Private Equity and Venture Capital talents wanted – The need for highly professional training solutions
By Stephane Pesch – The private equity and venture capital industries have shown tremendous growth and have attracted lots of attention and new investors over the last years due to their inherent qualities (strong performance and returns, long term approach, focus on value creation, financing of the real economy and innovation).
Thriving sectors embed lots of upsides and allow practitioners and future practitioners to be exposed to a high pace (certainly correlated with hard work and robust initial skills), quite agile and forward-thinking industries (e.g. at the forefront of technology and other investment trends), intellectually enriching activities and experiences, varied tasks and interactions with different actors (including investors, shareholders, service providers, public authorities and specialised associations), which all make perfect sense and have a real purpose. In such a positive cycle, boosting your competences, enhancing your skills and knowledge is a must and will hugely increase the value of your profile and potentially open new opportunities in the future (hint: take your time to build your foundation and expertise), which will facilitate a successful career in PE and VC. Interesting packages, bonuses and performance-linked fees are another nice ingredient and clearly represent an additional factor of motivation, another persuasive argument to join our entrepreneurial industries as soon as possible.
In a perfect world, the downsides of thriving sectors would not really exist or be very limited. Realistically, however, an obvious threat or obstacle our favourite industries could endure in the future is exactly the lack of available, well trained, experienced and less experienced talents ready to either take a chance or make a move towards Luxembourg and its well-equipped ecosystem that offers a proven expertise (best-in-class players including General Partners, Limited Partners, family offices, services providers and pools of experts); a tremendous toolbox facilitating the launch of flexible vehicles/structures; the flair of an internationally recognised financial hub with its praised stability; and a resilient capacity to react to external events and special situations. Constant growth therefore rhymes with continuously attracting new talents, not just once a year when the best Master programs are delivering a new batch of hungry, ambitious youngsters who are looking for a first job, but also already experienced professionals interested to evolve in another firm or segment of the market, or simply to develop new experiences. We should also not forget other existing professionals who have not yet been properly exposed to PE and VC and who, thanks to either their educational background, their existing work experiences in other fields (traditional finance, engineering, industry, technology), could also make it once well trained and equipped for the battle.
These exact conclusions led the LPEA to focus its attention on existing PE/VC courses, specialised trainings (modules) and ad-hoc on-demand sessions. With our national PE/VC association hat, we decided to chip in and propose our own LPEA Training Academy in 2020, composed of different foundation, advanced and expert courses prepared by our local practitioners and dedicated to the next generation of experts (PE, VC, risk management, valuations, ESG, private debt, legal structuring, tax, and fund of funds). This endeavour became a successful and separate project, which will be proposed and updated on a yearly basis with hot topics and new speakers.
In parallel, the LPEA has also put in place some partnerships with external, specialised training entities and interested universities eager to propose, for example, dedicated PE certificates (SHU) and even potentially complete Master programs in the near future (tbc). This is a good step in the right direction from a local perspective and it has also encouraged us to create links with foreign universities, especially around our bi-annual job fair which was created this year for the first time. In the future, we will also try to get in touch with other worldwide Tier 1 providers (education and training) and monitor new and interesting technology platforms that could simplify even further organisation, spreading of meaningful content, knowledge and training.
One last trend worth highlighting is that our industries also continue to evolve, try to enhance their agility, efficiency (AI, machine learning, blockchain) and are intrinsically obliged to look for new profiles which are not yet central or internally required. This very promising trend will surely open the door to new kinds of professionals, who will inject this expected added value. Luxembourg, for example, a highly recognised back office of investment funds and SPVs in the 1990s and 2000s, added next to those essential tasks a complete range of middle office services (risk management, valuations, compliance) due to an increased need for substance, the implementation of new regulations, directives and the launch of new business models (third party AIFM, non-bank depositaries).
This evolution is far from over since an increasing number of General Partners have set up their upgraded operations in Luxembourg with new team members who are either analysing, handling deals themselves or very close to the deal teams and key decision takers. Within our ranks, this ranges from historical local VCs to internationally recognised PE houses with their own Luxembourg AIFM, outsourced/insourced models and empowered teams able to cope with most of the tasks. Additional angles and positions should be further explored in Luxembourg and could comprise investor relations, fundraising functions, flow analytics and more deal people or investors, like the many family offices who have opted for Luxembourg over the last years.
In any case, we believe that the provision of recognised, recurring and specialised training will facilitate the further development and evolution of our PE and VC industries and increase the overall attractiveness of the ecosystem. The entire sector needs to prepare and be ready for the upcoming challenges and opportunities of the future and developing talents will clearly be one of the solutions.