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THE BETTER FINANCE TEAM

As an association of national member organisations, BETTER FINANCE is supported by a small professional Brussels-based team and our friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. New members and supporters are always welcome to get involved.

Our team consists of finance professionals, lobbyists and communication specialists who carry out the core activities of BETTER FINANCE.

PresidentJella Benner-Heinacher

Jella Benner-Heinacher is the chief managing director (deputy) of Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz (DSW), the leading shareholder association in Germany. Ms Benner-Heinacher, a German attorney, having studied in France, Switzerland and the U.S., is primarily responsible for international activities as President of Better Finance in Brussels. Ms Benner-Heinacher is also chairwoman of the European Corporate Governance Services (ECGS) in London, and a member of the Stock Exchange Board in Düsseldorf.  Furthermore she is responsible for Corporate Governance issues as well as for DSW’s participation in the legislation procedure at both national and international level. 

Vice-President, Jean Berthon

Jean Berthon is Better Finance President and since January 2009 President of FAIDER (Fédération des Associations Indépendantes des Epargnants pour la Retraite), a French federation which gathers 14 associations in France, and represents more than 1 million investors and life policy holders. He is a financial expert for the European commission serving as Alternate of the Financial Services User Group. He is also expert in several committees and working groups of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the French Financial Markets regulator (AMF) and the French Banking, Insurance and Pensions regulator (ACP). He is currently serving as Officer in the Groupe Consultatif Actuariel Européen, the European organization of actuaries.
He started his career as an actuary at Caisse des dépôts et Consignations in France, and worked in several French Banks, most recently as Chairman and Managing Director of Demachy-Worms & Cie Gestion an important French leader in quantitative and Institutional portfolio management. Mr Berthon founded and is a Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of la Fondation du Risque, a French non-profit Foundation which aims to finance and develop academic and business oriented research in risks. La Fondation du Risque currently manages six chairs endowed by major French banks and insurance companies.

Vice-President, Axel Kleinlein

Axel Kleinlein is member of the board and spokesman of the German Association of the Insured (BdV) since 2011 (with a short interruption in 2013). He was born in 1969 near Würzburg.

After finishing his studies in mathematics at the University of Cologne and at the Free University of Berlin, he worked as an actuary for Allianz Lebensversicherung in Stuttgart (in 1998-1999). From 2000 on he was responsible for the section of life insurances of Stiftung Warentest in Berlin, the most important public foundation for product ratings in Germany. Three years later he went to Assekurata Assekuranz Rating-Agentur in Cologne, where he published several studies on the life insurance industry and was also in charge of public relations. In 2004 Mr. Kleinlein founded Math Concepts in Berlin, his own research company specialized in insurance mathematics and journalism. In 2007 he additionally worked as a specialist on retirement provision and capital investments for VZBV (Federal Association of Consumer information Centers - the state's "consumer voice") in Berlin.

As Spokesman of BdV he is entirely responsible for the presence of BdV in the mass-media and for the representation of BdV in those public institutions and organizations linked to insurance issues in which consumer interests ought to be represented at the federal level (like VZBV and the insurance ombudsman).

Furthermore, as Spokesman of BdV, he is invited to expert hearings by committees of the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag). He is responsible for all BdV comments on draft legal acts or regulations at the national level (by Federal Ministries of Justice, of Finance or others) and on the European level (mainly for EIOPA and the other ESAs).

Vice-president, Lars Milberg

Lars Milberg is a Board Member of Aktiespararna (CEO, Joacim Olsson), the leading shareholder association in Sweden.

Vice-president, Fernando Herrero

Fernando Herrero is currently the Secretary General for the Association of Consumers and Users of Banks, Savings Banks and Insurance (Spain), ADICAE, and member of its Board of Directors. ADICAE is the leading consumer organization in Spain in the field of financial services, with nearly 200,000 members, and involved in various advisory bodies at national and European level.

He has been also attached to the presidency ADICAE for legal services, and is now member of the Advisory Committee of the National Securities Market Commission of Spain. He has been member of the Observatory for Migration to SEPA, (Central Bank of Spain), and also of the Insurance Advisory Board [General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds, Ministry of Economy (2006-2011)], and he is usually required by institutions, agencies and universities to participate in regular works and conferences .

After an initial foray into the economic field, since 1998 he became a member of ADICAE , where has developed different responsibilities. He was Vice President of ADICAE from 2004, and later was appointed Secretary General of the association.

He was one of the first representatives of ADICAE in Euroshareholders, and since then he has been the main responsible at ADICAE for international affairs. In fact, he has been very involved in the representation of ADICAE in Better Finance, coordinating the work of ADICAE with Ià±igo Barrera, until recently a member of the Board of Better Finance.

He currently coordinates the ADICAE´s representation in the EU body and the ADICAE´s international activity . He is also member of the Observatory for Electronic Payment Card [Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism (2006-2011)], and was member of the Expert Group on Market Observer Efficiency Investment Fund [DG Internal Market, European Commission (2006)], among others. 

Managing Director, Guillaume Prache

Guillaume Prache is the Managing Director of BETTER FINANCE, the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users. He is also one of the experts representing financial services users before the European Commission (as member and vice chair of the Financial Services User Group - FSUG), before the European Securities & Markets Authority (as member and former chair of the ESMA Securities & Markets Stakeholder Group), before the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (as member of the EIOPA Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group) and before the French financial regulator AMF.

He started as a magistrate at the French Court of Auditors, and has an extended and international experience in financial matters, most recently as Chief Financial Officer of US-based Rhône-Poulenc Rorer, Inc., a “Fortune 500” publicly-listed pharmaceutical company (today Sanofi) from 1997 to 2000, and then as Managing Director of the European subsidiary of the Vanguard Group, Inc., a global leader in asset management, from 2000 to 2006.

He has taught asset management for the CIWM (Certified International Wealth Manager) program, and wrote two books (and various articles on economics and finance).

Executive Director, Aleksandra Maczynska 

Aleksandra Maczynska is coming from Warsaw, Poland, where she was the Deputy Director of the International Relations and Communication Department of the Polish consumer and competition watchdog. 

She studied at the Faculty of Management at the Poznan University of Economics and at the Warsaw School of Economics. She has also a vast experience in management of international projects, e.g. EU funded capacity building projects. As a Fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation Programme for the Young Executives from the Public Sector, she worked at the Division for World Bank International Monetary Fund, Debt Issues and International Finance Structure at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. She was an expert at various EU Council’s Working Parties such as the WP on Financial Services and WP on Competitiveness and Growth, as well as European Commission’s Working Groups and Advisory Committees. One of her task was also external representation and managing professional networks such as Consumer Policy Network (CPN), International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), European Competition Network (ECN) and OECD Competition Committee.

Senior Advisor, Judith Hardt

In August 2018, Judith joined Better Finance as Senior Advisor. She has a substantial track record in leading European associations specialized in financial services.

From May 2014 until June 2018, Judith was the Managing Director of the Swiss Finance Council. It represents the interests of internationally active Swiss financial institutions in Brussels. Before joining the Council in 2014, Judith led the Federation of European Stock Exchanges (FESE) through two successive EU legislatures. In 2008, Judith was named Lobbyist of the Year by the Euromoney publication Compliance Reporter for her contribution to the adoption of the European Code of Conduct on Clearing and Settlement. From 1993 to 2004 she was the CEO of the European Mortgage Federation (EMF) which represents the interest of mortgage banks and building societies in Europe. Whilst at the EMF, she was instrumental in the successful launch of the European Covered Bond Council (ECBC) and the adoption of the European code of conduct on mortgage credit. She served two terms as Vice-Chair of the Securities and Markets Stakeholder Group and she chaired the European Parliament Financial Services Forum from 2005 to 2007.

Judith Hardt is also a lecturer at the Solvay Business and teaches ‘Financial Infrastructures’ for the Advanced Master in Financial Markets.

Chief Communications Officer, Arnaud Houdmont

Arnaud Houdmont joined the team at Better Finance following a varied and multi-facetted career in the world of communication, press relations and research at the heart of Europe. During this time he worked closely with policy makers from the European Commission, the European Parliament and private sector stakeholders on topics such as youth employment, entrepreneurship, health policy, sustainability and innovation. Prior to this he earned a master’s degree in Global Communication from Goldsmith’s College (University of London) and a bachelor’s degree in International relations from Sussex University.

His studies and career have given him a critical and analytical insight in a range of issues, as well as a profound knowledge of the political economy, media and the European institutions. On a personal level Arnaud is fascinated by all aspects relating to sustainable development and political economy.  

At Better Finance, Arnaud is responsible for all communications activities and the continued development of an inclusive communication strategy aimed at reaching all interested parties and stakeholders. He speaks fluent Dutch, English and French and has a very good working level of Spanish.

Research Officer, Stefan Voicu

Stefan Dragos Voicu joined the Better Finance team as Research Assistant for a 6-months period. He obtained a double degree in law: a Bachelor’s Degree in Romanian national law (University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law) and a Bachelor’s Degree in European and French Law, from the University Paris-Sorbonne. 

Subsequently, he decided to pursue a specialisation in EU Law. During the Master’s courses at Leiden University’s (Faculty of Law) LL.M. European Law, he focused on EU Internal Market & Competition Law, as well as on EU Institutional Law. He wrote his Master’s Thesis on the topic of EU Data Protection Law and Consent for Cookies.

As part of his professional experience, Stefan undertook several internships at national and international law offices in Bucharest. He performed the activities of an intern in fields such as Banking Law. He has demonstrated a keen interest for the EU financial services sector. 

Administration & Finance Assistant, Lina Strandvåg Nagell

Before joining the Better Finance team, Norwegian national Lina Strandvåg Nagell completed several international traineeships, including time spent with Washington D.C. based firm Freedman Consulting, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the UN. Her professional experience extends to communication, research and policy work.

While studying at the European University at St. Petersburg for an MA in Energy Politics, Lina focused on the financialization of commodities and oil price volatility. She is a recent graduate from the Brussels School of International Studies, where she obtained an LLM in International Law with a minor in International Political Economy. Her main areas of focus were international financial regulation as well as trade- and investment law. Lina holds two BAs from the University of Bergen, one in Economics and one in Comparative Politics. Lina originally joined the team as Research Assistant for a 6 month period.

Research Assistant, Lorenzo Marchionni

After having gained experience in the Administrative Services Division at the Rome based UN Agency IFAD and in Milan, by working for the Italian Sustainable Investment Forum, Lorenzo joined the Better Finance team as Research Assistant for a six-months period.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florence and a postgraduate’s degree in Banking, Corporate Finance and Financial Markets from the University of Pisa. His Master’s thesis topic concerned the development of microcredit in Europe as an instrument to foster self-employment and bottom-up economic growth. He sustained part of his master studies as exchange student at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

His areas of interest range from financial education to economic development with a specific focus on employment and social affairs.

Communications Assistant, Aiste Vysniauskaite

Aiste has joined Better Finance as a Communications Assistant for a 6 months period, after finishing her Master studies in Media Culture in Maastricht university. For the past year she has been analysing the new media practices and their effects on society and has contributed to making videos and podcasts, particularly in the content creation. In her Master thesis, she has looked, into the role of Facebook as a public sphere from users’ perspective, in order to gain understanding of the way the content is selected and perceived by them.

Aiste has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a lot of experience in the customer facing environment, where she has learned how to adapt communication to diverse audiences. She is passionate about digital communication and FinTech. Aiste’s mother tongue is Lithuanian, she is fluent in English, has a good working level of French and the basics of Spanish.

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