Sat 27 Feb 2016
News - Getting to Know better: RUTH BÜLTMANN
Getting to Know better: RUTH BÜLTMANN

Ruth is a former Advisory & Consulting Partner from Deloitte Tax & Consulting, Luxembourg, specialized in asset management and banking activities. As Partner within the Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice she was Leader for the German speaking market as well as Leader of the Family Office Services. Her experience over the last 20 years covers the entire investment management value chain, from strategic and operational aspects to regulatory perspectives. Before joining Deloitte Tax & Consulting as Partner in 2011, Ruth was responsible as director and managing director during several years for two asset management companies in Luxembourg, their day to day management and business development.

Since October 2015 Ruth acts as independent director and holds mandates for management companies in Luxembourg, Switzerland and France, managing both UCITS and Alternative Funds (AIF), as well as a board mandate with a large Japanese banking institution. Ruth is an ILA certified director and INSEAD IDP-C, and she is member of the ILA Board.

What are in your opinion, the key attributes for a Director?

First of all, I believe boards should have a good balance between executive and non-executive independent directors (NED), that are not involved in the day to day management of the company.
NED bring an independent judgement to the board and challenge strategy, performance, risk and standard of conduct. They perform their duties with an independence of mind (financial, from management, from particular shareholders) and recognize and disclose conflicts of interests.
Coming from outside of the business, a NED must devote sufficient time to carry out his /her commitments and responsibilities effectively. It is helpful to have a strong business knowledge and sufficient business experience, to be capable of forward thinking, pragmatic and operationally strong. Another important attribute for a director is his/her capability to be sufficiently critical and have the courage to disagree (without being disagreeable).

What do you think makes a great Board?

It’s certainly a question of the maturity of the organization and its business but I believe it’s always important to define the board’s role and establish boundaries to daily management by CEO and their teams. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and ineffective board work.
One of the key success factors of a good board is the right mix of competencies (“collective suitability and fitness”), its diversity, complementarity in terms of experience, a greater independence by nonexecutives and a culture of open discussion. Different experiences and views across the board help to avoid “group think” and trigger discussions and debates. Independent directors ensure that potential conflict of interest will be properly dealt with.
Well-functioning boards are forward looking and devote sufficient time to the strategic aspects of the business – which is not always easy.

What would you change to improve the effectiveness of Luxembourg Boards?

How can boards strive to be better? In my view, key factors for board effectiveness are a clear agenda, a transparent decision making process, an alignment/agreement on company strategy, good team dynamics and feedback culture, and of course the board composition. I believe that the most effective boards focus on delivering solid strategic counsel and direction. To do so, they need the right mind-sets and human dynamics between directors.

What is the best or worse business decision you have ever made, and why?

During my professional journey in the asset management industry over the last 20 years I had the chance to work in very interesting financial institutions and was also offered interesting new business opportunities that I accepted at the right moment. I was thus able to create a solid network of business relations and partnerships that I can now leverage on. Besides, I invested a lot in training and internationally recognized qualifications. One of my best decisions was certainly to start my own business activity in 2015 as independent NED. I really enjoy my role within the different boards and the ability to combine a portfolio of interesting mandates with the lead over my agenda; this helps me currently organising my professional obligations with my private life (with a young child).

What does the outlook of Luxembourg look like, 10 years from now?

With a new record in AUM reached end of 2016, Luxembourg is very well positioned to remain a preferred global financial service hub in the future. Its open, diverse and stable economy and excellent connectivity to other markets will strengthen Luxembourg’s ability to face opportunities and challenges resulting from geopolitical and regulatory changes. However, companies must be prepared to tear themselves away from routine thinking and behavior to benefit from efficiency gains via the use of technologies. Digitalization will have a huge impact on target operating models in the financial industry, in which new functions and roles will be created. A challenge will be to attract new talent. Beside its well-established pillar in finance, there is a great space for innovation, for which Luxembourg has the right agility to generate future economic diversification and growth (e.g. Luxembourg cluster initiative with its incubators).

How can ILA contribute to the economy, better boards and society?

Good corporate governance is very important for the sustainable development not only for the individual company but for the economy as a whole. With an increasing number of professional independent directors, Luxembourg needs to provide a sound framework of state of the art governance rules that are recognized as best practice by other countries. ILA provides a great support to directors in promoting professionalism in the boardroom, setting high standards of excellence and offering a variety of trainings for continuous professional development. I encourage ILA to further foster director’s certification as a label of quality and a benchmark for director’s excellence.