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  • Interview: “The IT area is always characterized by development and change”

    IT is the central element in the cooperation between the digital liability umbrella CONCEDUS and the affiliated fintechs. In an interview, CTO Marcel Lacroze explains the advantages of digital workflows, the requirements that young financial companies have to meet in terms of their infrastructure and what an employee in the CONCEDUS IT team should ideally have.

    Why are more and more fintechs choosing CONCEDUS as their liability umbrella?

    Marcel: We at CONCEDUS aim to do everything digitally. This is of course very interesting for many companies that are now going onto the market with their financial solutions. But it doesn’t just have to be digital, it also has to be fast and of course scalable. That’s why fintechs rely on a digital liability umbrella like CONCEDUS. Nobody wants to have stacks of documents anymore and then have to file them in files – and that’s why they come to us. It’s the same reason people are turning to solutions like N26 more and more: because it’s more modern, because it’s faster and probably a little bit cooler too.

    When working with fintechs, does it make a difference whether they have their own software infrastructure?

    Marcel: In principle, it makes no difference to us whether the fintechs have their own IT solution or rely on external software. From a purely technical point of view and detached from all regulations, which of course have to be observed, the hurdle for working with us is not particularly high, for example to connect to our interfaces – and that is also our claim. At CONCEDUS there is a fixed documentation for the respective application, which we design in consultation with our customers and with a view to the regulations. The processes then run automatically so that as little intervention as possible is required. If you have your own IT solution, communication is often easier and faster because the company then knows pretty much exactly what is going on with them. If the IT is outsourced, it can be a bit more complicated – but that’s not a problem for us.

    How does the integration of the IT systems with your partner companies work then?

    Marcel: Many of the services and modules that we currently use for our customers have already been written and must be implemented as a matter of priority. Of course, these IT systems have to be continuously developed and adapted – but the fintechs usually don’t even notice that. The companies do not need pure developers for this, but rather people who implement it on their site. You don’t need to have deep programming knowledge for this. With us, everything runs via APIs, which is an absolute standard. All fintechs usually get along very well with this.

    You are currently looking for IT support yourself. What does a new employee at CONCEDUS need to have?

    Marcel: Even though we have already programmed existing modules and services, a lot is still being developed or further developed. That is also clear, because we always have to adapt our systems to the respective application and to new business models. And of course that makes it exciting. It makes perfect sense if you, as a developer at CONCEDUS, master one or two object-oriented languages ​​- all other languages ​​are then only dialects, which you then only need to acquire. We use a lot of C and C-Sharp. I’m also open to completely different languages ​​like Node or Python. For us, it’s less about having an absolute specialist than we are looking for people who have a somewhat broader spectrum. The tasks are changing faster and faster, which means that the languages ​​and infrastructures are also constantly evolving. That’s what IT brings with it. The area is always characterized by development and change.

    What trends do you see that will increasingly affect you and your team in 2022?

    Marcel: Definitely the scaling. This could also lead to maybe using different languages ​​than now – maybe Go or even something newer. The requirement will increase that at times an extremely large amount of data has to be processed – and still with a very high need for security. And then that also goes beyond the interfaces or the programming, but would rather take place at the infrastructure level. Especially when it comes to IT security, there are real dangers that you have to actively consider in advance. For this, the IT must always be up to date. If more happens in the direction of crypto, we will also have to develop further in terms of the implementation of interfaces. This is a completely new area and IT employees are less required to speak a specific language than to find new, intelligent solutions for challenges that are becoming more and more complex.

    Work in the office or home office – how do you work in the IT area?

    Marcel: We work a lot hybrid at CONCEDUS. For example, I am either here in the office near Nuremberg, but I also work several days a week from Frankfurt. Especially with new employees, it makes sense in the initial phase if they spend as much time as possible in the office. Later it depends very much on the current project phase or on the current issues that are pending. Some things are better done in two or three days from the home office, because many people work more concentrated there. I believe that in the longer term, hybrid working is the future, at least for digital companies. To be honest, it doesn’t matter so much to me where someone sits, but that he or she has the fire to further develop CONCEDUS and bring it forward. This is absolutely the focus for us when looking for a job.

    Thank you for taking the time for the interview, Marcel!

    “Pre-Marketing” for investment funds: Not without the Bafin

    If a fund provider wants to approach potential investors in order to test their interest in a fund before it is launched, the Bafin must be informed immediately – for example by the responsible liability umbrella. Failure to comply could result in a hefty fine.

    The times when the advance approach to potential fund investors in Germany was largely unregulated are now over. Since August 2, 2021, not only the term “pre-marketing” has been defined in Europe as part of the fund location law; there are also uniform rules that must be observed by the fund houses.

    The EU understands pre-marketing as “the direct or indirect provision of information about investment strategies or investment concepts to potential professional investors resident in the EU in order to test their interest in a fund that has not yet been launched or for which it is still available in the respective member state there is no sales notice”.

    Liability umbrella must inform the Bafin

    From now on, the fund house or the associated liability umbrella must notify Bafin two weeks before the start of pre-marketing that potential investors are being approached. Failure to register with the financial supervisory authority is considered an administrative offense that can be punished with a fine of up to €200,000 or twice the economic benefit derived from the violation.

    In the past, smaller providers in particular had often offered their niche funds on the market with the 34f approval and had previously carried out pre-marketing for advertising purposes. In the meantime, these companies must also apply for WpIG approval – or use a liability umbrella such as CONCEDUS, which coordinates with the financial supervisory authority.

    The notification to the Bafin as part of the pre-marketing includes naming the EU countries in which the pre-marketing will take place and the envisaged period. In addition, the fund manager must describe what the preliminary approach will look like and what investment strategy is being pursued for the relevant fund.

    More information can be found here.