Month: September 2019

Climate strikes
FinanceGlobal ComplianceNatural Catastrophe

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

Climate strikes

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

 

Extinction Rebellion’s city centre disruptions and Fridays for Future’s well attended school strikes across Europe inspired by Greta Thunberg have placed climate change firmly in the public consciousness. Now more than ever before, the question is not if something should be done, but when and how. Robert Blood, managing director of NGO tracking and issues analysis firm SIGWATCH, explains how this is already forcing the financial sector to take more decisive action.

In June 2018, Legal & General told Japan Post Holdings (JPH) that it was dropping the company from its $6.7billion Future World index funds. It added that any of its funds that still held shares would be instructed to vote against the re-election of JPH’s chairman. L&G justified the move by saying that JPH had “shown persistent inaction” to address climate risk.

L&G is not alone in taking action on climate risk. BNP Paribas, AXA, Allianz, RBS, Munich Re, ING, Rabobank, Standard Chartered, Barclays and HSBC are all now committed to exiting deals and investments concerned with coal mining and coal-fired power. In the U.S., despite (or arguably because of) an administration that is openly sceptical of the need for climate action, many of the largest banks including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have all announced coal exits, as they have begun to do in Australia. Japan’s largest banks and insurers, and their equivalents in Singapore and China, have come late to the divestment game but they too are finally rolling out new coal pledges.

Revival of campus activism

These moves are the consequences of growing pressure from stakeholders, driven by activist groups, for almost ten years. It was in 2013 that US student environmental groups first demanded college endowment and pension funds sell off their shares in fossil fuel-related projects. Their carbon divestment campaign was modelled on the Apartheid campus divestment battles of the 1980s, which aimed to undermine the economy of South Africa by forcing U.S. firms and investors to sell off South African assets. Congress imposed investment bans too. Until the Klerk-Mandela settlement of 1993, South Africa was for almost a decade a pariah state for investors.

While the priority for campaigners has been to drive out coal, the pressure on carbon does not stop there. Under the slogan, ‘extreme carbon’, campaigners have extracted concessions from leading financial institutions on Canadian oil sands, Arctic and deep-sea drilling, shale gas, and related infrastructure such as LNG terminals and pipelines. As these specific sources become demonized, conventionally produced oil and gas becomes more and more dubious. Divestment on the basis of increased risk has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When money flows out of an asset type, the remaining investors are by definition exposed to increased financial risk, and this in turn stimulates additional cycles of divestment. There is a reason why fossil fuels are commonly described by climate campaigners as ‘stranded assets’. Even giants like Shell are now openly reconsidering their futures.

The success of campaigners in getting their arguments heard and taken seriously is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, one of the most striking developments in the financial sector of the last decade has been the ‘mainstreaming’ of environmental and social responsibility standards in investing. Until relatively recently, these were the preserve of SRI and ethical funds, often funds that had been set up at the behest of well-funded environmental groups who insisted on strict exclusion criteria.

Now, environmental and social governance (ESG) is embedded in standard fund management practice, helped by pressure from political stakeholders and customers, particularly in relation to the institutions’ own funds, to take intangible risks such as human and indigenous peoples’ rights seriously.

Financial institutions’ increased willingness to listen

The financial crisis of 2008 also played an important part. With the reputation of the financial sector in tatters, leading institutions made a conscious decision to prove their ‘value to society’ by adopting ESG, and engaging with NGOs in a far deeper and more open way than ever before.

Campaigning NGOs have not been slow to exploit investors’ new-found willingness to listen, to push their wider agenda on a wide range of environmental and social concerns. These include human and indigenous rights, sustainability, corporate environmental responsibility and benchmarking, labour standards, animal rights, even the ethics of investing in industrial scale agriculture.

As NGOs become more active and more influential, their campaigning can provide an early warning system for emerging issues for investors. On plastics and shale gas (fracking), campaigning levels rose significantly ahead of public concern, anything up to 12 months prior. This is not very surprising, since activists are effective at getting media attention and this feeds into public awareness. We are now seeing this with ‘green vegetarianism’ – the switch away from meat for environmental reasons like deforestation and climate change (see chart 1). All these correlations show how campaigners can ‘make the weather’ politically.

It will become more important for global financial institutions, as they develop ever more expansive policies and standards under pressure from NGOs and other stakeholders, to track the long-term implications of the criteria they are enforcing.

Pension funds linked to ‘politically sensitive’ workforces such as public sector employees, health and education, are especially vulnerable to this kind of pressure. The campus campaigns of the carbon divestment movement quickly moved on to targeting staff pension funds once they secured the support of a significant number of faculty. In Denmark the state pension funds have been called out by Greenpeace on the same issue. In Sweden, Greenpeace launched a boycott of payments into the mandatory state pension scheme AP3 until it agreed to divest from all fossil fuels and related infrastructure projects.

ESG goes mainstream

With leading financial institutions engaging seriously with campaigners and their concerns, doing nothing is not an option. As more major mainstream funds are managed on ESG principles, investment managers and institutions increasingly have to justify to their peers why they are not doing the same, rather than the other way round. It is no longer a question of, Are the NGOs being fair, but rather, Do the NGOs have the ear of our stakeholders, and are they already influencing rival institutions? They may be small and apparently insignificant compared to a bank or investment fund, but NGOs have become critical players in transforming what society expects from finance.

Robert Blood, managing director of NGO
Robert Blood, managing director of SIGWATCH
stocks
ArticlesStock Markets

What should a business on the world’s first stock exchange focused exclusively on impact investment look like?

stocks

What should a business on the world’s first stock exchange focused exclusively on impact investment look like?

 

• Project Heather launches consultation at UN Climate Action Week
• Consultation on a new proposed ‘public markets impact issuer model’ is welcomed by Jamison Ervin of the UN Development Programme as “a significant step towards achieving the Global Goals”
• Truly collaborative approach to consultation appeals to the global community of impact experts to solve how business can achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals within a new systemic framework
• The proposed Scottish-based, global facing, impact-focused stock exchange would be the first recognised investment exchange in the world to mandate the annual reporting by issuers of the social and environmental impact of their business

Project Heather has announced the opening of a consultation, presenting its suggested elements for what an ideal issuer on its exchange might look like, including the core pillars required to support impact reporting by its issuers. The consultation will feed into the Impact Reporting Requirements for the proposed Scottish-based stock exchange. Speaking ahead of the UN’s Climate Action Summit at the UNDP’s Climate Hub, Project Heather CEO and Founder Tomás Carruthers declared the consultation open, in an impassioned call to action to the impact and sustainability communities.

Tomás Carruthers, CEO and Founder of Project Heather, said: “It is an honour to launch this consultation at the United Nations Development Programme’s Climate Hub as the world’s nations come together for Climate Week.

“Our mission at Project Heather is to make the Sustainable Development Goals, and beyond, feasible and achievable. Project Heather integrates the routes most likely to move capital at the greatest speed and scale to the kinds of projects that most urgently address risks to stakeholders captured in the SDGs. As a Project we have spent considerable time working on what a potential issuer on our proposed new Scottish stock exchange might look like, but now it is time to call on the global impact community to help. We invite them to join our consultation and hold us to account. This is a call to act now – we don’t have much time left to achieve the SDGs.”

Jamison Ervin, Global Manager on Nature for Development, UNDP, said: “It is now widely acknowledged that the Global Goals cannot be achieved without private sector support, and while impact investing is growing in some sectors, it is yet to penetrate capital markets. In seeking to change how capital markets value natural capital, we see Project Heather’s goals for an impact-focused stock exchange as a game-changer for our planet.”

The proposed Scottish-based, global facing, impact-focused stock exchange will be a stock exchange built specifically for impact investments, defined by the Global Impact Investing Network as those “made into companies, organisations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.” The proposed new exchange, being built by Project Heather, is designed to make a positive impact on society and our global home. This will be achieved by managing, measuring and reporting the impact of the issuers on it against the targets of the Global Goals.

About the consultation

The proposed Scottish-based stock exchange will require impact reporting for every issuer on admission and annually thereafter. In building the operating model and frameworks for the new exchange, Project Heather has identified the Sustainable Development Goals as the destination framework, with every issuer required to report against the goals, and critically, the goals’ targets. The consultation seeks opinion on this chosen destination.

In addition, the consultation will also gather input on seven key elements it believes underpins the impact reporting requirements of an issuer:

1. The issuer’s board declares that its organisation’s core purpose is to make a positive impact, as defined by the Principles for Impact Finance to provide a definition of value which goes beyond profit, to include social and environmental well-being. This defined purpose is contextualised to align with global goals for sustainable development.

2. This declared purpose is clearly articulated through a theory of change.

3. This declared purpose is realised through the material core of the issuer’s activities, and the issuer commits to a proactive journey towards value creation within the entire system it operates.

4. Impact is measured using widely accepted frameworks and tools and must include measurement against the SDGs.

5. Impact is reported publicly and annually, with a commitment to ongoing improvement.

6. The organisation or issuer is committed to transparency.

7. The organisation or issuer is committedly against impact-washing.

Project Heather neither seeks to create a new impact tool or impact reporting framework, nor will it prefer any one existing impact measurement or management tool or framework. As part of the consultation process, Project Heather hopes to engage with the ecosystem of recognised and respected frameworks that exist for measuring, managing and reporting on social and environmental impact, both established and emerging.

In addition, Project Heather will seek to understand what the global impact community believes a business on the exchange should constitute and what segments should be avoided, if any. As transparency of information, both at listing and thereafter, is a reason Project Heather believes capital markets can transform impact investing, the consultation will seek opinion on what that transparency should look like.

Those wishing to respond to the consultation should go to www.projectheather.scot and complete the form. The consultation will be open until Monday, October 21st, 2019. The draft reporting requirements will be published following consideration of the consultation responses.

Colin Price
BankingHigh Net-worth Individuals

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

Colin Price

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

 

KBL European Private Bankers (KBL epb), which operates in 50 cities across Europe, announced today the appointment of Colin Price as Group Chief Operating Officer and member of the Authorized Management Committee, subject to regulatory approval.

Price – who has a 35-year track record of successfully advising leading companies worldwide on how to unlock their full potential – will oversee a wide range of support functions, including IT, Operations, HR, Marketing and Real Estate. He will personally participate in the group’s long-term success through a significant co-investment.

A former Partner at PwC and McKinsey who set up his own boutique consultancy in 2014, Price earlier served as CEO of Heidrick Consulting, a division of Heidrick & Struggles. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and an Associate Fellow at Saïd Oxford, the business school of Oxford University.

Price, a British national, holds degrees in economics, industrial relations and psychology, and organizational behavior. He is the co-author of a number of books, including most recently Accelerating Performance: How Companies Can Mobilize, Execute and Transform with Agility.

In his new role, he will work alongside Eric Mansuy, who assumed the Group COO role last fall and has been named Group Chief Information Technology & Operations Officer, reflecting his areas of core expertise and reporting to Price.

Mansuy, who joined KBL epb in 2014 as Group Chief Information Officer, previously served as Chief Information Officer at RBC Investor Services. A French national who studied at the University of Lorraine and IMD Business School, he earlier held a number of senior roles in the IT department at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, rising to the position of Head of IT Services.

“I have known Colin for many years, benefiting from his strategic insight as a trusted advisor,” said Jürg Zeltner, Group CEO and member of the Board of Directors of KBL epb, where he has taken a significant ownership stake.“I am delighted that he has joined our group’s leadership team as a full partner in this journey.

“Together with Colin and Eric – who has demonstrated his ability to tackle the most complex technological and operational challenges – we will move forward rapidly and with purpose, cutting through complexity to deliver even greater value to every client we have the opportunity to serve.”

“After spending a lifetime studying why companies succeed and advising countless firms on how to perform better, I’m grateful for the opportunity to all put my insight and experience to work for KBL epb,” said Price. “At this transformative moment for the group, we’re focused on effecting rapid, positive change that will make this an even better bank for our clients and our people.”

“I’m very pleased to be able focus more sharply on shaping IT and Operations strategy, working closely with Colin and team leaders across our footprint,” concluded Mansuy, who has successfully overseen the group’s migration to an enhanced IT platform, among other major projects.

CAR INSURANCE
ArticlesFinanceInsurance

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

CAR INSURANCE

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

 

Are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

We all know that cars can be expensive — and not only to purchase. There are many extra charges that you may face as a car owner, including MOT charges, road tax and fuel allowance for things like your daily commute.

There are also the hidden costs to consider if your vehicle unpredictably breaks down. However, one of the biggest expenses you’re likely to face is your annual insurance just to drive your car. In Britain, there are over one million uninsured drivers on our roads, which in turn increases premiums for those who do insure their vehicles.

For many people, a yearly payment is too big of a lump sum, so they must break it down into monthly payments. But, are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

Shop around

It goes without saying that it’s important to consider your options. Like any service, you should do your research. Many insurance companies will attempt to ‘better’ the offer on the table by a different provider, so be sure to know what you want and don’t just settle with the first, or your current provider. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better. Check what is included before agreeing to a cheaper cover.

Reduce coverage on older cars

While you may be tempted to always choose comprehensive cover for your vehicle, be aware that choosing this coverage for particularly old vehicles may not be cost effective. For example, if your car is worth £1,000 and is in a crash, there’s a possibility that your insurer will just write your vehicle off. Therefore, if your insurance is costing approximately £500 for comprehensive cover, it may not make financial sense to purchase it. Comprehensive cover is most cost effective for those with new cars, or cars that have held their value.

Have a solid credit score

Having no claims bonuses are obviously a great help when it comes to lowering the cost of your insurance. But, were you aware that your overall credit score can also have a huge impact on your car insurance? That’s because insurers take in the impression that if you’re responsible in your personal life and with other financial situations, you are less likely to file a claim.

Include a black box monitor

Some insurers will lower the annual cost of your cover if you fit a small box in your car that can help insurers to track your driving methods. This will include aspects such as braking and speed via GPS, as well as taking into account the time of day you drive. This method, also known as telematics insurance, is effective for young and inexperienced drivers, those who have a low annual mileage, or older drivers who want to prove that they’re safe behind the wheel.

Add other named drivers

It may seem strange that more drivers being named on your insurance will bring down your costs, but that’s the case for many quotes. This is because it helps the insurer tie more people into their service. This works well for younger drivers who would usually be charged an extortionate amount. Being named on their parents’ insurance can help reduce their outlay.

Increase your excess

Your premiums are based on how much your insurer is likely to pay out if you claim. By choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess, you will lower the cost of what the insurer will have to pay towards the claim. Therefore, this can lower your overall insurance. However, you must ensure that you choose an excess you will be able to afford and make sure the excess doesn’t exceed the overall value of your vehicle.

While it’s a necessity to be insured when on the road, you don’t have to pay over the odds to do so. Following the above guidelines can help you reduce your overall payments — leaving you with extra money to spend elsewhere.

gender equality
Wealth Management

In wealth management, better gender representation is better business

gender equality

In wealth management, better gender representation is better business

 

By Sofija Djapic, Business Development Manager, InvestCloud

Last year, more than half a million people took part in a survey conducted by the University of Cambridge that explored psychological differences between the genders. One of the long-standing psychological theories that it proved is the Empathising-Systemising theory of gender differences. Essentially: on average, women score higher on tests of empathy, and men score higher on tests of systemising, also known as the inclination to analyse.

No matter the gender, a good financial adviser is one who can empathise with their clients. Advisers who take the time to listen, understand long-term goals, and tailor advice to clients’ individual needs are those who will build strong relationships with clients and have a high retention rate. As we well know, women make excellent financial advisers, just look at Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors 2019.

Yet while women make excellent financial advisors, women’s financial risk is increasing. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) also recently examined the rising levels of financial risk facing women in the UK. The conclusions are dismal. Women today are “less likely to accumulate wealth over the course of their lifetime than previous generations.”

It states that while women live longer than men, they are saving less. This is due to pay inequality and career breaks to care for families, children, and parents. Women in the UK face a significant pension deficit compared to men. By the age of 65, the average woman’s peak pension wealth is £35,700, one fifth of an average man. Longer life expectancy means the average cost for women entering a care home at age 65 is £132,000. Again, this is nearly double the same cost for a man.

These two issues create one difficult question for the wealth management industry: is it at risk of failing women?

 

Where does the problem originate from?

This issue is not unique to wealth management. The entire financial industry faces this same issue.

Representation is a huge factor in the entire financial industry – both from a client and an advisor perspective. Only seven percent of investment funds in the UK have a woman as the named manager or co-manager. This issue goes to the heart of a wealth management practice – down to the bottom line. A study by Ernst & Young found that 73 percent of female wealth management clients in the UK felt wealth managers misunderstood their goals and could not empathise with them. This has serious repercussions for client retention and acquisition.

Why? Because the number of financially powerful women is rising rapidly. There are many more to come from younger generations – especially with the coming wealth transfer.

This is a demographic that wealth management firms need to think seriously about. Currently, wealth managers are ostracising half their future potential client base. To attract these investors, wealth managers must change how they are perceived.

 

True representation, real empathy

If we aren’t seeing proper representation within the industry, how can we expect that services will be tailored to address the unique needs and circumstances of women? And how can we expect firms to appear welcoming and inclusive to potential clients?

Firms must make a concerted effort to hire financial advisers that clients can relate to. This requires a diverse culture. This not only means hiring more women, but also hiring advisers who are younger and come from different backgrounds – culturally and economically. This must go beyond gender-washing or tokenisation to deliver real value; this way wealth management firms can change how they are currently perceived by women and how they understand the needs of their female clients.

Having female advisers in a firm helps to integrate a greater understanding of the unique needs women have in trying to maximise their wealth. Financial advisors are already experts at delivering personal engagement. By improving upon their knowledge of women’s unique priorities, advisers will develop deeper relationships and increase trust.

To tailor these services to women, they must be built on empathy. For an increasingly younger and more tech-savvy demographic, this must also manifest as digital empathy. If a firm can translate its ability to deliver truly personal services into a digital environment, they will see massive benefits when it comes to onboarding women. This is done, as the EY study discusses, by improving micro-segmentation capabilities that in turn create more tailored client experiences that acknowledge women’s formal and informal goals, as well as their “soft preferences.”

Firms can augment this by employing behavioural science functions to design individual client experiences. This is done by harnessing client data. This data is used to inform the digital experience and improve digital empathy. It is gathered at all points – from how many times a client logs in to the platform, to what they view and the information they offer up. Data needs to be used to map out the client’s journey, ensuring that the adviser can anticipate needs and effectively service the client.

Digitising services opens opportunities to create empathetic relationships with clients in more ways than just data collection and analysis. Advisers can free up valuable time through automation and spend this time building their clients’ portfolios. It also means they can scale up to service more clients, without negatively impacting quality of service.

Balancing this digital empathy with face-to-face empathy is a winning combination for the next generation of investors.

 

Future-proofing the bottom line with representation and digital empathy

Digital platforms allow advisers to help clients navigate through turbulent times early. This further establishes trust – achieved through pattern recognition and prescriptive analytics, along with enhanced early warning indicators through automated monitoring of client data and alerts.

Implementing these changes will benefit all clients but will have the most immediate and profound impact on a firm’s female clients. This is because women can feel seen, heard and represented when it comes to making some of the most important financial decisions in their lives. This feeling can then be augmented into the everyday interactions through digital services.

This is how the industry can turn around the female experience: empowering our female clients within businesses and within the client base. The positive effects this has on the bottom line will quickly become obvious.

houses
FundsPrivate BankingReal Estate

Two Thirds of Buyers are Struck With Anxiety Fighting the Challenges of Buying Their First Home

houses

Two Thirds of Buyers are Struck With Anxiety Fighting the Challenges of Buying Their First Home

 

This year, reports revealed that first-time buyers (FTBs) account for more than half (51%) of the nation’s buying market for the first time since 1995 and with the average deposit for a first-time home now sitting at £33,000, today new research has revealed that mortgages have as much impact mentally as they do financially on first-time buyers.

According to a survey of 2,000 FTBs currently in the market for a home, commissioned by online bank Atom bank, two thirds (64%) have admitted to feeling anxiety when tackling the challenges of getting a mortgage and purchasing their first home.

A lack of education around mortgages is playing a huge part in buyers’ anxiety. Of the 64% of buyers who have felt anxious whilst looking for a house, a massive three quarters (74%) attribute being unsatisfied with their knowledge of mortgages as a key factor.

The process has become so overwhelming for some, that over a third (37%) of buyers recently considering purchasing a new property have pulled out due to the stress of it all.

3 in 5 (58%) admit that a key contributing factor to their high stress levels is saving for a large enough deposit. Though the stress is not limited to those on a lower income, as almost half (47%) of households earning more than £80,000 a year have said they’re struggling to save for a deposit. This is in spite of the fact they’re earning nearly three times the national average wage (£29,009).

Mortgage Complexity and Mental Health

The research reveals the complexity of the current mortgage process is causing first-time buyers to doubt whether mortgage companies actually understand the challenges modern buyers face.

More than 7 in 10 people (72%) who are anxious about the challenges of purchasing a home don’t think that mortgage companies fully comprehend the challenges buyers face. The consensus is heightened by the fact that more than three quarters (78%) of the nation believe the mortgage process is too complex and needs to be more consumer-friendly. More than a third (37%) of buyers – from builders to barristers – with a postgraduate degree feel dissatisfied with the mortgage process and with 7 in 10 (70%) of Brits looking to move in to their new home this year still feeling anxious about the prospect, the mortgage process proves to be daunting from start to finish.

The challenge is too much for one person’s shoulders, as a fifth (21%) of buyers going through the mortgage process by themselves have had to pull out due to stress, compared to only 6% of those going through it with at least one other person. This still takes its toll on those in a relationship, as two thirds (65%) have claimed that although they haven’t pulled out of the market, the process has given them anxiety.

Spend or Save: Where does all the money go?

The turn of the 21st century has brought a new challenge for millennials trying to save for a deposit. The average person spends £1,740 a year on amenities such as streaming and on-demand services, phone bills and electronic devices. Modern technology has also made travelling much more accessible, with the average person spending £1,152 a year on trips. Combining the two means the average person spends £2,892 a year on both exploring and everyday tech, which is more than 1% of the average UK house price (£230,292).

In efforts to balance the books, nearly half (46%) of buyers would be willing to move back home with their parents to save money. Higher earners are the most likely to move back home, as nearly half (47%) of those earning over £34,000 would move home to save money for a deposit, compared to 2 in 5 (39%) people earning under £34,000.

However, those living by themselves (69%) and former university students (53%) are least likely to move home, despite 3 in 5 (60%) students claiming that saving for a deposit is their biggest obstacle, as well as paying off their university debt which is on average £50,800.

 But moving home is just the start for some, as 2 in 5 (38%) of buyers admit that their only way of saving a large enough deposit is through financial support from either a family member or partner. The reliance on family help grows with the buyer’s age; Generation X are twice (26%) as likely as millennials (13%) to ask for financial help when they’re trying to buy.

Despite a double income, two thirds (65%) of those in a relationship say that the biggest obstacle they face is saving for a deposit, compared to half (50%) of singletons. Having children stretches finances further, as 2 in 5 (38%) buyers rely on financial help from their family or partner, compared to 1 in 5 (22%) of those without children.

Stick or Twist: Flying the nest

Over a third (37%) of FTBs look to buy in the same area they grew up, with a quarter (25%) stating that they will look to buy somewhere that’s close to their friends. Traveling may give millennials the confidence to buy a new home in the unknown, as a quarter (25%) look to move away from the area they grew up in to experience some where new, while only 1 in 10 (10%) of generation X are willing to move away from their childhood area to try something new.

A key factor behind many buyers’ move is their job as a quarter (26%) look to buy a property closer to work. Many buyers looking to change jobs are caught in a predicament, as 2 in 5 (38%) look to buy somewhere that will give them better job opportunities, but nearly half (46%) are struggling to save the deposit they need to get in to those desired areas.

 

Education, Misconceptions and Help

Millennials believe knowledge is key, as 1 in 5 (19%) stated that a lack of education is the key reason behind the stress issues for first time buyers, whereas only 1 in 13 (8%) people from generation X believe a lack of education is to blame.

The process starts with confusion, as 43% of people found it complicated to choose a company or mortgage broker to get the ball rolling, while two thirds (63%) of buyers have stated that choosing a mortgage type is the most complicated part of the process.

Half (51%) of buyers who recently pulled out of the market explained that having their documents in order was the most stressful part of the process, with their little knowledge on key terms being a key issue.

The research has revealed the most common words in the mortgage process that buyers had either never heard of or didn’t understand are:

Highest percentage of words that were never heard of

Over half the nation (52%) wish they’d been taught more in school about the mortgage process. Worryingly, almost as many people would seek mortgage advice from a parent (55%) as they would a professional (57%), despite the abundant challenges new buyers face.

The lack of education on mortgages has left buyers unaware of multiple schemes that can help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. 4 out of 5 (83%) buyers with children have never heard of a ‘Family Offset Mortgage’, over a third (37%) have never heard of the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme and nearly 4 in 5 (78%) are unaware of the ‘Starter Home Initiative’.

Mark Mullen, CEO of Atom bank, said: “Today’s findings have showcased just how much impact the mortgage process can have on a first-time buyer, before they’ve even entered the market.

“Buying a home is commonly the largest investment most people will make in their life time, which is stressful enough without worrying about the mortgage process. This makes it vital that buyers feel at ease from as early on in the process as possible. The results show that there is a real disconnect between advisors and buyers, as many people are seeking advice from their parents, who may have not purchased a property in decades.”

bitcoin
Due DiligenceFX and Payment

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

bitcoin

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

 

The London and Cambridge-based charted accountancy firm BKL, is believed to be the first UK mid-sized accountancy firm to accept a cryptocurrency to settle invoices. BKL specialises in helping entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals and owner managed businesses across a range of business sectors. These include technology, financial services, property and farms and estates.

“As a forward-looking business, we are always exploring new ways to develop our offering. We are pleased to now offer this option to clients,” said Jon Wedge, Financial Services partner at BKL.

“We support people and businesses that work with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and this move has been driven by demand from our clients. It’s a convenient way for many of them, particularly those in the fintech and technology sectors, to buy our services.”

Using a leading automated payment processing system, BitPay, clients of BKL can now opt to receive invoices in Bitcoin. 

“BKL are one of the most respected specialist accountancy practises serving the blockchain industry and we are very happy that they are successfully using BitPay’s B2B service” said Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer of BitPay.

“This is another superb example of forward thinking professional service businesses engaging with the ever-expanding crypto currency industry.  As blockchain ventures continue to proliferate there will be an increasing worldwide demand by vendors to pay invoices in bitcoin.”

BKL will invoice their clients with a traditional fiat value, and then the client pays in bitcoin or bitcoin cash with a conversion rate provided by BitPay that is issued and fixed for 15 minutes, using an average price from leading regulated exchanges. This ensures there is no exposure to any of the price volatility that characterises the digital currencies.

BKL receives its payment electronically through BitPay, but as fiat money.

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank
BankingSecurities

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Recent statistics show that TSB, whose catastrophic IT transfer meltdown last year is still having lasting repercussions for clients, has come last in a consumer poll on the effectiveness of its online banking solutions. Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson explores how this is the direct result of the bank’s meltdown last year.

Last year, TSB lost thousands of customers when its IT systems switchover caused widespread outages and led to consumers and businesses being unable to access their accounts.

At the time, Paul Pester, TSB Chief Executive Officer, commented on the issues by saying:

“We’re making progress in resolving the service problems customers experienced following our IT migration, and we will continue to work tirelessly until we have put things right.  I know how frustrated many customers have been by what’s happened.  It was not acceptable, and was not the level of service that we pride ourselves on – nor was it what our customers have come to expect from TSB.

“It has been a difficult time for customers and I am grateful to them for their patience. I would also like to say thank you to our Partners for their enormous efforts.  They have done everything in their power to continue serving our customers, and I am proud to see that the values on which the Bank has been built have shone through during this time.

“Our priority in the second half of the year continues to be putting things right for our customers.  Looking further ahead we are determined to get back to bringing more competition to UK banking and ultimately making banking better for consumers and small businesses.”

Shortly afterwards, Paul stepped down from his position, showing how detrimental the issues had been to his career. Commenting on the changes, Richard Meddings made it clear that the IT problems were a key driving force in this decision.

“Paul has made an enormous contribution to TSB. Thanks to his passion and commitment, TSB is today one of the UK’s strongest challenger banks, serving over 5 million customers across the UK. On behalf of the TSB Board, I want to thank Paul for everything he has achieved as CEO and pay tribute to the contribution he has made in bringing greater competition to the UK retail banking market.

“Although there is more to do to achieve full stability for customers, the bank’s IT systems and services are much improved since the IT migration. Paul and the Board have therefore agreed that this is the right time to appoint a new CEO for TSB. Our goal is therefore to allow a full search to commence, without any distractions, enabling TSB to build for the future.

“Meanwhile I have been asked by the Board to take on the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis. Together with the Executive Committee, we have three immediate priorities: to complete the work of putting things right for customers; to enable the bank to achieve full functionality – including the availability of all product services and launch of a leading Business Banking offer; and appointing a CEO for the next chapter of TSB.”

Later, TSB had a further issue, with smaller problems causing the bank further problems throughout 2018.

Andy Cory, identity management services lead at KCOM commented shortly after TSB’s second issue with authentication, which saw clients locked out of their accounts.

“A broken authentication system has an instant impact on customer loyalty. If a business cannot provide easy access to its services without sacrificing security, it only has itself to blame when its users desert.

“The problem is balancing access with security. Too easy to get in and you risk leaving customers unguarded; too many security measures and it becomes offputting for users.

“Fortunately, there is a way to achieve the best of both worlds. Frictionless customer authentication – where users can access online services with zero input into the identification process – is becoming a reality.

“For example, geo-location and geo-velocity checking allow companies to trace a user’s physical location and how far they have travelled since their last login. Taken together, they verify if the user is who they claim to be and make any manual input from the customer unnecessary.”

The latest results from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) showcase the long-term detrimental effect that the IT issues have caused. In the personal banking space the firm was last for its online services, but within the business banking space TSB was last in almost every category including online banking services, highlighting how much more important IT stability is for businesses. 

There may also be other factors at play, including poor interest rates, lack of availability for certain financial products and poor customer service as a whole, but there is clearly a link between the lack of faith consumers and businesses now have in TSB’s IT infrastructure and its poor ratings in this latest poll.

Looking ahead, TSB needs to restore faith through new initiatives and by showing its clients that it has truly put its IT failings behind it. For more of the latest news, insight and banking knowledge, subscribe to Wealth & Finance International Magazine HERE.

wealth management
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsHigh Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Report calls for major digitisation of the wealth management sector but warns 84% of projects could fail

wealth management

Report calls for major digitisation of the wealth management sector but warns 84% of projects could fail

Over £20 billion of high net worth individuals’ investable wealth could be passed on to their loved ones every year, but as many as 80% of wealth manager’s don’t have an existing relationship with these beneficiaries. Digitisation is key to addressing this challenge.

A new report from Nucoro, a B2B fintech providing Wealth Management as a Service solutions, says traditional wealth managers need to totally re-engineer their operations if they are to prosper in the future. However, it warns that on average around 84% of companies generally fail at digitisation projects. 

The report entitled ‘The Future Challenges for Wealth Management’, says wealth managers and financial services companies in general need to prioritise and redefine what can be expected and achieved from digitisation, and make increased use of partnerships with expert solution providers.  

Nucoro says the digitisation of the wealth management sector needs to go beyond simply moving physical into digital, and fundamentally rethink products from the conceptual to execution. It says this is being driven by the rise of automation facilitating scalable growth, and the transformation of customers where their expectations, needs, behaviours and demographics are changing.

To illustrate this point, Nucoro estimates that on average, for the next decade over £20 billion of high net worth individuals’ investible wealth will be passed on to their loved ones every year, but as many as 80% of wealth manager’s don’t have an existing relationship with these beneficiaries. Many of these beneficiaries will be millennials who make great use of technology in all aspects of their lives, including managing their finances.

Nikolai Hack, the COO and UK MD of Nucoro commented: “As with any investment in a financial business, a central motivation should be to ultimately produce outcomes that can benefit customers. Adopting bolt-on enhancements like digital customer experiences or automations for back office functions are the best routes to upgrading the services to existing and potential clients due to their accessibility, scalability and affordability.” 

“Wealth managers must embrace technology. The industry is heavily regulated, and it therefore faces a large administrative burden, but technology can minimise the time and resources spent on tasks that are very basic but high in volume.”

The report highlights several key trends that innovative wealth managers need to address if they are to be successful in the future:

The growth of digital wealth management:

The report says it is now realistic to consider direct to consumer robo-platforms as legitimate industry challengers. By the end of 2018, they were managing $257 billion, and this could grow to $1.26 trillion by 2023. 

The rise of fintech new entrants:

While tradition still reigns supreme in wealth management, there are major indications that the next decade will see technology driven services enjoy strong growth. Taking an example from another industry, looking at the banking and payments market in Europe – new entrants (including challenger banks, nonbank payment institutions and big tech companies) that entered the market after 2005 now amass up to one third of new revenue, despite only taking 7% of the overall revenue.

Growing advice gap:

The cost of financial advice is demonstrably pricing out large sections of potential clients. A report in 2018 found that more than 40% of financial advisers has been forced to review their charging structures in the first half of 2019. This is a huge threat and opportunity for wealth managers

Wealth passed on to millennials/changing client needs

Beginning around 2030, an estimated $4 trillion of wealth is going to be passed on to millennials in the UK and North America from their parents. However, only some 20% of UK advisers currently have an existing relationship with their current clients’ beneficiaries, many of whom are millennials. This means that digital and mobile first access will become more universal as the younger generations mature. Digital finance is a highly effective engagement tool for younger generations.

Nikolai Hack said: “An unprecedented transfer of wealth is expected to be served by a shrinking pool of advisers. They will be dealing with a client base that is likely to need them to become more flexible and deliver a more modern and personal service.”

“This could mean more agile tech-driven firms will need to fill the gap. Alternatively, the existing firms could push to streamline their operational functions and manage overheads – cost cutting essentially – while handling an influx of orphaned clients at the same time.”

“For the next generation, their needs and expectations are centred on interacting with their finances via digitally accessible platforms that link their money, their everyday lives and their goals to the future. Greater customisation of service levels will also be key here.”

The reach of regulation

The number of individual regulatory changes that regulated organisations must track on a global scale has more than tripled since 2011. Tech can play a key role in helping wealth managers with this area of their business.

Conclusion

Nikolai Hack said: “For wealth managers, technology and digitisation can be applied across all functions, from onboarding clients and portfolio management to operations and reporting. It also enables wealth managers to become much more agile and focused on the needs of clients. However, wealth managers need to find the right balance between digital and human services and the key to success will be how wealth managers combine these two in order to meet the challenges now and in the future.”

From client onboarding to portfolio construction through to billing automations, Nucoro combines all the tools required to build the next generation of wealth management propositions. To help the wealth management sector move forward, Nucoro offers a new technology-based foundation built without legacies – a complete overhaul to the models of client service and accessibility. Nucoro’s is a radically different approach to the relationship between technology providers and the organisations adopting their solutions – in short, they can provide the new engine to power the next generation of financial services.

Whilst Nucoro has recently launched to the public, the technology behind it powers the retail investment platform, Exo Investing – a fully automated, AI-powered wealth management platform. Within the first year of operation, Exo won two industry awards (Best digital wealth manager OTY + Industry Innovator OTY at the AltFi awards 2018), was named as a finalist in three more and selected to two disruptive company annual indexes (Wealthtech 100 and Disruption50’s 100 most disruptive UK companies).

Nucoro is making this technology available for businesses in the wealth management sector that have the ambition to truly innovate and future-proof their businesses – and are struggling to realise their digital ambitions alone.

bank
BankingCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)

How the finance industry has evolved

bank

How the finance industry has evolved

Industries are constantly trying to keep up with the fast-paced landscape in which they operate, be it technological changes, customer demands or simply just making things easier for their consumers.

But it is the speed at which the technological advancements have reached that has forced traditionally slow-moving financial institutions to heavily invest to remain relevant to their consumers and remain competitive in the marketplace.

Personal

Banking is one of the oldest businesses in the world, going back centuries ago, in fact, the oldest bank in operation today is the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472. The first instance of a non-cash transaction came in the 20th century, when charga-plates were first invented. Considered a predecessor to the credit card, department stores brought these out to select customers and each time a purchase was made, the plates would be pressed and inked onto a sales slip.

At the end of the sales cycle, customers were expected to pay what they were owed to the store, however due to their singular location use, it made them rather limiting, thus paving way for the credit card, where customers that had access to one could apply the same transactional process to multiple stores and stations, all in one place.

Contactless

The way in which we conduct our leisurely expenditure has changed that much that we can now pay for services on our watches, but it wasn’t always this easy. Just over a few decades ago, individuals were expected to physically travel to their nearest bank to pay their bills, and had no choice but to carry around loose change and cash on their person, a practice that is a dying art in today’s society, kept afloat by the reducing population born before technology.

Although the first instances of contactless cards came about in the mid-90’s, the very first contactless cards associated with banking were first brought into circulation by Barclaycard in 2008, with now more than £40 million being issued, despite there being an initial skepticism towards the unfamiliar use of this type of payment method.

Business

Due to the changes in the financial industry leaning heavily towards a more virtual experience, traditional brick and mortar banks where the older generation still go to, to sort out their finances. Banks are closing at a rate of 60 per month nationwide, with some villages, such as Llandysul closing all four of its banks along with a post office leaving it a ghost town.

The elderly residents of the small town were then forced into a 30-mile round trip in order to access her nearest banking services. With technology not for everyone, those that weren’t taught technology at a younger age or at all are feeling the effects most, almost feeling shut out, despite many banks offering day-to-day banking services through more than 11,000 post office branches, offering yet a lifeline for those struggling with the new business model of financial firms.

Future innovations

As the bracket of people who have grown up around technology widens, the demand for a contemporary banking service continues to encourage the banking industries to stay on their toes as far as the newest innovations go.

Pierre Vannineuse, CEO and Founder of Alternative Investment firm Alpha Blue Ocean, gives his comments about the future of banking services, saying: “Artificial intelligence is continuing to brew in the background and will no doubt feature prominently in the years to come. With many automated chatbots and virtual assistants already taking most of the customer service roles, we are bound to see a more prominent role of AI in how transactions are processed from all levels.”

Technology may have taken its time to get to where it is now, but the way in which it adapts and updates in the modern era has allowed it to quicken its own pace so that new processes spring up thick and fast. Technology has given us a sense of instant gratification, either in business or in leisure, we want things done now not in day or a week down the line.

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in
FinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Despite the stereotype of the younger generation being frivolous with their money, it seems they are actually one of the savviest generations when it comes to turning a profit on their own. While they are hesitant to invest in stocks, millennials and generation Z are tapping into the hyper-short-term investment of fashion and beauty. For example, there’s a huge market for buying and selling trainers at the moment, or in vintage fashion.

In particular, limited-edition trainers have a huge appeal across the world, with people willing to camp outside of stores to pick up a particularly lucrative pair.


Art flipping

According to Business Insider, rich millennials are snapping up art as financial assets rather than as part of a potential collection — 85 per cent of millennials purchasing artworks say they are aiming to sell in the next year. Buying art with the intention of selling it on quickly is known as art flipping, and it’s something of a controversial subject in the art world. There are some who consider the process of art flipping as a potentially devaluing practice that harms the artist and their work.

The process can also seem more logical than artistic too, as many such purchases are made purely on the work’s monetary value. However, the piece’s social media hype can also spur rich millennials to part with their cash in a hopes of a quick resale profit — Instagram has been highlighted by Adweek as a viable platform for creating social media adoration for artists.


Clothes

One of the reasons why the younger generations are turning more to side-hustles and reselling as forms of investment is that the turnover is incredibly fast thanks to apps like Depop. There are so many stories about how entrepreneurial millennials are sniffing out limited edition items from the most popular brands, such as Supreme, during their famous limited edition ‘drops’, then rapidly reselling them.

Of course, the initial purchase is an investment, with many resellers spending hundreds of pounds or more on such a venture, but the resale of these goods can certainly turn a profit. It also taps effectively into the Instagram world we’re living in too. Sellers often combine their shop platforms with their social media accounts to merge both modelling and selling the items.


Shoes

The most sought-after trainers tend to be either limited edition or classic trainers for that much-loved vintage style. People are willing to set up camp outside a store before a particularly hyped drop of limited-edition trainers, in order to grab them at retail price, then sell it on for much higher prices. Some might seek to resell the items quickly, but there’s certainly a case to be made for popping a brand new pair of limited edition trainers away for a few years before reselling in hopes that their much-hyped status will only increase that price tag as the years roll on.

Arguably the biggest market in reselling is that of sneakers and trainers. Much like clothing, the main draw here is in limited edition shoes — but the sneakerhead culture is not anything new. In fact, it began nearly 30 years ago, though it’s enjoyed a huge resurgence in the last few years.

 
Sources:

https://www.sofi.com/blog/millennial-investing-trends/

https://www.adweek.com/digital/influencing-the-art-market-millennial-collectors-social-media-and-ecommerce/

https://www.businessinsider.com/rich-millennials-investing-art-flipping-build-wealth-2019-4?r=US&IR=T

https://www.standard.co.uk/fashion/should-you-be-investing-in-sneakers-a4014486.html

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/oct/23/teens-selling-online-depop-ebay