Appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Equatex in 2014, Frank has worked in the share plan industry for more than 15 years, building up a vast knowledge of equity-based compensation. Here, he discusses the challenges of internationalisation and increasing regulatory requirements.
How do you think Equatex has changed over the past two years?
I have seen the organisation shift from being quite niche to becoming a well-rounded business with multiple products offered from different geographic locations. It has been quite a journey. As Equatex used to be part of UBS’s service model, we needed to build up several support functions like Finance and HR when we became an independent company. After our initial Swiss carve-out, we then transitioned into various jurisdictions including the US, Germany and UK. But what has really changed from an outside perspective is that we are now much more focussed on the equity-based compensation world and our clients.
What are the main challenges and opportunities in the share plan industry?
One of the biggest challenges is internationalisation: the demand for local plans in a broader universe of global plans is challenging from both functionality and regulatory points of view. Plans that involve huge numbers of employees across multiple jurisdictions need to follow local rules as well as global set-ups. Automation is one of the main opportunities here; extensive, global set-ups require automation in order to be smart, efficient and reliable. This is particularly true in the first two quarters of the year, which are regarded as the peak time for plan events such as vestings. Compared to the wider industry, I think Equatex is quite far ahead on investment in technology that has the ability to capture all these processes and the user experience and the backend system of our platform EquatePlus work seamlessly together.
Where does regulation fit in?
Automation and regulation come together in two points. One is the reliability of data for regulatory reporting. If the process is not automated, then it is susceptible to human error and mistakes, and the data cannot be relied upon. The other is compliance. Different controls, rules and exceptions can be built into an automated process so it stays within the regulatory framework.
What future trends will impact the industry?
There’s a continuous trend towards outsourcing activities. It’s important to be able to find partners that are reliable and who can help deliver new processes, technology and innovation. I also think the market is becoming more complex on the corporate reporting side, which is something that we are catering for through utilising the right systems for compiling and analysing data.
When you’re not working, what are your hobbies and passions?
Travelling – and taking photos while doing so. I like to explore places I’ve never been to before and enjoy cultural diversity – to explore these differences brings colour into our lives. I’m not the kind of person who could stay a week (or more) at the beach; I am active and usually drive around as I also enjoy driving cars and motorbikes.
If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I’m a fan of Italy and its hospitality, atmosphere and different landscapes. Again I would visit somewhere I hadn’t been before. At the same time, I feel at home in Zurich. I used to live in Germany and the US, but what we have here in Zurich in terms of quality of life is really great.
What is your most valuable leadership advice?
Be authentic – you have to be yourself, especially when you are leading others. And try to have fun, even on a rough day, and maintain a certain level of enjoyment as it helps you to manage challenges better.