Wed 24 May 2017
News - Getting to know better: Franck A. Willaime
Getting to Know better: FRANCK A. WILLAIME

Franck A. Willaime is a Certified Independent Director appointed since 2009 on boards of regulated investment funds (including funds listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange) and technology companies. Mr. Willaime combines both financial markets & technology expertise, starting his career on the floor of the Paris derivatives exchange and as a stockbroker on Wall Street. He then spent 15 years designing and implementing growth strategies for “Fintech” companies, successfully sold to billion-dollar firms. He graduated from the ISC Paris business school, holds an MBA from the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia USA, was certified in corporate governance by INSEAD and is a former French army paratrooper. He has worked in New York, London, Paris and Luxembourg; where he now lives. He is an active member of a number of industry associations including ALFI Fintech working group, ALCO or ALRiM and is certified by ILA (Institut Luxembourgeois des Administrateurs).

What are in your opinion, the key attributes for a Director?
  • Listen
  • Analyze
  • Think
  • Decide
  • Assess

What do you think makes a great Board?
  • A great chairman creating the optimal atmosphere to debate
  • Diversity of directors’ backgrounds
  • Ability to analyze from different angles
  • Identify the board’s biases and take them into account in the decision process
  • Open to board evaluation
  • Be a board that supports the CEO in bad times and challenge the CEO in good times!

What would you change to improve the effectiveness of Luxembourg Boards?
  • Continue to train Luxembourg Directors
  • Increase interaction with other European boards to exchange best practices

What is the best or worse business decision you have ever made, and why?
Best decision was to embrace the sale of a very profitable and successful 100 people Fintech startup company to a billion-dollar firm, which enabled the start-up to become even more successful. The moral of that story is that sometimes you have to let go of the things you cherish the most for their own corporate good!

What does the outlook of Luxembourg look like, 10 years from now?
There are many changes occurring at the moment globally and locally in Luxembourg. Among the main changes that will, in my opinion, further develop, is the fact that Luxembourg will gradually shift from being a back-office/operations center to being a digital services oriented country.

The fact that Luxembourg has for the past 20 years had experience with operations of all transactions types be it fund, banking, industrial, real estate or M&A transactions, the country is one of the best placed countries to digitalize the whole transaction chain, whatever the industry. The country knows for example, what it means to manage a fund transaction from the shareholder subscription down to producing regulatory reporting to the Financial Authorities. It knows how services around digitalization of the processes of Client KYC or AML could be beneficial for new mobile banking disruptive companies.
We see a number of new technologies (including BlockChain) being embraced by Luxembourg and with the strong support of Institutions such as Alfi, LFF or LHoFT the country is definitely online with the current aspirations of younger generations, which have been born digital and creative !

The other main shift that I see developing is around clean energy and transport services. The Luxembourg Government enacted last year a number of initiatives to strengthen the green electric transport (extra electric car battery chargers around the country). The start of the Tram or the inauguration of Tesla in Luxembourg last year and its local success are also testaments that green transport and energy are at the heart of Luxembourg residents priorities.

As a conclusion, I could say that I have actually already seen what Luxembourg would look like in 10 years !… I have always liked SciFi movies and to be honest some of the things I have seen in movies could actually be materialized in Luxembourg in terms of a clean energy country centered on high value digital client services!

How can ILA contribute to the economy, better boards and society?
Some of my colleagues would disagree, but I feel that ultimately our goal as independent board members is to make all companies stakeholders successful, including the company, the shareholders but also employees, and society as a whole. Therefore in my opinion, as the main role of ILA is to train board members to be at the top of their game, it eventually plays a major role in the contribution to the economy through better board decision making processes and to the society through the rippling effect of good corporate governance practices.