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MUFG Investor Services builds a strong foundation in Cyprus

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The Cyprus Mail recently met with Yannis Matsis, head of MUFG Investor Services’ Cyprus office, to discuss the company’s plans for the Cyprus business, its commitment to the region and its culture of collaboration and inclusion

To what do you attribute the success of MUFG Investor Services in Cyprus?
I am the head of the Cyprus office, which we opened in June 2022. Our initial business plan called for about 50 employees in this office, but a little more than a year later, we have more than 150 colleagues and we’re planning to hire more in the coming years. We’ve seen terrific growth, and this is an important office for the business, especially when you consider that we have about 1,800 employees globally. Ultimately, we anticipate that about 20 per cent of our workforce will be based in Cyprus.

Our success in Cyprus comes from a combination of two factors. First, our executive committee ensured that we have highly experienced and professional colleagues from established offices to train our local teams. Second, the quality of the financial services operations teams and Information Technology (IT) professionals is exceptionally high. We have been so impressed by the caliber of the talent pool that we’re planning to expand the number of people working in Cyprus beyond our original business plan. When we are fully staffed here, I estimate that we will be responsible for contributing €40 million annually to the Cyprus GDP. It’s been a remarkable journey so far and we are looking forward to even greater success.

What is MUFG Investor Services’ business, and who are its clients?
MUFG Investor Services is the fifth largest fund administrator in the world. As of the second quarter of 2023, we have Assets-Under-Administration (AUA) of $785 billion, servicing 2,620 funds of 502 clients, including some of the largest asset managers in the world. We are a division of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of the largest banks globally, with $3.2 trillion in assets. In some ways, fund administration is very similar to auditing. Auditors work for shareholders and are responsible for providing an independent view of the management accounts of a company. Similarly, fund administrators work for the fund investors, and are responsible for giving an independent view of the valuation and performance of the fund, which is managed by an investment manager.

Our service removes any conflict of interest that investment managers might have in valuing the funds they manage. While auditors perform their duties annually, fund administrators conduct fund valuations daily and follow a ‘bottom-up’ approach. This means each asset and liability of a fund is valued separately to arrive at a total Net-Asset-Valuation (NAV). Fund administration and asset servicing are only a part of what we offer clients. Increasingly, fund managers are outsourcing back-, middle- and even front-office processes, and are asking us to help them with their most challenging issues. Because we are a division of MJFG, we can offer clients a wide range of scalable and flexible solutions across the entire investment value chain, beyond what traditional asset servicing companies provide.

In addition to fund administration and asset servicing, our tailored solutions include fund financing, banking and liquidity, securities lending, loan servicing, foreign exchange overlay (FX) services, business consulting services, business process outsourcing, financing and corporate and regulatory services. Our mission is to provide clients with all the services they need in one place – in other words, a “one-stop” shop.

We believe that we best serve our clients by offering a suite of integrated solutions to help them better manage their systems and processes. We’re focused on helping clients streamline their operations, mitigate risk and enhance efficiencies, so they can focus on their main goals: Driving growth and increasing revenue.

What does the phrase “Brilliantly Different” mean, and how does it reflect your culture?
“Brilliantly Different” is our Employee Value Proposition (EVP), and I believe it’s a true differentiator for Investor Services.

Our human resources team developed the EVP after hosting focus groups to understand how employees see the business. That research showed our colleagues think Investor Services is a great place to work that is focused on innovation. They see our leadership as accessible and transparent, and believe we have an open, supportive and flexible culture that offers superior opportunity and career development. We were extremely pleased when newly hired employees told us that we are very different from other financial services firms. In fact, they see us as “Brilliantly Different”.

Our management team seized on that concept and we’re carrying it through everything we do. We “Imagine Different” by encouraging ideas and innovation; we “Live Different” by promoting flexibility and work-life balance; we “Deliver Different” by focusing on strong performance and superior client service; and we “Learn Different” by ensuring our colleagues continually develop their skills and grow.

What makes the working culture unique at Investor Services? What sets it apart from other businesses?
We’ve developed a culture of collaboration that is totally focused at every level on serving clients. As I mentioned earlier, we have found an incredibly deep pool of talented professionals in Cyprus and we’re very pleased that they are excited about working with us.

I believe our culture and values set us apart from competitors and helps us to attract top performers, as we encourage trust, challenge and empowerment, openness and honesty. We hire talented professionals and trust them to work together to develop relationships and deliver the best possible service to the client. We empower colleagues to exchange ideas and respectfully challenge the status quo. We’ve implemented superior training and development programmes because we want the same type of long-term relationships with our employees as we have with our clients.

An important part of that relationship is cultivating a sense of belonging within the business. The senior leaders here spend a great deal of time listening to and hearing our colleagues – we want to know what they are thinking and why – because we continually fine-tune our approach to addressing their needs. Diversity is very important to us as well – we’re inclusive and welcome new viewpoints.

And partnering with our clients is at the heart of everything we do. By listening and understanding their needs, we deliver the best possible client experience.

You mentioned diversity and inclusion. What has Investor Services done to promote a more diverse and inclusive culture?
Diversity and inclusion are priorities throughout our organisation, beginning with the actions of our senior leaders. Among the colleagues in our Cyprus office, we employ more than 20 different nationalities, all age groups and have a very close gender ratio. Having employees with those diverse backgrounds ensures diversity in skills and thought, which makes us unique.

And, at all times, we demand that our colleagues are treated with kindness and respect. We’ve created a warm environment where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work and know that they are respected and supported. In fact, the three pillars of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programme are increasing LGBTQ+ awareness, Gender, and Mental Health and Wellness. We’ve introduced discussion groups and programmes, as well as a cell phone app, Unmind, that people use to help manage their mental health and wellbeing. And we support and participate in LGBTQ+ Pride events in many of the areas where we have offices. In May, I was very proud of the 11 Cyprus colleagues who marched in the Cyprus Pride 2023 parade in Nicosia.

How does Investor Services prioritise employee development and career growth?
Very often, developing a strong workforce begins with helping students. We partner with universities to contribute to the education of young adults, especially in financial services and Information Technology. We provide internships and business training, and we work closely with college recruiters to be an employer of choice for the best graduating students. Our HR team spends a great deal of time on programmes to attract top talent from our competitors.

After we recruit and hire new colleagues, we take our responsibility to provide learning and development programmes seriously. We have several Learning & Development platforms and programmes to ensure we provide development and growth opportunities and prepare them for the next steps in their careers. These programmes begin with early career development skills, and as colleagues grow, we help them develop team leader and people manager skills. We offer coaching at all levels, and additional learning to move our more seasoned managers to the next level of success. In addition, we help our team members improve their communications skills and offer comprehensive learning programmes on our academy platform.

We’re investing in our new Cyprus colleagues working in Client Operations and Middle Office Operations by having them all participate in our operations academy training, which covers all aspects of the fund industry and provides deeper knowledge and understanding of our business. I believe this type of training will encourage professionals from other industries to consider our company.

Earlier this month, Investor Services opened new offices in Cyprus. What does that say about your commitment to this region and how do you see the business growing in the coming years?
Our new office in Limassol makes a powerful statement about our commitment to Cyprus. We were honoured to host Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides and many other dignitaries at our inaugural event on September 13.

I mentioned earlier that our office has grown significantly in the past year and it’s an important part of our “near-shoring” strategy and follow-the-sun business model. The Cyprus office, and others around the world, enable Investor Services to provide clients with operational support in a wide range of global markets by establishing footprints in or near the world’s largest financial centres. Our business has grown significantly in all key metrics, and we’ll continue expanding by adding new clients, as well as new products and services.

Our office is filled with talented professionals, who seamlessly deliver exceptional service to our clients and have fun at the same time. I have worked in several global companies in my career, and I can honestly say this is the best culture and environment I have come across.

This article was originally featured in Cyprus Mail.