Full Potential Plan
Through many discussions with management during exclusivity we formulated an investment thesis centered around four core opportunities: accelerating new client wins in core and adjacent markets, further strengthening sales execution, strategic M&A and acquiring key digital capabilities, and operational efficiency improvements.
We worked closely with Universal management in the first years of our investment to realise a complete transformation in the sales execution capability, with a specific focus on:
- Resourcing and organisation – reorienting the sales organisation and salesforce around product units to better match client needs. Investing into more sales resources to support our growth ambitions.
- Sales processes – supporting the business to professionalise their end-to-end sales process, from lead generation and pipeline management to account management and client retention, including implementing and embedding a more value-centric approach to selling.
- International sales – building up an international sales force to market Universal’s Luxembourgish fund platform to international asset managers, with rapid success achieved within two years.
Operational improvememt and Tech-enablement
We identified a number of opportunities to further enhance the efficiency of the service operations at Universal and deliver clients a seamless service experience, and worked closely with the business day to day to help drive the necessary process and organisational changes to realise the potential benefits. The programme focused on three key areas:
- Lean transformation and robotic process automation – redesigning critical business processes by mapping value streams and implementing lean methodologies and tools, including leveraging robotics process automation for several activities to reduce cost and improve scalability, consistency, and quality.
- Setup of a branch in Poland – supported the company to move several activities to Krakow, Poland, creating a new centre of excellence in Poland and hiring over 150 highly qualified employees.
- Procurement optimisation – led a thorough procurement review, optimising several areas of spend and implementing new streamlined spend approval processes.
M&A and New geographies
Having identified a potential opportunity to play a role in the consolidation of the market, we have supported Universal to make several strategic acquisitions since our investment, with a focus on geographic expansion and digital capability enhancement:
- Irish fund management company Metzler Ireland Limited was acquired in 2020, helping the company become one of the few providers active both as a fund administrator and management company in Europe’s three leading fund hubs (Germany, Luxembourg and Ireland), with the Irish fund market being the fastest growing.
- CAPinside, a rapidly growing digital and AI based B2B investment platform, was acquired as a key digital building block in Universal-Investment’s strategy to create a ‘single stop’ sales platform that supports fund initiators across all asset classes.
- The acquisition of Labs, a data specialist for financial companies with products and services for data harmonisation, data management and customised data output, further augmented the company’s digital capabilities.
- With Enlyte, Universal has entered the digital asset and fund world, offering a modular investment platform based on distributed ledger technology. Enlyte provides a holistic and comprehensive white label offering for client onboarding to issuance of token-based structures to administration and reporting.
Our support on helping Universal achieve its full potential has delivered several great business outcomes since our investment in 2017:
- Won several major new clients
- Substantially increased the share of international clients
- Double-digit organic revenue and EBITDA growth
- Continued market share gains across all markets
- Churn kept at an industry leading minimum with high net promoter scores amongst clients
The success of our continued partnership with Universal is founded on a culture of collaboration, balancing hands-on support for specific initiatives with creating an independent, entrepreneurial and performance-driven culture internally.
We have also provided coaching, mentoring and recruitment support throughout our ownership, all of which have been valued highly by the incumbent management team.