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5 ways cognitive assistants are revolutionising banking

Martin Linstrom, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at IPsoft, looks at the next stage in technological evolution of the banking industry and how artificial intelligence (AI) will redefine banking as we know it.


The banking industry has made huge strides to drive innovation by investing in new technologies over the last few decades. Commercial banks first adopted telephone banking, then came internet banking and now, for most customers, all your financial services needs can be met via an app. Now, as we enter the conversational era enabled by cognitive AI, customer expectations have evolved once again.


Banks have long been ahead of the curve in terms of elevating the user experience for their customers and so, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many are already looking to AI-powered digital assistants and are investing in cognitive solutions to upgrade and scale customer-facing financial management processes. Many banks are also looking at how they can provide the same simple, frictionless service to their own employees. 


As AI-powered customer interfaces gain mainstream acceptance, we will once again see a revolution in technological change within the banking industry. So, what functions within banks will cognitive assistants transform?


Building a hybrid workforce

Virtual assistants have a twofold capability which is driving innovation in the banking industry. Firstly, they can be implemented in back office functions such as finance or HR and secondly, they can supplement customer service centres. Creating a hybrid workforce of human employees and AI-powered virtual assistants can help drive enormous cost efficiencies and increase staff productivity. Employees in administrative roles can pass their repetitive tasks over to their digital colleague, freeing up their time to focus on more creative or interesting work that requires soft skills whilst customer service agents can pass standard requests through an AI system leaving them with only the most complex of customer queries to deal with.


Ubiquitous customer services

One of the most attractive things about AI-powered customer services for banks is its ubiquity. With virtual customer service agents available 24/7 and through a variety of channels such as live message, telephone or email, it’s a win-win situation for both bank staff and customers. From a customer’s perspective, simple requests such as password resets or international transactions can be performed in an instant and there’s no need to visit the bank or spend an hour in a telephone queue to speak to a human agent.


Banks adopting customer-facing AI solutions are in fact seeing increased customer satisfaction rates despite removing the human-to-human contact element. For example, since implementing IPsoft’s AI solution, Amelia, SEB, a leading Nordic bank has been able to avoid 544 hours of escalations to customer support with an average handle time of six minutes. What’s more, Amelia has reached an 85% accuracy in immediate intent recognition which has meant a faster service delivery to customers and soaring customer satisfaction. 


24/7 banking support

Unlike human agents, digital assistants can work around the clock, seven days a week with no breaks and without tiring. For modern consumers, particularly young digital natives who expect to be able to manage their finances at any time of the day, integrating AI into a bank’s customer service centre will soon become the norm. Chatbots are already an industry standard, therefore at the very least, banks that don’t continue scaling this technology throughout their business will find themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage, trailing behind the market by delivering an inferior customer service experience.


Go beyond simple chatbots

Digital assistants with cognitive intelligence capabilities represent the next leap in automation for financial institutions. Digital colleagues like Amelia are now able to perform tasks above and beyond mere transactional ones, digitising more complex financial management processes such as wealth management onboarding and mortgage applications. Unlike simple chatbots, digital colleagues are also able to develop their cognitive abilities through an advanced Natural Language Interface (NLI) which can process customer queries asked in hundreds of different ways, including slang. More importantly for the banking industry, they can handle context switching so that when a customer moves quickly from one request to another, the interface is able to process both requests without starting over.


Many banks have already integrated voice capabilities into their finance management solutions. Customers communicate via text or voice to gain quick answers to banking questions, tailored financial advice and can even carry out transactions all from the same channel. Voice-enabled digital assistants can handle payments and transfers, credit card activation, charge disputes and travel alerts for customers at any time, freeing up customer services teams to focus on more complex customer enquiries and giving customers full control and access to their finances. Conversational AI will become more and more widely accepted as banks start to harness the technology to help drive customer engagement and operational efficiencies.


Delivering better insights and improved security

Unlocking key business insights is another key driver motivating banks to invest in AI. Sophisticated systems can recognise patterns from the sheer amount of data that they are processing. Thanks to these capabilities, businesses can easily find out the most common types of transactions by customers of a certain demographic and can then retarget this group for specific marketing or sales campaigns, helping to drive revenue. These real time insights can help business leaders make better, more strategic decisions that are informed through concrete data.


Real-time data mining can also be applied to improve customer security as many AI tools have built-in privacy and security by design. An AI-powered virtual assistant can pick up on irregular payments immediately, flagging potential “phishers” to a human agent for additional authentication. What’s more, advanced machine learning solutions can improve over time so that banks can continue to scale up their services. Virtual assistants like Amelia can go one step further by ‘learning on the job.’ Essentially, when Amelia does not understand a request or query she can pass it on to a human colleague but remains in the conversation to learn how to resolve the issue next time.


The future of retail banking

The financial services industry has long been at the forefront of technological innovation. Whilst many businesses are still debating whether to invest in AI, major banks are very much leading the way to invest in the technology and are thriving as a result. As virtual assistants become increasingly more intelligent and their cognitive abilities develop, the expectations for banks and the services they offer will be elevated. Banks that rest on their laurels and refuse to acknowledge this risk falling behind permanently, particularly with the slew of challenger fintech companies that are appearing on the market, offering dynamic and tailored financial services at a lower price. 



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Equinox Racing is a London based horse racing syndicate like no other. Focused on delivering immersive experience to its members, Equinox Racing recently opened its horse’s shares to cryptocurrency. From now on, you can use your Bitcoins to buy yourself the thrill of horse racing and the privilege of horse ownership.


Rob Edwards, co-founder of Equinox Racing, commented: “There is a huge amount of capital in the crypto world, and not too many tangible opportunities out there. A lot of the people who invested in crypto, particularly in the early days, are punters. They are our kind of people!” 


Equinox Racing believes horse racing should not be limited to the chosen few but made available to enthusiasts and new audiences on a wider scale. Having nine horses and about 100 club members and owners to date, Equinox Racing offers a range of exciting experiences. Visit your horse at the stables, speak with the trainer and the jockey, follow his evolution on social media and support him at the race!


D Millard from Norwich, Norfolk (horse owner), commented: “Equinox Racing delivers fantastic days out, real prize money winning opportunities, and its stable of horses just continues to grow.” 


For the equivalent of £34,99 per month in crypto, which is the average price for gym memberships, Equinox Racing enables you to be part of something greater than a pair of weights. And ownership is available from £150 pounds (in crypto as well)! Thrill, suspense, joy, grace, excitement, exclusivity, are the words that describe the emotions experienced during a horse race.


J MacLeod from Ayr (horse owner) commented: “Simply amazing.  My passion for racing has grown now that I have affordable ownership.  I never thought I would be able to own any part of a horse with such a stunning pedigree.” 


Equinox Racing is currently expanding its horse’s portfolio and looking at new acquisitions. It is now the perfect time to get involved!


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WisdomTree launches Artificial Intelligence ETF (WTAI)

WisdomTree, the exchange traded fund (“ETF”) and exchange traded product (“ETP”) sponsor, has partnered with Nasdaq and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to launch an ETF providing unique exposure to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector. The WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF listed on the London Stock Exchange today, with a total expense ratio (TER) of 0.40%.


The ETF will provide investors with liquid and cost-effective access to this exponential technology megatrend that is driving efficiencies and new business capabilities across all industries globally and redefining the way we live and work.


Christopher Gannatti, WisdomTree Head of Research in Europe says, “We are delighted to partner with Nasdaq and CTA, who are experts in AI and technology markets. We have worked together, leveraging our combined expertise, to re-define the AI investment landscape.”


“To capture the full economic value of AI we place companies in three categories; Engagers, Enablers and Enhancers*. When investors think of what this can bring to a portfolio, they should be thinking over a long time horizon and about how advances like autonomously driven cars, a digital workforce, mass facial recognition and other applications of intelligent machines could change the world,” Gannatti added.


Rafi Aviav, WisdomTree Head of Product Development in Europe comments, “AI is a revolutionary technology and the market for AI products and services is expected to more than triple over the next three years[1]. This fund offers a unique approach to capturing this expected growth, which is the result of a year-long collaboration between WisdomTree, Nasdaq and CTA.”


“The fund broadly represents the upstream[2] and midstream[3] parts of the AI value chain and so balances diversification with a focused exposure on those parts of the AI value chain that stand to gain the most from growth in the AI market,” Aviav added.


There is no commonly used classification system that allows one to automatically choose companies engaged in the emerging AI space, so the research for the selection of index portfolio companies is conducted by experts with deep familiarity of the AI value chain and the technology markets more broadly. This ensures the portfolio remains focused on AI opportunities rather than becoming just another broad tech fund.


We believe the fund’s unique approach offers the best of both the active and passive investment worlds in accessing the AI megatrend. The fund’s portfolio companies are already capitalising on the AI opportunity across industries and are well positioned for AI’s growth,” Aviav commented.


“AI is one of the key ‘ingredient technologies’ over the next decade – deployed everywhere from factory floors and retail stores to banks and insurance offices, creating new opportunities,” said Jack Cutts, senior director of business intelligence and research, CTA. “We’ll see this play out in January at CES® 2019 – the most influential tech event in the world – where AI will be a dominant theme, showcasing the massive potential AI has to change our lives for the better. We’re excited to partner with Nasdaq and WisdomTree to make AI investible.”


“Artificial Intelligence is at an inflection point to drive further economic growth and create new areas of opportunity,” said Dave Gedeon, Vice President and Head of Research and Development for Nasdaq Global Indexes.  “The Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence Index serves as an important benchmark for tracking the adoption of AI across a broad range of economic sectors as this influential technology hastens advancements in productivity and capacity.”


WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF: Under the hood

The WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF tracks the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence Index.  This enables investors to gain diversified exposure which is focused on companies that stand to gain the most from growth in AI adoption and performance. The index can evolve as new AI trends and companies come on stream through a semi-annual update. The Index is currently comprised of 52 constituents globally with stringent eligibility criteria:

  • Define Universe: Companies must be listed on a set of recognized global stock exchanges and satisfy minimum liquidity criteria and market capitalization criteria to be included in the index.
  • Identify and Classify: Companies are identified as belonging to the AI value

chain and classified into the following categories: Enhancers, Enables and Engagers (see below for definitions.)

  • Determine AI Exposure: The AI exposure for each individual stock is investigated and scored.
  • Top Selection: Only companies with the top 15 scores in each category (Enhancers, Enablers and Engagers) are selected for inclusion, and their weight is allocated evenly in each category.
  • Allocate Weight: In total Engagers comprise 50% of index exposure, Enablers comprise 40%, and Enhancers comprise 10% of index exposure.

*Engagers: Companies whose focus is providing AI-powered products & services.

Enablers: Companies who are key players in this space, with some of their core products and services enabling AI. They include component manufacturers (including relevant CPUs, GPUs etc.), and platform and algorithm providers that power the development and running of AI processes.

Enhancers: Companies who are a prominent force in AI but whose relevant product or service is not currently a core part of their revenue. They include chip manufacturers, and platform and algorithm providers that power the development and running of AI-powered products & services.


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WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF – USD Acc







WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF – USD Acc








Finding finance from start-up to listing

Mark Brownridge, Director General of the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association:

Securing funding as a start-up is often one of the biggest challenges that new businesses face in the primary stages of set-up. Not only is it often difficult to secure the funding itself, it is even more so when trying to get the right kind of funding for what the specific needs of the business are. Having structures in place to make it as easy as possible for innovative ideas to flourish and become fully-fledged is not only to the advantage of entrepreneurs and innovators.


One of the routes that allows this to happen in the UK is through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, which offers investors tax reliefs in order to offset the higher risks involved in investing capital into start-ups. SEIS represents an alternative to start-ups from traditional finance routes such as banks that may not be willing to lend. This is especially useful for those of the small businesses that base their proposition on intellectual property as opposed to physical assets or products. These IP rich companies often have trouble finding support without physical collateral to offer as security.


Individuals looking to invest through SEIS can then make decisions based upon individual cases and potential rather than being held back by regulation or corporate policy. Of course, the risk still exists but with tax and loss reliefs, it is much more likely that the risk will be seen to be worth it in the eyes of an investor. Getting ideas off the ground is arguably the most important part of encouraging new businesses and creating new jobs as they grow and expand.

Luke Davis, CEO and Founder of IW Capital: Growing a business from start-up to listing is a hugely challenging proposition at each and every stage of the process. One of the most important points of this is growing and scaling the business from start-up level into a more fully-fledged entity. This jump can seem daunting for even the most prepared of start-ups and this is in no small part due to the challenges in securing funding for expansion.

Knowledge-intensive SMEs that struggle to secure funding without assets to use as collateral for loans, can benefit from schemes such as SEIS and EIS. With an industrial focus on research and development this will be key moving forward with the Governments plans to grow the tech industry. This is reflected in the increased EIS limit for knowledge-intensive companies of £2 million per year, this change has been introduced to provide further encouragement to investors to support IP-rich businesses.

Clearly supporting SMEs is hugely important for the UK economy as they represent the employment of around 16 million people, depending on who you ask, in the UK with this number currently growing at a rate that is three times faster than for big corporations. Fuelling this growth will be key moving into a post-EU economic landscape that will rely even more heavily on domestic business and job creation.

Jonathan Schneider, Executive Chairman of Capital Step: According to a nationwide study titled – A State of the Nation – The UK Family Business Sector 2017-18- family-run businesses account for 88% of all UK firms. They operate in every industrial sector across all of the UK’s regions, employing almost half of the UK’s private-sector workforce. In no small part, the UK’s family and regional businesses represent a significant proportion of Britain’s bottom line.

Family-run and regional businesses form the life-blood of the UK’s entrepreneurial landscape, and to see so many believe that the Government is not looking after this vital sector of the UK’s business community is concerning. Equally – it is apparent that the funding options available to established family-run enterprise seem to be eclipsed – in local communities – by corporate entities who have greater exposure to the most appropriate funding options. The role of the family enterprise, community SMEs and bricks and mortar productivity across the length and breadth of the British Isles must be considered a firm priority for the UK government – deal or no deal.

As both investors and entrepreneurs, we have witnessed countless examples of business owners having to give up control of their companies in exchange for funding. In many instances, even successful founders end up with a disproportionately small reward for their hard work upon exit as a result of having sacrificed too much ownership and control along the way. The Capital Step model is specifically designed to address this issue, by providing flexible capital solutions without existing shareholders having to give up ownership or independence in exchange.

Jenny Tooth, CEO of the UK Business Angel Association: We as trade bodies, policy makers and commentators bear a significant responsibility to assist UK SMEs in what will be one of the most critical periods in their business life, ensuring contingency plans, scalability options, growth strategies and immediate resilience responses to ensure their successful navigation of the seismic impact of Brexit

The UK possesses multiple geographical regions that have blooming industries outside of the capital city, something which makes the UK incredibly unique. In spite of this, a lack of accessibility to and education surrounding finance and opportunities outside of London is creating a gap between what these regions are capable of and how much they’re utilised. As 63% of all Angel Investors within the UK are based in London and the South East, it is undeniable that there is a geographically skewed funding deficit that is hindering the growth of SMEs who are positioned outside of the capital. While potential investors of differing regional demographics may feel isolated from the investing arena, the repercussions for regional SMEs reliant on this kind of funding may limit innovation and employment growth outside of the capital.
The UKBAA has focused a significant amount of attention on increasing regional investment, with the implementation of many angel hubs throughout the UK, especially in Northern regions. However, there is still a long way to go to fully utilise the untapped potential found within these areas. This can only be done when it is popularly recognised that there are significant investment opportunities outside of London. 


OMGTea founder reveals what happened when she faced TV’s Dragons

Katherine Swift, founder of OMGTea, went head-to-head with a panel of millionaire investors in BBC’s Dragons’ Den on Sunday night to try to secure a £50,000 investment for 7% of her green tea company.

The entrepreneur fought her way through over an hour of challenges and thorny questions, having been invited to apply for the hit TV show.

OMGTea sources the highest quality powdered Japanese green tea, which is known as Matcha and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Katherine presented the Dragons with samples of the emerald green product and told them about Matcha’s benefits – it is packed with nutrients and provides ‘clean’ energy without the jitters.

There were sticky moments when one of the Dragons opened their bottles of OMGTea Iced Matcha without following instructions, and questions arose over the green tea’s health benefits. But, undeterred, Katherine describes the whole experience as “amazing and beneficial”.

Katherine says, “To be invited to apply for the programme was wonderful”. It was a tough process but also extremely valuable to be able to talk about our OMGTea products and a market that is on the brink of exploding. The global Matcha market is already valued at £2 billion and is expected to reach a staggering £4.1 billion by 2023.

“That said, Matcha tea is a relatively new product in the UK and three of the five dragons didn’t know what it was or grasp the difference between it and other teas, so it was a tall order to expect them to invest in a business that specialises in a product they were unfamiliar with. 

And she smiles, “When Touker spilled his drink, I did hold my breath but I promise this won’t happen if you twist then press and then shake as you should, before removing the cap. The bottles are easy to use and are a fabulous way to drink on the go, which is what more and more people wish to do.

“Also, Deborah questioned me about Matcha’s health benefits and my personal story. To be clear, I’m passionate about robust evidence-based health benefits and we are doing what we can to help validate these and whilst early independent research into Matcha tea potentially halting the growth of breast cancer stem cells is extremely promising, we are committed to going to the next stage to validate the results further. I am extremely proud of what I have achieved”

Indeed, the research carried out at the University of Salford shows that Matcha green tea may have significant therapeutic potential, by mediating the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. Studies are ongoing and OMGTea will continue to work closely with one of the world’s leading micro cell biologists, Professor Michael Lisanti.
The scientific team at Salford University, led by Professor Michael Lisanti, has been working on a breast cancer study for over two years. Katherine Swift met Michael whilst project managing a major UK breast cancer research appeal back in 2010, spurred on by her mother’s stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. OMGTea supplied the high grade Japanese Matcha tea for the purposes of the study. 
Katherine has been dedicated to supporting research for the disease which affects one in eight women in the UK*, and founded the charity Healthy Life Foundation to raise funds to support ground-breaking research into age related diseases. 

“Katherine was the driving force behind this study and donated the necessary product for testing,” said Michael Lisanti, Professor of Translational Medicine at Salford University. “I have always been interested in natural products for cancer prevention and/or treatment so to finally have this positive research which confirms the effects of Matcha green tea on breast cancer stem cells is a very important first step forward. 

“Matcha green tea fits very well with our interest in natural products. Our finding could also help explain why lifespan in Japan is among the highest in the world. I was very surprised that the Dragon’s had little to no knowledge about the potential health benefits of this natural compound that is growing massively in popularity as people’s interest in ‘naturally healthy’ explodes”.

Research aside, the market for healthy drinks is booming. Leading retail trade magazine The Grocer notes that tea is now the only sector of the hot beverages market in growth, with sales soaring by 3.5% to £641.7m in the past year (Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 21 May 2017). This is down to the premiumisation of the category, with green, herbal and fruit teas being the only growth segments in the overall tea category.

The Grocer also points out that there’s been an 8% increase in the past two years in the number of people who will pay more for quality tea, now standing at 31%. Among 25 to 34-year-olds, the figure rises to an impressive 44%. 

This is no surprise to Katherine, as naturally healthy drinks have been sharply rising in popularity since she founded the business in 2014. Euromonitor research (Naturally Healthy Beverages in the United Kingdom, May 2017) from last year shows that there is an ongoing health and wellbeing trend in the UK, with consumers focused on products that are free from sugar and artificial ingredients.

Katherine comments, “Naturally healthy ‘other’ hot drinks, which OMGTea falls under, recorded the highest growth of 37% in value sales in 2016. And the consumption of naturally healthy beverages is set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% in value sales at constant 2016 prices over the forecast period to reach sales of £3.5 billion in 2021.

Among the largest categories, Naturally Healthy Tea will record the highest growth rate of 10% in value sales. Within Naturally Healthy Tea, naturally healthy green tea will be the main growth driver, with sales stimulated by the increasing popularity of RTD green tea in helping to control weight.

“I may not have walked away with the investment but I am confident that OMGTea has a very strong future – since filming the show we have launched in several new retailers including Harvey Nichols and Caviar House and we are launching in Ocado imminently. Having survived the Dragons’ Den, I now feel I can do anything and am excited about the future. “As for the Dragons? I think they will be kicking themselves in future…”

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Mobeus invests £9M in fast-growth customer experience specialists, Ventrica

Ventrica, a European, award-winning, outsourced contact centre, has attracted a £9 million investment from Mobeus Equity Partners. Ventrica provides intelligent, multi-lingual and omni-channel outsourced customer service to a range of global ‘blue-chip’ brands.

“Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market”

Southend-based Ventrica was founded in 2010 by Dino Forte and has undergone rapid growth, doubling in size over the last two years. Ventrica is an innovation leader in the changing sales and customer service sector. As e-commerce continues to grow, especially in the retail space, and customers expand their communication channels from the phone to email, social media and webchat, companies are increasingly looking to specialists to provide around the clock customer-facing support. Ventrica works closely with its clients, leveraging its people, technology (including support for Artificial Intelligence and Automation) training and resourcing expertise to provide a high quality service, across multiple channels, that supports their brand and their values. 

Ventrica is already one of Essex’s top employers and now plans European expansion

Ventrica is a key employer in Southend and in 2017 the company launched a second site in the town. Employing over 450 staff, and growing to 600 this year, it is one of the town’s major private employers. With support from Mobeus, the company plans further investment to expand its footprint in the UK and Europe to support its growing multi-lingual client base that serve customers across global markets. However the strategy is to remain medium-sized.

Danielle Garland, Mobeus Investment Manager, said, “Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market – it is large enough to deliver multilingual and leading-edge technology solutions to its blue-chip clients but small enough to be dynamic and innovative and to provide the personalised service its clients require. As more clients onshore back to the UK, Ventrica is very well placed to continue to deliver very strong growth.”

Dino Forte, Ventrica CEO, added, “Mobeus stood out as the right partner because of the team’s immediate enthusiasm for, and deep understanding of, our offering at Ventrica. We have a significant market opportunity and are winning new customer contracts at an increasing rate and of an increasing scale. With Mobeus as a partner, we are well positioned to strengthen our team to support our significant growth whilst also allowing us to better focus on our existing clients which will be our key priority moving forward. 

Mobeus Partner Ashley Broomberg worked with Danielle Garland who sourced and led the transaction on behalf of Mobeus. Guy Blackburn, Mobeus Portfolio Director, has joined the board to support Ventrica in achieving its full potential. Dino Forte was advised by Sarah Moores and Rob Dukelow-Smith (Forward Corporate Finance). 

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Number Of Retail Investors Seeking IHT Advice Set To Rise

Advisers highlight expected increased use of flexible IHT solutions for clients

More than three out of four (78%) financial advisers expect the number of retail investors seeking help for IHT planning to increase over the next three years, according to new research from TIME Investments, which specialises in tax efficient investment solutions.  The findings come as IHT receipts hit a record £5.2 billion in 2017-18 despite the introduction of an additional nil-rate band.

Six out of ten (63%) advisers also predict an increase in the number of IHT products and investment solutions to be launched in the UK.  However, whilst this will offer more choice to investors, it also comes with a health warning – 88% of advisers questioned are concerned that new products will be launched by firms that don’t have the appropriate track record and/or expertise.

Two thirds of advisers predict an increase in the use of Business Relief (formerly known as Business Property Relief) over the next three years to help people reduce their IHT liabilities.  To encourage investors to support UK businesses, the Government allows shares held in qualifying companies that are not listed on any stock exchange and some of those listed on AIM to qualify for Business Relief. This means that once owned for two years, the shares no longer count towards the taxable part of an inheritable estate and are free from inheritance tax at point of death.

The accessibility of Business Relief investments and the range of investment opportunities available help to provide flexibility in IHT planning.  Three quarters of advisers felt that the increasing use of Power of Attorney due to rising dementia rates would contribute to the growth in the use of these flexible IHT solutions.

Henny Dovland, TIME Investments’ IHT expert comments: “The number of families in the UK being caught in the IHT net is increasing.  This represents a significant opportunity for advisers specialising in IHT and intergenerational planning and is reflected in our findings that reveal more specialist products are set to be launched in this market. However, care needs to be taken to ensure any new solutions are fit for purpose.  Our specialist team has a track record of over 22 years in this complex area.”

For further information on TIME Investments and its range of products, please visit

vc funds

Build a better VC and founders will beat a path to your door

More capital seeking hard and fast returns

With returns from traditional asset classes eroded by low interest rates, there’s plenty of dry powder looking to ride the tech wave while it lasts. Amongst the riskier asset classes, (notwithstanding the cash flooding into cryptos and ICOs), VC is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for capital seeking hard and fast returns.

As an indicator, VC assets under managements have tripled in just 3-4 years, while corporate venturing is back with a vengeance. Pitchbook data also shows that recent VC vintages are distributing capital back to LPs at a much faster pace than older ones, as well as carrying down more than 70% of their capital by the third year of investment.

Compared to the return timelines of adjacent asset classes, one can see why VC presents an attractive alternative, especially with the average Private Equity fund taking a staggering nine years to achieve a Distribution to Paid-in Capital (DPI) of 1.0x.

The ‘Halo Effect’ of traditional venture capital

Fund performance data shows only a dozen of the top VC firms generate consistently high profits. Between 3-5 percent of firms generate 95% of the industry’s profits, whilst the big name funds in the upper decile rarely change.

In a world where these firms are only as good as their last unicorn, this creates a ‘halo effect’ around a handful of well-known, long-standing funds, making it much harder for new entrants with no track record to attract exceptional founders. Meanwhile, a VC fund requires a 3x return to be considered a good investment by LPs, creating a lot of pressure to identify outliers and invest in “fund returners”.

So what defines a VC fund’s success? Is it all about picking winners? Do the top funds have a magic-8 ball to predict the next big market, or the hottest new tech? Or are markets there for the taking, with interest from the top funds compounding valuations through a self-fulfilling prophecy? Surely, it’s all down to the agency of brilliant founders, who gravitate towards the funds with the most capital and the best advice?

VC’s differentiation challenge

While it is hard to assess the additionality of advice over cash, at a later stage, picking winners is notably easier: more mature startups are typically generating revenue (though still unprofitable) and have moved beyond the most uncertain market and product development stages. The odds of a successful exit are also higher, with average loss-rates down to 30% and shorter holding periods (six years, on average).

However, it is also harder for funds at this level to differentiate themselves and attract the best founders looking for the ‘smartest capital’ (cash + advice), although normally it defaults to whichever fund offers the highest valuation. So “if the pound in my pocket is no different to the pound in yours”, how can funds articulate their ‘value add’?

Scanning websites of the best-known funds, they highlight their talent network and team of GPs, but it’s the fund’s track record that stands out, but in practice, the additionality of cash plus advice is extremely intangible.

Since 2009, a handful of US funds, (most notably Andreessen Horowitz) have started to buck the trend, working harder for their portfolio, hustling for them, providing introductions to their network of customers, acquirers and next round money. At the same time, the rise of the micro-VCs (investing across the pre-Series A spectrum) has also crossed the channel into the UK and Europe. However, instead of following an identikit model, these funds are finding a better way…

The earlier the better?

Considering the circumstances, investing earlier makes a lot of sense, not least for pursuing fresh pastures, but also for the most capital efficient returns, where investors can justify a higher reward for the increased risk they are taking, following on relentlessly in the winners of each portfolio.

However, the risks aren’t trivial, and according to Pitchbook, the loss rate amongst pre-series A startups is greater than 65%. Mark Suster, an investor at Upfront Ventures, captures this in his “1/3, 1/3, 1/3” principle: He expects one-third of his investments to be written down to zero, one-third to return the principal, and the remaining third to deliver most of the returns.

There’s no shortage of microfinancing available to pre-seed (“idea” stage) startups (crowdfunding, ICOs, angels, grants, accelerators), but it takes more than just cash + advice to build a rocket, and traditional VC funds are not set up to operate at this level.

Breaking the “two and twenty” model

While accelerator models attempt to plug the gap, investing small amounts of cash, and providing advice via their support networks, they don’t provide startups with the rocketfuel they need. There are also more sophisticated ways of investing than placing small cheques on lots of different bets. VC can add a lot at this level, but at pre-seed and seed, the traditional venture capital model breaks down for three main reasons:

  1. From a risk-return perspective, fund economics don’t work. For most funds, it would require an unmanageable number of deals to beat the odds of a 35% success rate, and still return 3x to the the fund.
  2. The traditional VC workflow doesn’t scale: a handful of GPs/investors receiving polished pitch decks and warm introductions from well-networked founders stands in stark contrast to the thousands of “idea stage” submissions, and systematic screening efforts required. There’s a huge amount of serendipity involved, and this needs to be ‘designed in’ at scale.
  3. Most importantly, startups at this stage require more than just cash + advice. Founders need help to build stuff, and that requires resources most funds can’t sustain out of the traditional two and twenty model.

De-risking through operational support

At Forward Partners, we believe there’s a better way to support early stage founders. Charging a higher management fee to LPs (the percentage of their investment that contributes towards a fund’s operating expenses) unlocks a unique value-add in a team of operators. This allows funds to offer tech, growth and product expertise as well as the hands-on help that founders need in their first year of operations.

By offering a ‘scale up team in miniature’ with experience across UX, design, full-stack development, talent, growth, PR and comms, a VC can truly help to mitigate the mistakes made by early stage startups, build stronger foundations for startups.

About Forward Partners:

Forward Partners is the UK’s leading early-stage VC fund, providing a game changing combination of capital and operational support to supercharge tech startups. Our unique model is helping to build the UK’s next generation of talented AI, e-commerce and marketplace businesses.

crowd funding
FundsFunds of Funds

Top Five Crowdfunding Myths

Top Five Crowdfunding Myths

Joel Hughes, Head of UK and Europe at Indiegogo

Launching a crowdfunding campaign is a lot easier said than done. It takes a lot of effort before the launch, during the campaign and even after funding is complete. Despite the fact that crowdfunding has been around for almost two decades, there are still many misconceptions about what makes a successful campaign, so before you launch your crowdfunding campaign, make sure you have all your facts straight. Joel Hughes, Head of UK and Europe at Indiegogo, debunks the five most common crowdfunding myths.

Myth #1: A good idea is enough to get you funded

Reality: Having an interesting idea is often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crowdfunding success. There are thousands of active campaigns for all sorts of gadgets and products across multiple crowdfunding platforms at any given moment.

To reach your goal, you need to develop a plan of action to spread the word about your campaign. Don’t restrict this just to your immediate network of friends and family. Make sure that everyone and anyone knows about it. There are tons of ways to spread the word including social media channels, direct emailing, LinkedIn networking events, and more. If you combine a few of these methods you’ll reach more people, so mix it up!

Myth #2: The work starts when the campaign starts

Reality: Crowdfunding requires hard work long before launch. You can’t just post a description of your project on the campaign page and expect backers to be willing to invest. You need to have all your ducks in a row before you launch.

We recommend beginning work on the campaign at least two months before your official launch date. This is the minimum amount of time needed to create a strong email list and build a community around your idea – two essential factors in your campaign’s success. Use this time to do your research, have a schedule, gather a strong team, define roles, and line up all your assets before your launch. If you prepare well in advance, you’ll be able to work in an efficient manner for the duration of your campaign.

Myth #3: It’s all about the money

Reality: A successful campaign isn’t about just reaching your funding goal. Crowdfunding offers more than just a boost in finances. It’s a great way to validate your idea and generate some buzz.

Crowdfunding is changing how entrepreneurs and innovators are bringing products to market. It is enabling thousands of innovators to generate brand awareness and facilitate a larger conversation with backers and potential customers, all while still in the product development process.

Myth #4: All crowdfunding platforms are the same 

Reality: There are a wide variety of platforms that you can choose from, so you need to understand the nuances between them in order to identify which one is best for your project. Choosing the right crowdfunding platform is important to the success of a crowdfunding campaign in converting people who view your campaign into backers.

Be sure you research what each platform offers, including fees, flexibility, customisation and support to help you run a successful campaign. Depending on your product, there may be some platforms that are more appropriate than others. Another factor to consider is the fundraising model each platform uses as there are several available, including rewards, equity, donation, hybrid, and lending.

Myth #5: A big social following is required to be successful

Reality: Social media is a great way to spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign, however, it’s not the only way.

The fundamental key for effective outreach is engagement. When planning your outreach strategy, keep your request as personalised as possible in order to increase the chance of a contribution. Email, for example, is often a more effective way of reaching contributors because it’s direct and personal. Avoid sending mass ‘BCC emails’ and instead send individually tailored messages. Whilst this might take more time, it’s likely to result in more contributions.

Regardless of your assumptions about starting a business, the most important thing to remember is that crowdfunding is much more than a months’ long campaign to reach a funding goal. It can also be used to raise awareness amongst consumers and for market validation. There are a plethora of factors to take into consideration before launching a campaign such as who’ll be part of your team, what incentives you’ll be offering your backers and how you’ll be building your database of contacts. Once you have your assets all lined up and you’re ready to go. It’s time to click the ‘launch’ button and dispel the crowdfunding myths once and for all.


housing investment
FundsReal Estate

Real Estate Investments Delivering Mixed Fortunes

Real Estate Investments Delivering Mixed Fortunes

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics, released this February, have shown what many experts in the property sector had been discussing for some time. With prime central London districts in desperate need of further housing, investments into this area would seemingly be a ‘no-brainer’. A large influx of property developers should be praised however it seems that their market positioning hasn’t left them in as good stead as they would have previously hoped.

It seems that many of the developers lost sight of their main audience for the projects and have left themselves in a precarious need of housing, but this housing has been developed at a price point far above the limit of those who in need of it. As planning applications frequently go to the highest bidder who has large-scale profits ahead of the need to provide ample housing.

Potential doubt over the impact that a lack of impetus from foreign investors will have across the sector, has been the topic of much speculation. With findings published by Land Registry supporting the idea that foreign investors are “shying away from the capitals market”. The figures show a 55% decrease in the number of high-end new build homes sold in London’s most select areas.

In fresh statistics (February 2018) paint a good picture of the UK market, where over the course of 2017 house prices rose by 13.7%, increasing the average UK House price to £258,580. The largest increases were found in Cambridge and the Orkney Islands at 15.7% and 18.2% respectively. These figures do not spread down into the South East where the housing market is traditionally most prosperous.

Of the areas which demonstrated the sharpest decrease, three of the top five are in Greater London, of which two are historically the most affluent areas of London in The City and Kensington & Chelsea with respective decreases of 5.3% and 10.7%. The house prices in these areas have fallen due to the trend of high-end ‘ultra-luxury’ property remaining unsold for long periods of time has been. Analysis from Hometrack has shown

Market analysis from Hometrack demonstrates how figures representing changes in asking price to agreed sale have increased as home-owners continue to take more off the value of their property to increase the likelihood of a completed sale. Over the past 4 years in central London this figure has “grown from 0.5% in 2014 to 4% today, with discounts of up to 10% registered in inner London.”

This downturn in sales has affected all parts of high-end London housing as a report by Mayfair agents demonstrates. There is a recurring pattern of exclusive housing with no residents. This couldn’t be seen in a more exaggerated fashion than when looking at The Shard, this famous building remains in the headlines for its incredible architecture, however, the infamous apartments at the top of The Shard remain unsold almost 5 years after they were initially put on the market. This is at a considerable cost of over £50m. This isn’t a unique situation, as in London alone, almost 2,000 apartments valued over £750,000 remain unsold over a year since their initial entrance into the market.

As Land Registry figures show that since the financial crash of 2008, property values have stuttered in their ability to regain the peak they hit prior to 2008. Over 10 years have passed since this peak and relatively poor performance can be seen when filtering the results by months with the highest rate of completed property sales, from 1995 onwards, there is only one single month post 2008 that features in the top 100.

This trend isn’t exclusively a problem in the United Kingdom. Prime real estate markets across Europe and the United States have suffered a fall in demand leaving the most ostentatious of properties without residents, in what the Financial Times describes as “the five-year global boom…. .appears to be ending in a global glut”

Investing in Macro Trading - Investing for the Future

Investing in Macro Trading – Investing for the Future

As a company we focus on a few core areas: economics, research and multi-asset. We are veterans of all recruitment styles, networking to generate references, advertising to create interest, directly contacting candidates and cold-calling businesses to uncover talent.

Our research staff focus on blue-skies analysis and researching teams at places such as the IMF or ECB in the public sector. This broad background work means we are fully prepared before major searches begin at which point the research can be tailored to each project.

Our senior consultants focus on the ‘selection’ stage, luring out top talent and ensuring the quality of shortlists to make certain candidates are fully briefed and motivated by opportunities.

In regards to our clients we are largely referred on by existing customers so the word of mouth is clearly a vital factor behind the success of our business. Run by a former economist and trader we can offer unique insight into candidates, and are unique in parting the sector by ‘macro’ skills rather than by firm type. We can attract established names who can raise capital and further provide alpha driven performance in a variety of environments.

Macro is supposed to be low correlation and offer superior returns, but there are many funds managing money that have failed to prove that. However the top tier continues to do well and inspire investors and the inevitable imitators.

Macro investors are increasingly reliant on quant signals and models, but it has been no real replacement for traditional fundamental analysis and use of expert judgement.

If we take a closer look at the industry currently underperforming firms are threatening the top end fee structure. But there is also increasing impetus on risk adjusted performance metrics which shouldn’t necessarily apply to alternative managers, in some ways these deter the narrowly focused trading strategies which enabled past out performance.

Looking ahead to the future finding consistent performing portfolio managers will be a key challenge as only the top 3rd of the sector have produced credible results.

Company: Arbitrage Search
Name: Chris Apostolou
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 48 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2NS
Telephone: 0203 823 4540

Champion for Public Health

Champion for Public Health

Steven Jonas of Stony Brook Medicine tells us more about his life.

“My ‘firm’ is located at my home office. I am a life-long writer. In the course of my 40-plus year-long career I have authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited 36 books (see my book-list on Amazon), as well as numerous columns/articles in the lay and professional periodical press. Although technically retired, I have not stopped writing and continue to do so in a variety of venues, on a variety of subjects.”

Recent successes for Steven include the publication of his 36th book, “Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach.” The basic argument is that all of what he calls the Recreational Mood-Altering Drugs (the RMADs) — beginning with nicotine and alcohol, the two most harmful of them — should be treated in the same way.

To control/regulate their use so that their negative health effects can be significantly diminished, we should follow the model of one of the most successful non-communicable disease control programs ever, the U.S. National Smoking Cessation Program. Indeed, over time it has reduced the adult cigarette smoking rate in the United States from 45% in 1964 to 18% presently. And guess what? It hasn’t locked up one cigarette smoker. In the meantime, the “drug war” has had virtually no effect on the use of the “illicits” at which it is aimed.

Steven is his own boss. From chief cook and bottle washer to the single author of the firm. He describes the most immediate opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for him.

“The useless, indeed very harmful, ‘Drug War’ is about to be re-intensified by the incoming United States Attorney General. It has been enormously expensive since it was started by President Nixon in 1971, has been ineffective in controlling the use of the RMADs at which it is aimed, and had locked up hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug users.

The current drug policy reform movement focuses primarily on legalising marijuana. My proposal deals with bringing the use of all of the RMADs under control. By using tried-and-true public health methods it can be successful, at much less financial and social cost. I look forward to working with other interested parties, in my own country and internationally, to develop and implement the Public Health Approach to the Drug Problem.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS, FNYAS Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook Medicine Dept. of Preventive Medicine and the Program in Public Health Stony Brook University c/o 450 Rte. 25A, PO Box 843 East Setauket, NY 11733 email: [email protected] Tel. + 1 631 473 7228 FAX + 1 631 473-5005

Keeping Your Options Open

Keeping Your Options Open

Third Friday Management, LLP is the investment manager of The Third Friday Total Return Fund, L.P. (the ‘Fund’). The Fund was founded in May 2007 and follows a proprietary rules-based market neutral options strategy designed to generate strong risk-adjusted returns in all market environments. The Fund does not employ leverage and does not take a view on market direction. Excess collateral is invested in a diverse portfolio of income-generating securities.

The Fund sells at-the-money straddles on the S&P 500 Index on a 3-month rolling basis and hedges those positions with out-of-the-money puts and calls. Each straddle is hedged independently and the hedges are adjusted throughout the cycle to maximise profitability or minimise losses. At all times the Fund focuses on protecting capital and insuring
that the first two months of the sequence are fully hedged. The strategy was initially developed in the 1990s and managed in separate accounts. The Fund was started as a family partnership and offered to outside investors for the first time in 2012 when Michael Lewitt joined the General Partner. Since 2012, the Fund has grown significantly while continually working to improve its investment strategy. 

The Fund is available for US investors through a Delaware LP and non- US investors through a Cayman Islands entity. The Fund has never had a money-losing year and was slightly positive in 2008. In addition to strong and consistent nominal returns, the Fund’s risk-adjusted returns are particularly strong with low correlation to the S&P 500, a high Sharpe Ratio, Sortino Ratio and other impressive risk metrics.

A unique aspect of the Fund’s strategy is that the 3-month structure of the options means that rare losing months coincide with widening options premiums. When a losing straddle rolls off, the Fund is in a position to sell a new straddle 3 months out at a wider premium. This sets up the Fund for higher profits and rapid recovery of losses in the following months. As a result, it is very difficult for the Fund to suffer large sustained drawdowns or losses – a unique feature of the strategy that sustains strong risk-adjusted returns over long periods of time.

Michael Lewitt serves as the Chief Investment Officer of the firm and General Partner and Portfolio Manager of the Fund. Mr. Lewitt is also the editor of The Credit Strategist, a financial newsletter that is widely read around the world, and is recognized as one of the few investors to correctly predict the 2001-2 credit crisis and 2008 financial crisis. He is the author of two well-regarded investment books, The Death of Capital (2010) and The Committee to Destroy the World (2016). Mr. Lewitt is a long-time critic of the mainstream financial media and consensus policymaking thinking and uses his writing as an integral part of his investment process to formulate independent views that have produced top tier performance for his clients over the last 25 years.

Company: Third Friday Fund Management
Name: Michael E. Lewitt
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 515 N Flagler Drive, Suite 300, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Libero Development Fund: Absolute Excellence in Absolute Returns
FundsFunds of Funds

Libero Development Fund: Absolute Excellence in Absolute Returns

Libero Funds was developed through a combination of over 50 years’ experience in Alternative Assets Services, Funds and Financial Services and a deep frustration with poorly performing market correlated investment strategies. In 2012, Mary Murphy (Former Executive Managing Director of IFS) and Iain Cahill decided to create an investment strategy which is low risk with low volatility but generates strong returns in all market conditions.

This strategy became the Libero Development Fund, an absolute return offering with a pioneering strategy which Iain is keen to explain.

“Our Libero Development Fund strategy is truly unique in how it is structured and operates. It is designed to achieve consistently positive returns with low risk and low volatility. Based on the fund structure and key risk management policies, and agreed with the Auditors, the Fund only recognises income earned. By not recognising unrealised gains the monthly NAVs reflect actual income earned by the Fund.

“Overall we see our fund as having the potential to aid other funds who hold large cash balances and are concerned about deploying them in the current market environments. As we all know from the moment investor capital is raised, we have a duty of care to both protect their capital but also have it working. Libero can help to bridge that gap for other fund managers.”

All of Libero’s funds are offshore, non-US investor, funds that offer a flexible framework with several funds for experienced investors who include Family Offices, Fund of Funds and Sophisticated Investors who are seeking a real alternative investment to cash or bond equivalent low risk strategies while at the same time seeking strong capital growth or income. Iain explains how the firm supports clients and ensures that its investment products meet their individual needs.

Key to how Libero Funds work, is listening to investor requirements and working with experts in all aspects of the funds operation. The fees charged by hedge funds are still a focus for investors and that challenge is a fair one. However, ultimately the onus is on any Fund to first deliver a fair return to investors, and as such we aim to offer the best risk adjusted returns possible.

“As a growing fund our time is spent between fund raising and investment management. While our internal investment team make the day to day trading decisions, we maintain full oversight on the activities. As any investor in a hedge fund should expect, we took the time and effort to ensure that our service providers are best in class which allows us to spend a great deal of our time with both existing and prospective investors. With such a vast array of funds in the market, our ongoing challenge is to create the right investor attention through strong returns which are low risk and with low volatility.”

Owing to investor demand, Libero have recently launched a complementary second fund, the Libero Growth Fund which seeks to create an important offering for those looking for a more mezzanine type fund and is already garnering significant investor interest. As such the future looks bright for Libero Funds, and in his concluding comments Iain outlines the firm’s exciting future plans and how it aims to ensure that clients continue to receive the best possible returns and service across all of the firm’s funds.

“During 2017 at Libero Funds we intend to grow our Libero Development Fund strategy and deliver additional Fund strategies where we see opportunities driven by investor demand. For now, Our driving ambition is to see the Libero Development Fund become a true benchmark fund within the Absolute Returns sector.”

Company: Libero Development Fund
Name: Iain Cahill CIO and Mary Murphy COO
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 33-37 Athol Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 1LB
Telephone: 0044 7496 057894

The Dawn of Major Technological Breakthroughs in Cancer Medicine?

The Dawn of Major Technological Breakthroughs in Cancer Medicine?

Specifically, within the private equity space, what services/funds do you offer?

Our funds offer investors an opportunity to invest in well managed, selected emerging breakthrough companies with high projected revenue growth in biotech and technology with an upcoming projected liquidity event typically 1-3 years out. We focus on hard to source but well known exceptional growth tech companies.

How does it feel to win this prestigious award?

It feels great and I am thankful to Wealth & Finance International for their recognition and the award and appreciate their support of our industry!

What do you feel is the secret behind your firm’s success?

The secret is nothing new. Finding great companies to invest in. Putting in the hard work to help these companies, surrounding yourself with those smarter than you in your areas of weakness, learning from those smarter than you, being humble and building great relationships that last was instrumental to our firm’s success.

Formulas change, investment strategies change but relationships don’t and neither does having a good heart and great integrity. I also learned that it is important to sell what sells. Just because you have a great investment strategy doesn’t mean people will invest in it.

What is your firm’s mission and what steps do you take to achieve it?

Our firm’s mission is to help eradicate cancer and invest in human progressive endeavours. We can do this by helping and investing into great companies with strong management teams and by working side by side with companies and being an integral part of the management team. Our work at Genprex will continue indefinitely and we believe it will become a major game changer in the cancer biotech industry. We believe mankind is at the beginning of the Great Age of Biotech.

I think Genprex could be a global leader in cancer gene therapy. Dr. Jack Roth, the inventor of Oncoprex is a gene therapy pioneer and leading lung cancer surgeon so supporting him, the officers and the company during this development phase was key to its current success. The potential to save and improve the lives of millions of cancer patients around the world is an honour and a major responsibility at the same time. Please give us an overview of the private equity industry in your region currently. What are the major challenges and opportunities you encounter? The venture capital and private equity markets in Seattle is very vibrant and busy. We have amazing tech and biotech start-ups emerging from Seattle all the time and it is a hub of the tech titans from Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and so on.

For the most part start-ups are getting funding for great ideas and startups are more focused on the bottom line than they have previously. The ability to scale with technology and the lowering of operating costs due to Amazon Web Services and Azure has helped many tech start-ups control costs and cash burn and helped move into profitability quicker. Talent has never been better as very smart entrepreneurs either graduate or leave established companies looking to fill niche areas in the marketplace and tech scene. Major opportunities that I am focusing on moving forward, in my opinion is biotech and space endeavours.

The Cosmos and the Microcosm present equal challenges and major opportunities. Biotech has a faster ROI but ‘space’ has infinite revenues. I can’t speak glowingly enough about Elon Musk and SpaceX’s mission.
It reminds me of the Vanderbilt’s construction of the railroad system in the 19th century. The railroads created new commerce hubs and major cities thus expanding the GDP of the country and SpaceX is fulfilling the same destiny but for interplanetary commerce, colonisation and ultimately building whole new global sources of GDP. SpaceX is building railroads to the stars and when you map out the potential revenues, one can see that infinite revenues are possible in the longer terms and that growth looks potentially unlimited. This is the first time I have ever used the infinite symbol when describing long term revenue growth. In my opinion, SpaceX could be the first trillion-dollar market cap company, if not the first, one of.

What does the future have in store for your business? Do you have any specific projects or plans you would be willing to share with us?

Genprex will keep me busy for a long time, as will working on my foundation and managing our VC funds. Cancer has been exceptionally difficult to treat due to the thousands of different genetic mutations of cancer. Humans are waging a major molecular biological war. I believe we are on the cusp of major technological breakthroughs in cancer medicine. These innovations will also give us the ability to eradicate most cancers or control them within the next 25 years. Immunotherapy, regenerative medicine, gene therapy, gene editing, stem cell therapies and robotics will all play a role in helping treat the 10,000 diseases that afflict the human body.

We are also planning a documentary on Genprex, biotech start-ups and on the cancer biotech industry later in 2017, chronicling the Genprex story, our journey and to support the fine men and women at our hospitals and research centres, trying to find the cure and to ultimately destroy or control cancer, once and for all.

Do you have anything you would like to add?
Yes, look for Genprex’s (GPRX) IPO in late Q1 on Nasdaq, invest in us if  you believe in our mission and company and to follow our story.

Name: Viet Ly
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:;
Address: 5400 Carillon Point Road Building 5000, 4th Floor Kirkland, WA 98033
Telephone: + 1 855-22-FUNDS

ClearlySo Launches ATLAS Impact Assessment Solution for Private Equity and Venture Capital Investors

ClearlySo Launches ATLAS Impact Assessment Solution for Private Equity and Venture Capital Investors

ClearlySo ATLAS helps private equity and venture capital investors assess the social and environmental impact of their investments and provides practical suggestions for action. Research increasingly shows that there is a positive correlation between impact and financial return, and lack of awareness about negative impact is a risk.

The methodology ClearlySo ATLAS uses to assess impact combines current best practices, industry-wide expertise and years of in-house experience developed at ClearlySo. Private Equity Reporting Group, Principles for Responsible Investment, European Union Directives and Red Line Voting are all considered and the results are mapped to the UN Sustainable Development Goals ensuring investors engage with the latest market expectations.

Luke Hakes, investment director at Octopus Ventures commented: “We are delighted to be working with ClearlySo to assess the social and economic impact of the companies we back. We are incredibly proud of our portfolio companies which include Antidote and Big Health and the brilliant work they do in their respective sectors. We know that High Growth Small Businesses have a disproportionately high impact on our domestic economy and we are excited to be able to work with ClearlySo to analyse the impact of our venture capital investments.”

Further commenting, Lindsay Smart, head of impact innovation at ClearlySo said: “The launch of ClearlySo ATLAS marks a new chapter in assessing the role of impact and sustainability in the venture capital and private equity sphere. We spent 18 months collaborating with industry experts to develop a solution at a time when corporate and financial action continues to garner much scrutiny. We look forward to working with our customers, including our first, Octopus Ventures, renowned for leadership in innovative thinking, as they seize the opportunity to be standard setters for private equity and venture capital investment.”

To learn more about ClearlySo ATLAS please visit

Real Estate Asset Investment
FundsReal Estate

Real Estate Asset Investment

Ethika Investments is a real estate private equity firm formed to provide investors access to a unique platform by tactically investing in opportunistic real estate assets primarily in the United States.

We invited Ethika President Jean Paul Szita to talk us through the firm and how it came to win this prestigious accolade.
Ethika Investments, an affiliate of Laurus Corporation, a real estate investment and development company that specializes in hotel and resorts, office buildings, multifamily and mixed-use properties, is a Registered Investment Advisor which specializes in management of private equity real estate funds with a vertically integrated solution.

The firm’s fund partners vary throughout each real estate cycle, but generally are a 65% /35% split between foreign and domestic capital sources.

Its clientele includes a wide variety of investors, from large institutional pensions to private sovereign wealth funds. Jean Paul explains the firm’s investment strategy and how it aims to provide these clients with the best possible financial solutions which meet their needs.

“Here at Ethika, we believe timing and diversification are the key components to any successful investment strategy.
“Therefore, our team focuses on investments in value-add and credit strategies where our team can stabilize the assets to produce dependable yields as well as upside opportunity, or provide financing that requires a deep understanding of transitional assets outside of the purview of traditional commercial real estate lenders to produce outstanding risk-adjusted yields. In today’s market, underperforming transitional assets remain attractively priced, and continue to deteriorate as distressed owners are unable to continue investing in them. After the strong acquisition period that occurred post 2009, we are finding that today is the era of strategic execution of value-add investment business plans and maximization of end value.

“Partnering with a local private equity real estate fund like Ethika provides foreign investors a trustworthy alignment of interest. Our funds also allow for vested interest as well as a clear objective, breadth of cycle-tested experience and an expansive skill set.”

It is this strategy which sets the firm apart within the financial market and highlights the suitability of its investment offering to clients, as Jean Paul explains.

“Ethika is vertically-integrated, serving both as a fund manager and real estate services provider, and working in tandem with our affiliate Laurus Corporation, we are directly involved in the management of the business plan for every investment, ensuring execution of the value-add process from start to finish.

“The company puts together entire strategies for investing that encompass everything from sourcing the asset, underwriting the asset, escrow, design, construction, repositioning, accounting, investor relations and property management, consolidating the entire process to a single operation, again minimising risk and the room for error. Ethika also has a highly diverse client base and prides itself on developing and maintaining relationships with their clients as the core of its business.

Central to the firm’s success is its experienced and dedicated staff, who are ambitious and eager to support clients however possible.

“At Ethika our staff are integral to the firm’s continued expansion, into new markets and alternative investment strategies, as we explore unique approaches to value creation while upholding our commitment to delivering outstanding risk-adjusted returns to our investors. As such we look for individuals that prioritize relationships with clients and who possess a diversified and substantial background in the industry.

“Individuals who have a history of excelling in their careers both professionally and academically and in particular, value those who have demonstrated their ability to provide leadership in their prior organizations are highly sought after, and we aim to support them and provide a working environment in which they can flourish and grow in their careers.” Within the wider financial market, while there seems to be no shortage in available capital, funds and investment managers are taking their time, carefully combing for smart deals, and adopting a wait and see approach as the market transitions.
“An experienced fund manager like Ethika Investments relishes this period in the market cycle because our team possesses a deep understanding of the nuances within the real estate marketplace and an ability to spot the pockets of opportunity, not only in the commercial office sector, but across the great real estate landscape, that will undoubtedly arise from this period of uncertainty”, Jean Paul comments proudly.

While there are some challenges in the hospitality sector as the gap widens between buyers and sellers, office and retail are offering solid investment opportunities with a substantial upside if you know where to look.

For the office sector, positive projections for the next three years anticipate absorption of existing office space to total 175 million square feet, which is more than the past eight years combined. Jean Paul explains how his firm works to ensure that it stays ahead of market shifts in order to remain at the forefront of innovation in the industry.

“At Ethika, we diligently track trends in market level economic and real estate fundamentals and demographic shifts to predict where markets are growing, and maintain diversification across each fund. It’s important to look at opportunities that are not purely cycle-driven, selecting strong investments that take into account macro trends. Our team buys assets that are not perfectly stabilised in order to acquire properties at an attractive price. These practices place us as a leader in the investment market and build our clients’ trust in our investment judgment.” Looking at the challenges the market faces, additional interest in U.S. real estate is increasing competition, making it imperative that fund managers understand the subtleties affecting regional deals and dig deeper into secondary markets, moving beyond U.S. gateways. Ethika’s recent investments in Minneapolis, San Antonio and San Diego are cases of upside opportunity brought about by the dynamic growth in these local markets and beyond and are testimony to the success of the firm’s approach to investment.

Moving forward, an increased migration of both domestic and institutional capital into alternative investments is predicted, with the real estate market set to increase its focus on funds that strive for alpha creation, or with respect to yield driven investments, which are insulated from risks of cap rate expansion. As such Jean Paul concludes by highlighting Ethika’s focuses for the coming months, which are revolve around supporting these industry changes.
“Looking ahead, our plan is to continue to focus on our most recent fund, Ethika Diversified Opportunity Real Estate Fund II. The fund focuses on opportunistic and value-add investments in the top 30 U.S. markets, continuing to capitalize on underperforming assets priced below replacement cost with significant upside potential.

“Additionally, the firm is enhancing its focus on credit strategies with its first platform dedicated strictly to debt investments launching in Q4 2016. With more cumbersome regulations impacting the desire and ability of banks and traditional debt capital channels to lend, the market for private lending continues to grow at an exponential rate. Ethika’s specific experience in value-add real estate provides the firm a unique capability to provide borrowers with financing solutions on projects not able to fit a narrowing criteria of bank, CMBS and traditional balance sheet lenders.”

Company: Ethika Investments
Name: Jean Paul Szita
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Suite 1016, 1880 Century Park East, Suite 106,
Los Angeles, CA, 90067
Telephone: 1.310.954.2009

What are The Main Benefits of a SIPP Investment?

What are The Main Benefits of a SIPP Investment?

A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is one of the most popular long term investment options when preparing for retirement. They are very similar to standard personal pension plans, except they offer a lot more hands-on experience for those taking one out.

Unlike a standard personal pension, where you will invest the money to be looked after by a financial professional, with a SIPP you have more of a say over where it is invested. This makes it a much more appealing option for those who enjoy and have experience with investing, and there are many other benefits to it as a long term investment option.

Flexible Investment Choice

If you want to manage your own retirement fund, then a SIPP is the way forward. They offer the opportunity to pick and switch investments when you decide, providing full control over your financial future.

There is a broad range of assets available from most SIPP providers to invest in. These include stocks and shares on a recognised stock exchange, government securities, investment trusts, insurance company funds, commercial property and many other options. Such a flexible investment choice means experienced investors should have the opportunity to tailor their retirement fund to be exactly as they want it.


A SIPP is an incredibly efficient long term investment option. Up to 25% of the accumulated fund can be withdrawn as a tax-free cash lump, while the rest will be taxed as income. Plus, all the other tax benefits that come with standard pension plans are still included.

Savers can benefit from tax relief when it comes to making contributions into a SIPP. Compared to making some other financial investments in an attempt to increase retirement funds before you finish working, these tax-efficient benefits are a worthy perk.

Early Access

New rules introduced in April 2015 mean that pensions can be accessed and used in any way deemed necessary by holders from the age of 55. This includes a SIPP, and you can keep paying into it until the age of 75. However, from 2028 you will need to be 57 or over to make withdrawals.
Accessing the fund is also highly flexible, with options to take it all in one go as cash, in smaller lumps or as regular income. As a long term investment option, there aren’t many more tax-efficient and flexible options available to savers at the moment than a SIPP.

Ones to Watch in Hedge Funds 2016 - Overcoming the Obstacles

Ones to Watch in Hedge Funds 2016 – Overcoming the Obstacles

AppleTree Capital faced the ultimate crisis in 2011, suffering a -34.17% annual return. While most investment managers would have cut their losses and shut down the fund, the team at AppleTree spent two years earning back money for their investors. This is a testament to the commitment they show to their clients. We spoke to Michael Nicoletos, Managing Director at AppleTree Capital, to find out more.

In general, most hedge fund managers tend to shy away from speaking about their negative results. However, AppleTree Capital believes that this negative experience at the beginning of their journey made them learn their lessons swiftly and at an early stage, helping them produce consistently positive returns ever since.

“2011 was a disaster,” says Nicoletos. “Of course, like most hedge fund managers, the first thing that came to our minds was to give up and do something else. But we simply could not do that to our investors. We decided to liquidate the fund, take one month off to clear our minds, and then come back to see what we were doing wrong. When we returned, we reassessed everything: our processes, the way we looked at markets, even the way we positioned our trades. This reassessment, together with hard work, soon bore fruit, as we managed to recoup our losses in just two years. I think this shows the level of commitment we have towards our investors. It is this high level of dedication that lies at the heart of everything we do.”

“Our investors know that we will not sink, no matter how rough the sea is,” Nicoletos adds. “We care about them, and it’s not just about making money and getting returns. Of course, this is the nature of the business that we are in, but it is also much more than that: it is about trust, dedication, and perseverance.”

“Across the industry, there has been a lot of talk lately about hedge fund managers underperforming and not deserving the fees they earn. At face value, this is because many passive funds have outperformed active managers. However, I believe that we need to look beyond that: if fund managers are good at what they do, and illustrate a high level of commitment and vigour, then there is certainly a value to their role.

I think we – at AppleTree – have exemplified this to our investors: not only have we outperformed our benchmarks (this is including the losses during the first 2 years), but we have also demonstrated that we will always be thoroughly transparent in whatever we do, and fully reliable whenever they need us.”

Apace with their efforts to make their investors’ money back, AppleTree decided to fundamentally change the fund’s investment philosophy, in order to ensure that a crisis like the one that hit them in the beginning would never occur again. “When we lost this much money, we completely changed our mentality” says Nicoletos. “First, we decided to focus on the macro-level aspects of the global economy, in order to get a bigger and more complete picture of the financial landscape. Questioning our ideas on a daily basis and identifying any prevalent behavioural fallacies in finance (both personal, and across the industry) became the key ingredient of our investment approach. As a result, we started positioning our investments a lot better, while also improving the efficacy of our hedging methodology. Our consistent positive results since then speak for themselves.”

“When it comes to emerging markets, we always have our eyes set on the bigger picture. For our long/short equity fund, which trades primarily in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, we first take a top down approach in terms of the global macro situation: we look at areas such as China, Europe, and the US, we look at commodities, but we also look at central banks, the flow of funds, political changes, and any other broad systemic factors. After having solidified our global macro-level understanding, we then look at each country we invest in separately. Once we identify the drivers that will benefit (or hamper) specific countries, we dive deeper and use a bottom up approach to look at key fundamentals.

We then simply pick the firms that we like, and take long positions, and the firms that we don’t like, and take short positions. Of course, there is much more to our methods, but this is the key outline of how we operate. Hence, although we focus on a specific region in the emerging markets world, we do look at the global state of affairs prior to executing our strategy.”

Just one year after their crisis, they achieved an annual return of 27.93%. In 2015, a year that provided intense headwinds for many hedge funds, AppleTree achieved a return of 18.85%.

Nicoletos’ openness about their previous pitfalls is a further testament to the level of transparency at AppleTree, which is another cornerstone of their philosophy. “Transparency is extremely important to us,” explains Nicoletos. “Apart from our monthly newsletter, which is used to keep our investors updated with how the fund is doing, we also think it is very important that our clients have access to us at any time, feeling confident at the answers they will receive, no matter how tough things are. On top of this, we also hire independent third parties that allow our investors to crosscheck our operations, providing them with an extra layer of confidence in our work. In that sense, our investors gain full knowledge of what we are doing and how we intend to move forward. This has allowed us to build strong and lasting relationships with them.” Prior to AppleTree, Michael

Nicoletos worked as Head of International Equities at EFG Eurobank Securities, a Greek owned banking group, obtaining extensive experience in this niche area of emerging markets. During this time, he advised both retail and institutional clients and was an active member of both Eurobank EFG Securities’ and Eurobank EFG Private Banking’s market strategy committee. Furthermore, he was among the first international traders to trade in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia and took part in the first large IPOs across the region. It was during his time at Eurobank that Nicoletos met Dimitris Apistoulas, his partner at AppleTree Capital.

Since its inception in 2010, the firm has kept a small, tightly-knit team, allowing the company to grow and develop organically, while making sure that all of its members follow the same core principles and vision. “We are a small team, but I believe that this is something that has worked in our favour,” says Nicoletos. “We communicate very well, and there is a high level of consistency in everything that we do.”

Looking towards the future, Nicoletos is confident that AppleTree Capital will continue to grow on its recent success. Moreover, AppleTree is very excited to announce that the company is in the process of opening a new office in London and getting an FCA licence, where they hope to add another fund to their portfolio. “Dimitris and I have always found the hedge fund industry an interesting and challenging place to work in, and we are very optimistic about opening a new office in London. With this transition, we will shift our primary operations in London (we intend to keep our office in Athens as support to the London office). It certainly is an exciting time for our business, and we are very much looking forward to the rest of 2016 and beyond.”

Name: Michael Nicoletos
Company: AppleTree Capital

Fund Manager Elite 2016

Fund Manager Elite 2016

Wise Investment, founded in 1992, is an independent investment company based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. We got in touch with John Newton at Wise to find out more about the company and to hear his thoughts on winning this award.

Wise Investment has two complementary businesses. One advises private clients on investment and wealth management. The other manages investment funds through an OEIC. The funds business is run by two teams. The Evenlode team manages Evenlode Income, and is working on a new Evenlode global fund which is due to be launched next year. The Wise Funds, TB Wise Investment & TB Wise Income, are managed by Tony Yarrow, who heads up the Wise funds team. The Wise OEIC has funds under management of around £900m.

The Wise funds are marketed by John Newton, working in the Wise Funds team.

The fund that has won the award is TB Wise Income.

TB Wise Income has three aims:
– to provide investors with an attractive starting dividend yield, currently 5.6% net,
– to increase the income by the rate of inflation or better,
– and to grow the capital value of the fund at the rate of inflation
  or better.

Over a long period of time, we believe that the best way to provide a growing income for investors is by holding a carefully-selected portfolio of shares in medium-sized and smaller companies, and to complement this portfolio with a diverse range of higher-yielding, lower-volatility assets, including fixed interest, commercial property, cash and alternatives.

We alter the proportions we hold in the different asset classes according to where we see the best value, and the most robust income streams. Our process is focused around the production of reliable income, and we are proud of the fact that investors who joined the fund at launch, a little over ten years ago, have received over half their starting capital in income payments over that period, as well as making capital gains.

TB Wise Income invests ethically, and we are exploring the possibility of having it accredited as an ethical fund.

Investment markets have been challenging during TB Wise Income’s first decade, and we have risen to the challenges we have been presented with. Our aim as we go forward is to continue offering our investors an attractive, reliable and growing income in all market conditions, using the wide range of asset types that are available through our mandate.

Investing in a post-Brexit World
FundsReal Estate

Investing in a post-Brexit World

The quicker-than-expected formation of a new government in the UK, and the surprise decision by Mark Carney at the Bank of England to hold interest rates at current levels, have helped settle nerves in the market to some extent. Likewise, investors have been buoyed by better than expected financial data from the Bank of England. But despite the positives, there remains a great deal of work to be done and the question now being asked is: what is Brexit anyway?

It is not just leaders in the EU who want an answer sooner rather than later. Investors too need certainty if confidence is to be maintained in the financial health of the UK and the EU.

And, with the UK already having lost its AAA credit rating, and UK banks being downgraded by Moody’s over fears about Brexit exposure, the economy is far from out of the woods and pressure is building on the new government.

So, where should a savvy investor be looking in the post-Brexit world? And how are property investments likely to fare, when compared to other asset classes?

Real estate, real returns?
The key advice for investors watching the Brexit drama unfold – and spooked by talk of possible referendums in France (Frexit) and the Netherlands (Nexit) – is that now is the time to diversify. Concerns over the economic implications of Brexit have already sent many investors to traditional investment ‘safe-havens’. The price of gold for example rocketed on the back of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and has remained high since. Likewise the value of the dollar, despite taking a hit in the immediate aftermath of Brexit has since recovered strongly. And with firms like Microsoft and Morgan Stanley posting better than expected results in July, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials have been driven to fresh heights recently.

So, could investing ‘over the pond’ be a solution for those concerned about Europe’s prospects?

There are definite returns to be had in the US. The Rycal Group, currently offering Carlton James investments which specialise in the development of new hospitality real estate in high demand areas, could be just the kind of investment opportunity for those looking to hedge against uncertainty in Europe.

As Simon Calton, CEO of the Carlton James Sky Watch Inn Group and Rycal Group, says, “During the referendum campaign much was made about the size of the market in the EU – an economy of some 550 million consumers. Let’s not forget though, that in the US consumers spent around $11,372 billion in Q1 20161 alone, a huge market for those willing to look beyond Europe.”

Carlton James Sky Watch Inn Group holds an investment portfolio focused on the hospitality sector in the US. It has recognised the potential of the US market for many years, and used it to deliver returns for investors averaging 17% for the last five years.

So how is this being achieved?
Carlton James has made an art of finding the real estate and hospitality opportunities that yield. Not only taking local economies into account, they also look for additional Revenue Generators such as proximity to highways, malls and other economic infrastructure.

Calton continues; “At Carlton James we understand that crisis and opportunity are just opposite faces of the same coin. The key to investing successfully is diversification, so if things are unravelling in Europe, make sure you have a stake in the US.

“Because we have pursued a policy of diversification, and built clear exit strategies into all our opportunities to mitigate risk, we can offer a real alternative during these uncertain times.

“And in spite of uncertainty in the wider economy, real estate remains a solid investment. Even in the UK, the gloomiest predictions about loss of property value pale in comparison to the loss of value on the FTSE 100 and 250 following the vote to leave the EU. And with real estate experts2 predicting Brexit could drive demand for US real estate – now would be the time to invest and get ahead of the crowd.”

For more information on Carlton James investments please visit


FCA Launches call for Input on Crowdfunding Rules

FCA Launches call for Input on Crowdfunding Rules

In 2015 an estimated £2.7 billion was invested on regulated crowdfunding platforms, up from £500 million in 2013, with more than 100 platforms either operating in the market or seeking authorisation. The FCA introduced rules for the regulation of crowdfunding platforms in March 2014 and committed at the time to a full review of their impact.

Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA said:

“The crowdfunding market is an innovative and growing sector and one which we see as part of promoting effective competition. We introduced rules in 2014 to ensure consumers were protected without preventing the market from enhancing competition through expansion and innovation.

“Since then the market has grown rapidly and we want to explore concerns that have been expressed about developments in some aspects of the market. We believe now is the right time to consider whether our requirements remain appropriate and that we have the right rules to support the development of this dynamic market by ensuring consumers are adequately protected.”

In its call for input the FCA is seeking views on a number of issues related to loan-based crowdfunding including:
– Considering whether financial promotions, due diligence and prudential standards are still appropriate for the way the market has developed;
– Whether to mandate in greater detail the disclosure firms are expected to give consumers and the time that the disclosures must be provided;
– Whether platforms should be required to assess investor knowledge or experience of the risks involved in this type of investment.

The FCA are also interested in comments on the effect on competition of the growth of loan-based crowd funding.

The FCA is also seeking views on its regulation of investment-based crowdfunding including:
– How conflicts of interest are managed on these types of platform;
– Whether the due diligence rules for platforms need to be strengthened;
– Whether to mandate the disclosure of risk warnings in relation to non-readily realisable securities (such as unlisted equities) held within Innovative Finance ISAs.

The call for input also signals the FCA’s intention to consult on applying the usual mortgage lending standards to Peer-to-Peer (P2P) platforms in order to give consumers the full benefit of these protections.

The FCA is asking for responses to its Call for Input by 8 September 2016.


Challenges Facing Hedge Fund Start-ups

Challenges Facing Hedge Fund Start-ups

For a hedge fund, attracting investors early on and as the fund seeks to grow is crucial to success. Without a strong and growing base of assets, a hedge fund may have challenges fully and successfully executing its investment strategies. Institutional investors and their consultants continue to show interest in hedge funds and thus represent a huge opportunity for new hedge funds to grow their AUM. But what are the best ways to attract these investors and consultants?

One way is by ensuring industry databases like eVestment are updated with as much data as possible from a hedge fund’s inception and going forward because increasingly big institutional investors are using databases to search for managers to whom they will consider awarding investment mandates.

eVestment’s clients are institutional investment consultants and institutional investors – like pension funds, insurance companies, foundations, endowments and sovereign wealth funds — and the asset and hedge fund managers that invest money on their behalf. On the traditional, long-only side, asset managers have long shared a wide variety of data with eVestment to ensure their products are visible to consultants and investors when they look to award new investment mandates. As institutional investors and their consultants have become more interested in hedge funds, they are seeking similar levels of transparency and data as they search for hedge funds to consider investing with. So for a new fund looking to attract investors – and institutional investors have billions to invest – being in a database like eVestment is crucial to asset raising success.

Investors are increasingly looking for more than just returns when they search for hedge funds, which can be a plus for the hedge funds that are starting out and may not have a very strong returns story right out of the gate. Of course returns are and will always be an important part of the story. But investors, when they are searching for managers and vehicles with which to invest, are looking for other things as well.

Because institutional investors seek to have balanced portfolios, they are frequently looking for new investments opportunities that compliment or balance their existing investments. So they may be looking for a fund with a specific investment focus, style or geographic focus that is missing from their portfolio. Additionally, many institutional investors have diversity mandates in their investments, so an investor may be looking for a fund that is fully or partially owned by a woman or a member of a minority group. Perhaps there are schools that are known for turning out successful hedge fund managers. Investors may be looking for hedge funds with key professionals who attended those schools. So, as an example, a pension fund may be looking for a hedge fund with X% returns, partially owned by a woman, based in London, with an activist strategy and key professionals that attended a short list of top universities.

If a new hedge fund happens to fit these criteria but isn’t in an industry database – or is in the database but their profile is missing one or more of the criteria the investor is searching for – they simply won’t be found. So for the hedge fund starting out, it’s crucial to create and keep updated profiles in databases like eVestment and to make sure those profiles are updated as completely as possible. eVestment continues to work with hedge funds so they understand the importance of transparency and populating databases as they seek to build their funds and attract new assets.

We continue to add new data fields at the request of our investor and consultant clients who tell us what kind of data they would like to see while they screen and search for fund managers. We have found that over time hedge fund managers have become more interested in transparency as they understand that such transparency is the first step to attracting large mandates from these institutional investors.

By being in an industry database like eVestment, new hedge funds have the ability to be searched for and found by investors. If new funds are not in these databases, these funds are essentially invisible and don’t exist to big investors who increasingly are using databases as their first and sometimes only source for finding new managers and new investment vehicles.

Company: eVestment
Name: Christophe Frèrebeau,
Director, Head of Europe, Middle East and Asia
Web Address:
Address: 2nd Floor, 60 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4AD,
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7651 0800

Real Estate Fund Manager of the Month - Luxembourg
FundsReal Estate

Real Estate Fund Manager of the Month – Luxembourg

Advanced Capital Group manages four generalist Private Equity Fund of Funds: ACI, ACII, ACIII and ACIV, and additionally manages funds in the Opportunistic Real Estate and Traditional Energy sectors. This increasingly global portfolio of investments reflects the firm’s intention and ability to take advantage of investment opportunities worldwide.

“Advanced Capital is an investment firm that strives to serve its investors by prudently guiding part of their capital towards areas and sectors which, by and large, are not yet in the mainstream of an investor’s attention. Fundamentally, it’s why we are unique” writes Robert Tomei Chairman of Advanced Capital Group on the company’s website.

“As global investors our professionals predominantly spend their time gathering high-grade, real-time intelligence on geopolitical, economic, capital market and sector trends to assess relative value amongst a wide range of investments within the private market universe” he adds. On the firm’s approach to investments, the Chairman adds, “By no means a straightforward process, we are constantly vigilant of markets and conduct our own self-assessment. A depersonalised, rigorous approach which stimulates independent, intellectual debate together with a focus on thorough quantitative and qualitative analytical support, lies at the heart of our success, as is fostering a vested and highly motivated team. It is our conviction that other factors of our success are driven by sound governance and a culture based on transparency and integrity.”

Corporate Social Responsibility Advanced Capital is driven by the belief that socially responsible investing and the consideration of the wider impacts of business is a core pillar in the guardianship of assets in today’s society as well as generally being good business, concerning their four generalist funds. As such, values and activities are enshrined in their approach to the wider global milieu in which we sit. They see this as an integral driver of the firm’s success over the last 14 years.

Advanced Capital are committed to maintaining the highest standards of probity in all their activities with all stakeholders, investors, managers, colleagues, regulatory bodies, the private equity industry and the wider community as a whole. Reflecting the firm’s commitment to build sustainable investments, we adhered to United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), the framework which allows us to further incorporate environmental, social and governance issues into their investment process. They are also proud and committed supporters of the globally renowned charity Oxfam in its fight against poverty and injustice worldwide and members of the Aspen Institute, the reference organisation for the encouragement of enlightened leaderships.

Maintaining a very close relationship with their investors is very important to us; their goals are at the heart of the firm’s strategy. To this end, Advanced Capital provide them and other stakeholders with continual disclosure around the firm’s portfolio investments, structure and operations and demonstrate how they work to create long-term sustainable value.

As part of this landscape, Advanced Capital endorse the Private Equity Principles of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA), the leading private equity investors’ organisation which encompasses the largest most sophisticated investors in the world.

Above all, ILPA recognises the need to establish best practices among investors and their investments managers. Its principles of transparency, governance and alignment of interest have been accurately developed with the wider goal to improve the long-term benefit of the private equity industry as a whole. Ensuring that Advanced Capital stay at the forefront of developments in global international affairs and in the latest macroeconomic trends, they support The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), a world-leading multi-rewarded Think Tank. Meanwhile, their memberships of the Italian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AIFI) and European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) allow Advanced Capital to always keep a state-of-art domain within the private equity industry.

Private Equity Fund of Funds Since its launch, Advanced Capital’s Private Equity Fund of Funds has invested exclusively with specific, targeted, leading international managers, ensuring consistently high returns based on an appropriate level of market risk.

Advanced Capital’s prides itself on being an early mover, allocating a significant portion of its funds towards counter-cyclical distressed and debt strategies in anticipation of a market correction.


Advanced Capital Energy Fund (ACEF) is a global Private Equity Fund of Funds targeting the on-going reshaping of the energy and power industrial landscapes.

The fund explores buyout, growth and restructuring opportunities within the energy markets globally through investments in a number of leading funds across the traditional and alternative energy sectors.

Real Estate Investments

Focussing on one aspect of the work, we now take a look at Real Estate sector which is encompassed by the hard work of the firm’s Seth M. Lieberman, Chief Investment Officer for AC Private Equity Real Estate. Fittingly awarded Real Estate Fund Manager of the Month, Seth certainly boasts an impressive 32 years of industry experience in both the US and in Europe. Indeed, Seth has a wide range of industry experience ranging from business development, senior and mezzanine finance, and equity investments, to restructuring of distressed properties and debt.

Lieberman has held senior positions with UBS Investment Bank (MD), Hypo Real Estate (Joint MD), Lehman Brothers International (ED), Credit Suisse Praedium Funds (Principal) & GE Capital (Director). In addition, he has earned a B.A. in Economics (Cum Laude) from Tufts University and is a member of the Urban Land Institute Europe Executive Committee, its Advisory Board and ULI Global Audit Committee. Mr Lieberman is a board member of Kvalitena AB.

The Advanced Capital Private Equity Real Estate International Fund (AC PERE) is a Real Estate Fund with a global perspective and a focus on opportunistic and distressed debt real estate assets. AC PERE aims to capitalise on illiquid market conditions and primarily invest in distressed property and property debt investments, to deliver superior risk-adjusted returns.

Ending this article on a positive note, the last word goes to the Robert Tomei, Chairman of Advanced Capital Group, “Advanced Capital’s consistently successful track record of 14 years has placed us amongst the best performing managers in the business. Their flexible, value-oriented approach has reduced exposure to exuberant valuations and takes advantage of excessive pessimism or relatively neglected areas of opportunity. This is underpinned by the firm’s fundamental commitment to outperform markets while preserving principal”.

For further information, please contact:
Company: Advanced Capital SGR S.p.A.
Name: Seth M. Lieberman, CIO Real Estate Investments
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Via della Spiga 30, 20121 Milano, Italy
Telephone: +39 (02) 3031771

Private Equity Fund Manager of the Year - UK

Private Equity Fund Manager of the Year – UK

Before Privet I was at Deloitte for nine years doing insolvency and restructuring, then 10 years at 3i. This combination of investing and operational experience lead me to set up Privet in 2008. Last year was a really positive one for us with two very interesting investments, both in the manufacturing sector which we know well. Both were strong businesses but with challenges in strategic focus and management. Both also had historic pension problems.

These are just the sorts of things we look for. We like to get stuck in to the operational detail of businesses – our style is very hands on. That’s a bit of a cliché these days but, as one investor said to me the other day, there aren’t many PE firms that really do it – we do, with the Privet team spending 2-3 days per week with our businesses in the early days. Breaking down a business into its core components and assessing what they do well and what they could improve on is key. Bringing the team and the overall business together to identify solutions to any problems is vital. Although our management style is quite challenging it’s also very transparent. In order to understand how to make businesses better we can ask hard questions but in a sense there are no right answers as such, which seems to be quite a refreshing approach for many management teams!

It has been interesting watching the private equity market continue to evolve over the last few years as the players move around in a fairly Darwinian way. Investors are now looking for more clear value propositions rather than just buying a business and making money through financial engineering. In a very competitive market you need to be seen doing something different, in a sense going back to private equity roots can help you stand out from the crowd as you look to make good money by genuinely improving businesses. The credit market has also been interesting, with a real polarisation in availability. Really good businesses can get great gearing, and the bottom end has a broader range of specialists now. But the mediocre businesses struggle.

In terms of technological developments they seem to be occurring faster and faster. I’ve been fascinated by the recent headlines around robots taking people’s jobs. I think it is over-played, but there is a real change we will need to adapt to, albeit gradually. It is our hope this will continue to evolve in a positive way and provide an opportunity to create something new or a new way of looking at something.

Within the businesses we’ve invested in, Aeromet for example as a small UK manufacturing business has developed a fantastic new alloy technology which will effectively pave the way for our growth over the next few years. Similarly with the defence optical products business we have, new product development is key to keeping our customers engaged. Technology can be quite risky, not everything will work, risks and opportunities need to be carefully considered. If you don’t keep track of technology you will, though, be left behind.

We were please to get this award – it is always nice to get some recognition for some of the good stuff we do. At present this is a very good place to be. Going forward, we are looking to identify similarly interesting businesses which will enable us to be very much ‘hands on’. Taking a business to a completely different level where we can make a difference is what we are all about. Buying a business which already has steady growth isn’t for us, we are looking to apply our skills and experience to more challenging situations.

Company: Privet Capital LLP
Name: Stephen Keating
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 4 Duke Street Mansions, 70 Duke Street, London, W1K 6JX
Telephone: 44 20 719 33382

60 Seconds with SCM Direct

60 Seconds with SCM Direct

As innovative online investment managers, we offer clients direct low cost access to high end wealth management that is smart, commonsense and modern. Everything we do is underpinned by 100% transparency and treating our clients fairly.

Who are your clients?

Generally speaking they are Investors looking to bypass expensive advisers, layers of inefficiencies, and high fee underperforming traditional active funds. For UK clients our entry level is £15,000, either direct or via an ISA or SIPP wrapper. For overseas clients £150,000 or the equivalent in Euros or US Dollars. We are also delighted to work with corporates and charities.

What makes your firm unique?

As a boutique firm, the founders not only invest significant sums of their own money alongside clients on exactly the same terms and fees but also roll their sleeves up and are fully involved in every aspect of the organisation. Clients can, therefore, be confident their money is being looked after as if it were our own.

In terms of investing, our Chief Investment Officer (CIO) is one of a handful of highly respected fund managers. His 28 years’ unique track record has resulted from managing money for a wide range of clients – retail, institutional and private – across a wide range of asset classes – equities, property, fixed interest and alternative assets.

At this moment in time, we are also the only investment house that publishes our true Total Cost of Investing on our factsheets monthly, in one number – no hidden fees whatsoever!

What are the biggest challenges facing your firm at present?

As a disruptive brand we face several challenges. To compete with the deep pockets of big brand incumbents, to continue to provide exceptional service to clients whilst growing but not compromising efficiency and ethics, as well as resisting the tempting offers of external finance which would impact our principles, ethos and customer care.

What is the main aim for your business?

It is two-fold. To continue to help people to save for their future so they live the end of their days with finances that affords them dignity and security. To be successful and profitable so that profits feed into our Foundation – – which will ensure we can continue being philanthropists and help heal communities.


Hedge Fund Manager of the Month - Vanuatu

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month – Vanuatu

Up until the GFC I thought investing was relatively easy: simply pick the next up and coming emerging market fund from Russia, China or India, throw in some main stream market equites, some bonds, some futures and maybe even an arbitrage fund, take a long term buy and hold approach and based on past performance, you were set.

Unfortunately, the value of a good fund manager isn’t really evident until everything turns to custard. Up until late 2007, virtually every fund manager was a genius as they kept making money for their clients ……..until they didn’t. That’s when I learnt the hard truth that you could only find which fund manager was actually worth their salt in a downturn and no, the fact that you lost less than everyone else did not necessary make you a good fund manager. In truth, most failed the task miserably.

So I lay awake at night in a cold sweat, wondering what I could have done differently, with that same thought churning over and over in my mind “Forget the Market”! Seriously, I wanted nothing more than to get rid of that lump in my throat. To get out from under that elephant sitting on my chest as I went into the office.

Could it really be that simple? Was there really another way to invest? What if you could generate returns similar to the long-term market averages but without investing in the market? Was it even possible to contemplate such a crazy idea?

So I set out to examine every type of investment strategy I could find, to see what worked and also dug into what didn’t work and why. My mission was simple: to create an investment strategy that could match the market long term averages but not be at the mercy of them. One in which my friends, family and clients (that were still speaking to me), could invest in without sleepless nights and avoid these horrific market drops. It seemed really simple. All I had to do was not lose money so that any profits generated weren’t wasted on trying to claw back past losses. Oh, and I wanted it be capital secured too.

Honestly, there was no point doing what everyone else was doing because then we would just end up in crowded trades and eventually, if history was any guide, we would wind up going through another massive downturn. After all, Wall Street had already lost over 45% of the typical investor’s money TWICE over the past 17 years. And if you lose 45% you need a gain of 81.8% just to break even. To me the saner alternative was never to take the loss in the first place.

Then I stumbled upon an investment strategy that had been used since 1996 and never ever had a negative year. That meant it survived the Russian Default and LTCM Bailout of 1998, the Tech Wreck of 1999, recession of 2000 and the GFC of 2007-2009 and it never missed a beat.

The Birth of FTM

From the time of its inception we knew FTM was something really different. Even our logo is out there, it’s a light bulb with legs signifying a great idea with room to run. Our mission statement is “A new breed of financial thinking”. So, in March 2010 FTM Class A was opened to the public and since that time it has notched up 75 positive months in a row for a total return, net of fees, of 68.91% and an annualized return of 8.78%. All done without any leverage at all while adhering to every single criterion outlined above.

There is something seriously liberating not being tied to the whims of central bankers and policy makers and being able to go to sleep without worrying what the new trading day will bring.

How does FTM work? 

The predominant investment strategy used by FTM was born out of an opportunity to exploit the inefficiencies of the US medical system when it comes to the delays incurred by doctors, hospitals and medical practitioners in the payment for treatment of personal injury cases. Today, more than ever, cash flow is the key to meeting operating costs and, in an effort to speed up the payment process, doctors, hospitals and medical practitioners are willing to accept less now instead of waiting years for payment. It is this that enables FTM to fund the purchase of discounted medical receivables and, by assuming the risk, generate a substantial return.

The majority of the research and direct purchase of the receivables is done via a Medical Accounts Receivables company which is, for want of a better word, a “go between” between an insurance company and a medical patient.
Imagine the following example. There is a car accident, with the result that the injured party (who is not at fault) will require back surgery.

Now, as long as we can prove that they are not at fault, that this is not a pre-existing condition and that the policy limit is sufficient to warrant it, then the receivables company will fund the operation now and collect from the insurance company upon settlement. In the meantime the receivables company places a lien against the insurance proceeds.

The medical procedures covered would have taken place eventually with or without the intervention of the receivables company but, by providing the funding, the operation can happen sooner and the injured party can resume a normal life much faster. The hospitals also provide the surgery at a discount, because they get paid sooner instead of having to wait years for the settlement of the claim.

This is similar, in principle, to accounts receivables factoring, but with a critical difference. In traditional factoring a company buys a large pool of debt and simply hopes that enough will be paid to ensure a profit.

In our case, the Medical Accounts Receivables Company pick and choose the cases they wish to fund and, on average, four out of every five cases reviewed are rejected. Additionally, the receivables company aims for an average purchase price of 33 cents on the dollar as investor safety is paramount. It should also be remembered that the payer is an insurance company, not a patient or hospital.

The FTM portfolio is split between 3 different investments which are FX (forex), which is negligible and so small to be almost non-existent. Then there is the cash component which fluctuates from five to 10% of the entire Class A portfolio and is used to meet redemptions and operating expenses. Then there are the discounted medical accounts receivables that tends to make up anywhere from 90-95% of the overall portfolio.

This means that 90-95% of the portfolio is secured with $3 of receivables for every $1 invested where, if you include the cash component, exposure to market movements is less than 1%.

To be honest, we have become somewhat a victim of our own success in that each passing positive month puts more pressure on us personally to ensure another positive month and, for that reason, we have all but phased out the FX component. In fact, in June of 2012, as a result of the forex trading we came very close to a negative return with 0.08% for that month so, from then on, we scaled back the FX portion dramatically because we didn’t want to be the reason for any of our clients having sleepless nights.

The truth is, you work hard for your money and the only reason to invest is to make it grow over time so you can improve your living standard or have a less stressful retirement. Either way we created FTM to help not to hinder. Personally, I believe a lot of fund managers would do better if they approached investing this way and maybe the hedge fund industry in general wouldn’t be getting as much negative press.

The FTM Difference

You may have heard of the $1,000,000 bet between Warren Buffett (one of the world’s greatest investors) and Ted Seides (a famous Hedge Fund manager) with the proceeds being donated to charity.

The bet is for 10 years with Warren Buffett betting that a low cost index fund (Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares) will outperform the collective performance of the group of five hedge funds selected by Seides.

Well here we are a little over eight years into the bet and the index fund is up almost 66% while the hedge funds are up around 22% for the same time.

So, I wondered how FTM Class A would compare over the same time frame as we are up 68.22% in a little over six years. Assuming FTM Class A continued with its annualised return of 8.78%, the return for the 8 years would be 80.23% and that’s with less than 1% exposed to the market.

Then I thought I would compare FTM Class A performance against the major market indices from January 1st 2016 to May 31st 2016 as the markets have had a pretty tough run so far this year. In fact, the reality is that most markets have gone nowhere for the past two years.

The investment landscape has changed. 

15 years ago you would simply ask your client how much they wanted to live off in their retirement. If they said $50,000 a year, then you knew they needed to grow their investments to $1,000,000 and then they could simply put that $1,000,000 in the bank and get $50,000 a year to live off without eating away at the principal.

Now there are five countries with negative interest rates and many more at zero. Exactly how much money do you need to accumulate so that you can earn interest of $50,000 a year in a zero interest world?

According to Bloomberg by February, more than $7 trillion of government bonds worldwide offered yields below zero.

So, if you are interested in finding out more about an investment strategy that is:
• Unaffected by falls in the market
• Non correlated to equites
• Recession Proof
• Consistent

Contact me directly on [email protected] or visit our website for a free investment report.

Company: FTM Limited
Name: Endre Dobozy,
Managing Director FTM Limited Licensed Securities dealer
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Phone +678 238 39

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month

Originally established in Switzerland as Blumfeldt & Sons, the company’s history dates back to 1908. Blumfeldt & Sons built a network of investment experts and served the financial interests of clients in Europe. Later, German Lilleväli and Werner Blumfeldt developed a successful partnership, and in 2013 German combined the assets within GL Asset Management.

GL Asset Management values precise human minds. The owner of the firm is a keen chess enthusiast and the team prides itself in attracting some of the top mathematicians and economists. The ethos of GL Asset Management is the understanding that precision counts.

We believe that delivering enhanced returns and capital preservation over the long term requires a rigorous and precise application of incisive intellect, skilled management and significant investment resources. At

GL Asset Management, we offer multiple investment strategies to help our clients meet their investment objectives.
We manage absolute return strategies focused on generating consistent positive returns, regardless of the movements in the underlying market. One of our key investment propositions is Statistical Arbitrage (Stat Arb), a market neural investment strategy that seeks to profit from pricing inefficiencies between two stocks (pairs) identified using mathematical models and algorithms. Similar strategies are successfully used by world’s leading hedge funds to generate stable returns while reducing volatility in the portfolio. Trading exclusively on US exchanges in liquid stocks with market capitalisation of over $3bn, we exploit price imbalances by using proprietary mathematical models and rigorous risk management processes. On average, the strategy seeks to generate 12% annual returns with 2% volatility, thus enabling stable appreciation of investment, while minimizing market risk.

For clients seeking absolute returns via exposure to Long/Short equity strategies, we have a team of experienced portfolio managers that apply a systemic investment approach to managing Global and European investment strategies. We also offer tailored solutions to clients preferring directional investment strategies that seek to generate long-term capital growth by taking long market positions. We help these clients gain exposure to individual sectors and markets where alpha can be generated, across Global and European markets.

Our investment philosophy is deeply rooted in contrarian thinking. We believe that superior returns come from a consistent challenge of conventional thinking at every point. Valuations reflect consensus views – taking advantage of valuation inefficiencies requires taking a contrarian view to understand what other investors are misinterpreting, and thereby what they are mispricing.

Our experience in asset management dates back to the turn of the 19th century. Our outlook is unashamedly modern, embracing, combining and capitalising on the latest breakthroughs in mathematics, engineering and IT. We develop ideas and analysis that drive new perspectives, new products and new paths to growth.

Name: GL Asset Management
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Stockerstrasse 57, 8002 Zürich, Switzerland
Telephone: 41 (0) 44 222 11 50

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month

The crucial factors that differentiate us from our peers are experience, performance and methods. In terms of experience, Finlabo was one of the first firms in Europe to launch a long/short equity strategy in a UCIT format in 2006 and therefore the track-record of our fund is longer than most of our competitors. Moreover, our investment team, composed of myself, Anselmo Pallotta and Maurizio Scataglini, has more than 50 years of cumulative experience on investments management.

From a performance point of view, our results have been outstanding. Our flagship fund, the Finlabo Dynamic Equity, has systematically outperformed equity markets and hedge fund indexes with an approximate return of 7% per year and moderate volatility levels of about 8%. The fund invests in a selected portfolio of European equities while hedging dynamically market risks by selling short benchmark index futures.

Our investment strategy relies on the quantitative models and software we have developed in-house through advance research competences. Our stock-picking model evaluates about 2.000 stocks daily based on fundamental and technical variables such as valuation multiples, earning momentum, price momentum, etc. At the same time, our trend following model assists the dynamic hedge decisions within a strong risk-management framework.  

In the last years, high volatility in equity markets and unstable macroeconomic conditions have represented an important challenge for our industry.  However, our non-discretional quantitative approach has proofed to be able to generate interesting returns in despite of market conditions. In this sense, we have been responsive to market circumstances and we have kept our alpha generation targets.  

Having this in mind, we keep an optimistic vision of our business future. An increasing part of our current assets under management now corresponds to international investors and consequently, we are planning to continue to expand our international presence through distribution partners in the most important European financial centres. Our recognition in the industry has increased significantly thanks to our performance, so we want to continue to walk through this path by keeping our alpha-generation commitment.

Company: Finlabo Sicav
Contact Name: Paolo Lo Grillo (Finlabo SICAV), Alessandro Guzzini (Finlabo SIM)
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:,
Address Finlabo Sicav: 42, Rue de la Vallée, L-2661 Luxembourg R.C.S. Luxembourg: B 110 332
Telephone: +352 27 726 100
Addess Finlabo SIM: Corso Persiani, 45. 62019. Recanati. (MC). Italy.
Telephone: +39 071 7575053

FundAdministration - Challenges Facing Hedge Fund Start-ups

FundAdministration – Challenges Facing Hedge Fund Start-ups

Typically we work with hedge fund managers that require more personalised attention from their administrator. We act more as a partner than a provider, offering them accounting, administration and consulting for their businesses.

In terms of the people we serve, we have a variety of clients in the financial services industry and customise our suite of products to meet the individual needs of each client.

With Hedge Fund Start-ups arguably the most common mistake is launching without enough capital, having not even prepared a breakeven analysis or creating a business plan. Understanding the costs involved is a very important factor to consider in a start-up, for example complex structures cannot be implemented if you have a limited budget.
Trying to launch a business within a few weeks is totally unrealistic.

Believing you can duplicate the strategy you might have ran at a larger firm should be avoided and keep in mind that your track record may not be portable. Never leave a large organisation thinking clients will follow.

Among others, you must be clear on who your target investor is and understand the tax consequences to the investor.
To make the investment flourish you need to avoid these mistakes, due diligence and choosing the right service partners are key factors which can help you do that. However you will reach a stage where youhave to be willing to take some level of risk to help you realise the returns.

At present I am seeing growth in the industry, however at the same time it is being stunted by banks not wanting to do business with hedge funds. As a result, we are constantly finding new ways to assist our clients to overcome these challenges.

Just like any firm the staff play a key role behind the success of the firm, in fact without the team at Fundadministration our clients would be lost.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and beyond we are looking at some strategic partnerships that will hopefully accelerate our growth as well as assist our clients in expanding their funds. The key challenges will without doubt be banking, cyber security, increased regulations and reporting.

Founded in 1990, we are a leading global hedge fund administrator with offices located in New York and clients around the world.

Our highly professional and experienced associates provide our clients with world-class service, transparency and oversight along with independent data verification. Our cutting-edge technology is fully automated, flexible and provides a cost-effective level of reliability that meets the specific needs of our client’s sophisticated investors.

Company: Fundadministration, Inc.
Name: Denise DePaola, CPA, CEO
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 4175 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Suite 204,
Ronkonkoma, NY USA, 11779
Telephone: 631-737-4500

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016

As the UK’s largest friendly society, LV= have more than five million members and customers and exist to grow the value of their business for the benefit of their members. When asked about why their company has grown from strength to strength, Rowney simply says: “We do this by putting our customers at the centre of everything we do and by living our mutual and ethical values. We offer our products and services direct to customers, as well as through advisers and brokers, and through strategic partnerships.”

Formerly known as Liverpool Victoria, the company rebranded as LV= in 2007. Since then, the LV= brand is now recognised for being modern and vibrant and well placed for an even more successful future. A testament to their success is that they have over 5.7 million customers, of which 1.1 million are members. Furthermore, within life and pensions, they are the top provider of individual income protection in the advised market and a leading provider of enhanced annuities.

Although the company is very forward-thinking, to say that the company has been around for quite a while is an understatement. LV= was founded in Liverpool in March 1843, with the aim to help people on low incomes maintain a standard of living for their families and save for their funerals so they didn’t burden their families with this expense after they had passed away.

173 years on, the LV= Group employs over 6000 people. The Life and Pensions area that Rowney controls has over 1,000 employees based across main centres in Bournemouth, Exeter and Hitchin plus a network of regional offices.

As you can imagine, managing such an enormous team can be quite a daunting task. However, Rowney believes that the degree of specialisation is what allows them to perform so well. “We help our customers protect their health, wealth, family and wellbeing,” says Rowney. “To do this we specialise in a number of areas. Firstly, our Retirement Solutions business covers our retirement and investment businesses, from pensions and annuities to equity release and bonds.

Secondly, our Protection business includes a range of award winning products and services including a market leading position in income protection. Lastly, our Protection and Retirement Financial Advice Services include our automated online advice offering via our Retirement Wizard. All of these services combine to create the success behind our Life and Pensions team.”

Prior to LV=, Rowney accumulated a wealth of experience and expertise that has added to his current role. “In the early 1990s, I joined Barclays, which gave me my first insight into the financial services industry,” explains Rowney. “During this time I held a number of different positions, including business risk director, chief operating officer of premier banking and integration director for Woolwich and Barclay’s retail bank.”

It was in 2007 when Rowney joined what was then known as Liverpool Victoria, where he was instrumental in their rebranding as LV=.

“I started as a group chief operating officer in February and was appointed to the board in August 2007,” says Rowney. “As group COO, I was responsible for the transformation programme that saw LV= successfully re-brand and develop functions to support the trading businesses that have delivered significant growth over recent years. In 2010, I was appointed managing director of LV= Life and Pensions – leading a strategy to become the UK’s leading retirement and protection specialist.”

LV= ‘s position as leaders in their industry is something Rowney takes great pride in, and as such he is constantly ensuring that the company is always embracing any new technology or trends that come along the way.

“Our continual challenge is to utilise digital technology,” says Rowney. “We’ve made great strides into embracing digital, but technology progresses quickly, so it’s important for us to continue to move at pace to be at the digital forefront – replacing our legacy systems enabling us to become more efficient and easy to do business with.” Alongside the continuing developments in technology, there are also challenges facing Rowney in the retirement industry too.

“At the moment, we are nearing the end of a period of transition in the retirement industry,” says Rowney. “Driven by the pension freedoms changes in 2015 and now the FAMR review impacting people heading into retirement. With retirement being viewed as a series of smaller stages, which require multiple decisions, it’s important for customers to understand the decisions they are making. We’ve been proactively looking at ways to help people reaching retirement, making advice affordable to everyone through utilising automated online advice, but there is more to be done to get people thinking about their retirement sooner.”

“Looking towards the long term, these challenges include how we engage with our current generation to talk about saving for retirement, and we really need to challenge the ‘buy for today over saving for tomorrow’ culture. Auto-enrolment has attempted to improve one part of this but I still believe we need to do more as an industry to engage people to think about their retirement, at both ends of peoples working lives, to save enough for retirement and to make the right decision at retirement.”

“Furthermore, there appears to be no let-up in the pace of regulatory change, with the launch of the secondary annuity market and forecast tax changes are areas that will keep the life industry busy over the coming years.”

Despite these challenges, Rowney remains optimistic that they are more than capable of meeting the demands of their industry. A motivating factor for him is receiving recognition from Wealth & Finance magazine, which he believes is further evidence of their success.

“I was very surprised to be receiving this award,” says Rowney. “Nonetheless, our Life and Pensions business has gone from strength to strength in recent years, so this is testament to our hard work paying off to be officially recognised.”

Name: Richard Rowney

Company: LV=


Hedge Fund Manager of the Month - USA

Hedge Fund Manager of the Month – USA

What is the Tradex Relative Value Fund?

The Tradex Relative Value Fund is a structured-rates hedge fund strategy. The Fund uses a market-neutral, multi-strategy approach to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns. Please describe the market-neutral nature of strategy.

We attempt to hedge out risk factors that we do not want to take and focus on those we seek. Thus, in accordance with our expertise, we strive to hedge interest rate risk while collecting carry and capturing price performance from securitized Agency bonds.

Please describe your multi-strategy approach.

We believe that our multi-strategy fixed-income approach is well equipped to provide superior risk-adjusted returns over a full range of market environments by implementing a duration-neutral combination of prepayment arbitrage, relative value trading and opportunistic investing.

In Prepayment Arbitrage, we attempt to identify opportunities where collateralized Agency bonds are cheap relative to their intrinsic value. We accomplish this by developing a more accurate view on prepayments and the resultant cash flows than what is priced by the market. Given the varying degrees of sophistication across fixed-income investors with differing objectives and constraints, those with superior models and market experience are often presented with lasting opportunities to capture returns.

Relative Value Trading in Agency pass-through securities is a source of alpha in very liquid fixed-income securities. These assets, which are second in liquidity only to US Treasuries, can be arbitraged via econometric mean-reversion strategies to produce high-conviction, short-term trades that last from days to weeks.

Opportunistic Investments may be the result of broad dislocations as seen during the Great Recession and the Great Recovery. Many fund structures limit investment strategies and leave money on the table when outsized opportunities occur. Given this reality, we designed the strategy to take advantage of such dislocations. Due to the uncertainty seen in markets today, this sleeve should augment return for our investors.

Please provide us with some background on the Portfolio Manager.

In 2014, Jeff Kong founded Tradex Global Advisory Services, for which he directs all investment activity. Prior to Tradex, Jeff was a Portfolio Manager at San Francisco-based Passport Capital. Jeff started his hedge fund career at Structured Portfolio Management, where, from 2000 to 2010, he managed the $1B flagship SPM fund, Structured Servicing Holdings (SSH) that annualized 23.56% net during his tenure as Portfolio Manager. Bloomberg Markets ranked SSH the #1 Large Hedge Fund in the world and SSH placed #8 in Barron’s Top 100 Hedge Fund List. Jeff is a member of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers.

Whatever the current market conditions are, why do prospective clients need to be confident that their manager is able to best serve their unique needs, provide goal-oriented investment management solutions and deliver strategies in order to preserve and prudently grow their wealth through all economic and market cycles?

Our experienced team works closely with each client. We tailor our investment management practices to the specific risk tolerance and investment objectives of both our institutional and individual investors.

We also accommodate our clients by establishing investment vehicles that fit their unique requirements in terms of SMAs. Investor relations is a central part of our business, and our team has decades of experience meeting the special needs of our clients who represent a variety of investor profiles.

How can your company assist in achieving meaningful investment results through the disciplined application of time-tested methods of analysis?

Our Portfolio Manager, Jeff Kong, has weathered many business cycles over his 25-year career in structured-rates that began at Greenwich Capital in the 1980’s. Jeff is regarded as a pioneer of the prepayment arbitrage strategy. Over his career, he developed and refined the multi-strategy approach to fixed-income investing that is utilized in the Tradex Relative Value Fund. This evergreen investment approach is unique in that it is interest rate neutral and it has the potential to profit from rate uncertainty. Jeff’s investment management skill has been tried and proven in the most extreme market conditions, and he has consistently delivered stable returns to investors.

What do you believe contributes towards successful investment outcomes?

A disciplined approach to risk management is the key to successful investing. Our investment team has built a robust and rigorous system to maintain our intended exposures precisely, at both the portfolio and asset levels. As part of our market-neutral approach, we attempt to hedge out the risks we wish to avoid while managing those risks that we seek. We strictly limit our exposure to our areas of expertise, taking prudent positions based on structured rate fundamentals and spread risk. We believe this focus is an important driver of long-term performance.

Company: The Tradex Group
Name: Jeff Kong
Email: [email protected],
[email protected]
Web Address:
Blog Address:
Address: 35 Mason St, Greenwich, CT 06830
Telephone: (203) 863-1500

Equity Markets May Still Price-In “Britin” or Shake-Off “Brexit”

Equity Markets May Still Price-In “Britin” or Shake-Off “Brexit”

Uncertainty surrounding the UK’s decision whether or not to leave the EU is starting to test traders’ nerves. Implied volatility of the GBP/USD spiking to 29% – a level comparable to the extreme highs seen in the 2008 financial crisis – and 10 year gilts yielding less than 1.1% to reach new historic lows (see Chart 1) means risk-off positioning is now starting to build up.

Equity markets in Europe had resisted succumbing to significant downward pressure in the weeks leading up to the referendum. But if last year’s “Grexit” event is any guide, risk sentiment in Europe remains fragile.

As shown in Chart 2, in the final weeks leading up to last year’s “Grexit” referendum on 3 July 2015, the FTSE 100 and EURO STOXX sold off sharply, falling by about 6% over a 30 workday period prior to that referendum. Another 2% was shed off European equity markets following the rejection of Troika’s bailout package.

Comparing the same period to this year’s potential “Brexit” outcome on 23 June, equity markets in Europe remained positive up until last week, since when sentiment has soured sharply (see chart 2). Against last year’s heightened volatility instigated by slumping crude oil and China’s slowdown fears that dealt a blow to equities in Europe and elsewhere, markets must judge the reverberations of a Brexit scenario to European shares as either hugely overblown or, that such a scenario is simply not being priced-in enough. Investors may be looking for bookmakers’ odds for guidance more so than opinion polls, not least given the extent to which most pollsters have failed to accurately read the Conservatives’ strong showing in last year’s UK general election. While the opinion polls show that both the “Remain” and “Leave” camps remain essentially tied, with shifts between them moving within the margin of error, bookmakers odds have shown for some time now a persistent and decisive majority of punters betting Britain to vote “Remain”. For instance, while the YouGov / Times has UK’s EU referendum at 43% “Remain”, 42% “Leave”, and 11% “Don’t Know”, betting firms see 59% “Remain” and 41% “Leave”[1], with the best odds for those betting on “Remain” at a 34% return on their stake while the best odds for “Leave” making a 250% return[2].

Certain Uncertainty not Reflected in European Equities

While the looming threat of Greece’s default and systemic risk inherent in Europe’s banking system in an event of Greece exiting the Euro cannot be directly comparable to the risks of “Brexit”, the political and economic uncertainty is likely to be still substantial enough for investors to consider hedging their positions in European assets. The risks short to mid-term to financial markets in a nutshell are the following:

1. Britain’s Brexit camp has yet to articulate what kind of trade model is wants to adopt and, judging purely by the Brexit camp rhetoric border control and eliminating EU contributions, it is unlikely to be one of Europe’s non-EU members: Switzerland and Norway each pay into the EU budget and allow for free movement of EU citizens in exchange for free trade and capital flows. History suggests it will take several years to renegotiate trade deals and any deals struck will be on terms set by the EU, not the UK. Until then, investors will simply not know what the terms of trade and capital flows will be.

2. If not out of economic sense it will be for the sake of self-preservation that EU officials will impose some kind of penalty to the UK for leaving, through a custom’s charge, tariff and other barriers (such as raising product standards through labelling / packaging requirements, etc.) to preclude other EU members from following UK’s lead and prevent the disintegration of the EU. Given Britain’s overly open economy, it will effectively result in a meaningful tax for UK companies exporting to the EU.

3. The political uncertainty of Britain is also relatively large. With David Cameron’s leadership already challenged by about half its Conservative PMs, a new PM embracing a more rightist agenda may also mean major reshuffling of cabinet members, including David Cameron’s Finance Minister (Chancellor of the Exchequer) George Osborne. As a result, tax and spending policies may change and consequently the budget deficit targets.

4. Scotland and Ireland are also vocal supporters of the EU and a Brexit scenario would likely provoke another Scottish referendum for independence. Building up a UK border could also put the vulnerable peace process with Northern Ireland at risk and see tensions flare up with Ireland anew. At risk is the fracturing of Britain’s political union.

Last week’s souring sentiment in European equities may be a prelude to more risk-off positioning such as was seen in Grexit last year. Investors should be prepared for the potential eventuality that uncertainty building up in the pound may spread to rising volatility in European equities. Hedging long European equity exposures and long dollar strategies may regain appeal.

Investors sharing this sentiment may consider the following ETPs:

• Boost FTSE 100 1x Short Daily ETP (SUK1)
• Boost FTSE 100 2x Short Daily ETP (2UKS)
• Boost FTSE 100 3x Short Daily ETP (3UKS)
• Boost FTSE 250 1x Short Daily ETP (1MCS)
• Boost EURO STOXX 50 3x Short Daily ETP (3EUS)
• Boost EURO STOXX Banks 3x Short Daily ETP (3BAS)
• Boost ShortDAX 3x Daily ETP (3DES)
• Boost FTSE MIB 3x Short Daily ETP (3ITS)
• Boost Gilts 10Y 3x Leverage Daily ETP (3GIL)
• Boost Long USD Short EUR 4x Daily ETP (4USE)
• Boost Long USD Short EUR 5x Daily ETP (5USE)

For investment professionals only. This communication has been provided by WisdomTree Europe Ltd which is an appointed representative of Mirabella Advisers LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Meatcure Seek Backers for Their “Impossibly good” Crowdfunding Campaign on Seedrs

Meatcure Seek Backers for Their “Impossibly good” Crowdfunding Campaign on Seedrs

Meatcure’s homeland in the East Midlands was one of the UK’s highest restaurant growth areas in 2015, at times outpacing London. When launching their very first restaurant in Market Harborough, a provincial market town of just 22,000 population, they hit £14,000 sales in the first week, proving to them that Meatcure had the potential to be something special.

From beginning life in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, in late 2014, in just 12 months they’d opened restaurants two and three in Leicester and Leamington Spa. Their fourth opening in Bedford is just weeks away from launching and has been 100% self funded from the success of the first three restaurants. The quick growth, mixed with a strong cult customer following has seen the demand for Meatcure to grow into further surrounding impressively profitable market towns.

Meatcure started out with a simple goal; to put the best patty in the best brioche and to create an impossibly good burger. “We build restaurants we like to hang out in, food we like to eat and surround ourselves with individual and inspiring people. Our staff have become our family and their family our customers”, that’s their motto.

Meatcure will use the funds raised to secure five new restaurant sites in market towns across the midlands and beyond. With the UK having over 500 market towns and smaller cities, Meatcure will be bringing their passion and ingenuity to a much wider audience, without compromising an ounce of quality or personal touch.

Their commitment to impossibly good saw them using their own recipes working with local suppliers and the best ingredients to create the perfect patty brioche marriage. Even with a combined 230 years experience it still took nearly twelve months to perfect the recipe. Their philosophy of doing it properly with no added rubbish sees them unrivalled in the booming burger market.

Meatcure Co Founder, Paul Rigby, commented: “There’s huge potential benefit to investing in Meatcure’s campaign. The way we build our restaurants is fast, fun and with a view to getting a good payback for our investors. It’s not rocket science, it’s mostly wood and lots of those trendy light bulbs. Our aim is to create a backdrop for our impossibly good burgers, craft beers and killer cocktails. The good news with the crowdfunding campaign is that you don’t have to wear a tool belt or steelies, we’ll do that bit for you!”

Co Founder, Rob Martyniak, added: “At Meatcure we are kind of old school about things. We make impossibly good burgers, we do steak properly, superb salads and proper food for kids. We love coffee, craft beers and killer cocktails however there are no £10 cocktails or long table waits. You’ll be greeted with an old school smile and you might even get to choose the vinyl that’s playing. I think that’s why we’ve seen the Meatcure name grow. We do what we love and we love what we do. We can’t wait for others to be a part of it.”

“Our fourth restaurant opening this month is 100% self-funded and our business model means that this campaign is expected to be our only round of crowdfunding, making now only and best time to get involved.”

Investments will be made through Seedrs, the UK’s most active investor in private companies. Ekaterina Steube, Campaigns Success Manager at Seedrs said: “We are excited to welcome Meatcure on to Seedrs. The brand is all about great food, world-class customer experience and supporting local suppliers, and their campaign reflects that. The team is exceptionally focused with highly experienced founders and we look forward to seeing the business scale.”

Meatcure are crowdfunding with Seedrs launching today and you can find out more on how to be a part of it by visiting

Zyfin Launches World's First Turkish Sovereign Laddered Bond ETF

Zyfin Launches World’s First Turkish Sovereign Laddered Bond ETF

Rising interest among domestic and international investors in the Turkish domestic debt markets has led to enhanced liquidity and strength in Turkish sovereign bonds. It is the sixth largest local currency bond market among emerging economies. The Fund offers international investors low cost and easy access to Turkish sovereign bonds.

The objective of the Fund is to track the performance of the ZyFin Turkey Sovereign Bond Laddered Index (‘the Index’) which consists of a basket of sovereign bonds issued by the Government of Turkey in Turkish Lira (TRY) across various maturities (‘the Index Securities’). Underlying exposure is taken through physical replication and is therefore more efficient in tracking the index.

The Index is comprised of six bonds issued by the Government of Turkey, selected from a universe of all bonds issued by the Government, which have greater than 100m TRY outstanding amount. The bonds are divided into three baskets, with each basket containing two bonds and having a residual maturity closest to a target maturity of 2, 5 and 10 years respectively. Index Securities are issued with fixed- rates and the Index is calculated in USD.

ABank, Turkey, (subsidiary of Commercial Bank of Qatar) will provide local market expertise in the Turkish market with geopolitical and macroeconomic assessments, interest rate trends’ research and local market intelligence. These are all critical elements in Turkish sovereign bond market analysis. The synergies generated by on the ground expertise of ABank and asset management strengths of ZyFin is expected to add significant value to the product.

Nina Shapiro (Board Member, ZyFin and former VP Finance and Treasurer, International Finance Corporation) said:
“With all the global financial volatility over the past few years, the economic growth of Turkey has been all the more impressive. ZyFin is bringing to international investors an interesting opportunity to add Turkish, as well as other emerging market, exposure to their portfolios in an efficient and transparent way.”

Sanjay Sachdev, Executive Chairman of ZyFin, said:  “Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s strategically important location has historically being very important. Turkey remains an investment grade destination and has enjoyed sustained GDP growth over the past 16 years with forecasts indicating continued growth of 3.5% in 2016. With research insights from ABank and backed by our expertise in asset management we have structured this attractive investment solution for investors who wish to participate in the growth momentum that we believe will unfold in Turkey.”

Müge Öner, ABank Acting CEO, added: “I strongly believe that the newly established Alternatif ZyFin Turkey Sovereign Bond ETF will be an important instrument for international investors who would like to focus on the Turkish market. As ABank, we are glad to be the preferred counterparty and broker of this ETF in Turkey. With such partnerships, we will continue taking strong steps to be a key player both in Turkish banking sector and in the region, thanks to the support of our major shareholder The Commercial Bank (Q.S.C.).”

Abdurrahman Bilgiç, Ambassador of Turkey to the United Kingdom, commented:  “Thanks to the steady economic growth in Turkey, there have been important steps to bring Istanbul and London even closer in terms of economic and financial relations. In this manner, I welcome the listing of the world’s first Turkish Sovereign Bond ETF today on the London Stock Exchange, which will enable investors to invest directly into the Turkish fixed income market.”