With a vision to be a part of every client’s success story, The Aspen Trust Group has been pioneering Cyprus’s corporate and financial service industry since its creation in 1998. It was established to be a solution to provide better financial optimisation structuring tools for businesses and high-net-worth individuals. By enhancing the boundaries of international trade and investments, The Aspen Trust Group was on-hand to help grow and manage wealth and maintain and develop this for future generations.
Based in Nicosia, Cyprus, The Aspen Trust Group offers a diverse and integrated range of tailor-made professional services to your needs. The highly qualified staff are prepared to advise and assist in the planning, implementation and management stages of business growth, so that you can rest assured that you and your finances are well looked after.
As a result of their continued success and reliability, the Aspen Trust Group has recently been nominated for the Citywealth International Financial Centers Awards’ (IFC) 2023 for the category of Trust Company of the Year 2023 – Mediterranean.
With over two decades of experience and commitment under her belt at Aspen, FOUR speaks to CEO and industry expert Marina Zevedeou. Having won the 2022 Citywealth UK Gold PowerWomen Award for Woman of the Year – Leadership – Financial Organisation (CEO and Board Member), Marina explains more about changing the face of financial solutions and how she has helped to sustain The Aspen Trust Group’s market success.
How did you find your way into financial solutions?
I was born in Cyprus and raised by a family which instilled in me the values of discipline, commitment and perseverance from a young age. I obtained a degree in Economics, Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics. Studying at such a prestigious University gave me the opportunity to be mentored by field experts and interact with brilliant individuals in terms of intellect and social status. This allowed me to build a strong network of associates and friends with which I interact and work daily. I then pursued the professional qualification of Chartered Accountancy. This experience opened my eyes to the male dominance and rigid boys-club culture permeating my profession. The sheer lack of women made me feel completely out of place and almost embarrassed to be there at all. Since then, I have therefore been committed to the empowerment of women and increasing their presence in my field.
After working for international conglomerates, I decided to start my own business. My national roots and the brilliant incentives offered prompted me to set up the Aspen Trust Group in Cyprus. I have found that being a CEO, a female one no less, requires the perfect balance between professionalism and kindness. One needs a strong stomach to persevere against fierce competition, economic crises and a pandemic. At the same time, I find it paramount to create relationships of trust with my employees and clients to ensure that their needs are satisfied and I am a part of their success story. My hands-on commitment and determination are defining features of the Aspen Trust Group.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Aspen Trust Group and what your role entails?
We are global financial architects that set up and manage business structures which invest in the international arena, acting as their steppingstone to their destination of investment. We manage their affairs, from opening and maintaining bank accounts to providing administration, secretarial, payroll, tax compliance, financial management and accounting services. We assist businesses in setting up their Headquarters in Cyprus, including applications for entry visas and work permits, as well as taking care of entity re-domiciliation, patent registration, residency, and citizenship applications, cross-border mergers, family office services, and specific structures taking advantage from the Intellectual Property (IP) and Film Regimes in Cyprus. We ensure that our clients take full advantage of the various tax and other incentives provided by the Cypriot government in accordance with their strategy to attract investments on the island. We build long-term, trusted relationships with clients and associates, aiming to add value to their businesses and be part of their success stories. Our team consists of qualified accountants, lawyers and MBA-holders who undergo rigorous training to provide tailor-made solutions.
When it comes to my role as a CEO, I make sure that our company is visible and active in the global market. As such, PR and marketing, as well as business development and the set-up of strategic alliances, are crucial parts of my responsibilities in order to ensure that our business is viable, relevant, and financially sound. Given the ever-changing market conditions, my success lies in whether I ensure our business model is more agile than ever while, at the same time, providing proactive and added value service to our clients. My deep technical knowledge, vast expertise in the field, and my systematic, hands-on approach to client issues enhance my direct visibility to clients, strengthening their loyalty and trust in us. We are, after all, their truly trusted partners.
How do you deal with challenges such as legal matters within the industry?
Keeping up with international laws and other international matters, such as the recent pandemic and war in Ukraine, is a constant endeavour for us. At the same time, we must address the client’s requirements amid all these changes, which sometimes include complicated legal matters such as international sanctions. All these challenges are part and parcel of running a business in this arena. Being members of various international organisations and active on social media provides us immediate access to these developments and suggested ways to mitigate their impact on our clients. My team and I have been able to address these challenges successfully through the years while meeting our client’s needs.
Clear communication and transparency are key ingredients in our business culture. We work proactively as a close-knit team, instigating changes following quick internal and client meeting sessions. These ensure we are flexible, adaptable, and effective in such changing circumstances. Through all the ups and downs, we manage to add value to our client’s businesses, and this culture is a major ingredient of our success.
What do you think are some of the reasons for your success as CEO of the Group?
I like to lead by example. I work extremely hard, arriving first in the office every morning and leaving last every night. I am persistent and entirely focused on my goals, and I lead with integrity, determination and grit that outweighs negativity or thoughts of failure.
I promote good teamwork and healthy competition amongst my employees while delegating effectively, ensuring we meet deadlines, provide the best quality services, and overcome any bottlenecks on our way. I follow the progress throughout to ensure rapid and effective conclusions.
I encourage transparency, honesty and respect through good communication and the building of trust-based relationships. I nurture these relationships with employees and clients alike, and I make them feel like a part of the Aspen Trust Group family. People who work with me feel the support of a trusted listener and know I will always add value by giving my honest and constructive feedback.
I encourage happiness at work; I am close to staff and work relentlessly to understand their needs and provide them with a happy environment to flourish. I promote diversity and inclusion. At one point, we had 15 nationalities employed by our Group who spoke 23 languages. I love the Art of Business, and my excitement for new ideas transpires and inspires others. Time and time again, I have experienced remarkable transformations as a result.
Can you explain some initiatives you are currently working on to promote women entrepreneurs?
I am the president of the Women’s Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Cyprus (WICCI-Cyprus), promoting women entrepreneurs and strengthening the business relationships between Indian and Cypriot women.
I am also the Cyprus Country Chair of the G100 Global Trade Wing, an empowered Group of women leaders aiming to change the world for women.
I participate in various initiatives led by the Female Polish Ambassador in Cyprus, supporting women in business. Recent initiatives include a Forum on Women in Peace and Security Processes and a Polish-Cypriot Forum on new technologies, which gathered Polish and Cypriot female experts to discuss the opportunities, threats, and challenges in the post-COVID reality, from innovation to economic diplomacy. I also participated in and funded a survey carried out by the In future Institute in Poland, which examined the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women in Poland and Cyprus. Furthermore, as part of the UN’s outreach efforts to businesspeople, I exchanged my views with a UN officer on matters about women entrepreneurs in Cyprus and broader female empowerment considerations.
Assisting and mentoring women is a subject very close to my heart. I employ many women in our organisation and have been actively mentoring women trainee accountants for over 20 years.
The advice I always give to women striving for success is my life motto: “You may go over, you may go under, and you may go through, but you never give up!”
Success is relative, and the road to achieving it is not set in stone. No one has the perfect formula for achieving greatness, as most people have historically obtained it through the privileges of their sex, class, or nationality.
My advice is for women to stop comparing themselves to others and stop thinking they need to be perfect to belong in male-dominated spheres. Find what you love, trust your gut, and persevere relentlessly. Learn quickly, be yourself and strive for your own empowerment. You are the author of your success story!
To learn more about The Aspen Trust Group and their services as global financial architects, go to their website at https://aspentrust.com/ or email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org