“Our efforts are all focused on the safety and security of the investments we make and the interests of our investors.”
Our mission as a Supervisory Board is to make sure Ardian has the same level of governance as a major public company and my experience on other boards confirms that it does. Clients give us very large sums of money to manage, so we have to focus all our efforts on the safety and security of the investments we make and the interests of our investors. We are there to ask what could go wrong and to find angles that the executive team might have missed – to be a second line of defence.
The job we do becomes more important as Ardian grows, which of course it did again last year. Assets under management and the number of investments by our funds both increased a lot and the company moved into new areas, including Real Estate and Direct Investments in North America. All of this creates new areas for the Supervisory Board to monitor.
We come together five times a year as a board, but there are several committees that meet more often to focus on specific tasks. Our Audit and Risk Committee is the busiest: we spend a lot of time and effort looking at the way Ardian’s activities are accounted for and assessing the risks it is taking on. Alongside this are the Remuneration Committee, which sets compensation for the top executive team, and our Investment Committee, which involves representatives from the Compliance department, makes sure that any conflicts of interest between external shareholders and the management are dealt with properly and transparently.
One of my most encouraging experiences last year was taking part in several seminars with Ardian’s younger employees and listening to their views on the company’s mission and values. They were very clear. They want a strongly entrepreneurial culture in every part of the company, not just the investment managers. They want Ardian to operate very transparently and to invest in ways that benefit society. And they want us to focus on people, which is why they like our policy of distributing shares to employees in our portfolio. I saw the same concerns in everyone, which is excellent because it shows they all share Ardian’s values. As the person in charge of ensuring the company has excellent corporate governance, I was delighted.