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Member spotlight: Loyens & Loeff, international law firm

As a leading international law firm Loyens & Loeff is the logical choice for a legal and tax partner if you do business in or from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, their home markets. They have over 900 advisers based in their home markets and in key financial centers around the world.

In the FinTech Team of Loyens & Loeff, headed by Martijn Schoonewille, specialists in law and tax work together in finding innovative and practical solutions for their clients. Topics that this team faces differ from market access, GDPR, funding through ICOs, product development and tax in a digital world.

FinTech before it was called FinTech

Loyens & Loeff was already advising clients on FinTech matters in 2007, even before FinTech was called FinTech. At that time the first crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands reached out to Loyens & Loeff for guidance on the regulatory landscape. Although they were there from the very start, the need to continue learning is also recognised and appreciated by the firm.

Being part of the FinTech community

Loyens & Loeff is keen to be part of the Holland FinTech community to continue learning and sharing their knowledge and expertise about all areas of FinTech and RegTech. What especially thrills them is bringing together the legal perspective, the business perspective and the technology perspective. That is also the reason why the firm joined the Blockchaingers Hackathon in April this year as legal jedis. 10 experts from different departments within the firm worked together to provide over 60 competing teams of the legal input that they required to develop their blockchain propositions.

Martijn Schoonewille explains: “Entrepreneurship is part of our DNA”

Loyens & Loeff is the result of a merger between a legal and tax firm back in 1917. This was the first time in the Netherlands that such a merger took place. Right from the start, assisting clients in developing creative ideas into new business concepts that work in practice is at the very core of their daily work. Or as they say: “Entrepreneurship is part of our DNA”. Having a close understanding of the business and goals of their clients is essential in that respect. The ultimate goal of Loyens & Loeff is that solutions that they offer seamlessly fit the needs of their clients.

Whether this consists of providing a legal & tax blueprint, reviewing existing client documentation or drafting new policies. Loyens & Loeff adds another layer by combining academia in the field with pragmatic business goals. Marije Louisse, who we spoke to at the firm, is simultaneously completing her PhD on State aid in the banking sector.

Compliance as a business enabler instead of a business barrier

The FinTech Team of Loyens & Loeff advises on a daily basis on compliance with the complex set of rules that FinTech players can be faced with. Such rules sprout for an important part in Brussels (one could think of MiFID II, PSD II, PRIIPS, but also the GDPR). Other rules have a more local nature (such as the local crowdfunding framework, which may (partly) be replaced by a European framework in the future, and corporate tax rules). All these rules can be perceived as a business barrier. For Loyens & Loeff it is the challenge to ensure compliance with the applicable framework, while at the same time not losing track of the business goals of its clients. This boils down to to-the-point advice and short communication lines.

FAQs from FinTechs – don’t worry, you’re not alone

‘The real world is not defined in terms like the regulatory world. Trying to find the link between the regulatory world and the real world is where most clients find challenges and where we help.’
Loyens & Loeff recognizes that starting activities in the FinTech arena can be challenging. If new parties explore commercial opportunities before compliance, industry standards can seriously affect their credibility later. It is important to think about compliance – regulatory and internal – as a design feature. This is especially important in the FinTech arena because trustworthiness in the eye of the client – and the regulators – is key.

Developing new FinTech activities can therefore already require investments being made prior to actual products or services being sold. For example, finding answers to questions in relation to license requirements, client documentation, marketing disclaimers and tax aspects can already play an important role in the very first stage of doing business. Loyens & Loeff cheers new players and the development of new solutions by existing players, not only because it is fun to be involved in the realization of new innovations, but also because it enriches the legal FinTech arena. By organizing roundtables, publishing in legal journals and participating in brainstorm sessions, Loyens & Loeff hopes to contribute to the development of a full-grown FinTech arena.

Loyens and Loeff’s experience in the FinTech aren

Loyens & Loeff has provided compliance blueprints and advice for business restructuring to, inter alia, crowdfunding platforms, SME lending platforms and crypto traders. Their activity in this space has varied from advising one-person traders to institutional players. The firm has also worked with payments service providers in numerous projects (ranging from reviews of product terms to business restructuring) and has extensive experience in attracting funding in (debt and equity) capital markets.

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