Steve Georgala, CEO of Maitland, tells us more about the firm with the famously discreet profile (and clients).
F.1.M. : What does Maitland do?
S.G. : Maitland has a unique spread of services, developed organically over the years, which we offer to private, corporate and institutional clients. While some may know us as private client and family office experts, others know us as one of the world’s fastest growing investment fund administrators and yet others as lawyers who have advised on some of the world’s largest M&A corporate activity.
So it is not easy to describe the business model, but we generally refer to ourselves as a global advisory and administration firm providing a consolidated, one-firm approach to fund, family office and corporate services.
Common to all the areas in which we operate is an ability to provide solutions to complex cross-border situations. We operate in multiple jurisdictions, with 14 offices across 12 countries.
Founded in Luxembourg in 1976, the firm is privately owned and fully independent, with 1 000 employees and over $280 billion in assets under administration.
F.1.M. : What is your approach to business?
S.G. : Our approach is relationship-driven and many of our original clients of 40 years still form an important part of our client base today. We believe this is because we give our clients peace of mind, providing them with solutions that secure their future. In this, we provide the highest levels of expertise and competence and work in a way that is uniquely personal, proactive and responsive. We are known for our ability to challenge conventional thinking.
F.1.M. : Since when has Maitland been in monaco?
S.G. : Maitland opened an office in Monaco in 2008 in response to the needs of internationally mobile clients who have holiday properties in the Principality or who reside there. Acknowledging the growing importance of Monaco as a jurisdiction, Maitland chairman, Michael Solomon, relocated from London to head up the office.
The office has expanded to meet the demand for our “one-firm” bespoke services. Through one local point of contact at Maitland in Monaco, clients have access to a multi-service team with a worldwide reach and our unique institutional high standards.
F.1.M. : And what exactly do you offer in Monaco?
S.G. : We offer a very high-touch, personalised service which takes care of clients’ practical needs in Monaco while opening the door to the full range of Maitland’s services worldwide. We have both private and corporate clients in Monaco. For those who wish to holiday in the South of France, our office provides a convenient way to meet your adviser and get an update on family office matters or investments in a relaxed frame of mind. Other clients reside in Monaco but are looking for a powerful bespoke service that can take care of all their international tax, fiduciary, legal and administrative affairs under one roof. Yet others wish to relocate to the Principality and appreciate the peace of mind we provide through handling all aspects of their move. We specialise in the set up and management of multijurisdictional structures and provide the full range of private client and family office services.
F.1.M. : What do you like personally about Monaco?
S.G. : Monaco is where the first significant corporate client for which I had direct responsibility was based. As a result of this client relationship I made several trips to Monaco in the eighties and was mesmerised by the glamour of the place and the people. On the day of the hurricane which, some say, caused the 1987 crash, I was in Monaco and recall the dark skies which stretched across Europe and presaged the destruction of value which followed.
F.1.M. : Why has the firm had such a low profile over the years?
S.G. : The simple answer is we have kept our heads down, put our clients first, and focused on our work. The firm has grown organically, through word of mouth referrals over the years. In addition, you will appreciate that many of our private clients – among them some of them the world’s wealthiest individuals and families – prefer discretion.
That said, we are gradually raising our profile, not least because we believe we have some unique services that others are unable to offer. One example is the way in which we use our industrial-strength technology platform (built to service institutional asset managers) to provide consolidated reporting for our private clients. Another example is our ability to bring legal expertise to bear seamlessly on any area of our business. Maitland was originally founded as an innovative law firm.
F.1.M. : What have you done career-wise?
S.G. : I arrived in Luxembourg in January 1985 on secondment from the South African law firm Webber Wentzel to its Luxembourg office. This eventually became the independent firm, Maitland. From my arrival in Luxembourg I was involved in establishing offshore investment funds and the listing of companies on the Luxembourg stock exchange. My career as a lawyer evolved into a specialisation in international corporate tax advice to our global mining clients. I also retained a hand in investment funds. These days I have few opportunities to provide advice to clients but am able to deploy my experience in the development of Maitland’s own business.
F.1.M. : What are your views on leadership?
S.G. : In order to lead a community of people you must demonstrate to them that you are prepared to live by the rules of the community. It is also helpful if you are able to produce the ideas which shape the rules which govern that community. This requires clearly expressed and firm views tempered by a degree of pragmatism and trust. Trust is built through transparency and consistency. None of this is easy.
F.1.M. : Have you had a cross-border life as well as a cross-border career?
S.G. : Due to my career my family has spent significant periods of time in Luxembourg, Paris and now London over the past 30 years. We anticipated this relatively early on and my wife and I decided 20 years ago to buy a holiday home in South Africa where we have gone as a family every year. This has turned out to be the pivot in our family life which has been very important in creating a semblance of permanence in an otherwise peripatetic existence.
F.1.M. : What “UHNW” activities do you pursue in your personal life?
S.G. : Sadly there is a very clear distinction between servicing wealthy people and being one. However, there is one area where I can enjoy the privileges of wealth and that is in philanthropy. Thanks to a long standing client relationship with a significant charity I get to make meaningful distributions to charities of my choice and I suspect that I could not get any more pleasure from doing this, even if the money were my own.