The Association des Banques et Banquiers Luxembourg (ABBL) has announced it will publish a list of contacts specialised in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and alternative investment fund structures within banks and other service providers.

 The creation of new businesses is essential to the dynamism of Luxembourg's economy and the prosperity of its inhabitants, with some 3,500 businesses being set up each year in our country. ABBL members, through the services they offer, are key allies for entrepreneurs, the association noted. "However, we have recently been approached by politicians and economic players about the difficulties encountered in opening accounts for legal entities," said Jerry Grbic, CEO of the ABBL. These difficulties seem to mainly concern SMEs, start-ups and alternative fund promoters. "In principle, every bank wants to open accounts and continue to do so," he continued, "so we had to identify the obstacles encountered."

"We identified three major challenges," said Camille Seillès, Secretary General of the ABBL. "Regulatory constraints, particularly in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), to which our members are subject. The complexity of certain structures; I'm thinking here of certain investment funds. And finally, the partial view of the range of bank support available to business start-ups and international investors.

"Luxembourg has 120 banks and many other banking service providers. During our discussions with the representatives of the business community, we realised that they only had a partial view of this ecosystem," said Jerry Grbic. Each bank, just like each company, has its own commercial policy which takes account of its development strategy and also its own appetite for risk, the association pointed out.

The ABBL has drawn up a list of specialised contact persons within banks and other banking service providers in Luxembourg who are potentially interested in integrating specific business segments. "Our members have responded positively to this approach, and the list published shows the diversity of the banking services on offer in Luxembourg," commented Camille Seillès. In addition to banks, it includes payment and electronic money institutions. "However, this list should not be interpreted as exclusive. These are members who have taken a proactive approach. This does not mean that others are not open to discussions with project developers."

This list of contacts is available on the ABBL website and from various other economic players: Chambre de Commerce, House of Entrepreneurship, Association Luxembourgeoise des Fonds d'Investissement (ALFI), Luxembourg Private Equity Association (LPEA), Luxembourg House of FinTechs (LHoFT), House of Start-Ups and Chambre des métiers.

One of the main difficulties for SMEs entrepreneurs and banks of opening and throughout the life of the account are the numerous constraints (particularly “Know Your Customer” - KYC) arising from AML/CFT regulations to which banks are subject. "On the one hand, these constraints mobilise significant financial and human resources, sometimes leading, as in other industries, to bottlenecks in our members' production capacity", noted Jerry Grbic. "And, on the other hand, confusion and incomprehension on the part of entrepreneurs".

To help entrepreneurs improve their relationship with their banker, the ABBL, the ABBL Foundation for Financial Education, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the House of Entrepreneurship have published a brochure entitled "Ready to open a professional account in Luxembourg?", which is available on the websites of the various partners.

The ABBL takes part in training courses for bank advisers, compliance officers (particularly as part of their certification) and entrepreneurs. It has also initiated a constructive dialogue with the CSSF on the application of KYC regulations. For Camille Seillès, "it is important that the regulations are applied consistently and in proportion to the risks".

According to Jerry Grbic, "However, we must not forget that the issue of opening accounts and, more broadly, facilitating business creation involves a number of players beyond the banks themselves." The ABBL expressed its readiness to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders on issues such as simplifying administrative procedures and access to data.