Ten On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is Alexandre de Damas of Damacorp.
How do you spend your weekends?
It depends on the season. My year is split between Dubai during the fall and winter months, and mostly Europe during the spring and summer months.
Winter weekends are usually calmer with a focus on sports and self-improvement hobbies, while summer weekends are clearly more networking-oriented with different trips and social/business events happening around the Mediterranean area.
What are your top three business goals this year?
Our activities at Damacorp are focused on two main pillars: Client Advisory and Government Advisory.
From a Client perspective, our goal is to completely transform the way current applications are done. By using our technological and AI expertise, we aim to digitalize the industry. In a world where blockchain is taking over, and where speed of execution and time to finality are some of the most important metrics, there is a gap to fill between the current months-long way an application is prepared, submitted, and analyzed and the ideal scenario where clients, service-providers, DD entities, and governments optimize the application journey with the tools we are working to provide.
We aim to provide a better, faster, smoother “user experience” than what currently exists.
On the Government Advisory side, we are currently working with a couple of heads of state and governments to launch their respective new RCBI programs. We have an A-team in the Government Advisory branch, comprised of seasoned experts in the industry, former government officials, and leading names from the investment world that are all happy to contribute towards opening the industry to new players, and creating more value for the economies that need our help.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
Regulation, as a whole, is a good thing. It is certainly needed for an industry to expand and become more transparent, which ultimately leads the way to bigger adoption and approval (the best example is the crypto boom of this year).
But the regulation that is often suggested for our industry is closer to cancellation than regulation. Supranational bodies need to be willing to sit down at the table with an open mind, and a non-biased attitude, and understand that what we do is actually helping them, rather than the opposite.
We facilitate cross-border investments, we improve the quality of life of the local populations, and we facilitate access to better education and healthcare. We basically open the world to the people that have the most resources to make a positive difference and are willing to do so – and all subject to extremely strict background checks and controls.
Applying for a citizenship program is nothing like a James Bond movie, contrary to what some tend to think. It is a very thorough, controlled, monitored process where inputs from police, banks, businesses, legal firms, and many more are all needed to prepare a single file. Someone who has a non-desirable background will first of all never want to go through that level of screening, but will also never make it to the end of the process.
Which book is on your nightstand right now?
Manuel pour une sortie positive de la crise, by Audrey Tcherkoff under the supervision of Jacques Attali.
Audrey has been quietly prepared and trained in the background of French politics for some time and is very likely the next French president; mark my words and come back to this article next year.
She has been mentored by Jacques Attali and is surrounded by different organizations related to the Davos WEF, in which some of my family members are active, and her involvement with the “Positive Economy” and how to deal with the Covid crisis to create a new world, new rules for the game, and more cooperation between national and supranational authorities, is a good indication of where we are heading.
I love to read about the past, but I prefer to read about the future and be one step ahead.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
It was in 2016, when I moved from Geneva to Dubai.
Prior to the change, I was working in the Hedge Funds division of Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild and then as a commodities trader for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, and it was by pure coincidence and an “ok let’s try for fun” interview that I ended up joining Henley & Partners’ Dubai office where I spent a couple of years as Director before launching my own DAMACORP.
I wanted to take my RCBI knowledge and apply the industry’s best practices learned from Henley and my good friends at RIF Trust to create a smaller, boutique-style firm that focuses on the UHNWI, which has always been my environment thanks to my family and previous experiences.
The type of clients that are served by the big retail banks is not the same as that being served by the small private banks in Switzerland, and we aim to be the latest at DAMACORP. We have extensive knowledge of how the 1% lives and wants to live, which is not always easy to handle, and that is why we have a dedicated team that is round-the-clock ready to assist all our clients with whatever they need.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
The day I was approached by one of the governments we currently advise, with the mission to improve their economy and make an impact in their society for good. The responsibility that falls upon you as CEO is quite intense, but the motivation is equally present.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
The number of countries and governments slowly and discreetly approaching service providers that run a government advisory division, with the aim to create, in the short/medium term, a program and generate more revenues for their country. The pandemic has hit some of the less fortunate economies hard, and their governors are now realizing the immense value we bring to society.
If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?
I would sell all my possessions, borrow as much as I can, and put everything into bitcoin when it was just a few dollars.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
Without getting into details, I am where I am today thanks to Marco Gantenbein, David Regueiro, and Mimoun Assraoui. Thank you, my friends!
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
Stay tuned and you’ll find out 😉