Dynamic Credit: an insight in one of Europe’s fastest growing businesses
Dynamic Credit is currently one of the fastest growing asset management companies in Europe. They are specialized in alternative fixed income. On November 3rd, Floor and I travelled to Dynamic Credit’s headquarters in Amsterdam to get to know this interesting and impressive company. We spoke with Jasper Koops, Portfolio Manager, and Koen Heijnert, Analyst, resulting in different perspectives and insights into the firm.
Text by: Guus Vlaskamp
As mentioned above, Dynamic Credit is booming. They achieve this feat by focussing amongst others on alternative investments for institutional investors such as pension funds. The expert teams at Dynamic Credit are involved with asset management of less liquid forms of credit, such as mortgage loans. Where the traditional view on mortgage loans involves a consumer and a bank, Dynamic Credit argues this is not necessarily a logical train of thought, since a bank generally attracts short-term funding such as deposits which can be withdrawn at any time. Therefore, engaging in a long-term contract with a fixed rate, like a mortgage loan, would pose a risk if interest rates rise. A mortgage loan however is a lot like a pension, with a steady stream of cash flows over a long period of time. Mortgage loans are thus a very suitable investment for investors with long-term liabilities. These investors are however not always willing or able to engage with the consumers themselves, as there are many aspects to be taken care of, such as servicing of the mortgage loans, marketing and selecting suitable customers. These investors usually want a straightforward investment product; it is then up to Dynamic Credit to transform those mortgage loans into such a investment. With this, Dynamic Credit provides a transparent and clear bridge between investors and borrowers.
Paths to Dynamic Credit
We got to interview two employees of Dynamic Credit, Jasper Koops and Koen Heijnert. This provided us with two quite different perspectives on the company and working there.
Jasper has worked at Dynamic Credit since 2013, after finishing both his master’s Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Sciences and his bachelor’s Econometrics and Operational Research at Tilburg University. Long-stay Nekst readers might be familiar with Jasper as he also did a board year at Asset | Econometrics in 2012. During his time at secondary school and the beginning of his time at university he ran his own venture in designing and managing websites. During his master’s Jasper wrote his thesis at EY. When entering the job market he chose to first take a look around before joining a company. After encountering Dynamic Credit he had a conversation with the founder and got enthusiastic about joining. Since the company had just chosen a new direction Jasper had the chance to truly impact the way Dynamic Credit evolved to the company it is now.
Koen has only just joined Dynamic Credit in 2017, after writing his master’s thesis last semester. He started with the bachelor Econometrics in Rotterdam in 2011. During his studies he did several internships in the M&A direction in Amsterdam and London, as well as going on an exchange Vienna. The decision for a place to write his thesis was a tough one, but Dynamic Credit stood out in several ways. First of all, the way in which it is one of the leading businesses in their market really sparked the interest of Koen. Secondly, the size of the company and the culture meant his input even as a starting employee is valued highly. In addition to this he was also allowed during his internship to really focus on his thesis. After finishing his master’s he knew he wanted to remain at Dynamic Credit, and as such he now works as analyst in Jasper’s team.
Why Dynamic Credit
Walking into the Dynamic Credit offices we were immediately struck by the openness. The employees operate mostly in a single open workspace, with the desks organized in small teams. The direct result of this organization of workspace is that it becomes very easy for employees to approach other teams and cooperate across divisions. Koen elaborated on the advantages of this mindset. When he encounters processes which he uses on a daily basis and thinks he can improve on that, he is always given the freedom to try and improve the efficiency of these processes. Own initiative is not only appreciated but encouraged as well. These ideas usually also involve some kind of cross-division interaction, when he encounters a problem with the way data is provided to him, he needs to alter this data and communicate this not only to his direct co-workers, but to the IT-team responsible for the data as well. The way the office is organized helps with lowering the threshold for cooperation, since all you have to do is walk over to someone else’s desk; no need for memos or bureaucracy.
We were also able to interview Iram Shah, responsible for Talent Management. She elaborated more on the working environment. At Dynamic Credit they try to really engage in the professional development of the employees, through having conversation with them on their career paths as well as through trainings and seminars. The open culture in the offices helps on this as well since it is easy for employees to recommend certain trainings as well as it is for their supervisors to do so. Own initiative is very much appreciated. Employees need to be able to take responsibility, to which Koen replies that this also gives a feeling of freedom since you get to make your own decisions. A helping hand in this process is of course always available, you do not need to do everything on your own as support is always around you. A lack of a strict hierarchal structure means that input becomes very visible and it also becomes quite straightforward to promote employees. Jasper for instance did not start in his current position, however the minute he demonstrated that he was able to take on more responsibility he was put forward for promotion.
Dynamic Credit into the future
The fact that Dynamic Credit is such a fast growing company means that not only the number of employees is increasing quite rapidly, but also opportunities within the company. The company is expanding with teams that specialize in other areas of lending: small-medium enterprise loans, buy-to-let mortgage loans, consumer loans and commercial real estate. Additionally working at Dynamic Credit exposes you to a very international environment with offices abroad in New York and Jakarta and over 15 different nationalities. This of course opens possibilities for current and future employees.
When Jasper started working, there were only around 15 employees working in the Amsterdam office, right now this is over 53. This increase also results in more and more specialisation, for instance a Product Manager has just been hired. A Reporting team has been established as well, which means that Jasper’s team now has more room to really focus on the quantitative part. In stark contrast with larger firms, this specialisation does not mean that these tasks become invisible for his team since teams work very close together.
Who are we looking for
When it comes to the ideal future employee it was quite hard for our interviewees to give an exact description. According to Iram it of course all starts with some hard skills, however this is far from the most important facet of the profile. More important than what you know is how fast you are able to learn new skills, and your willingness to do so. It is important that you are able to work hard, and even more so that this not only follows from what is required from you but also what you yourself want to contribute. According to Jasper a team works best when everyone works like they work for their own company, a certain degree of entrepreneurship is definitely required.
Koen quickly tells us that you do not need to be afraid of these statements, it should not be seen as some very high expectations but much more as freedom to define your own path and take your own responsibility.
From this follows also Jasper’s biggest advice to us as current students. Look beyond your studies! When you graduate you of course have quite a lot of hard skills and knowledge you have worked hard for during the endless stream of lectures and exams. However, it is also very important to expand your skillset as a person and explore your talents and possibilities. Go on an exchange, do a board year, join some committees. There is so much beyond your studies.