General manager, founder
The evolution of a trusted corporate service provider
Maria Tkachenko, founder of the multi-family office Ziffer, says that KYC starts as early as the first contact with a potential client: a critical process in a global environment in which AML compliance is non-negotiable.
How did Ziffer become the business it is today?
Ziffer is an independent multi-family office focused on wealth preservation. Created in 2010 in Luxembourg by my husband Alexander Tkachenko and myself, its original mission statement was to provide high-quality services to corporate clients. We started out by offering financial reporting, accounting and corporate secretarial services to companies, but as the years went by, changes in the global economy and regulatory environment brought us a growing number of private clients who were satisfied with the way we served their firms. Today our team in Luxembourg, supported by a carefully developed network of top-rated professionals around the world, delivers integrated services to high net wealth individuals on a global scale. Our services range from advising on international assets structuring, taxation and compliance to preparing financial and investment reports, planning wealth succession, assisting with private projects such as family relocations to Luxembourg, property searches, etc. In 2014, we started an early stage venture investment fund 2be.lu, focused on the sharing economy and marketplaces.
How are your clients’ needs evolving?
Our clients’ needs are changing in response to regulatory and economic developments both in Luxembourg and globally. I see three main trends: enhanced compliance regulations, low return on capital markets and new technologies. Firstly, we help our clients to keep up with and adapt to new compliance requirements. Secondly, we keep a much closer eye on investment costs than before. Thirdly, we take advantage of modern software and hardware to provide our clients with secure information and clear reports on a timely basis. Lastly, two years ago one of our clients called us, saying: “I’m interested in investing in crypto-currency but my private bankers refuse to consider such an investment. Please make it happen.” That request inspired my husband to study blockchain technology in detail, leaving Ziffer in my hands (with great support from our professional team) to found VNX Exchange, a marketplace and trading platform for tokenised venture capital assets. Since then, we have been able to offer a solution when our clients require liquidity in venture investments.
How do you approach AML?
At Ziffer we take AML compliance very seriously and diligently. We have developed an AML policy and procedures based on best practices, which we keep updated and with which we comply. We highly value our reputation; it’s how our clients and partners get to know us. AML compliance is non-negotiable. The first step involves getting to know your potential client well. We start with a personal meeting, even if we have to travel a long way for it. During the meeting, the situation often becomes clear from the client’s reaction, such as his/her attitude towards the costs associated with our services. Our typical client is a first-generation wealth creator, an intelligent, successful entrepreneur who understands value for money and the value of professionalism. If the potential client displays little interest in costs, doesn’t challenge our knowledge and know-how and is keen to start working with us as soon as possible, we usually do not proceed any further.
Birthday: 3 May 1974
Birth place: Moscow
Nationality: Russia, Luxembourg
Number of children: 3
Languages: Russian, English, French, Luxembourgish
Hobbies: Musical theatre, Psychology
Towns: Luxembourg, Moscow, London, Cape Town
Places: my home
Book: Technology of Life (by V. Tarasov)
Restaurants: Dal Notaro, Clairefontaine
Artwork (or artist): The Ninth Wave by Aivazovsky