis website http://www.adeis.lu