May 03, 2016

Laura Ahto reflects on BNY Mellon’s 20 years in Brussels

Laura Ahto

Laura Ahto

In Brussels’ financial services industry we are often described as a ‘quiet giant’ due to our important but largely discrete role in the financial services industry. As such, it may come as a surprise to many that we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in Brussels this year.

Taking into account our low profile, I wanted to share a little about our business here. We opened our doors in Brussels back when we were then known as The Bank of New York following the acquisition of JP Morgan’s global custody business. In the years since, BNY Mellon has grown into the fifth largest bank in Belgium.

Our presence in Brussels has evolved over time to remain at the forefront of the city – and Europe’s – fast-changing financial services industry. Today, our primary business in Brussels is investment services, though our operations here are also strategically important as the primary contracting entity for our asset servicing business in Europe focused on global custody and collateral management for international securities market participants.

Brussels is also home to our European banking entity, The Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV, of which I am proud to serve as CEO, drawing together our talent across Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dublin, Luxembourg and Paris to better serve our clients throughout Europe.

Still, what I think makes Brussels truly extraordinary when compared with other European centres is the diversity, vibrancy, and skills of our Brussels workforce, reflecting the dynamic city in which we live and work. The more than 650 employees based in Brussels represent more than 47 different nationalities and speak more than 36 languages!

There are countless examples of the special contributions of my Brussels colleagues, though perhaps none make me prouder than how we have responded in the face of great challenges. Our Brussels operations seamlessly took over for our global headquarters in New York during the 9/11 attacks to secure global transactions and ensure business continuity. More recently, the office was quick to provide information and support for our local colleagues and clients following the Brussels terror attacks. It is difficult to put into words how greatly appreciated this solidarity is in such trying times.

As we look to the future, Brussels will continue to play a central role in our European activities. But for today, let me extend my congratulations to the entire Brussels operations for a truly memorable 20 years.