Corporate, funds and fiduciary services businesses, Ocorian and Estera, recently announced the news of their merger. Farah Ballands, Estera’s previous chief executive officer, is now helming the new combined company. We spoke to her to find out how the acquisition will affect staff and clients, and the opportunities ahead for the newly enlarged firm.
The two merged firms will operate under the Ocorian name in 20 locations with more than 1,250 staff members. Add in more than 8,000 clients and assets under administration of $260bn, and the new-look Ocorian is clearly a force to be reckoned with. In fact, it is the seventh largest corporate, funds and trust provider in the world by revenue. For new group CEO, Farah Ballands, it could have been a daunting prospect – instead she says she sees it as an exciting challenge.
“I feel genuinely privileged, honoured and excited to be taking on this role. To lead a business of this size at this time is a phenomenal opportunity. Bringing two businesses of this scale together is something I personally have never done before, but I believe that both firms are similar enough and have enough common goals that it is eminently achievable. I would describe myself as confident that this will be a real success story.”
For Farah and her team, the merger brings benefits for both their clients and staff. She says the expanded global reach of the combined companies, together with the increase in employee numbers, should see advantages for everyone.
“I think it offers a huge amount of potential for our clients and our staff. For our clients, we now have an expanded geographic and service offering. Because both Ocorian and Estera were mainly in different locations, we only overlapped in three jurisdictions – Jersey, Mauritius and Luxembourg. Now we have come together we can offer a broader range of services to our clients, whether they were originally serviced by Estera or Ocorian.”
Both Ocorian and Estera have similar backgrounds, having been previously carved out of law firms. Farah feels that the shared history will help them as they head into the future.
“Since the start of both firms, they have had similar trajectories as far as their growth and development was concerned. Both have also had a real focus on delivering real client care. That means that members of staff from both sides are reassured that when they offer a new service or new jurisdiction to their original client, they can be confident in its quality.”
For Farah, it was important that the two merging firms had the same values when it came to their approach to service. She is adamant that it’s the people working for the new firm who will be crucial to its success.
“My ethos has always been that you have to look after your people as they will deliver your success, and our people have been phenomenal. Joining Estera and Ocorian has just added strength and depth to our offering and I believe the combined workforce will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.”
She also thinks that the expanded business will mean greater opportunities for staff at all levels of the organisation.
“Our people will get to work with first rate clients on a global level, so there are clearly opportunities for travel and development. By combining forces, the merged firm will also have more resources to be able to grow and to support learning and development. At the end of the day, people are the only asset of a service business like ours and we need to recognise that and invest in them. We will always encourage people to improve and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by professional qualifications etc, and we will support them with that. It is something that benefits the individual, but it also benefits the business.”
With such a major change achieved for the firm, you may imagine that a period of quiet consolidation is on the horizon for Ocorian. But that would underestimate Farah’s ambition.
“We will inevitably have a period of integration where we bring our people and businesses together. We have overlap in three large jurisdictions where we not only have to physically combine the offices, but we have to integrate systems, policies and procedures. But our focus isn’t just on bringing the firms together, we have set very ambitious growth targets which I am determined to meet, through business development, organic growth and potentially further mergers and acquisitions. Both Ocorian and Estera have historically undertaken acquisitions to grow and I am keen to get started on that again.”