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Laurent Misonne, head of Wholesale & Institutional Sales Benelux, France & Nordics, announced back in March this year, when J. Safra Sarasin touched down in Belgium, that six of the bank’s sustainable investment funds would be registered in Belgium so that the retail public would also gain access. Well, the ball is in the court and the registration procedure has been completed. We had a word with Laurent Misonne himself but also with Mark Bobbink, the financial institution’s brand-new Director Wholesale & Institutional Sales Benelux. 
Which investment funds were registered in Belgium? 
Laurent Misonne:
On the one hand, we registered 3 funds with a certain waistline and a long track record: JSS Sustainable Equity Global Dividend, JSS Sustainable Bond Euro Broad and JSS Sustainable Multi Asset – Global Opportunities. And with the remaining three funds, we are fully committed to sustainability: JSS Sustainable Equity Green Planet, JSS Sustainable Equity Global Climate 2035 and JSS Sustainable Equity SDG Opportunities. All three fall under SFDR Article 9. 

Why exactly did you choose these 6 funds from the wide range of funds? 
Mark Bobbink: In Belgium, we can  distibute all financial products provided it is through a professional intermediary, as in a mandate, for example. However, if you want to appeal to a retail audience, which is our objective, then this registration is required. And in our view, precisely these 6 funds will appeal most to retail investors, so the choice was obvious. On top of that, funds falling under SFDR Article 9 are highly publicized and for all 6 except JSS Sustainable Equity – Global Dividend this is the case. In the future, we might add other sub-funds but for now, we believe we are good.  

Laurent Misonne: I can agree with Mark and say that with these 6 funds, we can best meet Belgian needs. All the funds have a strong sustainable focus and with the JSS Sustainable Equity Green Planet Equities fund, we could not reflect our group’s identity better. Besides, there is huge demand for sustainable investments in the Belgian market. 
Why exactly were they registered now? 
Laurent Misonne: Our entry into the Benelux markets consists of several steps, to be taken in the right order, and this is one of them. This registration allows us to appeal to more investors. If you want to be distributed by the biggest banks in Belgium and reach the retail audience, we have to do this. Don’t lose sight of the fact that it takes about 3 months to get funds registered. Of course there is also an internal strategic consideration. We spent a long time considering which investment funds would best suit Belgian investors. 
Mark Bobbink: Indeed, sustainability is more than central to the Belgian market today. And on top of that, multi-asset is an important segment for retail investors in the Belgian market, which is why we also registered our multi-asset flagship in Belgium. 
Why is it important to bring Article 9 funds to the Belgian market? 
Laurent Misonne:
In Belgium, there is a clear demand for sustainability, and clients demand at least Article 8 funds. And it cannot be denied that Article 9 funds are considered the Rolls-Royce of the market. And we are only at the beginning of this movement. In the coming months and years, investors will only get even pickier.  
Mark Bobbink: I would like to add that the JSS Sustainable Equity Global Climate 2035 fund is based on our climate pledge as a company to be climate neutral by 2035, earlier than many other players in the financial sector. We want to beat the market in this area too. And besides being covered by Article 9, the fund is also an interesting story to put forward. 
What type of client do you want to attract to these funds? 
Laurent Misonne:
Initially in Belgium, we are looking towards brokers but we are also ogling at the major banks, which will take care of the distribution of our funds to retail investors. It is not our role to go directly to retail investors, we have partners for that. We will also try to convince some trading platforms of our knowledge and expertise, but will also not lose sight of family offices. 
What are the expectations for the Belgian market? 
Laurent Misonne:
We are very satisfied with the evolution: barely a year ago we were completely unknown on the Belgian market and now we have already built a certain name for ourselves. Our objective is actually quite simple: we want to become one of the premium sustainable partners in Belgium and Benelux. The first step such as building a team, meeting clients, setting up media activities and registering the funds are behind us and now it will come down to building our name further. And within 3-5 years, our goal is to be a well-known name among all investors in Belgium, i.e. not only the retail public but also institutional investors such as pension funds, private banks and family offices.  
In what ways does J. Safra Sarasin stand out from other players? 
Laurent Misonne:
We are family-owned which allows us to play out the long term at all times. In addition, we are extremely solid, with a  a solvency ratio of 44%,  far above the industry average . J. Safra Sarasinhas also been working on sustainability for 34 years, which is unique. It is part of our DNA. It is not a trend we have been trying to follow for the past few years. And this focus is by no means going to change. 
Do you see major differences between the Belgian and other European markets?  
Mark Bobbink:
We think it is a promising market for us where we see the greatest potential. That does not mean it is the easiest market because Belgium is very fraught, especially in terms of insurance brokers: in every village there is a business office. And all these people have to be approached to make our name known. Besides, there is a clear separation between the banking and insurance markets and assets are nicely spread between the two. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, almost everything is in the banks so you can market there much more efficiently. 
As a reminder, J. Safra Sarasin took its first steps when Swiss private bank Bank Sarasin was acquired by the Safra Group in 2011. In 2013, the merger finally followed to form Bank J. Safra Sarasin. The Group now has more than CHF 325 billion under management through private banking and asset management. By the way, Safra Group, wholly owned by the Safra family, also includes Banca Safra (the fifth largest retail bank in Brazil) and Safra National (corporate private banking in the US). 



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