STEP 60-second interview with Natacha Onawelho-Loren
What is your role within your firm?
I am the managing director of the Accuro Group’s Swiss office.
How did it feel to win a STEP Private Client Award for Trust Company of the Year (midsize firm) last year?
It was a joyful and rewarding occasion. As the award ceremony was held virtually for the first time, we organised an internal event around it, with one of us sharing his computer screen to everyone who had tuned in. This meant that, unlike a ‘normal’ year where only a few would be able to attend the ceremony live, most of us heard the award announcement at the same time. It was a wonderful moment of togetherness and joy.
Why is winning a STEP PCA important to your firm?
STEP is the ultimate accolade in our industry. Winning an award is recognition from our peers that all our efforts and hard work have not gone unnoticed.
We have been on quite a journey since 2017, when we completed the first part of our management buyout. We are now fully independent, and have the luxury of being able to take the long-term view, both for our clients and ourselves, without having to compromise on our independence of mind and action.
What are the main challenges facing your organisation at the moment?
Apart from the pandemic and the challenge of remote working, we are determined to be a force for good socially and environmentally, whilst doing well as a business. The private wealth sector may at times be painted with a tarnished brush, and our aim is to raise awareness and to facilitate responsible wealth and legacy, including addressing inequality and care of our planet.
How will you deal with these challenges?
We are addressing this challenge inwardly and outwardly, circumstances allowing. Inwardly, by making a strong commitment to all our colleagues in terms of corporate governance, profit share, mental health, diversity and inclusion in the work place. Outwardly, by initiating discussions with some of the families we take care of, in the area of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and socially-responsible wealth.
What do you like best about your job?
The ability to meet people of different horizons on different paths in life, and to participate, as much as we can, to their long-term well-being as well as to that of their loved ones.
… and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
We are working in an industry which combines family/personal dynamics with wealth accumulation, wealth preservation and eventually wealth succession. This is quite a challenging mix. Yet, if you get it right in your own role (and for us at Accuro it means being a good trustee) it can be very rewarding.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
I re-discovered how fun, rewarding and interesting my job is a few years ago, when I gave a lecture for STEP on how to be a good trustee. The role is extremely demanding and requires the ability to navigate complex legal and regulatory rules with an ability to forge long-term meaningful relationships.
I'd advise a young person to look for a company with a solid infrastructure and a strong, cohesive team, both internally and externally, as the ability to cooperate within and outside the industry should not be underestimated if you are to look after your clients.
It is a career where no two days are alike and which can be unpredictable. However, and at the risk of repeating myself, it can be very rewarding and a lot of fun.
Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?
Growth will come from entrepreneurs operating ‘COVID-winner’ enterprises, especially from the Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa. In fact anywhere where political uncertainty will lead families to want to protect their wealth.
On the jurisdictions front, there is, and will continue to be, a flight to quality and transparency. As offshore centres get more pressurised, onshore and mid-shore will become even more popular.
Which social media channels do you use and why?
We principally use LinkedIn and Instagram to reach out to our network of intermediaries, to share our vision with the outside world.
Published in STEP on Monday, 15 March 2021.