Company: Rodal Advisory Sarl
Person Interviewed: José Luis Rodríguez Álvarez
Position: Managing Partner, Independent Non-Executive Director
Briefly describe your professional career and the activity carried out by your company.
I started my professional career in the Grand Duchy at the end of 1999 in the BBVA group. In 2002, I was appointed director of BBVA LuxInvest SA in Luxembourg, a position I held until 2018. For 19 years I held various positions in the corporate areas of Financial Management, Accounting & Consolidation and relations with supervisors. From 2006, I also worked with the Asset Management department as a Conducting Officer for Luxembourg’s investment funds and then as a member of their boards of directors. This collaboration allowed me to gain experience in Corporate Governance matters both in the harmonised investment funds (UCITS) and in the alternative funds in Luxembourg.
In 2019, I began a new professional stage as independent director, setting up Rodal Advisory, a member company of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, dedicated to advising on corporate governance matters. I combined this activity with the position of Senior Strategic Partners Manager at 3C Payment Luxembourg S.A., a company specialising in integrated payment systems that operates in 45 countries, including Spain.
What added value do you think the SFF can bring to the financial services industry in Luxembourg and its professionals?
The SFF is a Committee of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg that aims to create a space for opinion and debate on economic and financial issues in Luxembourg; where members of the Chamber can share experiences, establish collaborations and exchange information on trends in the sector. In this sense, the added value of the SFF is to be part of the structure of the Chamber where the diversity of its members, many of them with technical skills in Spain and Luxembourg, will bring a more transversal and global vision to the debates on financial issues.
As coordinator of the SFF, what actions would you like to implement in the short term?
The SFF started in a very special moment, and the crisis of the Covid-19 limited quite a lot the possibilities of organizing face-to-face events. Given this situation, we have been adapting to the circumstances and have launched a series of webinars to give visibility and to set up this Committee.
Returning to the question and depending on the evolution of the health situation, the short-term actions we would like to implement are very well defined by the four coordinators that make up the SFF team:
- ensure that asset management professionals have a meeting platform that provides access to information of interest and facilitates networking;
- organise technical discussions on, for example, the implementation of the European Directive on insurance distribution;
- to achieve a good coordination to publicise the excellent service provided by Spanish banks and to show that this know-how can be exported to the Luxembourg market;
- to develop informative actions on aspects of Spanish and Luxembourg taxation, which affect transactions between the two countries. These actions would be carried out through newsletters and practical seminars on new tax developments and their impact on investment structures.
Do you consider that there is still room to enhance relations and business opportunities between Spain and Luxembourg in the financial sector?
Of course, there are business opportunities between both countries in this sector. The continuous evolution of the European regulatory framework and its implementation in each country brings business opportunities to the surface by creating a single financial market. The introduction of sustainability criteria applicable to finance (ESG criteria: ecological, social and corporate governance) also represents a new axis of financial product development. The large Spanish banks are already among the largest green bond issuers in the world and the Luxembourg Stock Exchange is a pioneer and world leader in this segment with more than 380 green bonds listed. These are just a few examples that show that there is still room to strengthen these relationships. To this we could add digitalisation, the application of new technologies to finance, etc.
Which advantages do you think Luxembourg offers in this sector compared to other EU countries?
Today, Luxembourg is the second largest investment fund centre in the world after the United States and the first in Europe. Its financial centre is a gateway for new products and services requiring a cross-border dimension. Proof of this is that its funds are offered in more than 70 countries. The weight this industry represents for the country’s economy has led to the emergence of a pioneering legal and regulatory environment for the protection of investors, a role played by the CSFF. In addition to this, CSFF has the advantage of being able to work with highly qualified professionals from all over the EU.
How has your sector in Luxembourg been affected by Covid-19? What trends do you think will mark the future?
One of the most visible consequences of Covid-19 concerns the mobility of people. In Luxembourg, during the confinement more than 90% of employees in the financial sector worked from home. Financial institutions have been able to adapt with some ease, thus accelerating the introduction of teleworking. However, the economic impact of the containment measures enacted is unprecedented and all indicators point to a slow economic recovery. Even so, there are opportunities or levers for growth such as sustainable finance or digitalisation that will set the trends for the future. In this context, the SFF will act as a meeting point for members of the Spanish and Luxembourg financial/insurance industry; following the aim that has always guided the activities of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg to play an important role in the commercial and economic relations between both countries.