By Yolanda Bornand
In your own words, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am Dutch, married for over 25 years, and have two children, both at University in the UK and the Netherlands.
I grew up in the centre of the Netherlands and studied law at the nearby University of Utrecht. I was an avid sportsman in my youth, enjoying cricket, hockey, squash and tennis. Swimming was also a favourite, and I competed to a high level, but was later totally over classed by my children who now have plenty of medals to show off with. Today, I am a keen golfer and enjoy skiing with the family during wintertime.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the people I work with. I’ve found it enriching to live in different places and experience working with different sorts of people and cultures. I’ve had many management positions and roles where I’ve built up and overseen a team, and I like to stimulate and coach others.
What piece of advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Dream big, pursue your goals and never give up.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do in your spare time? Do you have any passions or hobbies?
I enjoy playing golf, skiing and of course spending time with the family, like walking our dog. Cooking, collecting wine, travelling and spending time with friends.
What single achievement are you most proud of?
In many ways, when I’ve achieved something, then I feel it’s time to put my mind towards reaching the next goal, so I don’t think I have a single achievement I’m ‘most’ proud of.
Something I am proud of professionally though, is helping different people progress in their careers – that’s very rewarding. I’m also proud that people I’ve worked with in the past have enjoyed our professional rapport enough to come back and ask to work with me again after some years. Relationships are central to doing business and having strong working interactions with colleagues has been a defining feature of my career that I have enjoyed and benefited from.
Do you travel for work? If so, where do you go? What are the people you meet interested in?
As a CEO I travel pretty regularly – pre pandemic that is. I used to visit our global offices – so I’m on the road in the US, Asia and Europe regularly. I also travel for M&A related activities, or to meet clients, intermediaries or (potential) key hires.
How do you think the industry will change in the next 5 years?
In the short term, I think the recent shift to homeworking is here to stay at the very least partially. I expect it will become an industry standard that a day or a couple of days a week staff will have the flexibility to work at home if they wish to do so.
I believe we will continue to see banks sell their trust businesses and overall, there will be further consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and therefore in the next five years the size of the companies grow. On the other hand it might also be that some bigger players will be broken up into more boutique approach firms with higher quality of service.
I think the industry will see more use of technical solutions and digitalisation – we still lag behind other sectors in this respect and there’s certainly a lot of room for us to grow.
While digitalisation will be part of the future, I think that it will only make the importance of client relationships clearer. Building strong, long-term relationships will remain key for clients and intermediaries. Firms that can prioritise and are successful in establishing great relationships will be the industry leaders.
What makes ZEDRA unique in the industry? What does ZEDRA offer clients that our competitors don’t?
ZEDRA counts nearly 500 employees, and I think the team’s motivation and dedication is well recognized within the industry. We’re exceptionally committed to our clients and their advisors, and we work hard to build an excellent understanding of each client’s needs. The team’s skill and understanding of the global tax and legal environment is also highly appreciated.
We have an excellent employee retention rate – our staff come to us and want to build a career here, so they stay with the company for a long period of time. Our clients like this as we have a deep understanding of their needs, and they can work with a trusted team that is stable and steady.