Michel van Leeuwen, group chief executive, IMS Group

IMS Group – Best North American Regulatory Adviser, Best European Regulatory Adviser

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The London-headquartered IMS Group is a leading provider of consulting and integrated business support to the asset management and securities industry. The group’s core service offering is regulatory compliance consulting to UK-regulated financial services firms.

IMS supports more than 600 investment businesses, ranging from established global firms to start-ups. Its clients include many of the world's largest hedge funds, private equity firms, funds of funds, family offices and institutional pension funds.

As well as offering ongoing compliance consulting, IMS has offered a complete FSA application project management service since 1997. Its FSA regulatory transactions team is the country’s only dedicated regulatory application team and the largest provider of applications for wholesale investment firms to the UK regulator, processing more than 100 applications a year.

The management team is headed by group chief executive Michel van Leeuwen (pictured), while founder Scott Wilson is a non-executive director.

Over the years, IMS has continued to innovate and evolve, and the firm has developed six core business offerings comprising regulation and compliance, accounting and tax, portfolio risk management, hosted regulatory permissions, education and training, and recruitment.

Sovereign Capital, a UK buy and build specialist, made a major investment in IMS in November 2010. In February this year, IMS acquired MMS Regulatory Solutions, which is regarded as one of London’s premier compliance consultancies.

According to Van Leeuwen, IMS wants to consolidate the sector, since it is still relatively regionalised and fragmented; there is no proverbial 800lb gorilla. “We intend to become a much larger company to service our clients better across all time zones,” he says. “We hope to attract bigger clients who want the same compliance manual wherever they are – be it Hong Kong, London or New York.”

The acquisition illustrates the group’s commitment to broadening its array of resources and expertise as global regulatory issues become more complex. “Quality of compliance is becoming paramount as the industry evolves,” says Van Leeuwen, adding that the firm has a three-pronged plan following the acquisition.

“First, we want to keep growing our market share in the UK; secondly, we want a 20 per cent market share in the US and Asia; and thirdly, we want to underpin it all with technology to ensure we’re delivering consistent quality to our clients.”

The group’s New York office regulatory services include offering expertise on state registrations and regulatory requirements for both investment advisers and broker-dealers. Guidance is offered to broker-dealers seeking to do business in the US through the Finra business planning and membership filing procedures, in addition to helping firms obtain the required Finra regulatory approval as a result of changes or additions to its business practice post-registration.

IMS also helps firms in the US seeking to register as investment advisers with the SEC, including, for example, preparation of the Form ADV and applicable schedules along with annual updates and filings of all SEC required forms. The firm’s US expertise extends to recommendations concerning whether or not SEC or Finra registration is warranted.

Van Leeuwen adds: “The Hedgeweek voters are valued clients, so we’d like to say a very big thank to all those who voted for us.”

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Download the special report Hedgeweek Awards 2011


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