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Merger of leading governance firms provides certainty in a rapidly changing world

Waystone, a merger of DMS, MontLake and MDO, is the global leading provider of institutional governance, risk and compliance services to investors and the asset management industry

Waystone is the name of the new brand that was created as a result of the merger of DMS, MontLake and MDO, which was announced in 2020. Partnering with institutional investors, investment funds and asset managers, the company builds, supports and protects investment structures and strategies worldwide.

In a complex world that is subject to constant change, certainty is a commodity in very high demand. Waystone delivers that dimension of certainty by addressing the challenges faced by investors and asset managers in an uncomplicated and unambiguous way.

With over 20 years’ experience and a comprehensive range of specialist services to its name, Waystone is now supporting asset managers with more than $1tn in assets.

The new brand reflects what Waystone means to its clients. “We put a lot of thought into not only what the brand looks like visually, but also what it would represent to our institutional clients and investors,” explains Waystone’s marketing director, Alison Mitsas.

“Following conversations with clients, staff and referrers and other partners right along the chain, we are very proud that, amongst the myriad of feedback received, the consistent message was our clients felt assured of the level of service they receive, with one key comment being that they ‘could sleep easy at night with Waystone looking after them’.”

Waystone’s key message is ‘certainty in your world’ and is derived from its new logo symbol, representative of a stylised ‘waystone’, so called because it was used to make compass magnets to guide mariners in the 1500s.

“We are officially launching the Waystone brand on March 22nd, however, the integration of the three groups has already taken place and we have been working together as one team for some time,” explains Mitsas.

With vast and complementary expertise, the three companies are natural partners.

DMS, headquartered in Ireland is the worldwide leader in governance, risk and compliance, representing leading investment funds and managers globally.

MontLake, also headquartered in Dublin, is a leading UCITS management company and alternative investment fund (AIF) manager which brings world-class infrastructure solutions to the world’s leading investment managers. MontLake’s dedicated investment professionals have led successful distribution efforts for some of the leading hedge fund and asset management firms globally.

MDO, which is Luxembourg based, is a leading UCITS management company and alternative investment fund manager with a long and recognised track record in providing high-quality, solution-driven services.

“The two Ireland-headquartered firms complemented each other in their areas of expertise; with one having particular expertise in AIFs and the other favouring UCITS,” says Waystone chief growth officer, Cyril Delamare.

“Combining the two made for a very well-rounded business. The addition of MDO, one of the most long-standing third-party management firms in Luxembourg, enables the new firm to offer the full suite of management services in Europe. Waystone is the only firm that has full licences and operations in all the main finance centres in Europe.”

Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are nothing new to the group, with DMS in particular having made a number of acquisitions over recent years. Those acquisitions included Host Capital in London, a UK ACD firm, Oligo Swiss Fund Services and Aviation Corporate Services, an Ireland-based aviation services company, based in Cashel, Co Tipperary. The Cashel operation expanded to become a Centre of Excellence for DMS and will continue to play the same role for Waystone.

“Europe is where we have over 60 per cent of our 325 staff,” says Delamare.

“The new name is just the final step in the process of creating the new brand. We decided that bringing everyone under the one name would be the final thing we did after integrating the three teams,” he points out.

“We are still doing what we always did, just in one organisation and with one team. We have the same core expertise in governance, fund structuring, management company oversight, building funds, operating funds and so on. Our objective is to create an institutional global leader to define the governance industry,” Delamere says.

“We serve global asset management firms’ regulatory, governance and fund structuring needs and we are able to do that on a global scale across America, Europe and Asia on a multi-jurisdictional basis.

We plan to grow organically as well as through further acquisitions

“When clients come to Waystone, we can provide services for any kind of fund structure globally. We can also support asset managers in deciding what kind of structure they need in order to deliver on their asset-raising objectives. We are able to work with clients that have increasingly complex needs and deliver bespoke and tailored solutions to meet those needs.”

The merger was more than just about aggregating expertise and experience, however. “An exercise like this takes time,” says Mitsas. “We wanted to retain the heritage and DNA of the three companies and encapsulate these in the new brand and group. Our new branding has a modern institutional look and feel in line with the new organisation, however, we wanted to make sure that we remained true to the heritage and culture developed over the past 20 years. It’s an important step for the group and we are excited for the future.”

“The industry has seen quite a lot of mergers and acquisition activity of late,” says Delamare. “First in fund administration and now in the management company space. We are well positioned to benefit from that trend. We plan to grow organically as well as through further acquisitions which will see new groups joining the firm. Our modern, new, elevated brand will support that activity.”

The company will also maintain its leading-edge position in the industry. “One key word is anticipation,” Delamare points out. “That means staying ahead of the curve of new regulation globally. For example, we are getting involved in the establishment of the new Variable Capital Company (VCC) fund structures just launched in Singapore which are aiming to become the Asia-Pacific version of UCITS. We were also involved in discussions around the Irish Investment Limited Partnership legislation. We are able to bring along a wealth of knowledge of private equity and other illiquid investment structures from many different geographies.”

The Waystone offer

Waystone’s service offerings are firmly rooted in its core principles of being astute, proactive, purposeful, inclusive and principled. “Investors are at the heart of what we do,” says Delamare. “Investment funds exist because they have investors, and they have to meet investor expectations. We are at the forefront of understanding the evolution of investor needs. We also possess an in-depth understanding of what investors are looking for and we pass on that knowledge to our fund manager clients.”

Waystone has continued to grow despite the challenging business and investment environment created by Covid-19. “We continue to grow, and we are proud that we have continued to be a great place to work,” says Mitsas.

You get to work with a diverse team of people around the globe who are the best of breed

“Covid-19 hasn’t changed the growth trajectory for us. Fund managers are still setting up new funds and good governance and appropriate independent oversight are more important than ever in the remote working situation. We are currently recruiting for 30 roles globally, the majority of them in Ireland. We have also been growing our Centre of Excellence in Cashel and we have been working very closely with IDA Ireland on that. We have a highly-talented, experienced and motivated group of people working for us,” says Delamare.

Staff are attracted by the career opportunities as well as other benefits.

“There is a real family feeling to the workplace,” says Mitsas. “During the pandemic, as well as the usual online trivia quizzes and informal coffee meetings, we held virtual Pilates, yoga classes and other virtual group events to keep the teams connected. We have a very strong focus on mental health, which is important during these challenging times. We pride ourselves on being a company that looks out for its employees.”

”It’s more than just a job when you join Waystone,” she adds. “You get to work with a diverse team of people around the globe who are the best of breed and are there to help one another succeed. That’s what’s helped deliver such fantastic results since we came together as one company.”

Looking ahead, Waystone is set to continue to grow as the global leader in institutional governance, risk and compliance services to investors and the asset management industry.

Discover more at waystone.com