It may finally be announced: Blanco and AIRS — the current market leader in the Netherlands in the field of portfolio management and back-office support for wealth- and asset managers, join forces by continuing together, whereby Blanco acquires AIRS. Read the official press release here. We’re convinced that the combination of our innovative technology on the one hand and the specialism of AIRS in the field of portfolio management and securities administration on the other hand is a logical combination. However, we can imagine that customers of both AIRS and Blanco are wondering what this acquisition means for them and how their trusted services will be continued. We ask Joost Walgemoed, founder and CEO of Blanco and Theo Nout, founder of AIRS and from January 2020 COO at Blanco:
Why this joining of forces?
Joost Walgemoed: “From a startup, Blanco has now entered the scale-up phase: thanks to the takeover, we’re now serving more than 100 clients in one fell swoop, including (independent) wealth- and asset managers, banks, family offices, brokers and custodians. Continuity and innovative strength offered to our customers are important motives for joining forces. Continuity, in the form of a broader team of people and more clients, creates even more scope for innovation. In this way, we can better help our clients with the latest digital technology to better serve their customers to be compliant and remain so in the future”.
Will the AIRS platform eventually be merged with the Blanco platform?
Theo Nout: “That’s right. But we’re doing this very gradually: module-by-module, functionality-by-functionality. We’ll take the time to process our customers’ data on both platforms side by side, only when we ourselves are convinced that clients could migrate, we’ll invite customers to judge for themselves whether they want to. In other words: the interests of the customer come first for us.“
Joost Walgemoed: “Since 2003, AIRS has developed an enormous amount of functionality for portfolio management and reporting, which is not yet available on the Blanco platform. These functionalities will gradually be developed on the Blanco platform, but in the Blanco way, on the basis of the newest technology and ease of use.“
So customers of AIRS are not immediately transferred to Blanco’s technology?
Theo Nout: “Of course not”. The AIRs software will remain in full use for at least the next four years. During this period we’ll continue to take care of portfolio management and securities administration on both platforms. Frank Egthuijsen will continue to lead the operations team and will remain responsible for the development of the AIRS application.“
And what happens to the flexible service that customers are used to from AIRS?
Theo Nout: “Individual wishes of wealth- and asset managers in terms of client output — such as performance reports, wealth- and asset management contracts, investment proposals — and wishes regarding the AIRS client portal and mobile will remain a standard part of the service, this also applies to the Blanco platform. AIRS clients will continue to have their permanent contacts and I’ll be responsible within the management of Blanco for both the operation on the AIRS platform and the Blanco platform.“
What about the open architecture of the Blanco and AIRS platform?
Joost Walgemoed: “It’s sacred. Our platform has an open architecture, we want to open up and/or connect as many banks as possible in order to offer wealth- and asset managers the choice of which bank they want to work with. Customers decide for themselves which modules add value to their business, you pay for what you use. It’s that simple. In the coming year, we’ll be the first to focus on linking the Blanco KYC suite to the AIRS platform: the Client Onboarding module, the Financial Investment Plan and the Client File module. In addition, the portfolio management system of AIRS is linked to Blanco’s Securities Administration.“
You mentioned as the reason for the takeover the strengthening of continuity and innovation power. What advantages can your customers experience as a result of the acquisition?
Theo Nout: “At AIRS, we already offered most of the functionalities and services in the area of portfolio management and securities administration. We’re the market leader in this field, but our technology is no longer the latest in terms of architecture and language. Blanco is truly at the forefront of technology. I find it unbelievable what they have managed to build at Blanco since 2015: a cloud-based platform, very innovative and user-friendly.“
Joost Walgemoed: “At Blanco we’re impressed by the knowledge and skills of AIRS in the field of portfolio management and securities administration. With this knowledge we can further develop the Blanco platform much faster and we can also offer our customers the best back-office support.“
How is the acquisition of AIRS by Blanco reflected in the new management?
Joost Walgemoed: “Theo Nout joins the board of Blanco as COO. In this role, he’s ultimately responsible for the entire securities operation. In addition, Theo Nout is also commercially responsible for the portfolio management & reporting module on the Blanco platform. Bastiaan de Ruiter will succeed Dennis Overbeeke as CTO on the board. Bastiaan studied computer science in Delft, worked for over 5 years as a strategy consultant at McKinsey’s IT practice and for the past 11 years he held various management positions at SNS Reaal and Volksbank, with risk as the main focus area. We’ve also appointed a Chief Legal & Compliance Officer within the Management Board. This is logical, because compliance and privacy are currently the most important areas of attention within financial institutions and are therefore crucial within Blanco’s services. Manouk Fles will fulfill this role: she’s been involved with Blanco from the start. Bernadette Wijnings will remain CFO and I will remain CEO.”