Pascal Lemann – Poised and Ready for Expersoft’s Accelerating Growth Across Asia Pacific
Hubbis ‘met’ recently with Swiss WealthTech company Expersoft’s relatively new regional manager for APAC, Pascal Lemann, who recounted how the firm is expanding out across the region from its key markets in Singapore and Hong Kong. Lemann has in the past year moved his wife and three young daughters to Singapore from where, in the (hopefully) more normalised times ahead, he will drive the acceleration of Expersoft’s expansion across the region.
Expersoft is a world-renowned expert in software for wealth and asset management, centred on portfolio and client relationship management. The primary product, PM1, is designed to be multi-custodian and multi-currency, which he reports is especially important for independent asset managers (IAMs) and multi-family offices (MFOs).
“The rationale for wealthy private clients working with specialists such as IAMs and MFOs,” Lemann reports, “is for those clients to have their trusted advice available via a single consolidated view across all assets, wherever they are under custody, including their passive investments and non-bankable assets such as collectible cars, art, jewellery, real estate, and so forth, which we can also include through the software. We provide our customers with a reporting tool allowing them to provide consolidated individualised statements to their end clients.”
Covering the bases
Additionally, Expersoft provides a web app and mobile app for customers to offer their end clients the capability to view their positions and performance online anywhere at any time. “What this boils down to,” Lemann reports, “is the provision of a system which covers the value chain of our customers in the wealth management space, and for bank customers we can also layer in payment and ordering services over our web/mobile app solutions.”
Lemann briefly lists the product solutions Expersoft offers, ranging from the modular PM1 offering through which customers can select the features they require for their operations, to the AM-One Software as a Service (SaaS) outsourced platform which provides less complex IAMs and FOs with a broad array of functionalities as an all-inclusive offering including back-office services.
The modular PM1 solutions
“The award-winning PM1 product family provides banks, independent asset managers, family offices, institutional investors and other financial services providers with a single platform to transform all front- and mid-office operations,” Lemann explains. “We combine intelligent technology with beautiful user experience and personalised services to transform our clients’ business into the digital era, covering portfolio management, client relationship management, investment advisory, order management, analytics and reporting.”
And the entry-level AM-One solution
“AM-One,” he explains, “is entry-level, pre-configured and modestly priced. The platform offers the range of functionalities I described earlier with rapid onboarding and industry standard features. While not offering the flexibility of a dedicated PM1 installation, which is more suitable for banks and larger IAMs, AM-One is carefully tuned to meet the typical needs of smaller firms at an attractive cost level. Simply put, smaller or less complex operators will be naturally inclined towards AM-One, while larger or more sophisticated businesses towards their own PM1 installation.”
Expersoft is approaching three decades in business, remains privately owned and covers selected markets in Latin America, continental Europe, the UK, Near East and Asia Pacific. The firm was founded by Urs-Peter Oehen who is a WealthTech pioneer in bringing a true world-class portfolio management system to the market. Expersoft today employs about 270 people in 12 countries.
“We have some 650 clients with a total of CHF3 trillion AuM worldwide today, and more than 20,000 professionals using our systems,” he reports. “The growth rate has been incredible in the last two years, in fact we enjoyed almost 100% growth globally in that time.”
The firm has had a presence in Asia for the past decade and opened an office in Singapore some seven years ago. “We have been successful building our core customers amongst the IAMs and MFOs in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as building in the region on existing major bank relationships from Switzerland. Two important clients we have been working with more recently in this region are Cachet Asset Management, a member of Cachet Group, one of the leading Hong Kong-based financial institutions. The other is the Singapore-based, Sinopartners Financial Services. Both are important new customers and illustrative of the type of clients that are ideally suited for the Expersoft solutions.”
He adds that these types of privately owned IAMs and MFOs are natural clients in Asia, as they are growing fast and face a host of challenges that Expersoft can help rapidly and cost-effectively overcome.
Getting the word out and about
“We win clients such as these through word of mouth, reputation and also through recommendations from the major banks and the EAM desks,” he explains, “as they are of course keen to see Expersoft engage with the IAMs and MFOs as it means the banks’ connectivity and their ease of dealing with them both improve. In both of these cases, we are providing all the key solutions I mentioned earlier in the discussion, Moreover, through our recently established Asian Business Outsourcing Services Center (BOSS), such clients can going forward also delegate their back-office tasks to us.”
Lemann to drive APAC expansion
Lemann joined Expersoft in March 2019 in Switzerland, with the mission to move to Asia to lead regional operations. “Our plan has been to expand the footprint in Asia-Pacific and after six months with the firm in Switzerland I moved my family out to Singapore last October. This is a very fast-growing dynamic environment where our clientele will need many of our solutions, and from a personal perspective it is an exciting and challenging role. From a family viewpoint, we have settled well out here, although like everyone the pandemic has derailed some of our plans.”
He offers some insights into the APAC customer base, commenting that there is a strong regional embrace of the need for WealthTech solutions in response to regulatory demands and end-client needs and expectations.
“Our tools give the customers the freedom and confidence to serve their clients according to the expectations of those clients, so information flows, holistic views, connectivity, and consolidated portfolio valuations and insights, all vital elements for which Expersoft has the products and experience to offer significant advantages to our customers.”
A sharp focus on wealth management
Lemann remarks that aside from the IAMs, MFOs and the wealth departments of the banks and private banks, the company has some other core customers globally, such as a global insurance company, for whom Expersoft provides an asset management solution.
“We stick purely to the wealth and asset management segment of any customers with which we work,” he reports. “Focus is vital, and we aim to be the best at what we do. For example, for major global banks who want to provide IT infrastructure or a platform for their EAM or Wealth Management clients, Expersoft is a viable and growing alternative to what the banks might formerly have provided themselves. We are both more advanced in what we can offer them and also cost-effective. I can cite global Swiss universal banks, for example.”
Asia’s robust IAM and MFO growth
Lemann sees considerable growth ahead for Expersoft in servicing the IAMs and MFOs in the region, as each firm struggles with efficiency, digitisation, aggregation, compliance, and a host of other issues.
“There are numerous regulatory and audit requirements consequently the right software and systems to solve these issues is essential,” he reports, “and that is the Expersoft solution. Having pre-trade checks across multiple custodians , being able to provide the entire log history of conversations held with a client, verifying and proving suitability, KYC, AML and all these challenges our customers face, these are precisely the areas where we can provide outstanding solutions through our AM-One and PM1 offerings.”
Lemann’s key priorities for Expersoft in Asia Pacific
The first priority for Lemann is to enlarge the profitable operation in the region. “We are strong and growing in Singapore and Hong Kong, and then we want to build out in emerging markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as Japan and Australia, but to some extent clearly we must see what happens with the pandemic and travel, of course.”
Secondly, the firm is now building a new Business Outsourcing Services centre for Asia Pacific out of Singapore. And thirdly, Lemann wants to make sure that in the next year the firm delivers successfully and smoothly for those customers who are already engaged or who have signed up recently with Expersoft.
“Finally,” he adds, “there is a really big digitisation project which we will work on in the next 12 to 18 months with a global player, a project that will be somewhat transformational for us in the region and something I will be able to share with you in due course.”
The closing words
Lemann is a genuine, engaging and evidently highly dedicated individual who is clearly relishing the immense opportunity this new role offers him and is ready to propel Expersoft into new markets around the region. There are some benefits for him professionally and the firm during the pandemic, for example he has managed to hire two key new people to join him in Singapore who in more normalised times might not have been so readily available. But the reality is that the real push that Lemann wants to make around the region will be hampered until the pandemic is under greater control worldwide. When that happens, there is little doubt that Expersoft’s solutions will find plenty of appeal across the region.
Getting Personal with Pascal Lemann
Lemann hails from Langnau im Emmental and studied business economics at university in Zurich. His career has encompassed roles in banking and in management consulting with major names such as KPMG and Deloitte. He is a member of the Swiss Financial Analyst Association (SFAA), and a Certified International Wealth Manager and Certified AML Specialist.
“The role I now have here in Asia is truly challenging and exciting,” he comments. “We are established out here but to some extent it is like a start-up type role, as there is such immense opportunity in this region. It is largely up to us to forge the right way forward. I can leverage both my consulting background and my experience of working for two years with a real start-up, both of which taught me much about building operations and business in the financial services world. Having such an experienced and engaged local team on my side, I am really positive and energised about the future of Expersoft Asia.”
Lemann is now 46 and has three young daughters of 10, 6 and 4, who keep him and his wife challenged, busy and fulfilled. “There is so much to do in Singapore with the children,” he reports, “and it is our first love to spend as much time with them as possible doing whatever we can here, in more normal and these less than normal times.”
Down time might be spent listening to an eclectic range of music from classical to hard rock to meditation music. “Music is a constant in my life,” he says, “and so too swimming and mountain biking, which I did lots of in Switzerland, and surprisingly now here in Singapore too.”
Lemann and family have made the best of the lockdown, spending more time as a family as the office has been closed and travel off limits. “We have also had time to engage with a lot of Singaporeans here, taking the chance to meet people that in more hectic times we might not have had the pleasure to connect with. These are all positives from this ghastly pandemic.”
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