BETTER FINANCE was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to give consumers of financial services a voice.
BETTER FINANCE’s predecessor, Euroshareholders, was created in 1992 and gathered about 30 individual shareholder organizations in Europe. Euroshareholders joined BETTER FINANCE in 2012.
This constituted a very important landmark towards a fully unified representation of the interests of all financial users at the European level. Thus, BETTER FINANCE is one of the very few organizations working “in the interests of the many, and not the few”.
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 Vice-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.
Jean Berthon is BETTER FINANCE Vice-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.
Christian Gülich is the Senior EU Policy Officer of the German Association of Insured (BdV) since 2014. He was born in 1957 in Worms (near Frankfurt).
He studied sociology at the University of Bielefeld and Université d’Aix-en-Provence. For research he went to Paris and finished his Ph.D on French Solidarism in 1988. After the German Re-unification he was in Potsdam in 1992/93 for an additional professional training as scientific documentalist.
In 1996 he went to Hamburg starting at BdV as media documentalist, then continiously enlarging his responsibilities (mainly media resonance analysis, advice on private retirement). Having established contacts to Better Finance in 2014, he is responsible for all BdV written and oral comments on draft legal acts or regulations on the European level (mainly for EIOPA and the other ESAs). As EU Policy Officer he represents BdV at EIOPA Occupational Stakeholder Group (OPSG) since 2018, in 2019/2020 he was appointed a member of EIOPA IRSG as well.
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.
Aleksandra Mączyńska 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.
EU expert groups: Member of the Directorate-General for the Environment on the European Commission Eco-labelling Board, Member of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) Occupational pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG), Member of the United Nations Civil Society Advisory Body of the Principles for Responsible Banking (UNEPFI).
Matis Joab joined BETTER FINANCE at the beginning of 2020 as Finance and Administration Officer, before being promoted to Executive Director in July 2023. Since joining, he has been in charge of finances, administration and member relations, as well as representing BETTER FINANCE at the European Financial Reporting Expert Group and contributing to BETTER FINANCE’s research work in relation to pension savings and investor rights.
He has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics and a Master’s degree in Management from Tallinn University of Technology. After working 6 years in the private sector in Estonia, mostly in the commercial real estate sector, he moved to Brussels to become the Financial Director of the European Students’ Forum (AEGEE).
In addition to his knowledge of finance and economics, Matis has a deep interest in geopolitics. He is bilingual in Estonian and English and has a decent grasp of both French and German.
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.
Anaïs Baudrier joined Better Finance on February 2021 as a Project Manager to deal, amongst other things, with H2020 project LEVEL EEI (GA894345).
Since her graduation with a Master’s degree as Expert in European Project Management from the University of Caen Basse Normandie in France, she has cumulated 8 years of experience in project and proposal management for French, European and International funders.
On the Innovation side, she has worked in different consulting companies in France and Belgium on FP7 and H2020 projects related to many different topics with a focus on Energy.
On the International development side, she was working for the prestigious Institut Pasteur in Paris and for the Brussels office of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Sébastien Commain is Research and Policy Officer at BETTER FINANCE. He specialises in Financial Services Regulation and Capital Markets Research.
Sébastien holds a Masters’ degree in European affairs from Sciences Po Paris and a Ph.D. in political science from the Université du Luxembourg. Before joining BETTER FINANCE, Sébastien worked as an interest representative, a role in which he initially developed a strong taste for financial regulation issues as well as advocacy and policy analysis skills. He then turned to academia, working at the College of Europe for several years, before undertaking a Ph.D. on the influence of financial interest groups in EU and international policy making and the reform of bank capital requirements.
Martin Molko is Research and Outreach Officer at BETTER FINANCE, where he supports the research team, monitors policy issues and carries out dissemination tasks for our activities. He works on various policy areas, with a focus on Digital Finance/FinTech, Shareholder Rights, Financial Literacy and inclusion. Within the BETTER FINANCE team, he is also involved in several topics related to the EU Capital Markets Union (CMU), market structure and corporate finance.
Martin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Information and Communication from the University of Nice and pursued a specialised Master’s Degree in European Studies at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). He has also participated in summer university programmes related to European multilateralism and economic development. As part of his past professional experience, he has consolidated his communication and reporting skills, including within a European news agency, where he developed a strong interest in finance. He has lived in Belgium, France and Germany, where he gained experience in consulting and held project management and editorial positions in the academic field.
Mariyan Nikolov is a Research & Policy Officer at Better Finance, where he specializes in the areas of Sustainable and Digital Finance, Financial Reporting and Corporate Governance. He is also involved with the coordination of relevant policy developments with member organizations and leads on consultation responses to the EU on broader sustainability dossiers.
In his previous roles – with government representation, EU institutions and the private sector – he led on multiple research projects encompassing sustainable finance initiatives and comparative regulatory developments, carbon pricing and trading, as well as consultations with international financial institutions.
Mariyan has an integrated MSci in International Relations and Global Issues from the University of Nottingham, UK whereby he also completed various study and volunteering projects across China, India and Malaysia in the fields of sustainability. He is a native Bulgarian, Turkish, English speaker and has some understanding of other languages including Russian, French and Dutch.
Guillaume Prache is Senior Advisor of BETTER FINANCE. Following nearly 15 years creating and then developing BETTER FINANCE as Managing Director up to June 2023, he focusses on policy and research in his new role as Senior Advisor. He is also one of the experts representing financial services users at EU-level, notably before the European Commission (lastly as a member of the HLF CMU – High-Level Forum on Capital Markets Union), before the European Securities & Markets Authority as a member and former chair of the ESMA Securities & Markets Stakeholder Group, and before the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority as a member of the EIOPA IRSG – Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group (and formerly as a member of the EIOPA Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group and of the EBA Banking Stakeholder Group). He is also an expert for the French financial regulator AMF. And he is the President of FAIDER, the largest individual investor organization in France, and a member of BETTER FINANCE.
He started as a magistrate at the French Court of Auditors and has an extended and international experience in financial matters, notably 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.
Vincentas Steponkus is a Communication and Administration Assistant at BETTER FINANCE. He has obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Politics at Newcastle University and is currently pursuing his Master’s in International Political Economy at the University of Groningen.
As part of his professional experience, Vincentas has worked at one of the BETTER FINANCE national member organizations, Lithuanian Investors’ Association.
The BETTER FINANCE Scientific Council consists of highly skilled and experienced independent academics who help us deliver high quality research for financial services users, other stakeholders and policy-makers.
The Scientific Council consists of the following members (alphabetic order):
Chair: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Veil (Germany)
The Scientific Council responds to the need for more independent research in financial services to provide a sound and unbiased basis for financial policy recommendations. This is reflected in BETTER FINANCE’s Scientific Council, as many of its members also have extended experience in EU advisory bodies on financial services policy.
BETTER FINANCE Scientific Council members (as of January 2023)
|Niamh Moloney is Professor of Financial Markets Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She specialises in financial market regulation and financial consumer protection. Niamh Moloney has published a large number of articles in this area, including a book (How to Protect Investors: Lessons from the EU and the UK, Cambridge University Press) on financial consumer protection. She was a member and then Chair of the Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Advisory Group; a member of ESMA’s Stakeholder Group; and a member of the UK FCA’s Consumer Panel. Currently, she is also a member of the board of the Central Bank of Ireland.
|Jan Sebo is associate professor and researcher at the Matej Bel University (Faculty of Economics) in Slovakia, with a specialisation in Pension Finance, Pension Economics, Investing and Savings, Public Finance and Regulatory Policy. He leads the research team at the Orange Envelope platform, which provides automated independent personal finance advise and pension tracking services across all pension schemes in Slovakia. He is a former member of the Occupational Pension Stakeholders Group (OPSG) at EIOPA and a present member of the Financial Services User Group (FSUG) at the European Commission.
|Vilhjálmur Bjarnason is an assistant professor at the University of Iceland, Faculty of Economics and Business administration/ School of Business, with a specialisation in Finance, Financial markets, and Business Ethics. Vilhjálmur Bjarnason was an elected member of Alþingi the National Parliament of Iceland, for the Southwest Constituency from 2013 until October 2016 and then deputy MP until September 2021. He was a member of the Economic Affairs and Trade Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Icelandic Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees, and the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee.
|Pierre-Henri Conac is a Professor of Financial Market Law at the University of Luxembourg where he founded the Master in European Banking and International Financial Law (LL.M.). Pierre-Henri Conac is the author of the Regulation on Securities Markets of the French Commission (COB) and the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). He was involved in policymaking around company law, banking and financial law at the EU level and at the national level. In addition, Pierre-Henri Conac is a former member of the ESMA- Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group (SMSG).
|Nicolas Véron is a senior fellow at Bruegel in Brussels and at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. His research is mostly focused on financial systems and financial reform around the world, including global financial regulatory initiatives and current developments in the European Union. Nicolas Véron has authored and co-authored numerous policy papers on matters that include banking supervision and crisis management, financial reporting, the Eurozone policy framework, and economic nationalism. He participated as an expert in committees of the European Parliament, national parliaments in EU member states, and US Congress. In addition, Nicolas Véron is an independent non-executive board member at the Trade Repository arm of DTCC.
|Rüdiger Veil holds the Chair for Civil Law and Business Law at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich. His main research areas are European corporate law and capital markets law. Rüdiger Veil has published numerous books, inter alia on “European Capital Markets Law”, and articles in top-ranked journals, particularly from a comparative perspective. Since 2012, he has been a member of an academic working group advising the German Federal Ministry of Finance with regard to EU financial market reforms. In addition, Rüdiger Veil has been a member of the ESMA Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group (SMSG); from 2016-2018, he was Chair of the Group. Rüdiger Veil has acted as an expert for the German, European, Chinese and Russian parliament.