Interview with Peter Kristensen CEO of JP Fund Services and Co-Founder of JP Funds Group Part 1

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Funds DNA – Interview with Peter Kristensen CEO of JP Fund Services and Co-Founder of JP Funds Group Part 1

Peter Kristensen is the CEO of JP Fund Services, co-founder of JP Funds Group and other ventures and start-ups. An energetic and proactive entrepreneur and financial specialist Peter has been building a solid footprint in the global alternative investments and fund industry.

Peter entered the finance industry in Denmark in 1986 and since then has been engaged in the challenges and opportunities the industry has been going through. In the mid 1990s, he began working for Saxo Bank, global pioneer of the online trading industry.

While at Saxo, he assisted in creating its global footprint and held senior positions including Co-Head of Sales Trading and Analysis before moving to a Saxo Bank partner in Switzerland in a similar role. After leaving that organisation he then created JP Funds Group with Philip Griffiths, Julian Stockley-Smith and Dominic Lawton-Smith. JP Funds Group has been growing a solid global fund administration offering and services to a new generation of funds and start-up hedge funds in parallel with some established companies and family offices.

HedgeThink had the pleasure of holding an exceptional interview with Peter where we talked about his career and his bold views about the financial industry – particularly the challenges it faces with regards to funds and alternative investments. In addition, Peter shed some light on how he sees the future of the industry and what will be the key trends to look out for.

Peter has trading expertise that covers technical analysis in multiple asset classes but is also highly knowledgeable about the ways in which the industry is changing, particularly with regard to technology, social media, mobile, currency alternatives like Bitcoin and other dynamic areas of the financial services industry. Peter has been running sales and fund support services for JP Funds Group with a focus on Europe, and in this position has a 360 degree overview on Financial and global Fund operations DNA.

  1. Can you tell us about you, education and your career?

I am an energetic doer that started in the finance business in 1986. I had my early days in traditional banking and worked my way up to management level. In addition, I have studied accounting and finance, and researched technical analysis and market behaviour.

Before starting JP Funds Group, I held several senior positions and managed international operations in banks and brokers in Denmark, Switzerland and UK, as well as having been involved in 4 or 5 other new starts and businesses in various areas. During this time I worked in trading, management, sales and technical analysis.

Along with experience gained working in global environments, I have been active in developing synergies between businesses, financial players, funds and finding ways to leverage positive outcomes from the current global industry challenges.

  1. The fund industry is on a fast growing and disruptive path. What are your views on this?

Firstly, being a fund manager can be a difficult task; it’s not for everyone or a path for quick, easy profits – there is serious responsibility associated with this work. Having said this, I believe we will see funds / structures growing as investment media as regulations become more and more over bearing – it will become too much for most individuals to keep on top of and many will look to outsource that to professionals who are engaged full time in the industry.  Obviously, investing in funds covers that, to a degree, where the Investment management and compliance functions are an integral part of the business and increasing third party and independent oversight should improve compliance and reduce fraud and loss related to inappropriate activities.   This is not without a cost to investors, however, the economies of scale achieved from investing in funds will probably be less for the smaller funds than trying to cater for all these functions as an individual investor.

Peter Kristensen photo JPFunds Group
Peter Kristensen photo JPFunds Group
  1. You co-founded JP Funds, can you tell us about your vision for the company?

The vision of JP funds Group has always been to be the best at what we do. We assist managers we work with to grow without charging for every little phone call or email, and the all-round knowledge that we have in the group is second to none with regards to understanding trading and understanding what an investment manager is trying to achieve.

The company principals/ management alone have more than 110 years of trading experience between them in many asset classes. Initially, we have relied on word of mouth and a considerable contact base in the financial services for promotion along with limited marketing.  Overwhelmingly our most successful medium of new business is through these channels but we do see the need to increase our marketing and exposure to grow to the next level. We also have a vision to be a comprehensive provider of all support services to investment managers looking to establish a hedge fund or alternative investment structure.

  1. What are the unique offers and differentiators of JP Funds?

I believe our ‘unique selling point’ is that we care and not just see a fund as client revenue – even though that is important, we look at things long term and not just as short term revenue. The founders are mostly traders with many years of experience which means that we relate to some of the dynamics ad challenges a fund manager faces and know how he/she thinks, and not many in the service provider side of the business have this. The overall team in JP Funds group is extremely dedicated to make sure that the service and follow up is second to none.

We are obsessed with making things efficient for managers, also helping with hedging and conversion facilities from our Swiss office. We look at the long-term business, not the short narrow view and we aim to be able to change and adapt and pass the knowledge to our clients and partners as the industry changes.

Sometimes we also help emerging funds to build their business by introducing them to fund databases, investors and in some cases large allocators.

  1. JP Funds is a full 360-fund administrator platform. Can you explain you main strengths and opportunities you offer to funds?

As mentioned before, we take a long-term view of our relationships with clients, many in the company understand the manager’s frustration of setting up structures, and we don’t take anything for granted which are why 60% of new funds are referrals from managers or Banks we already work with.

We have our own in-house legal department that serves as a project management team for fund creation; they work with some of the best lawyers in the jurisdictions we  see most demand in including the Cayman Islands, Malta and the US.

We take the project from A to Z and when the fund is up and running we continue to try and optimise the set up and help the manager.

  1. You offer a wide variety of fund administration products and solutions. What would you highlight in this offer?

Again, we stick to the things we are good at, and sometimes we have to say no because we know we are not always the best fit. We try hard to make sure that there are no surprises for a new client, and we believe in ensuring the Investment Manager and investors have a trouble free experience related to those activities that we are engaged in.

  1. In terms of technology and financial / investment associations what does JP Funds do that is unique?

We created JP Funds with an obsession for being the best at what we do and providing top line service; we are passionate about what we do. Our clients are our top priority and we put that at the heart of everything we do – 24 / 7. Sounds like a cliché, but this is what we actually do.

Therefore, we offer the complete range of services and industry knowledge we have within our global team based in the UK, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Australia and Singapore. Our approach to fund creation is to understand what is best for the investors and what the risks and the critical elements to focus on are. This enables us to provide the best possible service to the client, in accordance with their individual needs.

8. Why are investors, hedge funds, and fund managers more interested than ever in alternative investments and creating new funds?

Well, we can see that overall market liquidity is not what it has been in the past for many reasons, and there is evidence that smaller funds have outperformed larger funds in the market. I would compare smaller funds to a speedboat and larger funds to a big tanker, in that it is easier to change direction in a speedboat than in a big tanker.

The fund industry gives individual investors an opportunity to partake in investments controlled by an expert in the field.  It also appears that funds are returning to favour after being falsely blamed as a major player in the global financial crisis although, to be fair, there have been a number of less than honest investment managers that have blighted the industry’s reputation.

More rigorous regulation is helping restore some of the negative sentiment but ultimately you can’t always regulate to stop undesirable activities; failures in the banking and broking industry is testament to that fact.

This interview continues in Part 2

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