Category: Wealth Management

Online banking
BankingCash ManagementPrivate BankingWealth Management

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

Online banking

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

 

72 percent of UK residents said they do the majority of their banking online and 77 percent consider switching to digital-only providers.

Marqeta, the first global modern card issuing platform, announced the results today of its new digital banking survey, which found that demand for physical bank branches continues to decline as digital banking platforms offer more seamless access to remote money management tools.

The research, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Marqeta and surveying 800 UK and 1200 US consumers, found that 74 percent of consumers expect to use their mobile app regularly in the next three months, in comparison with just 22 percent who expect to visit a physical branch. The majority of respondents (77 percent) said that they will consider digital-only platforms when they next switch banks.

Most UK consumers (72 percent) also confirmed that they now complete almost all of their banking online, with the younger generation leading the way. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of UK respondents aged 18-34 say they use a digital bank as either a primary or secondary banking option. Of those that use a digital bank in tandem with a traditional option, 56 percent of them said that they were more satisfied with the service provided by their digital bank. 

Trends in digital banking have also seen UK consumers make the switch to digital faster than their US counterparts. The survey found that:

• Only 21 percent of UK respondents, expect to visit a physical bank branch in the next three months, compared to 30 percent of US respondents.

• 72 percent of UK respondents said they do the majority of their banking online, while 62 percent of US respondents said the same. 

This confidence in utilising digital banking platforms is driving new expectations for innovation in the banking and fintech sector, as the vast majority of UK respondents (86 percent) say they want to see new technology from their bank in the future.

Marqeta’s survey also show that given how new digital banks are, consumers see the risk factor around digital banking as somewhat of an unknown. 51 percent of UK consumers said they felt like a digital bank was a riskier place to store their money, while 41 percent said they would limit how much money they deposited in a digital bank. 78 percent of UK respondents said they considered a bank’s security and reputation before giving them their business, with 30 percent saying that a lack of market track record was holding them back from making the move to a digital-only bank.

“This research demonstrates that UK consumers are ready to go digital with their finances, but digital banks still must work hard to innovate as we become an increasingly cashless, mobile-first society,” said Ian Johnson, Head of Europe at Marqeta. “Apps and payments cards account for an overwhelming majority of spending and money-management actions, and the rapid rise of new wave challenger banks is a major drive of this of this. At Marqeta we see the modern card issuing market being worth as much as $80 trillion globally by 2030, which is going to continue to create unprecedented demand for innovation and new offerings in banking.”

ecommerce
FundsWealth Management

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

ecommerce

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

 

The eCommerce industry is fiercely competitive which can make it difficult to succeed. It is hard to compete with the bigger brands in your industry because they will have the reputation and visibility online to attract new customers, but there are a few key strategies that you can use which will help you to compete at a higher level and both attract and retain customers.

Once you are able to do this, your reputation should skyrocket which only makes it easier to get new customers and become one of the key players in your field.

Here are a few ways that you can compete with the bigger ecommerce stores:

1. Digital Marketing

The first and most important step to take is to increase your marketing efforts. As it is so competitive, this needs to be an area of investment so that you can benefit from greater results. Using SEO and PPC can deliver both long-term and short-term results so that you can immediately increase your visibility and garner more visitors to your store.

2. Improve Customer Service

Even in an online industry, consumers need to feel important and valued but even this is an area that the bigger brands can struggle with. Make sure that you are looking after your customers, responding to queries and complaints swiftly and thanking them for their custom. Additionally, it should be easy for them to contact you whether this is with live chat, on social media, via email or phone.

3. Analyse The Competition

A smart business owner will always keep a close eye on their competitors and learn from them. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and find ways to use this information to your advantage to compete at a higher level. You can use reverse image search on your own products to find other stores selling the same item. This will help you to discover who your competitors are and enable you to carry out research.

4. Write Unique Product Descriptions

One area where larger ecommerce stores struggle is with product descriptions, as they often have so many products that they end up using the default description from the manufacturer. Creating unique, detailed descriptions can be effective for converting customers and increasing your visibility online. In addition to unique product descriptions, you could also use augmented reality apps, customer reviews and product videos to give visitors a much better sense of the product.

5. Adjust Pricing

Most consumers will compare products at a few different places before settling on an eCommerce store. Adjusting your pricing could help you to lure customers away from the competition and to your business, and a slight reduction should balance out with the increase in sales. Additionally, you also need to make sure that shipping is affordable as this is the primary reason for abandoned carts.

Hopefully, these tips will help your ecommerce store to start competing at a higher level and attract customers away from the bigger stores. It is fiercely competitive online but if you are intelligent and strategise, then it is possible to find success and challenge the bigger brands.

van driver
ArticlesInsuranceWealth Management

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

van driver

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

 

Van drivers across the country are benefiting from a continued reduction to their insurance premiums, contradicting the industry’s prediction of premium increases in the wake of the Ogden rate change, new analysis from data analytics company Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its Van Insurance Index shows average premiums have fallen to £1,781 in the three months to September.

Since Consumer Intelligence started tracking insurance premiums five years ago, van insurance premiums have increased across the market by 34.4%, primarily driven by increased claims costs. The value of claims are increasing as more technologically advanced vehicles require higher repair costs, exacerbated amid Brexit uncertainty by the need to import parts for vehicles manufactured overseas.

Under 25s experienced a premium drop of 9.3% in the past year, yet average prices remain the highest at £4,673. Meanwhile, in the same 12-month period, a 2.4% price rise for the over-50s saw their average premiums increase to £581 annually. This compares to £843 for van drivers aged 25-49, who noticed their premiums nudge up by just 0.3% in the last 12 months.

Drivers operating their vans as a car substitute are benefiting from falling insurance premiums. A typical ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ policy today costs £1,691 – down 3.1% in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, drivers using their vans for business have seen premiums rise 0.3% over the same period. An average ‘carriage of own goods cover’ now stands at £1,805.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence’s pricing expert, said: “Whilst claims costs continue to be one of the main drivers for premium changes in this market over the long-term, we are seeing premiums trending down over the last 12 months.

“It appears that the Ogden rate reset hasn’t had quite the impact some in the industry predicted. The price reductions over the last quarter have actually confounded many forecasts.”  

Wealth and Finance
Cash ManagementPensionsPrivate BankingReal EstateWealth Management

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

Wealth and Finance

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

 

By Axel Hörger, CEO Europe at Lombard International Assurance

The world’s wealthiest people are on the move. According to this year’s Knight Frank Wealth Report, 26% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) are planning on emigrating in the next year. An astounding 36% already hold a second passport. For many, the ability to move their lives, families and assets freely around the world is the new norm.

This trend has been growing for well over a decade, fuelled by increased competition between countries seeking to attract the world’s wealthiest and drive investment. From France to Thailand, countries are seeing the benefit of adopting competitive tax regimes, investment-based visa schemes, and fast-tracked citizenship programmes. Since 2000, 20 EU member states have implemented these types of policies, resulting in approximately $28 billion in foreign direct investment.

For countries like Malta and Cyprus, this has led to a much-needed economic boost as thousands of wealthy individuals have invested in their local economies in return for residency or citizenship. In Portugal, attractive tax rates have in part led to a remarkable economic rebound, with GDP growth set to be one of the highest in Europe, while Lisbon and Porto consistently top the list of most attractive places to live in the world. As countries look to replicate this type of success story, global mobility is only set to increase.

But as global mobility increases so too does the complexity of managing wealth. Globally mobile clients will look to their advisers to be able to seamlessly manage their cross-border wealth, regardless of where they look to base themselves. And as many of the residency by investment programmes have a time limit, moving to a third or fourth country over a ten-year period is becoming increasingly normal. Wealth solutions for truly globally mobile clients need to be able to facilitate this unprecedented level of cross-border movement.

Advisers will also have to be aware that the globally mobile HNW and UHNW client base they are serving is expanding. In 2018, $8.7 trillion of personal financial wealth was held cross-borders – roughly 4.2% of the global total. The fabric of modern-day wealth is evolving as the sources and destinations of this wealth are set to change significantly over the coming years. For example, Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2023, the value of Asia’s cross-border wealth will have grown by 150%.

Wealth advisers will need to keep pace with this dramatic shift and cater for the changing needs of this growing client base. Driven by continuing economic and political uncertainty in the region, HNWIs and UHNWIs from emerging markets will increasingly seek asset safety, protecting against currency depreciation, and the desire to gain stable returns through international diversification. What these clients need are wealth structuring solutions that can manage cross border wealth spread across multiple developed markets. They will also need advisers who are able to navigate effectively around any regulatory or cultural differences between markets.

The mosaic that makes up the lives of modern wealthy people is constantly shifting and being redesigned as wealth is distributed across a more diverse range of ages, genders and nationalities than ever before. What drives wealthy people around the world has never been so complex. For wealth advisers, this means greater difficulties and greater opportunities. The wealth management industry needs to understand the changing landscape that faces HNWIs and UHNWIs and offer solutions that can help them to navigate the uncertainty and complexity.

When I speak to clients, what they are looking for is comfort that their adviser has expertise across multiple markets and jurisdictions. What they want is a feeling of control over their wealth and life’s legacy wherever they are, wherever they want to be, and regardless of what lies ahead.

For more information about Lombard International Assurance, visit our website.

gdp
FundsRegulationTaxWealth Management

Boom or bust? Brexit’s impact on innovation and R&D

gdp

Boom or bust? Brexit’s impact on innovation and R&D

 

Brexit will undoubtedly affect life in the UK in several ways. The nature and extent of its impact, however, is anyone’s guess. Regarding research and innovation, on the surface not much should change. The R&D Tax Credit Scheme is a government initiative and while it is subject to European Union rules, ultimately the money is provided by HMRC, so the amount of funding available for creative pursuits should not be affected.

But Brexit will likely alter the entire business landscape for UK companies and these wider changes may indirectly affect the state of play for those looking to innovate.

Here innovation funding specialist MPA, which is exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2019, looks at the implications of Brexit on innovation and R&D in the UK, and whether the current political uncertainty will actually give way to a more prosperous environment for businesses.

Funding freedom

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, UK spending on R&D rose by £1.6 billion in 2017 to £34.8 billion, placing it 11th in the EU for R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

While such figures are impressive, with an average of £527 spent for each person in the UK, the spending is somewhat restricted by EU regulations. R&D tax credits are classed as ‘state aid’ by the EU and as such there are currently limits on how much the government can hand out to companies.

Once the UK leaves the union, this cap is removed, opening the door to higher value handouts and less strict qualification criteria. Such a move would be welcomed by SMEs across the country and would signal to the world that the UK is strongly encouraging innovation. Plans to increase funding are already in place, with the government’s long term industrial strategy aiming to raise R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

There’s widespread anxiety about the impact of Brexit on British industry and the government faces significant pressure to provide a boost for the economy. Investment in innovation would be a clear statement that the country is still thriving despite the political overhaul.

With the government potentially looking to reallocate some of the money they currently send across to Brussels, there could be funds available for such action.

Regardless of the nature of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU post-Brexit, innovation is always going to be vital for businesses to stand out and thrive in competitive industry landscapes. If trade deals put UK companies at a disadvantage on the world stage, the need to be creative and forward-thinking increases tremendously.

International collaboration

While international funding for UK research has fallen in recent years,from £5.6 billion in 2014 to £5 billion in 2017, it still comprises 14% of all investment in innovation. But it’s not just the financial connection to Europe that UK companies will have to cope without after Brexit, but the level of continental collaboration currently in operation at universities and research centres across the country.

UK industry and innovation is revered across the globe, with our institutions producing world-leading work in every sector. Such breakthroughs are only possible by bringing together the best people from across both Europe and further afield. In fact, in the decade prior to the 2016 referendum, 50% of all UK research publicationsinvolved a co-author from overseas. Moving forward, Brexit may make it more difficult for businesses to recruit staff from overseas and make cross-country projects rather impractical, if not impossible. There is talk of plans to only allow immigrants who earn over £30,000 to stay in the country and this could make it difficult for bodies to continue hiring skilled international research assistants and graduates as salaries for these jobs are generally below the threshold.

Britain’s booming tech industry has given the country potential to dominate and grow in IT and many other sectors. Mark Sewell, CIO of Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent, explains that for the many industries developing IT infrastructure, such as in financial services, there is concern that there may not be enough IT talent available to match increased demand. The average age of the IT workforce is increasing, and Britain’s education system is not producing an adequate number of skilled workers to replace these employees once they retire. This is exacerbated by Brexit and its restriction on access to talented EU-workers. To continue this development, businesses need IT workers with the skills to deploy the latest technology, unfortunately this talent pool may become limited.

Such barriers may force businesses to seek ventures elsewhere. Even British companies might start to launch their innovative operations overseas, targeting countries which have both good R&D incentives and simpler immigration policies, allowing multi-national teams to work without obstacles. Asian nations might be among those that benefit, with China and South Korea as potential suitors. In recent years, South Korea has been one of the world’s biggest investors in R&D and UK businesses could cash in on the country’s commitment to progress.

Uncertain fortunes

As with most aspects of Brexit, no-one really knows how the UK leaving the EU will impact on homegrown innovation. While some relevant policies will remain unchanged, such as the general R&D claim process, there are wider-reaching implications which could affect British researchers.

The UK has an excellent reputation for innovation and this could prove significant. If our economy suffers as a result of Brexit, the value of the pound against other currencies will fall. As such, global businesses may see British companies as attractive investments, as their quality services and projects will suddenly be available for smaller sums. This could potentially fill the void left by current EU funding.

R&D tax credits and Patent Box relief will play a crucial role in establishing the UK as a creative force post-Brexit. Once EU funding for projects is removed, the importance of the domestic HMRC initiative will amplify tremendously, potentially causing a rapid increase in applications.

Continuing and improving the financial incentives for businesses to spend time on R&D will ensure that the country continues to be at the forefront of innovation. MPA’s guidance on the R&D Tax Credit Scheme and Patent Box relief will help you see whether your company qualifies for the initiative.

MPA is exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2019 and can be found at stand C14 in the Automotive Engineering section.

R&D
ArticlesCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsTaxWealth Management

Meet the company recouping hundreds of thousands for UK business in R&D tax relief

R&D

Meet the company recouping hundreds of thousands for UK business in R&D tax relief

 

While growth in R&D tax relief claims has increased by 35% annually since inception in 2001 to over £4bn last year, and has already returned £26bn in total tax relief to businesses across the nation, the scheme is yet to be fully utilised by UK business according to R&D tax credit specialists RIFT Research and Development Ltd.

RIFT secures each client an average of more than £60,000 in tax relief due to R&D across sectors such as construction, manufacturing, agri-foods, ICT, advanced engineering, business and finance, mining and even education, but believe many are still failing to take advantage of the financial benefits. 

Introduced by the Government, the scheme is almost two decades old and encourages scientific and technological innovation across a plethora of UK business sectors. 

 

What is it?

It’s essentially Corporation Tax relief that when utilised, could reduce your company’s tax bill and in some cases, it can even result in you receiving payable tax credits.  

A company can qualify for R&D relief when they carry out research and development within their respective sector with the intention of advancing the overall knowledge or capabilities of science and technology within that field.  

 

R&D tax relief schemes

There are currently two R&D tax relief schemes in operation although the most beneficial is that aimed at SMEs which considers companies with a headcount of less than 500, a turnover of £86.3m or a balance sheet total below £74.3m – learn more.

If you want to see if your company qualifies and the types of costs you can reclaim, RIFT can also help you – learn more.

 

R&D sector success stories

RIFT has worked with countless companies who weren’t just unaware of R&D tax relief but had been incorrectly told by their accountants that they didn’t qualify.   

Here are some of the highest value claims.

Automotive: RIFT worked with an automotive industry tool manufacturer and identified £900,000 worth of qualifying costs, of which, the company was able to recoup £180,000 worth of previous costs.

Construction: RIFT worked with a leading construction company and identified £2m worth of qualifying costs for ongoing innovation across the entire business. Their accountant had identified just £50,000 worth of qualifying costs relating only to some new software they had developed and failed to recognise the gravity of the work they were doing within the sector. 

Architecture: Working with a private limited company practice within the architecture space, RIFT identified £1,000,000 worth of qualifying costs per year, after their accountant had told them their activities didn’t qualify as R&D.

Software: Thanks to RIFT, a client developing software was able to claim back a huge £750,000 from HMRC after £2.3m in qualifying costs were identified.

 
Head of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:  

“Across the UK we have such a wealth of great businesses driving their respective sectors forward through research and development and it’s only right that they should be recognised in one form or another for doing so.  

However, time and time again, we see companies who are really leading the charge but are failing to maximise the return on their efforts by neglecting R&D tax relief. Some aren’t aware of the scheme full stop, while some are, but just didn’t realise that the innovative work they’re carrying out qualifies.  

Particularly now, while many SMEs are struggling with the potential implications of leaving the EU and the reductions in funding this might bring, R&D tax relief provides a very real, Brexit proof opportunity to maximise financial viability.”

Employee spending
FundsWealth Management

Friday 10am is peak time for employees splashing the company cash

Employee spending

Friday 10am is peak time for employees splashing the company cash

 

  • Company cards are most used at supermarkets and service stations

  • Fast food is bought more often than train tickets

  • Workers are most reliant on caffeine on Wednesdays, with West Midlands the coffee capital

Business owners and finance bosses may want to look away on Friday mornings as this is the most popular time for spending on company cards, according to new research. 

 

The data from business card provider, Capital on Tap, reveals that businesses spend more money on its company cards at 10am on Fridays than any other time during the working week, with the following hour also among the costliest periods. 

 

The top five times of the week for spending on company credit cards: 

1.       Friday 10am: users spend 225% more than they would usually  

2.       Tuesday 10am: users spend 223% more than they would usually 

3.       Monday 11am: users spend 214% more than they would usually 

4.       Friday 11am: users spend 213% more than they would usually 

5.       Wednesday 11am: users spend 208% more than they would usually 

 

Supermarkets and service stations are the most frequented locations for company credit cards, with the highest number of weekly transactions (16.7% and 15% of all weekly purchases respectively). 

 

There are also more purchases made on company cards in fast food establishments (4.9%) than for more traditional business activities such as rail travel (2.8%) and overnight accommodation (3.3%). In fact, Saturday lunchtime is the most popular time for fast food spending, with KFC (£11.67 spent per visit) proving more popular with workers than Burger King (£11.25) and McDonalds (£8.12). 

 

Out of hours spending at the pub is also a popular business expense, with end-of-week celebrations the peak time for spend in drinking establishments – 21% of this taking place between 8pm-9pm on a Friday. 

 

Gone are the days of the Monday morning ‘pick me up’, with only 19.2% of the week’s coffee purchases taking place at the beginning of the traditional working week. Instead, workers are looking for a midweek caffeine boost, with 21.4% of coffees being bought on a Wednesday. 

 

West Midlanders are the most reliant on coffee to fuel their working week, spending £9.22 in coffee shops on an average visit, while those in Wales are least dependent on the beverage (£6.56). 

 

Coffee spend per region: 

1.       West Midlands: £9.22 

2.       Northern Ireland: £8.79 

3.       North East: £8.79 

4.       Scotland: £8.70 

5.       Yorkshire and the Humber: £8.48 

6.       East: £8.41 

7.       North West: £8.30 

8.       South West: £7.80 

9.       London: £7.62 

10.   South East: £7.40 

11.   East Midlands: £7.22 

12.   Wales: £6.56 

 

David Luck, CEO of Capital on Tap, said: “It is interesting to find when workers are spending most on their work credit cards and spot patterns in how businesses are evolving. Finding that Friday evenings are popular for pub spending and Saturdays are peak times for fast food shows that business expenditure is not as traditional as we might have thought. 

 

“A refreshing diversity of spend was seen on Capital on Tap cards. Given our ability to service those that traditional banks opt-out of, it’s no surprise to see service station costs, lumber yards and parking lots as part of the funding use – retailers that are traditionally popular outside of the bigger cities.”  

santander
ArticlesBankingCash ManagementFinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK

santander

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution

 

Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution for dealers further strengthening its commitment to growing the market.

The national launch of Apply Online which offers e-sign capability means customers can calculate the finance they need, receive immediate approvals and sign documentation at home or in showrooms ensuring that dealers remain in control.

Delivery of the end-to-end digital process has taken nine months since the launch of SCF’s online calculator in December and involved substantial financial and resource investments at SCF.

The calculator has proved popular – customers have generated more than 4.1 million quotes and 51 dealers have signed up for the calculator. Apply Online, which was successfully tested over the past month, is now available to all dealers using the calculator.

SCF’s digital solution is integrated into dealers’ websites and installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator. SCF is providing additional support to help dealers make the most effective use of the digital proposition.

The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers and builds on the success of SCF’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April.

Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “We’ve worked hard to design a market leading end-to-end digital solution which ensures   dealers retain control of customer relationships while benefiting from our brand power.

“The financial investment and the time spent by our team in developing and delivering the digital transformation emphasises how committed we are to support our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.”

Dealers interested in using the calculator or wishing to register interest in the Online Application platform should contact their Business Development Manager or visit: www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/dealer

R&D tax relief
FundsTransactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

R&D tax relief

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

 

In seven years from creation, the fintech company Capital on Tap, celebrates a major milestone of lending over 1 billion pounds to more than 65,000 small and medium enterprise businesses across the UK. 

By 2018, Capital on Tap had lent £500m to small businesses, and in the short timeframe that followed to September 2019, has now doubled this number to hit the milestone of £1bn. The quick, two-minute online application has drawn-in customers from various industries who praise the lending service for its ease of use. 

The one billionth pound customer Elaine Speirs, founder of Speirs Consultancy Ltd in biopharmaceuticals, said: “It was very easy, very fast. I don’t remember having to have a conversation with anyone, and I got my credit card within a couple of days.”   

“The app is really easy to use on my phone, and there’s a website where I can track all payments; it’s just very simple, I don’t really have to think about it.” Elaine continued that “my own bank turned me down as I was a new business, and without even applying for a loan – that was after 25 years of banking history with them, which I was quite taken aback by.” 

The Capital on Tap ‘soft searching’ function is ideal for new business owners as it allows customers to find out if they’re eligible for a loan without impacting their credit score. This method challenges typical lenders and empowers customers, particularly benefiting those in rural parts of the UK who could suffer approval delays of up to three weeks. In addition, once the Capital on Tap fund is agreed; the money is available online in a matter of minutes, streamlining the lending function and supporting those who may struggle with traditional lending platforms. 

Support given by Capital on Tap has been commonly found to facilitate travel, allowing customers to work internationally without charging any extras. Sean Swart, founder of PICS Consultancy Ltd, highlights that “I am often required to move around as part of my job and the Capital on Tap card removes stress around cash flow created by expenses, mainly those from travel expenditure which is created as a by-product of my job.” 

David Luck, CEO at Capital on Tap, commented: “We started Capital on Tap in 2012, with a mission of making it faster and easier for small and medium enterprises to obtain working capital. Since lending money to our first customer back in 2013, I never thought we would have lent over £1bn to more than 65,000 small businesses in just seven years.” 

“We have worked to develop a lending platform that not only makes funding easier for small businesses, but also provides a service for traditional banks. Not only do we pride ourselves in supporting small businesses in the main cities, we provide a unique service for those in provincial areas, where traditional banks fall short.” 

For more information, visit the Capital on Tap website: https://capitalontap.com/

Colin Price
BankingHigh Net-worth Individuals

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

Colin Price

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gender equality
Wealth Management

In wealth management, better gender representation is better business

gender equality

In wealth management, better gender representation is better business

 

By Sofija Djapic, Business Development Manager, InvestCloud

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

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

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

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

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

 

Where does the problem originate from?

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

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

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

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

 

True representation, real empathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Future-proofing the bottom line with representation and digital empathy

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

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

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

houses
FundsPrivate BankingReal Estate

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

houses

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Mortgage Complexity and Mental Health

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

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

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

Spend or Save: Where does all the money go?

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

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

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

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

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

Stick or Twist: Flying the nest

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

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

 

Education, Misconceptions and Help

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

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

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

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

Highest percentage of words that were never heard of

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

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

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

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

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

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

wealth management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The growth of digital wealth management:

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

The rise of fintech new entrants:

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

Growing advice gap:

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

Wealth passed on to millennials/changing client needs

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

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

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

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

The reach of regulation

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

PensionsWealth Management

What are the top ways to save on everyday spending?

We’re always on the lookout for ways to save money, especially after our bank balances have taken a hit over the festive period. Of course, there are the traditional ways of saving such as budgeting and setting aside a certain amount of funds each month. But, without overly restricting your leisure activities, what everyday changes can you make to spend less?

1.      Spend less on your energy bill

Make small everyday changes to lower the cost of your energy bill.

Did you know that 4% of your energy bill is attributed to cooking? Work on lowering this if you can. Your oven stays warm for a long time after you’ve switched it off. Try turning it off 10 minutes before you’re finished cooking to save on energy.

Instead of turning your thermostat up during the colder months, layer up instead to save on pennies! Switching down by just one degree Celsius can save you £85 per year — it all adds up. When it comes to showering, cutting your shower time down to 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes can save you £98 per year — less singing and faster washing!

2.      Storing food properly

When we’re packing food away in the fridge or freezer, we usually don’t think about how it’s stored. But, the way that you put away your goods can have an impact on your energy bill.

If you pack your freezer more tightly, this keeps more of the cold air in when you open the door. This means that the appliance doesn’t have to work as hard to lower the temperature again. The same applies for the refrigerator too — a full fridge requires less energy to stay cool than one that’s empty. If you’re struggling to pack your fridge or freezer full, filling it with newspaper can do the job.

3.      Save money booking holidays

Even when we’re trying to save money, we all deserve a holiday now and then! The good news is that you can save money by following a few top tips the next time you book a vacation.

Try and fly out on a Friday if you can, this can save you 18% on your airfare compared to if you flew out on a Sunday. Taking into consideration the average cost of a flight and the fact that the average Brit goes on holiday three times a year, you could save £85 annually by following this top tip.

Be calculative about when you book your holiday too. You can save £36 per year by booking your trip on a Monday as flights are 5% cheaper.

Consider packing more economically too. You can save £144 per year by only taking hand luggage on your flights. Squeeze more into your suitcase by rolling clothes and packing garments in your shoes.

4.      Meal prepping

Being prepared when it comes to grocery shopping and planning lunches for the week can help save on cash.

Even making a shopping list before you head to the supermarket can help. In fact, 60% of people who take a shopping list to the supermarket said it saves them money. It stops you buying things that you don’t necessarily need and helps you stick to your budget.

Create a meal plan for the week too. This means that you’re only buying what you need and don’t need to spend money on unexpected lunches out. Statistics have shown that you can save an impressive £1,300 per year by preparing lunch at home rather than eating out during the week.

5.      Eco-conscious coffee drinking

There are a few ways that you can be eco-conscious about your coffee drinking while saving money.

First of all, you can start by making your coffee at home when you can. You can save £507 per year by making your coffee at home instead of buying one each day from a retailer. If you prefer coffee from the store, why not take your own cup? This is helping the environment and you can save £150 per year as many high street retailers now offer 50p off coffee when you present your own cup.

 

Make the small changes above and watch your pennies turn into pounds this year! For more saving tips, check out True Potential Investor’s Life Hacks interactive.

Transactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Promising Regional Start-up Gets Funding from Hungarian Companies

  • Enter Tomorrow Europe, a venture capital fund operated by Lead Ventures has gained share in Czech start-up Neuron Soundware, utilizing investments from MOL and Eximbank.
  • The Czech start-up analyses sounds and vibrations to detect when industrial machines need maintenance.
  • Apart from the Hungarian companies, the EUR 5,7 million investment is also supported by two Czech capital funds, Inven Capital and J&T Ventures.

Lead Ventures continues to expand its portfolio with the help of MOL, Eximbank, together with Czech capital funds. Together, the business partners invested EUR 5,75 million in Czech company Neuron Soundware. The start-up is one of the first companies in the region to implement sound-based diagnostics of industrial machinery, which greatly helps factories using such equipment.

Enter Tomorrow Europe, a capital fund operated by Lead Ventures, supported by MOL and Eximbank used funds from Hungary for its latest /5000 venture capital investment. Together with Inven Capital, a member of ČEZ Group, Lead Ventures gained share in the Czech Neuron Soundware company.

Neuron Soundware was founded as a start-up in Prague in February, 2016. Currently, they employ 20 experts and last year, they had revenue of almost half a million Euros. The company provides AI-based solutions for several industries, including the energy industry. Their software analyses the sounds made by industrial machines, and can detect even the smallest of changes or unusual noises, indicating that the equipment is faulty or in need of maintenance. Their technology is already used by several global corporations, including Daimler, BMW, Innogy, E.ON, Airbus and LG.

“We know exactly how pumps, gearboxes, cylinders, electromotors, or compressors should sound. The sounds of all regular components of a machine are stored in a database. But that is not enough, our artificial intelligence software is able to distinguish problem noises from regular process hum and surrounding sounds, giving the customer the certainty that the machine will not pull off any unpleasant surprises,” says Pavel Konečný, founder and CEO of Neuron soundware.

“Predictive maintenance is a part of Industry 4.0. Neuron’s exciting technology has the potential to create a real break-through in this area. We trust that, with our newest regional investment, this innovative solution can improve the efficiency of several industries,” added Ábel Galácz, CEO of Lead Ventures.

“Start-ups from Central Europe, which have already been tested, have great potential to break through in global markets. As part of our strategy, we are looking for innovative solutions that can increase effectivity of technical processes in industrial services. Like our recent entry into Slovak GA Drilling, our entry into Czech Neuron Soundware is an example of a successful connection of small start-ups with a strong international company for further growth,” said Oszkár Világi, MOL Group Chief Innovation Officer.

The full value of the investment is EUR 5.75. Almost half of that sum is provided by Lead Ventures ETE, using funds from MOL and Eximbank. The rest of the price is covert by Inven Capital and Neuron’s previous investor, J&T Ventures.

Managing over EUR 100 million, Lead Ventures aims to support start-ups with innovative ideas all over the CEE region, assisting them to take their products or services to the global market. MOL has been supportive of the goals of the investment fund before. In March, for example, Lead Ventures signed a EUR 4,2 financing deal with the Slovakian GA Drilling company. GA Drilling focuses on developing a revolutionary electronic plasma technology, creating plasma drills capable of penetrating deeper layers of the ground at a reduced energy cost, making geothermic energy more accessible. As part of the deal, experimental drill heads are now being tested at MOL’s own hydrocarbon facilities.

EquityFunds of FundsInfrastructurePrivate Client

Fairjungle raises €1.8m to accelerate is growth in the European business travel market

The Paris-based start-up, founded by former McKinsey mangers and Apple engineers, has recently raised close to €2m to accelerate the deployment of its modern business travel management solution in France, the rest of Europe, and beyond.

Fairjungle shifts into second gear. After making a name for itself in 2018 in the world of business travel, the start-up intends to accelerate its growth in 2019 with this raise of €1.8m. This round is highlighted by a complementary group of investors such as entrepreneurs Thibaud Elzière (Fotolia, eFounders; PayFit investor) and Eduardo Ronzano (Keldoc; Meero investor), business travel expert Bertrand Mabille (former Europe MD of Carlson Wagonlit Travel), and Whitestones Ventures, an investment fund led by Goldman Sachs alumnus Youssef Kabbaj.

Corporate travel in the technology age
Launched at the end of 2017 by former managers and engineers from McKinsey and Apple, the start-up has developed a solid reputation as an innovative challenger in the world of business travel.

Today, Fairjungle allows business travellers to book all their trips on a single platform in just a few simple clicks, while saving their companies 20-25% on their travel budgets.

Using proprietary algorithms based on the latest machine learning technologies, Fairjungle helps customers reduce the average booking time from 25 minutes to 60 seconds.

Voted 2018 Start-up of the Year at the IFTM Tourism Fair, Fairjungle’s platform today boasts more than 400 airlines and over a million accommodation options, all available at the best prices on the market.

For CEO Saad Berrada “everything started from our experience as consultants at McKinsey. We spent a fortune travelling but had to do so via a user experience dating back to the 1980s. With the technological tools we have today it was mindboggling that there was such a large gap between leisure and business travel. Thus, we set ourselves the goal of providing business travellers with an experience closer to that of Amazon than that of the La Redoute phone catalogue. We worked with a team of former Apple engineers and designers to rethink everything from the ground up; that’s how Fairjungle was born!”

For Youssef Kabbaj, managing partner of Whitestones Ventures (www.whitestones.vc) “FairJungle is a one stop shop solution for lean organizations who want more efficient business travel while improving massively the user experience and streamlining the booking process. The market is enormous and the team is amazing. We are very proud at Whitestones Ventures to be part of this adventure as investors and as (very satisfied) clients.”

Fairjungle redesigned the typical booking process of a business traveller to save time and money for all stakeholders involved. Thus, the platform now allows users to book and prepay their next trip (flight and hotel) in less than one minute (vs. an average 25 minutes with traditional tools). On the employer side, travel management is facilitated through automated travel policy functionality, a travel budget approval module, and an accounting reconciliation support tool.

The start-up has also innovated by offering a gamification module allowing businesses to save nearly 30% on their business travel expenses, while improving employee satisfaction. How? By directly influencing the purchasing behaviour of employees and rewarding them for choosing cheaper travel options. Think of it as an “inverted” loyalty program that promotes savings, realigning the financial interests of the company (the payer) and the travelling employee (the trip consumer).

A barely disrupted €260 billion market
With this raise of nearly €2 million, Fairjungle intends to shake up the European business travel market, estimated at more than €260 billion. Although the market is still largely in the hands of traditional, poorly-digitised agencies, new players are developing abroad. TripActions, a California start-up, is positioned in the same segment in the US and is now valued at more than €1 billion. Fairjungle’s formula for success is to focus on technology and the user experience for both the traveller and employer.

Fairjungle Co-Founder & CTO, Bertrand Guiheneuf, trained at Apple and was long-time right-hand man of Jean-Marie Hullot, CTO of Apple. For him “the opportunity is, above all else, a technological one. The journey, and especially the business trip, has been inadequately disrupted by digital technology: the technical culture dates back to the 1980s and 90s. Much of business travel today is still done manually. This limits the possibilities of existing solutions but also opens up a world of exciting possibilities for a team trained in the development of consumer applications, like Fairjungle.”

Fairjungle shifts into second gear
By leveraging the latest technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, NDC), Fairjungle is primarily targeting modern companies that are looking for a tool to help them manage their journeys easily and with better costs, whether or not they currently use a travel agency.

Having seen the power of Fairjungle’s platform, a large number of start-ups and SMEs, as well as some larger companies such as OVH, are onboard. With additional success abroad, especially in London and Dubai, the company sees big things ahead beyond France.

Private BankingPrivate ClientStock MarketsWealth Management

Ashfords LLP Launch Digital Legacy Service

The death of a loved one is a traumatic and difficult time. Dealing with an estate can often result in unnecessary cost, time and upset when trying to trace assets and meet the wishes of the deceased. Assets can be misplaced, forgotten about or even diminished in value before you get the chance to deal with them. Law firm, Ashfords LLP, has developed and launched a new and innovative digital legacy platform for private individuals to make executor’s lives easier.

Digital legacy enables users to keep a secure record of their accounts and assets (whether it is a bank account, shares or even the existence of social media accounts), leave messages for loved ones, set out funeral plans and wishes and help ensure that the process of dealing with their estate following their death is as easy and as cost effective as possible.

On the death of the individual the system is unlocked for executors in a read-only format to ensure that a clear audit trail between the wishes of an individual and the administration of the estate is maintained. The primary purpose of the system is to facilitate executors to know what exists so they can ensure all assets are accounted for and all accounts are closed.

Executors also have the option to open up a memorial book where friends and family can send in memories of the individual which can then be used at the funeral, executors can also send details of funeral plans through the Digital Legacy system if they wish to.

Michael Alden, Head of Private Wealth at Ashfords said: “We want to help individuals keep track of their estate and in turn help ensure that following a bereavement, families are able to close down any online accounts quickly and efficiently making the process less stressful, and potentially reducing the cost of administering estates. We are excited to launch our Digital Legacy service and hope this will be a real benefit to its users and their families.”

Garry Mackay, CEO of Ashfords commented: “Digital legacy is a further example of the firm adapting to the ever-changing needs of our clients. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to constantly look at innovative ways in which we can make things easier and more cost effective for our clients whilst continuing to provide the highest level of advice. Digital legacy is just one of a number of products we have in development for our private and business clients.”

Global ComplianceWealth Management

Sparta Global announces appointment of Andy King as Managing Director

Sparta Global, a leading provider of technology and business services, today announces the appointment of Andy King as its new Managing Director. Andy joins Sparta Global following the opening of its new Head Office at 125 London Wall and £4m equity investment from Private equity house Key Capital Partners (KCP) to support its continued growth and expansion.

With his new position as Managing Director at Sparta Global taking full effect from 10th April 2019, Andy will assist with the attraction, training and deployment of highly skilled graduates in blue chip organisations – reporting to David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sparta Global.

As former UK & Ireland Managing Director of FDM Group PLC, Andy and his team were responsible for a total revenue of £106.7m (circa 52% of total group revenue) and more than 1800 consultants deployed with clients across the UK. Additionally, he was responsible for overseeing and implementing new academies across the UK. Before his 10-year tenure at FDM Group PLC, Andy was the Global Head of Testing at Barclays Wealth for 5 years.

David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Sparta Global, says; “Attracting someone of Andy’s calibre, track record and growth potential to Sparta Global is incredibly exciting. Andy is a highly motivated individual with extensive experience managing and leading global teams across sectors such as investment banking and the public sector. His proven track record in sales, graduate recruitment, training, mentoring and programme delivery – combined with a positive attitude and passion to drive a successful team – makes him an ideal fit for Sparta Global.”

Of his appointment, Andy King says; “I am hugely excited to be joining Sparta Global at such a key stage in its growth and development. Sparta Global has built a strong platform in the UK with Academies in London, the Midlands and North of England, fulfilling the growing UK-wide demand for diverse, highly skilled and dynamic technology professionals. I look forward to working with the exceptional team at Sparta Global and giving our clients the tools to power technology projects across a diverse range of industries”.

Foreign Direct InvestmentHigh Net-worth Individuals

Puzzel receives growth investment from Marlin Equity Partners

Puzzel, a leading European omni-channel cloud contact centre software provider, today announced the completion of a majority recapitalisation and growth investment from Marlin Equity Partners (“Marlin”), a global investment firm with over $6.7 billion of capital under management. Puzzel’s best-in-class, multi-tenant cloud contact centre as a service (“CCaaS”) platform allows clients worldwide to manage and optimise their customer interactions across voice, email, chat and social media platforms.

“Puzzel’s leading position in the market, knowledgeable employees and pioneering technology platform positions us well to successfully scale our business,” said Børge Astrup, CEO of Puzzel. “Marlin has a proven track record of supporting and partnering with high-growth software businesses and we look forward to working with them to execute our strategic plan to accelerate growth, bring new and added functionality to our customers and expand into new markets.”

“In Puzzel, we saw a business with a comprehensive omni-channel CCaaS solution that is both scalable and flexible, and designed to support contact centres of all sizes,” said Mike Wilkinson, vice president at Marlin. 

“The company has experienced tremendous growth across Europe that is being further fuelled by feedback and advocacy from market-leading customers. We are excited to partner with an exceptional management team to seek new partnerships, invest in new opportunities to enhance the product suite and expand the company’s geographic presence.”

About Puzzel
Puzzel is a leading cloud-based contact centre software provider and one of the first pioneers to develop a cloud-based contact centre offering. Today, Puzzel combines its omni-channel technology with artificial intelligence capabilities to provide comprehensive, end-to-end customer interaction solutions in an age of digitisation. Puzzel was named a Challenger in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Centre as a Service, Western Europe, Report 2018 for the fourth consecutive year for its strong growth, functional capabilities, strengths in standards and compliance, customer service and support. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with offices in six European markets including the U.K. For more information, please visit Puzzel.

About Marlin Equity Partners
Marlin Equity Partners is a global investment firm with over $6.7 billion of capital under management. The firm is focused on providing corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with tailored solutions that meet their business and liquidity needs. Marlin invests in businesses across multiple industries where its capital base, industry relationships and extensive network of operational resources significantly strengthen a company’s outlook and enhance value. Since its inception, Marlin, through its group of funds and related companies, has successfully completed over 140 acquisitions. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California with an additional office in London. For more information, please visit Marlin Equity

OffshoreWealth Management

How to choose the right country for opening a company

How to choose the right country for opening a company 

The world we live in today has made it quite easy for most of us to start our own company. The Internet has created a lot of new business opportunities and ideas which can be successfully put to use and to the benefit of others. With so many options, choosing the country to set up a business in is one of the most important challenges.

Selecting the country to open a company depends on the money one is willing to invest, the industry or the profession of the business person and, of course, the legislation in that particular country. Plus, one also needs to consider the many frauds which have developed along with the appearance of the Internet. One must always consider asking for legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer, if confronted with a possible fraud.

Let’s see what one should consider in terms of country of choice when deciding to start a business.

Taxation is essential when opening a business

Most business persons consider taxation as one of the most important aspects when choosing a country to start a business in. There are onshore and offshore destinations, if we are to categorize countries from a taxation point of view; however, there are also countries which provide for low taxes just as offshore states. For example, large companies can decide to set up subsidiaries in Labuan, one of the most important offshore jurisdictions in Malaysia, while benefiting from a very good taxation system.

Offshore jurisdictions are still preferred by many investors

Offshore countries remain among the preferences of many foreign entrepreneurs who consider they can reduce their taxes and ensure a higher degree of confidentiality if they decide for such a jurisdiction. Let’s take Seychelles, for instance: setting up an offshore company in Seychelles will definitely offer a good protection when it comes to the assets of the owner, if one chooses this business form. Investors can also decide to open onshore companies and complete activities just like in any other onshore jurisdiction.

Going for traditional country

There are also entrepreneurs who decide to go the old-fashioned way and settle their companies in traditional countries with well-established regulations. These are usually European countries, such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy which have evolved a lot in the last few years, especially in accommodating the needs of the new generation of investors which rely on new technologies. Those who decide to operate in Italy, for example, are advised to use the services of a local law firm in order to integrate their businesses under the legal requirements of the authorities here.

No matter the country one decides for setting up a business, what matters in the end is for that country to answer the needs of entrepreneur, while his or her products or services answer the needs of the clients in that country.

Wealth Management

Which liquidation option is best for my business?

If you reach the crossroads of having to close down your insolvent business or solvent business, you may explore liquidation to settle your financial affairs and repay creditors. Depending on the financial state of your business, including the strength of your cash flow and balance sheet, this will determine your next step which will either be a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) or Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL).

If you are deep in the process and you are unable to respond to creditor demands or come to an agreement, the creditor may apply for a petition to wind up your company. If granted by the court, your business could be forced into liquidation, writes Keith Tully of Real Business Rescue. Following the appointment of a licensed insolvency practitioner, here are the two liquidation options you can explore.

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation: As indicated in the name, a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation is voluntary action against an insolvent business as it can no longer keep up with payments. In order to safeguard the business from legal action and to protect the best interests of creditors, a CVL may be the most financially suitable option for your struggling business.

What happens in a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation?

In order to successfully initiate a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation, you will be required to appoint a licensed insolvency practitioner. As the action is voluntary and not forced upon, the shareholders will be in control of appointing an insolvency practitioner.

A Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation will result in assets to be realised in order to repay outstanding debts to creditors. Before doing so, all shareholders will have to be in mutual agreement that the business is insolvent and that a CVL is the most appropriate form of action. You will be required to contact creditors to inform them of the company’s financial position and share an estimation of the assets held by the business. Each asset will require an individual valuation and should not be undervalued. If a director is interested in purchasing assets belonging to the business, this can only be conducted through an insolvency practitioner and should be sold at market value.

As the insolvency practitioner will be in control of the business, they will also be responsible for handling employee claims. An investigation will take place to ensure that the company director acted fairly and dutifully. If the director neglected directorial responsibilities, they could face disqualification and even be held personally liable for the debts of the business.  

Members’ Voluntary Liquidation: A Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) is a suitable closure option for a solvent business which will allow you to shut the business down in a cost-efficient manner. This is an effective exit planning tool for a profitable company which has reached the end of its lifetime, such as in the event of director retirement.

This option is only suitable for a solvent business which is able to settle liabilities within 12 months. An MVL is appropriate for businesses with retained profits of £25,000 pounds or more. If the business holds less, it may not be financially viable to opt for a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation as there are costs involved which may set your business back. This includes payment for an insolvency practitioner, costs for legal notices such as a Gazette notice and financial protection for company funds typically determined by asset value.

Prior to an MVL, all financial obligations should be settled, including debtors chased and funds collected. All HMRC liabilities should be paid, including the submission of HMRC accounts and documents. After carrying out due diligence, your intention to close the company will be advertised on the Gazette, making it public knowledge which is when outstanding creditors will be invited to submit any claims. After clearance from HMRC, company funds will be distributed amongst shareholders and the company will be dissolved which refers to the removal of the company record from Companies House.

Compulsory Liquidation: This process will begin after a creditor brings forward a winding up petition for your business if standard methods of recovering money have failed. Compulsory liquidation essentially forces the company to liquidate assets so they can be sold and proceeds distributed to creditors. If you are in debt of £750 or over, the court will be able to force your business into liquidation.

  • Statutory Demand: A statutory demand is a formal request for outstanding payments to be made. If you have been issued with a statutory demand and the 12 day repayment period has passed, your business could be forced into liquidation
  • County Court Judgment: An unpaid County Court Judgment (CCJ) can also result in compulsory liquidation. A CCJ is a court order granted against you if you fail to respond to court action. This is a serious form of action as if a CCJ is issued; this will remain on your record for six years, hindering your chances of qualifying for finance, including a mortgage

Following the liquidation of the business, the company will be struck off the Companies House register, resulting in the dissolution of the business. This option is not voluntary as it will be forced upon by the court following a formal request from creditors.

The key difference between a CVL and MVL is that a CVL is a tool for an insolvent business and an MVL is a tool for a solvent business. If you are in the process of making this decision, it is important to move forward in a fast and efficient manner as you may be prone to being hit with legal action from creditors during this time period. As such, liquidation can give you sufficient breathing time to get your affairs into order. If you are in the position where you are considering the liquidation of your business, it is best to seek advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner to ensure you close your business in a tax efficient and legal manner.

This advice column was written by Keith Tully, a specialist in business turnaround and recovery at Real Business Rescue.

High Net-worth Individuals

Netflix expands global customer care with Teleopti’s flexible, cloud-based Workforce Management solution

Teleopti today announced that Netflix, the world’s leading provider of online entertainment and streaming services, has selected the company’s strategic, cloud Workforce Management (WFM) suite to increase the flexibility of staff planning and support complex, global customer service operations.

With 139 million memberships in over 190 countries, California-based internet entertainment service Netflix has embarked on a new journey toward customer service planning in the cloud. Netflix will use Teleopti’s dynamic WFM solution to support, schedule and empower more than 5,700 customer representatives at contact centers across the globe. As Netflix continues to expand its worldwide footprint, with customer support spanning multiple time zones and numerous languages, the need arose to revolutionize its workforce scheduling and management processes.

Fred Senerchia, Global Head of Workforce Management at Netflix remarked, “Teleopti provides a cloud solution that closely aligns with our business vision and goals for the future. As we continue to expand our CS footprint worldwide and grow our team of multi-skilled frontline representatives, it’s imperative that we have a workforce management software that solves for the increasing complexity of forecasting and scheduling agents across several different regions, time zones and languages. We believe Teleopti will meet those needs as we partner together on a global implementation of the software.”

Netflix has selected Teleopti’s cloud-based Advanced WFM package providing features to meet key areas of need, including real-time monitoring and adaptivity, intuitive employee engagement tools and the ability to quickly scale up operations to meet business growth. Alongside a fully-supported deployment and post-implementation training to ensure WFM success, Netflix will have access to a test environment to continue optimization within their own realm of data.

David Pahlman, President of Teleopti North America concluded, “Our WFM technology enables strong enterprises like Netflix to handle large-scale, complex operations while maintaining ease of use and adaptability. The goal of our cloud-based technology is to simplify business operations at a global level. We’re excited to welcome Netflix to our community of great customers.”

High Net-worth Individuals

Cloud Foundry 2019 North American Summit Begins in Philadelphia, Announces Project Eirini Ready for Early Adopters

 

Cloud Foundry Foundation, home to a family of interoperable open source projects for the enterprise, opened its North American Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today, with news from organizations including Engineer Better, IBM, Pivotal, Resilient Scale, SUSE, Stark & Wayne, Swisscom and many others. The 2019 North American Summit is taking place today through April 4 and is supported by Diamond sponsors Comcast and Pivotal, and Platinum sponsor IBM Cloud.

“We are excited to host Summit on the east coast again this year,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation. “This Summit will be focused on celebrating the momentum of our community, highlighting stories from open source contributors and Cloud Foundry users, as well as providers, integrators and service providers. This year’s Summit theme is ‘building the future’ which is exactly what our community is committed to doing.”

The Foundation announced findings from its most recent Global Perception Study in a report titled “Adaptation, Not Adoption, is the Key to Digital Transformation: Why IT Strategy Requires a Perpetual State of Change.” With more than half of companies surveyed putting mission-critical apps in the cloud, it’s clear that digital transformation is the new reality, and that companies must adapt to constant change to keep up.

The Foundation is pleased to announce Project Eirini is now passing the core functional tests that validate Cloud Foundry Application Runtime releases, with future work focused on production readiness and testing against hosted managed Kubernetes environments from various public cloud providers. Initially proposed by IBM, Eirini has full-time engineers from Google and Pivotal working on the project, in addition to continued contributions from IBM, SAP and SUSE. The software is now mature enough that early adopters have begun to deploy it into production environments. At the EU Summit in 2018, Cloud Foundry Foundation announced Project Eirini’s acceptance as an incubating project by the Application Runtime Project Management Committee, which oversees projects associated with the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime and their coordinated roadmaps. Eirini works to provide developers with the “cf push” experience that makes it easy to push an app to production on top of Kubernetes.

The Foundation is also pleased to announce its first two Certified Systems Integrators, following on the program’s launch in October at the European Summit. Each with at least ten Cloud Foundry Certified Developers on their teams, Accenture and HCL have demonstrated contributions to the Cloud Foundry community through contributing code, hosting meetups, Foundation membership and more. The Certification program is designed to help SIs, consultancies and professional services organizations highlight their expertise working with the Cloud Foundry family of technologies.

Foundation member news includes:

A collection of Foundation members, including Resilient Scale, Stark & Wayne and SuperOrbital, in addition to TechFlow, have joined together to form the Continuous Delivery Alliance. The Continuous Delivery Alliance aims to fix the DevSecOps challenges in government from contracting through implementation by bringing together a collective of professionals with deep expertise in technology and government contracting. The Alliance offers unparalleled expertise in technologies including Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, AWS, Azure, GCP and practices like continuous integration/ delivery and DevSecOps.


Altoros has released new versions of the Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) tiles for Jenkins, Elasticsearch, and Cassandra, upgrading BOSH stemcells and existing integrations. The updated Xenial stemcells help avoid exposure to security vulnerabilities, while integrations with new versions of products will enable enterprise users to enjoy the features of the latest stable releases. In April, migration to Xenial stemcells for the six PCF tiles created and maintained by Altoros, including an upcoming new release of the Heartbeat Cloud Foundry monitoring, will take place. PCF tiles are packaged tools that can be integrated into Pivotal Cloud Foundry, enabling developers to use third-party services.


Anynines announced the release of release of a9s Platform, a fully automated platform distribution comprising open source Cloud Foundry and the a9s Data Services, as well as on-demand Kubernetes. The platform allows users to leverage open source technologies to bootstrap fully automated production grade platform environments. Technical support and remote operation options are available. EngineerBetter announced that “Control Tower” is the new name for “Concourse-Up,” the company’s enterprise tool for deploying and operating Concourse CI in a single command. Concourse CI is used heavily throughout the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. With its new name, Control Tower will be available through new distribution channels and brings with it new features including Google Cloud Platform support and full support for Concourse 5.


Evoila announced new service brokers, which provide software systems such as databases, message queues or log aggregators with standardization to speed up software development. The service brokers make it possible to run two environments, such as Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes, next to each other and share their service instances. The Open Service Broker API 2.15 will soon provide a higher independence of special platforms and improve asynchronous ordering processes. By developing these new service brokers, evoila is further expanding its commitment to the standardization of complex processes. Grape Up announced its flagship product Cloudboostr can now be deployed on OpenStack. Integration with the new cloud infrastructure unlocks a broad range of opportunities for companies using on-prem OpenStack. Cloudboostr provides a complete enterprise-grade cloud stack ready in days, gives the freedom to choose the best suitable runtime for any needs, and reduces the risk of upgrade compatibility issues and the complexity of applying patches.


IBM announced the launch of an Eirini-based technology preview of its Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment, available for self provisioning. IBM Cloud is working to simplify development and operations by bringing together Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, and Functions under one management umbrella to enable development teams to spend their valuable time coding to solve business problems. A major step towards that goal is Project Eirini, where IBM is leading the effort alongside other Foundation members SUSE, SAP, Pivotal and Google, to bring native, pluggable Kubernetes application container scheduling to Cloud Foundry. IBM is supporting Project Eirini to bring coordinated operations of Cloud Foundry application containers and those created by other means to the same Kubernetes cluster. This allows for easy and more secure communications between Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes applications, and unlocks the vast ecosystem of Kubernetes tooling and capabilities to both the Cloud Foundry developer and administrator. 


Packet announced an Edge Access Program, providing commercial and open source users with free access to edge computing building blocks at a diverse range of venues and locations. Resources include API-driven x86 and Arm bare metal compute infrastructure; automated cloud interconnect to Azure, GCP and other public cloud ecosystems; and CBRS wireless through Federated Wireless. 


Pivotal announced the release of Pivotal Cloud Foundry 2.5, a collection of enhancements to its flagship application platform, including weighted routing, a new feature enabled by Istio and Envoy. 


Stark & Wayne announced the launch of their managed service cloud solution for Pivotal Cloud Foundry and other cloud native technologies. Benefits to managed service subscribers include lower operational costs, a greater focus on app development, faster time to market, and accelerated feedback loops, which leads to faster problem resolution and higher quality end products. Stark & Wayne also announced SHIELD v8.1, now in Tile form, for PCF Operations Manager customers. SHIELD is a flexible and secure data protection solution for cloud data systems. Built on AES-256 encryption with randomized keys, and leveraging native backup / restore mechanisms like Percona Xtrabackup and BBR, it allows operators to sleep well knowing their critical data is protected.


SUSE announced SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4, the first software distribution to introduce Cloud Foundry Application Runtime in an entirely Kubernetes-native architecture, will be available in April. SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4 includes a technology preview of Project Eirini that allows operators to take greater advantage of the widely adopted Kubernetes container scheduler. The new Kubernetes-native Eirini implementation deepens integration of Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, further bringing the advanced Cloud Foundry developer experience to Kubernetes environments and giving users the ability to choose either Kubernetes or Diego as their container schedule. Whether customers choose Kubernetes or Diego, the developer experience is the same. SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4 furthers SUSE’s commitment to supporting customers’ multi-cloud environments by adding support for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Google’s managed Kubernetes service, in addition to existing cloud support for Amazon EKS and Azure AKS, on-premises support with SUSE CaaS Platform, and multi-cloud support bridged by the Stratos UI.


Swisscom announced new features of the Swisscom Application Cloud: true security with encryption plan for S3 dynamic storage and auto-scaling of applications based on the Cloud Foundry Platform Application Cloud from Swisscom. Swisscom continues to enhance its cloud with upcoming new features are waiting to be announced, which will be developed and made available by the strong commitment of the community.
TIBCO its market-leading API management platform, TIBCO Cloud(TM) Mashery, is now cloud native. The platform can now be deployed anywhere, including certified support for PKS to make Kubernetes deployments easy, and integration with DevOps tooling even easier. TIBCO also released new capabilities to create cloud native integration apps via its API-led integration offering TIBCO Cloud(TM) Integration and BusinessWorks(TM) Container Edition for Cloud Foundry Container Runtime and Pivotal Cloud Foundry 2.x.

Enterprise developers, architects, engineers and executives from around the world are expected to attend the Philadelphia Summit. Attendees will learn about Cloud Foundry from those who build and use it every day. They will join other developers, end users and CIOs to gain first-hand access to Cloud Foundry roadmaps, training and tutorials, and to see how others are using Cloud Foundry to support continuous innovation and application portability.

Today the first-ever Contributors Summit takes place to foster community among open source project contributors and enable technical roadmap discussions. Tuesday’s Hackathon winners will be announced on-stage during Thursday morning keynotes.

On Thursday, Cloud Foundry Foundation will host its annual diversity luncheon at Summit, which will feature a diverse line-up of speakers and panelists discussing digital accessibility, advocacy and mentorship, gender equity and more. This event is co-sponsored by IBM Cloud and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Find the full schedule here.

Cloud Foundry is an open source technology backed by the largest technology companies in the world, including Dell EMC, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP and SUSE, and is being used by leaders in manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services. Only Cloud Foundry delivers the velocity needed to continuously deliver apps at the speed of business. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture runs apps in any language on your choice of cloud — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, VMware vSphere, and more. With a robust services ecosystem and simple integration with existing technologies, Cloud Foundry is the modern standard for mission critical apps for global organizations.

 

Cash ManagementForeign Direct InvestmentPrivate FundsStock MarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Can You Predict The Future Price of Bitcoin?

You can’t spend five minutes reading about cryptocurrencies without stumbling across at least one prediction for the future price of Bitcoin.

Across forums, social media, newsletters, blogs, news sites and every other corner of the internet — financial analysts, expert investors, bankers, tech icons, and new enthusiasts offer up their views.

Some cite careful analysis, some base it on past trends. While others are guessing or acting on their ‘intuition.’ Their predictions are varied, ranging from a plummet to zero, to millions.

With all this noise surrounding the Bitcoin price, you might be wondering whom to believe. Or if you should believe anyone at all. Is it possible to predict the future?

Investing begins with education, not buying. So it’s important to think about the information you base your buying decisions on.

How do people make price predictions?

There are two types of analysis used for predictions: fundamental and technical.

They’re used for everything from the stock market to Bitcoin. While other types of analysis do exist, these are the main ones.

Fundamental analysis

Fundamental analysis is all about intrinsic value. You look at the factors that give something value, then decide if it’s under or overvalued. Publicly traded companies release lots of information to help with this. So, for a stock you might look at a company’s:

  • Revenue (how much money it’s making)
  • Profit margins (how much of the revenue is profit)
  • Growth potential (how much money it could make in the future)
  • Management (how competent the people in charge are)

Some of these factors can be defined in numbers. Others come down to the judgement of the analyst.

For a cryptocurrency, you might look at its:

  • Price growth (how the price has grown over time)
  • Scalability (if it has the potential to keep growing)
  • Security (if the network is secure and safe from attacks

​Technical analysis

Technical analysis is different as it focuses on an asset’s price, not the asset itself. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase ‘past performance is not an indicator of future performance.’ But technical analysis bases future predictions on the past. This can be based on a short time frame (hours or even minutes) or long (months or years.)

To do this, you look for patterns and trends in price charts, such as:

  • The average price over a chosen time span
  • The price at which a lot of investors start buying
  • The price at which a lot of investors start selling
  • The overall price trend

Do fundamental and technical analyses work?

There’s no straightforward answer to that question. Both techniques can be useful, but they also have their limitations for cryptocurrencies.

Fundamental analysis works when investors base their decisions on fundamentals. This isn’t always the case for Bitcoin. Many investors base their decisions on the decisions they expect others to make.

Technical analysis assumes that a market follows rational rules and patterns. It’s less useful for cryptocurrencies because the market is still young. There isn’t as much past data to analyse. Cryptocurrencies also have less liquidity than something like stocks.

Self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecies

When we talk about price predictions, we run into an important concept: self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Making a prediction about the future can end up changing what actually happens.

The prediction about the future creates the future.

This isn’t the case when we talk about a system like the weather because we can’t change it.

But when you make predictions for a system involving people, it’s different.

Hearing predictions can cause people to change their behaviour.

Sometimes this happens in a way that prevents the prediction from coming true — a self-defeating prophecy — or it can cause the prediction to come true — a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Predictions about cryptocurrency prices have the power to influence how investors act. If it’s predicted the Bitcoin price will increase, this encourages more people to buy. This can drive up the price, and vice versa.

That brings us to incentives.

The issue of intentions

Incentives are what motivate people to do what they do. It’s an important concept in investing. Financial gain is a powerful driving force.

Most investors understandably want to do whatever will make them the most money. This can include making predictions that benefit them.

Let’s say you come across an article where the author claims Bitcoin will be worth $100,000 by December 1st 2019. Rather than taking that at face value, it’s important to ask: why are they saying this? If they know for certain, why don’t they put all their money into Bitcoin, and make a huge profit? Why are they sharing that information?

Likewise, if someone claims Bitcoin will drop, you might wonder why they’re saying that. If they know for certain, why don’t they keep quiet, short it, and make a big profit?

In both cases, we need to consider the underlying incentives.

If someone stands to profit from the Bitcoin price increasing, it’s natural they’ll predict it’s going to do that. They’re hoping this will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone stands to benefit from it decreasing or to suffer if it increases, it’s not unexpected that they’ll predict it’s going to decrease.

Luck and probability

But if no one can predict the future, how come some people do make correct predictions?

Maybe you heard that your brother’s roommate’s cousin’s coworker’s uncle correctly predicted the price of Bitcoin. Or you’ve seen someone on Youtube who seems to always get it right.

The fact that no one can predict the future doesn’t mean no one can make correct predictions.

It comes down to luck, probabilities, and information asymmetries.

First, luck. Every day, thousands of people make predictions about Bitcoin prices. It’s inevitable that some of them will be correct by luck.

As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. With so many people making predictions, it’s likely a percentage of them will be correct.

When professional forecasters make predictions, they usually base them on probabilities. What’s the most likely outcome? A weather forecaster might say it’s going to rain tomorrow because there’s a 62% probability. They don’t know it for sure. It’s just more likely than not.

Then there’s insider information. If you know something most investors don’t, you have a big advantage. For example, if you have insider information that Apple is about to release a new product, it’s reasonable to expect the stock will go up. But other investors buying Apple stock aren’t aware of that information, so they can’t predict it.

Insider information is less meaningful for cryptocurrencies. There’s a less direct link between fundamentals and prices. Events that seem like they should cause an increase or decrease can do the opposite or nothing.

Conclusion

The next time you look at a cryptocurrency price chart, imagine a crowd of people in a stadium, all moving at different times but appearing to create an organised rippling motion. Because that’s what you’re seeing: the combined actions of many people.

There’s no mystical, secret order to it. There’s just lots of people making decisions based on the information they receive.

Cash ManagementFundsRisk ManagementWealth Management

Samuel Knight International on track to continue major growth following investment

Samuel Knight International, the global recruitment and project man-power specialist headquartered in Newcastle, has announced significant investment from Gresham House Ventures. Samuel Knight, which was established in 2014 and has offices in London and Bristol, provides skills and energy solutions to the energy and rail sectors on a permanent, contract and temporary basis.

The company has demonstrated impressive growth since its formation. Last year, it achieved £13m turnover and took home ‘Team of the Year’ at the Great British Entrepreneur awards. 2018 also saw Samuel Knight securing major new client contracts in more than 30 countries, boosting headcount and expanding the business to accommodate business growth.

The growth capital investment from Gresham House Ventures, using funds from the Baronsmead Venture Capital Trusts, will fund Samuel Knight’s near-term growth plans. These include increasing headcount at the offices in Bristol and London and adding local talent to the Newcastle team, from entry level graduates to experienced consultants. The company is also planning international expansion with the potential acquisition of two sites abroad.

The recruitment drive is geared up to support expansion across the energy and rail space given increasing demand from clients and candidates. Samuel Knight is focusing on achieving greater market share and boosting awareness of the brand through targeted marketing and business development. The investment will also allow Samuel Knight to further invest in technology to continue innovation within the business.

Steven Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight said: “We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve with the investment, and how this will help us to support commercial goals. We are delighted to have secured the funding from Gresham House Ventures, who share in our ambition and vision to grow the business. The investment will enable us to strengthen our global offer, expansion plans and team growth.”

Paul Kaiser, Katy Lamb and Michael McCulloch from UNW LLP provided financial advice to Samuel Knight International.

Katy Lamb, Senior Corporate Finance Manager at UNW who led the transaction said: “Having worked with the business since late 2017, helping management prepare for the investment, we were delighted to advise on the finance raise and have enjoyed working with such a dynamic, fast-growing business. It’s also great to see investment into the North East.”

Steve Cordiner, Director at Gresham House said: “Steven and the Samuel Knight team have done a fantastic job in growing the business so rapidly in such a short time period and we are proud to be partnering with such an ambitious team. There is huge scope for Samuel Knight to expand globally and we look forward to supporting the business on this phase of its journey.”

Anthony Evans, Adam Rayner and Harry Hobson from Muckle LLP provided legal advice to Samuel Knight International.

Shoosmiths LLP provided legal advice to Gresham House and Dow Schofield Watts provided the financial due diligence.
The Gresham House Ventures team invests equity of up to £5m in growth businesses, supporting founders with bold ambitions for the future, whilst providing transformational capital and expertise to accelerate business potential.

Cash ManagementFundsPrivate Funds

Underestimating the digital wealth start-up threat

A recent report from GlobalData found that only 10% of wealth managers perceive robo-advisors as an immediate threat.  With the entire financial industry racing towards widespread digital adoption, it begs the question – shouldn’t they be more worried?John Wise, CEO, Co-Founder and Chairman of InvestCloud investigates.

The biggest mistake wealth managers are making is holding on to the long-standing belief that robo-advisors will only serve the lower retail market. This is the same mistake ‘brick and mortar’ stores made in sizing up Amazon as a threat; they fail to appreciate the competitive advantage a digital platform has.

Many high earners are turning to robo-advisors and digital processes for a better return on their portfolio. A recent survey from InvestCloud found that 49% of investors are using mobile apps to manage their wealth. A further 48% are using a firm’s digital offerings as a key differentiator when choosing their manager. As investors continue to be more digitally savvy, this will certainly increase.

As things stand, digital can feel like the enemy to traditional wealth managers.

The need for hybrid wealth management

What many wealth management firms are failing to recognise is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. By deploying a hybrid model of digital and traditional services, these firms can compete successfully in this changing digital environment.  

Traditional ‘brick and mortar’ wealth managers are faced with two key challenges today. The first of these is the well-documented fee compression. The second is the transfer of wealth from aging boomers to younger, more tech savvy and less financially educated generations – Generation X, Millennials and – soon – Generation Z.

At this inflection point, everyone has one question on their mind: How are firms going to attract new clients and retain existing ones in a cost-effective manner? 

The hybrid model of human and digital advice means advisers can use cost-effective technology from the robo space and combine it with differentiated and engaging client experience. This will be key to serving younger demographics. Hybrid advisors will be able to scale like a robo-adviser, being able to serve more clients, while ensuring continued engagement with existing clients through face to face interactions and digital empathy tools.

This change is already happening. Those who can see it as an opportunity and not as a threat will have the upper hand.

Creating a truly personailsed digital service

 

While automation plays a critical role in increasing a firm’s profitability, it is only one side of the equation. Clients will measure the quality of a service by what they see, so continually improving the quality of their digital experience is critical.

When an adviser cannot speak and interact with clients face-to-face, it can often be difficult to create and maintain a strong relationship that keeps a client sticking with your business. Instead, advisers need to create the same level of service online. Financial institutions instead need to build digital relationships, where each client can be engaged on their own terms.

This is why the digital experience is so important. It is not just about providing online services – wealth management clients also require a truly personalised, beautifully designed, intuitive and easy-to-work-with platform that caters to all their individual needs.

But this should not be one-sided. The client and adviser portals need to be directly linked, so the adviser can see what the client is looking at, or even influence the dialogue remotely using chat, video or direct messaging. This way, advisers can deliver complete personalisation.

The importance of data

Firms can not solely focus on the client-facing aspects of their business. Looking behind the scenes is equally important.

Getting information correct and accessible is key to success when operating at scale. Adopting a data warehouse is the most important aspect of any digital strategy. Information is power – but only if it is correct, gathered in one place, and is in a structured format.

Many traditional firms fail to appreciate how information from correctly managed data can be leveraged to better serve their customers. To use the Amazon analogy again – the amount of client information they can use from customer profiles is something brick and mortar stores can only dream of.

Using the right digital platform, wealth managers can collect client data, but also monitor how this information changes. For example, they can see which demographic pays closest attention to market changes, or how a client’s investment objective or risk tolerance changes over time.

Those using the right digital platforms can access deep behavioral analytics, which in turn helps them support more clients with less resources. Data in today’s digital environment goes beyond ‘csv’ files to include text, chat, documents, and pictures. Imagine an advisor on a call where the client is asking about a recent capital call transaction. Centralised platforms enable advisors to access all relevant client information, including primary documents from the custodian or fund administrator.  

The last piece of the puzzle is adoption. How are digital platforms helping wealth management firms increase adoption and retain existing clients?

Behavioral science functions combine unique and customisable digital personas. The right platform will allow financial institutions to connect with all their clients, despite vast differences in wealth, age, outlooks, and all the numerous facets that make them unique. Digital engagement requires human empathy, and personalised platforms can make each user feel  that their financial concerns are understood, whether they are Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennials.

These elements are what constitutes a great overall digital strategy in 2019. Armed with the right tools, advisers will have an advantage over the robo advisers.

This is the holy grail of hybrid wealth management: Automated digital processes combined with the advantage of human insight. Being able to undertake ad hoc tasks for clients or difficult-to-do exercises that are a challenge, can now be automated with the click of a button. Digital empathy – expressed through the right tools – will set you apart. Longer retention, higher AUM growth and improved quality and operational efficiency all await.

With the right digital strategy, robo advisers have nothing on you.

ArticlesCash ManagementWealth Management

The 5th Money Laundering Directive; mandating the use of electronic verification

Money launderers using increasingly sophisticated methods of moving illegally-earned cash through criminal networks. In response, anti-money laundering (AML) law is constantly evolving, and successive legislative updates reflect the EU’s determination to keep pace.

Following the Panama Papers, Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, the 5th Money Laundering Directive – published in the European Journal in June 2018 – made some important amendments in an attempt to counteract terrorist financing and increase the transparency of financial transactions.

One of the biggest changes was the stipulation that electronic verification is used when undertaking Customer Due Diligence and Know Your Customer procedures.

Member states will have until late 2019 to implement the 5th Money Laundering Directive. As we know, the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, but the UK Government has already committed to implementing the Directive to ensure its position as a major international financial player.

Electronic verification must be used where possible

Regulated businesses have always been able to use electronic verification as either an alternative or supplementary to traditional documents such as passports, driving licences and utility bills. But with the 5th Directive now stipulating that electronic verification is used where possible, regtech has been thrust into the spotlight.

The preamble to the Directive reads: “Accurate identification and verification of data of natural and legal persons are essential for fighting money laundering or terrorist financing. The latest technical developments in the digitalisation of transactions and payments enable a secure remote or electronic identification”.

It then goes on to state the following “Those means of identification as set out in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council should be taken into account, in particular with regard to notified electronic identification schemes and ways of ensuring cross-border legal recognition, which offer high-level secure tools and provide a benchmark against which the identification methods set up at national level may be checked. In addition, other secure remote or electronic identification processes, regulated, recognised, approved or accepted at national level by the national competent authority may be taken into account”.

While not all European countries have electronic identification solutions, the UK has a long-standing acceptance of such methods of identification and as a result, leads Europe in terms of regtech. In fact Of the 60 European companies on the RegTech 100 list, half were from the UK, up from 26 last year, which shows just how dominant the UK is in this sector and how much it is growing.

Commercial PEP and Sections solutions needed

The Directive also requires member states to produce lists of politically exposed persons (PEP). However, these lists will not give specific names, just the position of these individuals, which means there will still be the need for commercial PEP and sanctions platforms that collate and maintain these databases.

New Central Registers of Beneficial Owners

The UK has always tended to “gold plate” the money laundering directives when enacting them into legislation, but this has not been the case with many other European members; under the 5th Directive, this will have to change. Following the 5th directive, member states must create central registers of beneficial owners and must allow a clear rule of public access so that third parties can establish who the beneficial owners of corporate and other legal entities are.  

Art dealers now come under AML regulations

Another interesting change under the 5th Directive brings in new business sectors for the first time including art dealers dealing with transactions over 10,000 EUR, all forms of tax advisory services and estate/letting agents where the monthly rent is 10,000 EUR or more.

Tougher rules on Virtual Currency Exchange Platforms and Custodian Wallet Providers

One of the ‘increasingly sophisticated’ methods launders use to facilitate terrorist financing and money laundering is virtual currencies.

In response, the 5th Directive stipulated that virtual currency exchange platforms (VCEP) and custodian wallet providers (CWP) will now have to register with national authorities, undertake customer due diligence, monitor transactions and report suspicious transactions.

It is hoped that as a result of these new regulations FIUs will be able to monitor and detect terrorist financing and money laundering through virtual currencies

The 5th Directive also calls for member states to create central databases comprised of virtual currency users’ identities and wallet addresses.

What happens next?

Member states have to amend their existing legislation or create new laws to bring the 5th Directive changes into force, which in the UK, this means the Government will need to amend the 2017 money laundering regulation which came into force last year or create a whole new piece of legislation.

All regulated firms – those that are regulated now and will be following the changes in the 5th directive – should be aware of these changes and what they mean in terms of their own compliance. SmartSearch can provide a one-stop shop for electronic verification checks – PEP, KYC and sanctions -giving firms the peace of mind that they are meeting all their money laundering regulations.

By Martin Cheek, MD, SmartSearch
FundsMarketsRegulationWealth Management

FTI Consulting Resilience Barometer Sheds Light on Lack of Business Preparedness

At this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, FTI Consulting launched their inaugural 2019 Resilience Barometer which explores how G20 companies are tackling an interconnected, technologically disrupted and increasingly regulated world. Astonishingly, the report has found that whilst companies anticipate challenges, such as cybersecurity and data, they remain largely unprepared.

 

In an age categorised by the WEF as “The Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR), it is more important than ever for G20 companies to be instrumental in supporting societies and governments navigating unavoidable uncertainty and volatility. FTI Consulting’s new report outlines the key challenges we face as we move into 2019 by investigating company preparedness to 18 scenarios which could have a negative impact on turnover, value and reputation.

 

Highlights of the report include:

  • The resilience score for the G20 is only 40 points (out of a top score of 100 points) and turnover has been lowered by an average of 5.1% over the last 12 months, a major cause for concern in an environment that is growing more and more challenging.
  • We have found that the biggest threat to resilience in 2019 is that of ‘cyber-attacks stealing or compromising assets’ and 30% of companies we surveyed said this had happened to them in 2018. Yet whilst 28% of business leaders predict that this will occur to them over the next year, just 45% say that they are taking proactive steps to manage this risk.
  • 87% of companies expect a major crisis in 2019, yet only 4 in 10 are very confident in their ability to manage such a scenario.
  • One-third (1/3) of companies acknowledged that they are not doing enough to keep their data safe.

Kevin Hewitt, Chairman of FTI Consulting EMEA region explained that: “This report looks to identify and unpick the challenges, and opportunities, that companies are facing today as they manage risk and enhance their corporate value. More must be done to ensure sufficient infrastructure and processes are in place to proactively manage business threats in 2019. With significant expertise and experience, FTI Consulting is well placed to help businesses effectively respond in an effective and efficient way.”

 

Following the launch of the FTI 2019 Resilience Barometer, FTI Consulting will be attending the WEF in Davos this week and are available for more in-depth analysis of these results and how FTI Consulting can help your company build resilience and protect value in the face of challenges brought about by the 4IR.

Cash ManagementRisk ManagementWealth Management

YOTHA LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE INNOVATIVE NEW PLATFORM WILL MAKE YACHT CHARTERING SIMPLER, FASTER AND FAIRER

YOTHA, the new digital yacht charter platform connecting owners, charterers and yachting professionals, has launched worldwide with a promise to bring trust and transparency to the yachting market.

YOTHA’s digital technology will make yacht chartering faster, simpler and more straightforward and www.yotha.com will become an invaluable tool for everyone involved in the industry.

YOTHA offers a unique chartering experience, allowing customers to negotiate directly with the owner’s representative, book their trip online and then benefit from a free concierge service which helps them to create their own bespoke itinerary.

More than 100 of the world’s finest luxury yachts are available for charter on the platform, which has launched worldwide for the 2019 season after a beta version was successfully tested last summer. Hundreds more yachts from the global charter fleet will be added to the platform in the coming months.

YOTHA was founded by Philippe Bacou, who has owned and chartered luxury yachts for more than 15 years. Frustrated by his own experiences as an owner, he decided to create a unique digital platform that would enrich the charter experience, shaking up the market in the same way that Booking.com has revolutionised the hotel industry.

By making chartering easier, YOTHA will expand the market and attract a new generation of charterers. Its unique features include:

  • A facility to negotiate the charter price online, supervised by a 24/7 customer care service
  • Substantially reduced commissions – YOTHA takes an 8% commission if a yacht is booked directly through the platform, or 4% if the booking is made through a broker, compared to the standard industry commissions of 15% to the broker and an additional 5% to the central agent
  • A simple, fair electronic charter contract balancing the interests of charterers, owners and professionals
  • All financial transactions secured and guaranteed under the supervision of FINMA, the Swiss banking regulator
  • Partnerships with luxury brands, including award-winning concierge service Quintessentially Switzerland, and leading yacht service providers

YOTHA will encourage more owners to charter their yachts because they will have greater flexibility, including shorter charters and more off-season deals. It will empower their captains, allowing them to connect with charterers through the YOTHA app in advance of their trip to plan the perfect itinerary whilst providing all their favourite food and drink on board.

Amongst the 114 yachts currently registered for charter on the online platform are some of the best-known super yachts in the global fleet, including the 90m Lauren L, the award-winning 50m Vertige and the 55m Mustique. Smaller motor yachts and sailing boats are also available on the platform. Yachts are available for the end of the Winter season in the Caribbean and the upcoming Summer season in the Mediterranean.

Philippe Bacou, Owner and Founder of YOTHA says:

“I am excited that YOTHA now opens the way for the digital transformation of the luxury yachting industry. Our ambition is that our innovative new solution for chartering will improve the customer experience, offer new services and help attract new customers to luxury yachting. We are keen to explore fresh ways of expanding the charter business and want to form partnerships with investors, brokers and other key industry players.”

“At YOTHA, we hope to increase the size of the market both in charter volume and services through in-depth industry co-operation”

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the Yacht charter industry and we hope to improve the experience for everyone involved in the industry: charterers, brokers, agents, captains, crews and owners.”

Private ClientPrivate FundsWealth Management

REDCABIN ANNOUNCES AIRCRAFT CABIN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING SUMMIT

• Conference takes place from 6 – 7 March at the Etihad Airways Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi
• Hosted by Etihad Airways Engineering
• Features keynote speeches and interactive workshops from Etihad Airways Engineering, Airbus, Diehl Aviation, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa Technik

BERLIN: Aviation conference specialist, RedCabin, today announces its Aircraft Cabin Additive Manufacturing summit to take place 6 – 7 March at the iconic Etihad Airways Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Hosted by Etihad Airways Engineering, the summit aims to bring together leading figures from the world of aviation to collaborate and innovate new ways for the industry – and passengers – to benefit from additive manufacturing (AM).

The lifespan of an aircraft, typically between 20 – 30 years, makes maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) a key component for airlines that want to keep up with changing consumer trends and evolving technologies. According to a recent Airbus Global Market Forecast, the MRO market in commercial aviation is set to double in the next 20 years to $120 billion – presenting a significant opportunity for 3D printing to reshape aircraft design and maintenance.

The RedCabin summit will host senior executives from the world’s leading airlines, manufacturers, and suppliers of 3D printing solutions to discuss challenges in the aviation industry and formulate new ways to collaborate. Attending this year’s conference are senior level personnel from companies such as Etihad Airways Engineering, Air France KLM, Air New Zealand, Safran, Airbus and ASTM International.

Across two days of keynote speeches, panel discussions and interactive working groups, delegates can network with industry figures and participate in open and honest discussions focussed on ways to support the manufacture and development of AM products, as well as how to accelerate the creation of a standardised framework for certification.

Monica Wick, founder and CEO of RedCabin commented: “Additive manufacturing has huge potential to alleviate supply chain constraints, reduce waste and support the development of new lightweight products – ushering a new era in commercial aviation. The summit represents a vision for a better future, creating a forum for progress whereby those working in the aviation industry can share their knowledge and experiences to support positive change.

“I would also like to give a special thank you to our commercial partner BASF, and our event sponsors: EOS and Stratasys. Their support has ensured RedCabin can continue to be a hotbed for innovation.”

For more information, please visit: https://aircraft-cabin-additive-manufacturing.redcabin.de/

To download the full conference agenda, click here.

Derivatives and Structured ProductsWealth Management

Ted Baker partners with Kickdynamic to drive customer engagement with live, automated and personalized email marketing content.

Global lifestyle brand, Ted Baker, has implemented Kickdynamic’s technology to transform its email marketing and achieve its goal to deliver true one-to-one personalization.

 

Ted Baker, the quintessentially British brand famed for its quirky yet commercial fashion offering and unique, playful storytelling, has partnered with Kickdynamic to offer live, automated and personalized email to their customers. Through this partnership, Ted Baker is reducing its internal manual email build processes, increasing customer engagement and enhancing the performance of its email marketing by delivering relevant content in real-time.

 

Ted Baker has grown steadily from its origins as a single shirt specialist store in Glasgow in 1988 to the global lifestyle brand it is today. It offers menswear, womenswear, accessories and more, and has a physical retail presence in 39 of the 50 countries in which it’s available.

 

The brand has embraced the power of digital marketing, putting the customer and brand experience first in everything it does and its creative freedom allows it to create content that sets it apart from its competitors.

 

 “Our partnership with Kickdynamic allows us to talk to our customers in a targeted, relevant and personal way, at scale and in real time. We have reduced the time it takes to design and build personalised email content, allowing my team to focus on delivering surprising and delightful customer experiences, instead of cumbersome, frustrating and restrictive processes.” Claire Holden, Head of Customer, Ted Baker.

 

“1-2-1 personalization in marketing and especially email has been talked about for a long time. It is not secret that it works, however the manual process of building email has been a long-standing barrier. We are excited that Ted Baker is embracing Kickdynamic technology to remove this manual barrier and move to automation to achieve their email personalization goals.” Matt Hayes, CEO, Kickdynamic.

Real EstateWealth Management

Vent-Axia’s Energy Efficient Ventilation just the Ticket for Luxury Eco Mansion

Picture credit: © Recent Spaces

Leading British fan manufacturer Vent-Axia has been specified as part of a luxurious, £5.5m contemporary off-plan eco mansion in Kent, presently listed with Savills. The Ancona mansion in Hythe is designed to be sustainable and low impact, with three of Vent-Axia’s Sentinel Kinetic High Flow Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) units chosen to provide quiet, energy efficient and effective ventilation and heating throughout the proposed 8,323 square foot home.

Envisaged by developer, Kelly Penson, and designed in conjunction with OnArchitecture working with energy advisors and Passivhaus consultants, Conker Conservation, Ancona is a rare opportunity in the UK to buy a luxury home off-plan. Resembling a Beverly Hills mansion but designed for the British weather, the plans show how a modern build can combine very contemporary aesthetics with sustainable living. The proposed home features cantilevered terraces with wild flower sedum grass roof coverings, three above ground floors, an indoor pool complex and gym, a master bedroom suite with magnificent panoramic sea views and a modern, stylishly-lit wine cellar.

The comprehensive Vent-Axia MVHR system, specified and designed by Built Environment Technology Ltd, harnesses geothermal temperatures for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, all controlled via a tablet or phone. There are three ventilation zones – the garage; the ground floor including the gym and communal area between the gym and spa; and the 1st and 2nd floors, each with a designated Sentinel Kinetic High Flow MVHR unit.

“MVHR is an integral part of any Ecohome, Ancona is designed to be almost airtight making air changes via MVHR essential. Vent-Axia’s Sentinel Kinetic MVHR offers pre-conditioned air changes taking heat from outgoing air and applying it to fresh air. Ancona will be a calm, comfortable airy space which will be pollen free and help ensure good indoor air quality”, said Kelly Penson from EcoMansions. People are feeling increasing pressure from society and peers to be much more mindful of our carbon footprints and our impact on this planet. At EcoMansions we aim to provide our clients with more environmentally friendly legacies to enjoy. Our ethos is to provide luxury contemporary homes using the very best available eco friendly technology, products and materials wherever possible to provide the best achievable low energy efficiencies and therefore homes fit to endure our ever-changing climatic conditions.”

The Sentinel Kinetic MVHR units have integral humidity sensors for intelligent air quality control. The sensor increases speed in proportion to relative humidity levels, saving energy and reducing noise. It also reacts to small but rapid increases in humidity, even if the normal trigger threshold is not reached. This unique feature ensures adequate ventilation, even for the smallest wet room. A summer bypass provides passive cooling when conditions allow whilst a frost protection mode ensures maximum ventilation during the coldest periods. A digital controller is mounted on the front of the units and a remotely-wired version has also been included for each.

Ancona uses geothermal ducting that feeds into the three Sentinel Kinetic MVHR units with manual shut-off dampers included for each MVHR Unit, to provide the option of geothermal or atmospheric intake air. Geothermal ducting will provide some free cooling in the summer and some free heating in the winter, which will create a wonderful clean and healthy air quality and year-round temperature in the home. In addition, pollen filters on the MVHR will help hay fever sufferers and inhabitants suffering from other allergies such as dust. Where the MVHR air outlets and inlets penetrate the thermal envelope, appropriate insulating material has been specified to ensure minimum heat loss.

EcoMansions’ goal is to create a substantial home that costs no more to run than a normal family home, even including the existence of both a pool and jacuzzi, with a predicted A-Grade (96) EPC & SAP rated living space. The project is designed with triple glazing and a solid wall construction incorporating 100% recyclable clay blocks. Materials are, wherever possible, made from or with recyclable, recycled, sustainable, low carbon footprint materials without compromising the very high specification and performance of the home. An 8kW solar PV panel system has been included in the design to help keep the low energy house inexpensive to run and provide much if not all of the electrical energy requirements for the home. Battery banks have been specified to store excess energy from the daylight hours to use at night time.

Low carbon, energy saving and clean, Sentinel Kinetic High Flow MVHR is ideal for larger homes and offers a whole building heat recovery system combining supply and extract ventilation in one unit. Warm, moist air is extracted from ‘wet’ rooms through ducting and passed through the heat exchanger before being exhausted outside and fresh incoming air is preheated via the integral heat exchanger. The unit can extract from up to fourteen wet rooms and a communal kitchen while still achieving almost 90% heat recovery. It has two fully adjustable speeds and a purge setting and its energy saving Vent-Axia DC motors further improves efficiency and carbon reductions.

The units benefit from the latest high efficiency, backward curved impeller design, ensuring the lowest possible energy consumption, ultra quiet operation and an exceptional performance range covering small one bed apartments to the largest of houses. Recognised in SAP PCDB, the lightweight MVHR unit is simple to install with a horizontal duct option for space-saving installations and a unique folding filter for removal when access is restricted. The models can be mounted vertically in a roof space or on a suitable wall and ducting can be attached to the unit horizontally, vertically or both. Left or right-hand installation further adds to its installation flexibility.

To find out more about Ancona visit https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gblhchcks180166. For further information on all products and services offered by Vent-Axia telephone 0844 856 0590 or visit www.vent-axia.com.

Cash ManagementFinanceFunds of FundsHedgeWealth Management

BUY YOURSELF A HORSE WITH BITCOIN

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!

 

More information on: https://equinox-racing.co.uk

BankingFinanceFundsWealth Management

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.

 

Share Class Name

TER

Exchange

Trading Ccy

Exchange Code

ISIN

WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF – USD Acc

0.40%

 

LSE

USD

WTAI

IE00BDVPNG13

WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF – USD Acc

0.40%

 

LSE

GBx

INTL

IE00BDVPNG13

ArticlesFinanceRisk ManagementWealth Management

IVA or bankruptcy: what is the best solution for your debts?

If you are suffering from severe cash flow issues, you may be considering both bankruptcy or an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). Bankruptcy and IVAs are both legally-binding and formal insolvency options between you and your creditors. However, while they might appear similar, there are some vast differences to consider before entering into one of the procedures. Most importantly, you should always seek insolvency advice before doing so to ensure you are not impacting your future finances.

 

With that in mind, Business Rescue Expert – a licensed insolvency practitioner firm – is sharing the difference between the two and what you can expect from both insolvency procedures.

 

Choosing an IVA or bankruptcy

Recently, both insolvency procedures have hit the news due to a number of high-profile celebrities suffering cash flow issues. Katie Price is the most recent victim, with her bankruptcy woes documented in the media. However, she is certainly not the only to face cash flow issues, with the total number of individual insolvencies continuing to rise in 2018. The Q2 Insolvency Service report made for particularly tough reading, with the number of individual insolvencies at its highest since Q1 2012. IVAs accounted for 62% of the total, with bankruptcy behind a further 14%.

 

Individual voluntary arrangements were, originally, intended as a better alternative to bankruptcy. IVAs are, generally, considered the more suitable option for those with assets they wish to protect. The procedure is defined as ‘less extreme’ than bankruptcy and also provides moratorium for the individual, with the breathing space helping to regain control of the issue and get to the root cause of the cash flow problems. However, an IVA is a much longer procedure than bankruptcy, and you could be tied up in the process for up to seven years.

 

Bankruptcy, on the other hand, is often considered as it is much shorter than an IVA – typically lasting no longer than 12 months. Unlike an IVA, however, your assets will be forfeit, and that could include your vehicle and house.

 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to each and, if you are not particularly savvy as to those, we suggest seeking advice to ensure you go down the right path.

 

Can the procedures affect my home?

The effect of the procedures on your home is a common cause of worry for many. If you do enter an IVA procedure, you will not be forced to sell your home. However, if it is highly possible that you could be asked to remortgage six months prior to the end of your IVA to free up any capital to repay your debts. This will only ever happen, though, if it is affordable for you. If not, an additional 12 months may be added to your IVA.

 

In the case of bankruptcy, however, your home will likely be affected. If there is any equity tied up in the house, your creditors may ask you to sell to repay their debts. Either way, you should seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

What about my car?

Another major cause for concern is your vehicle. IVAs ae much longer procedures than bankruptcy and, as such, you are likely to be able to keep your car. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for bankruptcy, as the sale of your car could offer a large contribution to your debts. However, if you do require your car/van for your trade and rely on the vehicle to make money and repay your debts, you will, likely, be able to keep it. If this is the case, you must speak to your bankruptcy trustee immediately.

 

Could my job be impacted?

When you do enter insolvency or bankruptcy, the details will be made public. While that doesn’t mean a front page story in your local newspaper, your details will be placed on the Insolvency Register. Similarly, a notice will be placed in The Gazette for your creditors to find. If you work in the finance industry or are a director of a company, both procedures can significantly affect your standing.

 

If you file for bankruptcy, you cannot act as a director of a limited company. However, there is no such prohibition with an IVA. But, there is likely to be restrictions on handling client’s funds and some companies may have stipulations in their contracts for hiring those who have entered or are in the procedures.

 

Why choose an IVA?

There are many reasons to choose an IVA – especially as the consequences appear less severe than bankruptcy. The IVA will be completed after no more than seven years and you can then begin building your credit. Whilst you are in the procedure, your creditors cannot make further demands for repayments or take legal action against you for the debts. Similarly, your assets are afforded more protection, with also far less consequences on your future career – particularly if you are hoping to act as a director for a company.

It’s also important to note the disadvantages, however. If you are looking for a short arrangement with your creditors, you must be aware than an IVA can last up to seven years. Your credit rating will also be affected due to the procedure, meaning you will have to work to build your credit report once complete.

 

Why choose bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy does come with advantages, especially for those that are looking to repay their debts quickly. It is completed in around 12 months. However, if there is any evidence of fraud – such as hiding your assets or not detailing all finances – the trustee could apply for a bankruptcy restriction order, meaning you could be deemed bankrupt indefinitely.

 

Similarly, if you don’t have many belongings/assets or equity tied up in your house, bankruptcy could prove a suitable option. Creditors cannot also demand anymore payments while in the procedure.

 

Like an IVA, bankruptcy does have its disadvantages. The procedure will, almost certainly, affect your ability to work in the finance sector and will stop you from acting as director of a company.

 

Ultimately, there are many differences between the two and any advice you can obtain can only help to ensure you choose the correct option.

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BORROWING £50 MORE FOR A CAR LOAN COULD SAVE YOU UP TO £1600 IN INTEREST

Borrowing more for a car loan could save you money, according to research by What Car? 

 

 

Borrowing just £50 more for a new car loan can make it cheaper than taking out a smaller loan according to new research by What Car?, the UK’s leading consumer advice champion.

Analysis of the UK’s leading high street lenders suggests that borrowing the extra amount could save motorists up to £1600 over the course of the repayment period.*

Loans of £5000 typically have lower interest rates than smaller loans. For example, the repayment total of a £5000 loan from TSB over four years comes in around £1300 cheaper than the repayment of a £4950 loan over the same period.

Similarly, at Lloyds the repayment on a £7500 loan over four years is £1601 less than the repayment for borrowing £7450.

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford said: “We would always recommend borrowing as little as possible, but where the loan amount is close to the threshold for a lower interest rate, borrowing as little as £50 extra could save you 10 times that amount, so borrowers should do their homework.”

This trend was most commonly seen when analysing borrowing of amounts between £4500 and £8000.

Research shows that UK motorists are increasingly using finance options to aid with the purchase of cars. Within the first six months of 2018 there was a rise of 8% in car finance lending, with it topping £10 billion.**

However, while taking out a slightly bigger loan can save you money, there is a cut-off point, with loans of more than £8000 costing the borrower more the more they borrow.Savvy shoppers are able to capitalise on these trends by not only borrowing smartly, but by using the What Car? Target Price on What Car? New Car Buying to ensure they get the best deal. 

Car finance top tips: 

Shop around – compare the types of finance available and choose the best option available to you

Don’t stretch yourself – only borrow within your means, making sure you can afford the repayments

Additional charges – be aware of additional charges and always read the small print of your loan to be sure you don’t end up with any nasty surprises