Luxembourg funds need a Lux-based depositary
A job in a depositary will place you at the centre of the fund’s operational flows, overseeing them, and always keeping the best interests of investors of the fund in mind.
Following both the AIFM Law (2013) and the UCITS V Directive (2014) more specific responsibilities were laid at the door of Investment Managers and Depositary businesses. The aim of both was to enhance investor protection. If you have a Luxembourg fund, you also need a Lux-based depositary. And now those depositaries have additional responsibilities too.
What is a depositary?
A depositary is an independent third party that is responsible for the safekeeping of assets of an investment fund; performing the cash flow monitoring and the oversight duties of the fund, making sure that all is where it needs to be on assets and documentation, and in respect of their commitments to their investors.
Following the new regulations, depositaries became not only responsible for the safekeeping of assets, but also to ensure that any transactions are carried out in accordance with the law, regulation, and fund documentation. This all meant that recruiting staff for lite depositaries became more challenging, as ideal candidates now need a good understanding of quite a number of the fund’s operational flows, and bring technical knowledge to the role too.
Skilled staff who can see the bigger picture
Jobs in the Depositary space in Luxembourg have probably increased ten-fold in the last five years. Previously the staff needed by the larger Depositary Banks were skilled, but they are not so skilled as the staff we hire today on the lite depositary side. This is mainly due to the type of assets being serviced – it is much harder to provide depositary services for AIFs than it is for liquid funds. In the Real Assets world, the techniques to control and oversee these assets are much more complicated.
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From Depositary Bank to Depositary-lite
‘Lite’ depositaries have grown extensively in Luxembourg over the last few years. This was due to a combination of Brexit, the AIFMD, and the general feeling of many Real Estate, Private Equity or other alternative fund managers that Luxembourg was the ideal market to domicile their funds.
Following the introduction of AIFMD, the fund marketing environment in Europe changed. In some countries they created additional marketing conditions which included the requirement for AIFMs (Alternative Investment Fund Managers) to appoint one or more entities to provide ‘depositary-lite’ services to each non-EU AIF they wish to market to investors in each of these countries. Broadly speaking, the obligations are similar to that of the full depositary arrangement. However, the critical aspect of depositary-lite is that an appointed service provider would not face the strict liability for the loss of assets, thereby easing balance sheet concerns.
Following this change, it has become almost normal to now see professional services companies, such as medium-sized Fund Administrators, to offer these services in addition. This especially makes sense if they are already servicing the client from a Fund Administration or Fund Accounting perspective.