What are the challenges in the share plan industry and how can Equatex help clients in overcoming them? These are the questions that Finn L. Dahl is looking to answer in his new role as Chief Commercial Officer. Here, Finn discusses innovation, mounting regulation and enhancing Equatex’s service offering. He also tells us why he would love to be in Sydney right now.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I have a background in finance and started my career at KPMG, where I also had the opportunity to work in Sydney for a few years. In 2006, I joined Oslo-based Accurate Equity and held various positions within the company until I took the helm as CEO in 2013. We were acquired by Equatex in 2015 and since then I have been a member of the Executive Board with responsibility for the Nordic and Benelux regions until my recent change of role to Chief Commercial Officer. I have spent much of my entire career in this industry with significant exposure to the UK, US, DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and Nordic regions.
How do you think Equatex has changed over the last couple of years?
After the carve-out from UBS, we made significant steps to expand our local presence, with a key focus on the UK, US, DACH and Nordic regions. We have attracted top talent in these various markets to ensure we have the local knowledge to service our clients effectively and through that drive client satisfaction and company growth. Equity-based compensation is now our core and only business, and this enables us to stay on top of the markets, regulatory developments and ever-changing client needs.
You were recently appointed Chief Commercial Officer, what are you looking forward to most about your new role?
I am really looking forward to getting to know our clients even better. What are their pain points? Where can we improve efficiency, streamlining and automation both internally and for clients? What products should we be developing for our clients to further ease their burden of compensation administration and accounting? I look forward to truly diving into the details of every corporate client we have and assess where we can improve our performance, product and service offering.
The challenge is not always ‘building it right’ but ‘building the right thing at the right time’
What do you think are the main challenges and opportunities within the share plan industry?
To me, challenges and opportunities go hand in hand. I would split the main items into three buckets which are all interlinked: regulation, globalisation and innovation. Regulation is becoming more challenging every year, both in terms of equity compensation, caps on bonuses and say on pay, but also from a banking and transaction point of view as increasing local and cross-country regulatory changes must be adopted. Globalisation means clients would like a one-stop-shop for themselves and their participants, so we must service the client and their participants in all locations and jurisdictions, incorporating local differences in plan set-ups, tax and accounting treatment, as well as local and international banking regulations.
And what about innovation?
Our clients expect service providers to introduce new technology facilitating easy access, seamless interfaces, automation and, I expect in the near future, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The challenge is not always ‘building it right’ but ‘building the right thing at the right time’ – being able to understand what our clients want before they know they want it, and also managing expectations as to what will be available when. One of Equatex’s core values is innovation, and with our newly redesigned participant interface on EquatePlus, our global share plan administration platform, our integration with PeerTracker, and other products including EquatePyramid, we are showing the market that we will continue to be at the forefront of innovation.
Outside of the office, what are your hobbies and passions?
For the past 12 years my office has really been with me wherever I have gone and my work/life balance has been to combine the two. I have been a very active handball player for 30 years but now I have a two- and three-year-old so outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family. We love to travel and like the US and Southern Europe, but when the kids are older, I hope we can do a family trip to Australia.
If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would it be and why?
That’s an easy one – Sydney without a doubt. I love the people, climate and exoticness of it. After spending two years there early in my career, I always said that if it was closer to home, I would still be there. We have even named our daughter Sydney Madeleine. It has been too long since my last visit and is definitely high on my wish list.
What is the most valuable leadership lesson you have learned in your career so far?
Be open, true and fair in all your dealings with people. I work with a smart group of people and believe that transparency and reasoning will take you far. Accept and embrace that people might have a different opinion from yourself and try to balance when you need to be a colleague and when you need to be a leader.