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Flexible working brings positive changes - Forca’s Nicolai Lillesø

01 May 2020 by Thomas Eikrem
Nicolai Lillesø Blog 3

​Nicolai Lillesø, Head of Fund Operations, Forca

I had the pleasure of catching up with Nicolai Lillesø, Head of Fund Operations at Forca. I originally worked with Nicolai 15 years ago when we were both at SimCorp, facilitating change for Cazenove Capital Management (now part of Schroders) during the implementation of SimCorp Dimension, the Queen’s stockbroker and a stalwart within the investment management industry.  

Nicolai subsequently, returning to his native shores of Denmark from London, held senior management position with some of the largest financial institutions in the Nordics, including Danske Bank and Nordea.

Currently heading up a team of 20+ professionals and managing the middle- and back office services for 5 Danish pension funds with assets under management in excess of 600 bn DKK, Nicolai shares his reflections on current changes, management style, relationship management and what might be next for the industry.

Times Are A Changin’ or are they?

This is a Bob Dylan quote, but jokes aside, the financial industry has proved to be resilient and adapt. From a Copenhagen perspective, organisations and operations did move quickly to “the new normality”. Although Nordic firms have had a culture of working from home, or rather, an acceptance and even encouragement of flexible working conditions, this changed the landscape, rapidly. From a management angle it raises questions: how do we offer our employees the best working conditions and our clients the best possible service? I believe they are interlinked.  

The client perspective:

I do not think our clients have seen any change. At the end of the day we are committed to our service level agreements, work ethics, company values and looking after our clients, helping them run, scale and develop their business. We need to find the best way of doing this by introducing and enhancing our offering.

The employee perspective:

Working in technology and in a management position, you want to manage by results. My start of day meeting and end of day meeting remain, sometimes in the office, sometimes using phone/ SKYPE / Zoom or any other application available and applicable. It keeps us all focused and result oriented.

However, we must recognise that people are different. Some need – or would prefer – more direct interaction, face to face meetings, while other prefer an environment of less disruptions, distractions or interference. At a management level, we need to bring this together.

I do hope that the employees see the value the flexibility will bring. Personally, I have experienced that virtual meetings make the protagonists more focused, prepared and to-the-point; time is limited. Let’s get the job done.

The balanced perspective:

One observation is that several colleagues communicate more during these restricted times. As strange as this might seem, not having the traditional office environment and the ability to walk over to someone’s desk and ask the 10-million-dollar question does force you to precisely reach out.

When normality settles, let’s take away the best from the hard times, what we learnt, how we dealt with the transition and tribulations at all levels. There will be ups and downs. Fundamentals remain.  

Thomas Eikrem, Head of Consulting Services - SimCorp, Skillfinder International, TEikrem@skillfindergroup.com

Nicolai Lillesø, Head of Fund Services, Forca, nili@finca.dk