Category: Private Client

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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.”

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.

proserv
Private ClientWealth Management

Preserving a Heritage of Excellence

Preserving a Heritage of Excellence

Proserv is a global leader with a worldwide presence, offering a fresh alternative in the delivery of engineering and technical services to the energy, process and utility markets. We spoke to Andy Anderson, Regional President MEA at Proserv, to find out more about the company and its innovative services.

Andy, could you begin by providing our readers with a brief overview of Proserv Middle East and the services you offer?

“Proserv is a global leader and a fresh alternative in the delivery of engineering and technical services to the energy, process and utility markets, supporting clients throughout the lifecycle of their assets. We operate in six regions throughout 22 facilities and 12 countries, offering 24/7 local support services. Core to the Proserv offering is our ability to manufacture, deliver and support solutions locally through our highly experienced pool of technicians and engineers.

“We have been based in the UAE for over 25 years, largely servicing customers across the energy sector, including offshore and onshore services, equipment design and manufacturing. Proserv has supplied the vast majority of installed wellhead controls in the region through its legacy brands – Brisco, CAC and eProduction Solutions.

“We deliver a broad range of hydraulic safety shut down systems for wellheads, chemical injection systems, downhole and surface sampling systems, from bases across the region; all of which are backed up by a strong technical team who are able to install, commission and maintain equipment in the field.”

Talk us through your approach to client service. How do you maintain the high standards synonymous with the Proserv brand?

“Meeting and exceeding our clients’ expectations is vital to ensuring our ongoing success. We strive to develop and maintain this through establishing business relationships built upon experience, competency and trust. We focus on regular face-to-face engagement with our clients, taking the time to understand their requirements.

“We then revert with a solution that is in line with our company ethos – Ingenious Simplicity. This concept is based upon challenging convention in an industry that continues to ‘over engineer’. Ingenious Simplicity is about being flexible and responsive to clients’ needs, while reducing unnecessary levels of complexity in order to get the job done in a cost effective manner.”

Following on from this, what is it that makes Proserv Middle East unique? How do you distinguish yourselves from your competitors, and present yourselves as the best option for your clients?

“Proserv has an extensive brand heritage spanning over 40 years. Through our acquisitions, we have shown the importance of embracing this heritage alongside a commitment to constantly evolve and develop innovation.

“A key topic in our industry right now is ageing wells, and as a result E&Ps are searching for adequate partners to support their OEM requirements, without full system replacement. Many parts for the old wells are now obsolete or superseded and so Proserv has recognised this and positioned itself as a partner of choice who can re-engineer the part required to maintain production.

“Also, we actively listen and collaborate with our clients to find cost effective solutions for their maintenance and production issues. A great example of this was the development of our cost-effective Smart Box solution. Also, we are currently working on the development of an Asset Enhancement Global Intelligence Solution (AEGIS), which will be released, to our customers this June.

In order to provide quality services, exceptional staff are crucial, so please tell us more about the culture within Proserv Middle East and the things you do to maintain and develop it. What do you look for when attracting new staff and how do these traits help them integrate into your company?

“Our growth is driven by a team of dedicated and talented people who provide the company with expertise in engineering and business, creating pioneering solutions that allow us to remain competitive. As a service EPC, our people are our biggest asset and we nurture an environment that encourages creativity and employee-driven innovations.

“In the UAE, we employ more than 20 different nationalities and unite through a clear set of values. The five values – encompassing teamwork, service, communication, entrepreneurship and right thing, right way, guide each of our decisions and behaviours. When we recruit new people to join our team, we look beyond a person’s technical ability and experience and place emphasis on ensuring a person’s values are aligned to Proserv’s. Internally, we provide training for our staff, encouraging continuous development and learning through our internal ‘Proserv Academy’. One example is our ‘technician training school’ which we have developed and implemented for the needs of our Saudi business. The school will enable many young Saudis to gain the necessary skills to learn and develop as part of the Proserv family.”

As your regional headquarters are in the UAE, can you please tell us a bit more about the opportunities and challenges you experience being based there?

“The UAE has the world’s seventh largest proven reserves of both oil and natural gas, estimated at 97.8 million barrels and 215 trillion cubic feet. There is no doubt that oil will continue to provide income for both economic growth and the expansion of social services for decades to come. In the coming years, natural gas will play an increasingly important role in the UAE’s development – particularly as a fuel source for power generation, petrochemicals and the manufacturing industry.

“The industry itself is going through a difficult transition; CAPEX is not always a viable option for our end user clients and OPEX is typically only being spent to perform safety or production critical work. However, with ADNOC being restructured and the oil price creeping up towards $70 per barrel, new investments are planned for the short/medium term. These challenging times have called for a fresh approach in maintaining operational efficiency, whilst decreasing OPEX through scheduled and maintained inspections, but also longer term planning. Our approach has been to offer services across the complete life of field through locally supplied products and services. We have existing long-term service contracts with our clients, where we have proven we can repair or upgrade existing assets, rather than replacing them, thus enabling them to maintain production and reduce downtime at a fraction of the cost.

“The UAE serves as a Centre of Excellence for Proserv’s growing business and organisational presence in the Middle East and Africa market. Our regional headquarters and equipment-manufacturing facility is located in Dubai, while the service centre is located in Abu Dhabi.”

In your opinion, what are the key advantages to being based in the UAE? Are there any core areas of growth that you believe make it the ideal hub for your business?

“For some time, the UAE has been viewed as an energy hub/gateway for the Middle East region. While many companies located in the UAE solely distribute products made in the USA/EU across the Middle East market, Proserv manufactures and provides services from its local facilities in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“Proserv recognises that the best support for our clients is achieved by local, in country support. The energy industry is a 24-hour operation, and, as such, has a need for timely service capability. We are able to immediately mobilise service engineers/technicians with local visas/work permits to address unplanned events that can cause our clients expensive downtime via lost or reduced production. Also, we provide client specific intelligence solutions to map and track inventory parts, enabling us to provide or quickly call off replacement parts. Our focus remains on world-class respond and resolve solutions.”

Reflecting on the past 12 months, what have been the most prevalent trends in your industry and how has your business adapted around these?

“Last year was a year of innovation for us. Our track record, coupled with our ability to create new value for our clients, allows us to continue to expand our business. The opening of our facility in Saudi Arabia – an Aramco Approved Manufacturing and Service Facility – was a key moment for us back in 2016 with the region very much continuing to be a key growth market for us.”

Looking ahead, what does the future hold for Proserv in the Middle East? Do you have any future plans or projects you would like to share with us?

“Moving forward, Proserv will continue to secure its footprint within the GCC through the establishment of a Manufacturing & Service facility in KSA, as well as investing in expanding our service centre in Abu Dhabi. This will further strengthen our capabilities and capacity to service the increasing demand for our product and services within the region.”

Contact Details 

Company: Proserv Middle East

Address: Jebel Ali Facility, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, 16922, UAE

Phone: 00971 4 808 3500

Website: www.proserv.com

Select Element
A World of Opportunity
Private ClientWealth Management

A World of Opportunity

A World of Opportunity

Kehrli & Zehnder is a multi-family office that advises wealthy individuals and families on how to manage, organise, allocate and protect their wealth. The firm oversees all aspects of its clients’ wealth with core strengths in asset management and the selection of correlated and non-correlated alternative investments.

Dominik E. Zehnder is co-founder of the firm, serves as Chairman of the Board and co-runs the business. “Restructurings and lay-offs at banks and financial institutions is a great opportunity for us to showcase our firm as an anchor of stability and reliability,” he says. “The partners at Kehrli & Zehnder only have one goal at the core: over-deliver on the service and performance expectations of our clients. We provide high quality, independent, unbiased and professional advice.

“The current restructuring wave also paves the way for us to hire qualified and experienced staff who look for a more dependable environment for their clients and for their own professional future.
“When clients come to our firm, they are served by one of the partners” (rather than being covered by a junior member of the staff). “Our belief is clients have given us their trust and we have a duty to make sure they have a good experience.” Every partner has a unique skill that benefits all clients of the firm.

Dominik firmly believes that the best way to measure the firm’s success is how long clients stay with them. “I am happy to report that we have clients who have been with us since we were with our previous employers (in the last century!)” he enthuses. “The best endorsement for us is when clients refer their friends or business partners to us” and those who give us a larger portion of their assets over time.”

Dominik embellishes a little on the firm’s history. “We started Kehrli & Zehnder in 2003 and grew it one client at a time, step by step,” he begins. “We want to grow organically and in a sustainable manner. Our industry is one built on trust, and trust is not created overnight. Kehrli & Zehnder is a firm for the long-run.”

Kehrli & Zehnder is off to a successful start in 2017 with two new mandates. In the first, “the principal sold the family business and asked us to set up a wealth-preserving structure that focuses on non-correlated investments,” states Dominik. “The second is from one of our largest (and longest standing) clients who has given us a second mandate to invest in non-correlated assets.”

“Many like our open-minded and international orientation. In addition to our home market in Switzerland, we have representative offices in Hong Kong and Lugano. We travel to Asia, the U.S. and London at least once a year to perform due diligence on existing asset managers and identify new investment opportunities.”

As part of his day-to-day role, Dominik attends to clients, meets managers and writes the firm’s monthly investment comment. Client acquisition is mostly focused on their core target pool (entrepreneurs and wealthy families). This comes only after having established a rapport of trust.
“The key challenges these days are high valuations, markets that are distorted by central bank actions and political risks. Clients want capital preservation but also capital appreciation. We will achieve the first goal by diversifying across asset classes, regions and strategies.

By picking attractively valued and partially overlooked strategies or geographies we seek to achieve the second objective. Depending on our clients’ profile, we overweight one objective over the other.
“The regulatory environment and administrative requirements have become increasingly cumbersome and continue to absorb resources. By choosing our clients carefully, we are minimizing regulatory issues.”

Building a strong and loyal team is imperative. “Our staff is instrumental to the success of our firm and they ensure the quality and consistency of our service. Staff turnover is very low as we strive to provide a good work/life balance.”

Company: Kehrli & Zehnder Global Wealth Management
Name: Dominik E. Zehnder Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.kehrlizehnder.com
Address: Gartenstrasse 33, CH-8002 Zurich, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 44 222 1818

Adar Capital Partners: Hedging Their Bets
Private ClientWealth Management

Adar Capital Partners: Hedging Their Bets

Adar Capital Partners provides a range of investment vehicles which stand out thanks to their forward thinking attitude and collaborative work ethic, as Diego outlines.

“Here at ACP our investment decisions are not biased by the media, we invest in fundamentals. As such we prepare portfolios for significant political and social events such as Brexit and the US Elections, so that we are able to consider the options. We have a small and efficient structure with great communication and full support between our team, all of
whom work together to ensure that we offer our clients the best possible service. Our staff share the same values, investment philosophy and culture, which makes for a great team whose core focus is always our investors’ interests.”

The firm’s investment approach concentrates on a few annual investments with mid-term horizons of two to five years. After fundamental analysis of each investment, the firm keep it until they reach a target, even when in the short term it does not perform as expected. This patience, dedication is what sets the firm apart, as they go the extra mile, traveling to every company they invest in in order to understand the essence of the deal and monitor the investment.

Moving forward, the future looks exciting for ACP, as Diego concludes by discussing how well the firm has performed over the past 12 months and how the company is prepared to adapt around new developments it foresees.

“During the past year we obtained 30% net return in US dollars for our investors. We believe that current portfolios still have more success to achieve, and as such we are confident that 2017 is going to be also an excellent year achieving good results and providing great satisfaction to our investors.”

“Looking ahead, we believe that the world is changing and that brings new challenges for us to adapt to and educate our investors around. Economy, politics, information and technology are changing the way to invest and these all represent opportunities which we look forward to exploring.”

Company: Adar Capital Partners Ltd
Name: Diego Marynberg
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.adarcapitalpartners.com
Address: One Capital Place, Shedden Road, George Town, Cayman Islands

Winners Announced October 2016
Private ClientWealth Management

Winners Announced October 2016

Best in Financial Communications & Investor Relations 2016
Company: Capital Link, Inc.
Name: Nicolas Bornozis
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.capitallink.com
Address: 230 Park Ave, Suite 1536, New York, NY 10169
Telephone: 1 (212) 661 7566

Business Elite – CEO of the Year 
Name: Company Fusion Ltd 
Email: [email protected] 
Web Address: www.companyfusion.com
Address: 3rd Floor, Tring House, 77-81 High Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 4AB United Kingdom 
Telephone: 44 (0)207 993 3368

International Real Estate Excellence 
Company: UK Legal Estates
Name: Mohammed Usman 
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.uklegalestates.com
Address: 99-101 Wolseley Road, Sheffield S8 0ZT
Telephone: 0114 2585750

International Real Estate Excellence Awards
Company: Zest Sales Lettings & Investments
Name: Glenn Perry
Email: [email protected]
Web address: www.zestlovesproperty.com
Address: 1a Mile End, London Road, Bath, BA1 6PT Telephone: 01225 481010

Demand for advice surges since the introduction of pension freedoms
Private ClientWealth Management

Demand for advice surges since the introduction of pension freedoms

unbiased.co.uk’s head of advice, Claire Walsh, has discussed the figures, which highlighted the increased need for advice following new reforms.

The new data from unbiased.co.uk also shows that:
•Pensions accounted for 49% of all search refinements on the site since the introduction of pension freedoms
•Pension search queries increased 68% from April 2014 – April 2015
•Pension searches on unbiased.co.uk spiked in Jan-April 2015, in the immediate run-up to pension freedoms coming into force, and in July 2015, following the Chancellor’s interim Budget

Claire Walsh is an award-winning Chartered Financial Planner at a Brighton-based independent financial advisory firm. She advises consumers on all areas of personal financial planning including pensions, investments & savings, protection and tax planning, with retirement and inheritance tax planning a particular focus.

Technology Enables Inclusion of Alternative Assets in UMA
Private ClientWealth Management

Technology Enables Inclusion of Alternative Assets in UMA

The growing interest in UMAs is amplified by investor demand for portfolio diversification to limit risk, enable better returns and achieve long-term household financial goals. While UMA portfolios have traditionally included mutual funds, stocks and bonds, managers are quickly appeasing the growing appetite for alternative strategies like hedge funds, variable annuities, futures, and options. As these assets are highly sought-after, their inclusion in UMA programs is helping raise awareness of the entire managed account industry.

The Power of the Sleeve
Sleeves are synthetic UMA partitions, which can facilitate access to the broader pool of assets in demand by investors, while providing a cost-effective and highly-efficient apparatus for managers and sponsors. Most notably, though, sleeves provide the functionality for managers to include both alternative and traditional investments in UMA portfolios. 
By permitting multiple strategies and sleeves in a single account, UMA offers a natural flexibility and incentive for managers to present spon¬sors with a wider array of investment opportunities. 

Accordingly, UMA platform providers are taking notice and enhancing their technology to allow for the trading and accounting of more assets and currencies. As this happens, the UMA structure can easily accom¬modate newer sources of funds with additional sleeves.

Industry Consequences
It is clear that investors are driving the need for multi-sleeve, multi-strat¬egy UMA platforms. That said, managers and sponsors have an impera¬tive to support this evolving service model.
The multi-sleeve UMA structure enables tremendous benefits for all managed account participants:
• Managers have greater opportunities for product adoption among individual investors
• Sponsors reserve more investment options to help clients meet their respective financial goals
• Investors can reduce risk by diversifying assets within a single account – in lieu of opening and managing multiple accounts

In the bigger picture, we are also witnessing a subsequent evolution among large UMA providers, as many are consolidating and integrating legacy managed account systems onto a single platform. While this denotes an extensive undertaking, it will allow for the streamlined delivery of many different asset classes – particularly those in hot demand by investors.

UMA to UMH
Another reason for the growing relevance of a single UMA platform stems from the industry’s commitment to deliver the Unified Managed Household (UMH). Broadly defined, UMH provides a comprehensive approach to manage all assets and liabilities of a household, helping investors achieve an overriding set of household goals.

A UMA platform capable of holding a variety of asset types and investment strategies in a single account, with sleeves essentially acting as sub-ac¬counts within a master, providing the technological infrastructure for the in¬dustry to deliver UMH. Once investors make the connection between UMA and UMH, logic tells us there will be even greater adoption in the future. When all is said and done, the continuous ascension of UMA is expected in the years ahead, and leveraging alternative assets in UMA portfolios will help drive this outcome.

By Tirdad Shojaie, SVP Product, Marketing & Business Strategy, Investment Services, Fiserv.

UK Retail Sales Beat Forecasts With 5.7% Rise
Private ClientWealth Management

UK Retail Sales Beat Forecasts With 5.7% Rise

Consumer spending continues to drive the UK economic recovery, with retail sales rising 5.7% in February compared with a year earlier. This was a whole percentage point higher than the 4.7% jump forecast by economists. February was the 23rd month of consecutive year-on-year growth. Average prices in stores fell by 3.6% in February, the biggest annual fall since records began in 1997.

A combination of rising wages and zero inflation means pay is recovering in real terms, having fallen significantly since the financial crisis. Lower fuel costs in particular are easing the pressure on household budgets, and the signs are that much of this extra disposable income is finding its way into retailers’ tills.

The majority of the sales growth in the year to February came from non-food retailers, such as department stores and household goods retailers – this willingness to spend on non-essentials suggests consumers are feeling better off. Given that CPI inflation is expected to fall below zero in the coming months, and stay close to zero for the rest of the year, the signs are positive that the UK consumer can remain in rude health. This is clearly good news for economic growth, but while domestic spending is always vital in a mature economy, there is a slight concern that the economy is becoming over-reliant on the consumer. Greater contributions from business investment and exports would arguably make for a more sustainable recovery.

Finally, the UK isn’t the only country experiencing a renaissance in consumer spending. Survey data released today showed German consumer confidence at a 13-year high, boosted by low inflation, a weak euro and a strong labour market.

Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?
Private ClientWealth Management

Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?

The growing firm has been on a consistent recruitment drive for the past 12 months and during this process managing partner, Colin Lawson, has felt that financial planners and paraplanners are not realising the exciting opportunity which faces the industry.

Colin said: “In the past five years the wealth management industry has been transformed: RDR shook bad practices out of the woodwork, pension reform revolutionised pension pot savings and banking restructures meant many HNW individuals found a gap in services and support.

“There is a need for a new breed of wealth planners and technical support staff who are head and shoulders above the rest. Not only do they need to understand the best products, tax planning and investment opportunities, they need to have the people and management skills to really understand clients personal needs and develop and deliver wealth management plans which provide clients with future financial confidence.

“Set traditional model approaches aren’t the norm, the wealth management industry needs to look for new avenues to explore. Proactivity and creativity is just as important as in-depth industry knowledge, and that’s what many candidates are failing to convey.

“I know there are talented, high calibre financial experts out there, (they can’t all just be in the current Equilibrium team!) and my advice is don’t be afraid to show your personality, passion and creative skills in the interview process. Yes, we work in the financial industry, but that certainty doesn’t mean we have to be boring suits!”

Equilibrium’s hands on approach to wealth management has led to the Cheshire-based firm increasing its assets under management by £80million in the last 12 months and being crowned ‘Firm of the Year’ (North England) in the New Model Adviser Awards 2015.

AVG Named Business Solutions Best Channel Vendor 2015
Private ClientWealth Management

AVG Named Business Solutions Best Channel Vendor 2015

AVG Technologies N.V. (NYSE: AVG), the online security company™ for 188 million active users, today announced it has been selected by Business Solutions Magazine (BSM) as a 2015 Best Channel Vendor in the Network Security category. The annual poll of Value Added Resellers (VARs) and BSM subscribers rated vendor partners in seven categories including service/support, channel friendly, product features, product reliability, channel program, product innovation and VAR margins.

“We are thrilled our industry partners have voted us Best Channel Vendor,” said Francois Daumard, VP Global Channel Sales, AVG Technologies. “2015 marks the start of a pivotal year for us as we work to make the Channel appreciate the new face of AVG Business. Still not enough partners truly understand the transition that has been taking place within AVG Business. Thanks to AVG Business Managed Workplace® we are first and foremost today a remote monitoring and management (RMM) applications vendor. Crucially, as business applications move towards an increasingly integrated future, the only established network security Channel vendor that is fully focused on integrated cloud and mobile applications development.”

Throughout 2014 AVG Business has continued to invest significantly in support of industry partners including holding its first Annual Partner Cloud Summit, introducing a new product portfolio, expanding its international distribution footprint and hiring some recognized industry big-hitters to head up its Global Channel Sales and Marketing teams.

Best Channel Vendor 2015 is the latest of many recent accolades for AVG that include recognition by Virus Bulletin’s VB100 for products and the 2014 MSPmentor 250 for excellence in managed services leadership and expertise.
During fall 2014, BSM partnered with Penn State University to conduct a Web-based survey capturing significant data from active VAR subscribers. A total of 8,848 validated votes were cast, continuing the tradition of one of the largest and most detailed surveys of its kind. Scores were tallied by BSM editorial staff using methodology provided by Penn State.
The full list of 2015 Best Channel Vendors appears in a special report in Business Solutions Magazine’s January issue.

Barclays Fined for Risking Client Assets
Private ClientWealth Management

Barclays Fined for Risking Client Assets

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The £38m fine issued by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) comes after it said the bank had risked around £16.5b worth of client assets. Issuing the fine for the practice which happened between November 2007 and January 2012, the FCA said:

“Clients risked incurring extra costs, lengthy delays or losing their assets if Barclays had become insolvent,”

Barclays responded by saying that it accepted the ruling but made no profit from the practice nor did any clients lose out. A statement issued by the firm said:

“Barclays has subsequently enhanced its systems to resolve these issues and to ensure we have the requisite processes in place. No client has suffered any loss as a consequence of this weakness in our processes which existed prior to January 2012,”

However, the director of the authority, David Lawton, said that ensuring client assets were safeguarded was essential for confidence in the financial services market, adding:

“Barclays lack of focus on the rules was unacceptable,”

The fine is the biggest ever handed down by the FCA for such an offence, despite the bank alerting the regulator to the issue itself and a 30% discount applied for early settlement.

Wealth Management Portal Launched
Private ClientWealth Management

Wealth Management Portal Launched

Multrees Investor Services, the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and private investment offices, has launched Multrees Compass, an online interactive web portal to transform the wealth advisers’ experience and help them manage their clients’ assets more efficiently.

Multrees Compass offers wealth advisers a range of functionality and tailored services based upon their clients’ needs. Under one single sign-on solution, Multrees Compass provides a suite of integrated services including content management, portfolio modelling, order management and accounting, multi-level business intelligence reporting, and analytics.

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at Multrees, said: “Multrees Compass uses market-leading technology to provide wealth managers with a holistic visual display of their own client information and seamless access to Multrees’ range of wealth management tools and services. Just as everyone has their own combination of apps on their smartphone, each wealth manager will have a tailored combination of services based on their log-in; reflecting their specific business models and requirements.”

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees, said: “It is crucial that we continue to invest in technology to be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to changes in the wealth management industry. Our clients have unique requirements and their resources are finite. They want easy access to professional information and control over their clients’ investments to provide a premium service that addresses new regulation. We are committed to providing this support so that clients remain at the forefront of the industry.”

Nigel Pilkington, Chairman of Multrees and senior Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB executive said: “Multrees has really listened to the industry, thus showing their commitment to supporting clients through dynamic technology solutions, quality products, and effective services that help them to grow their businesses. It’s another milestone on the journey, empowering wealth managers to focus on addressing the multiple needs of their clients and to safely and easily navigate the increasingly complex wealth management marketplace.”

The Art to Investing in Art
Private ClientWealth Management

The Art to Investing in Art

 

Art is the ultimate symbol, the ultimate luxury item. Put aside the yacht, the garage, the fleet of Bentleys and vacate the Hyde Park 1 address. Art is where it’s at. But is it a wise investment?

As a dealer in fine art of 28 years, I tend to act with restraint, even scepticism at the words, ‘investment in art’. I am not even sure I believe in the concept. This is a more rarefied and, dare I say it, subtle world where vast fortunes can be made, and indeed lost. This being the case, the following advice is crucial to the success of any purchase in art:

• Seek advice from auction houses and dealers
• Miracles don’t happen
• A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
• Never buy a name, always buy a picture. If you can combine the two, you have achieved your goal
• A painting is worth what someone will pay for it
• Selling a piece of art takes time. With the help of a dealer, timing your sale to the exact moment when the art is in high value can save you time and substantial costs.

A crisis-free investment?

Let’s say you had invested $250,000 with me between 1994 and 1996 in one particular area of the market, Russian Art from 1890-1930. By 2008, you would have seen a return of $5,000,000, or 20 times your original investment. If you had invested $3,000,000 around ten years later (2005-6), you would have seen a return of $8,500,000 by 2008, giving a nice return of 250% over three years. Sound spectacular? Apparently, over the first period you would have seen greater reward with shares in Gazprom, and over the second you might have seen a greater return in gold, real estate or zinc.

These art sales and the profits thereof take on a far greater significance when you consider that they all took place between October 2008 and June 2009, the eight months that followed the world financial crash. Whilst it can’t be said that a profit was made on every painting sold, it is the second group of figures, the profits posted on paintings purchased between 2005-2006, that are the most striking. Myself and the collector in question bought on the crest of a boom in the art world and yet we sold successfully during a financial trough when many others were less fortunate.

There was no science involved, no calculated nor specially-directed investment on the side of the buyer. We simply stuck with the tried and tested method of buying not names, but pictures. The exact meaning of this is simple and refers us in part to a quote from Forbes.com that, “art market indices mostly track high-performing works, and ignore the duds – skewing both risk and return figures”. In very simple terms, many artists of world renown painted many thousands of paintings of which only a fraction are worth buying. To a dealer or other expert, it is no great science to spot the better pictures from the so-called ‘duds’.

If sold today, the return on the paintings in question would look considerably more, with the stock purchased between 2005 and 2006 likely to fetch $15-17,000,000. While this offers evidence to the claim that people ‘move into collectibles’ when times are rough, it also shows that great art, great paintings, will always find a buyer and that art may even somehow be a “financial-crisis-free” investment. The great science, however, is how to buy these commercial items. This is where the secret to being a clever buyer lies.

The role of the dealer

If you are offered a painting by Malevich for $5,000,000 which, according to the sellers, is worth $40,000,000 on the open market, you are not being offered a real Malevich but an offer to go and physically burn $5m worth of $100 notes in a public square. These paintings are almost always accompanied by certificates of authenticity from ‘noted academics’ who are almost all either incompetent or simply corrupt.

My maxim when offering advice on these ‘miracle’ paintings is simple. Would either of the two leading auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christies, or any credible dealer, offer them for re-sale? If the answer is no then the painting should be avoided. Sadly, the world of Russian Art has been cursed with such paintings but blame lies firmly with the academics. They simply have no experience of the art market – how could they from their ivory towers? – and are not financially liable for their opinions.

The dealer is the filtering mechanism; experienced at buying and selling they understand where the potential
pitfalls are.

A dealer will also help a client with the promotion of his paintings, for example, organising for items to be reproduced in books or shown at museum exhibitions. Whilst some clients prefer anonymity, I try to persuade them of the value of showing an item in public. By increasing a painting’s exposure, you increase its value because, by virtue of it appearing in a museum, the Art establishment has given it an official seal of approval.

A competent dealer will also help research a painting, frequently finding information that will increase its value. For example, a work from my collection was found to have been owned by the great tenor Fyodor Chaliapin and illustrated in a book from 1918. Whilst a clever market analyst might be able to put an exact percentage figure on how much this increased the value of the work, I am more sanguine. A painting is worth just exactly what a buyer is prepared to pay for it – the aforementioned work was finally sold for much more than I could possibly have hoped.

Blue chip purchases

Dealers have a phrase, ‘to talk a picture off the wall’. Indeed, I have been involved in several deals where Party 1 has a painting that they have no intention of selling but Party 2 is so keen to obtain the work that they will make an offer far above the ‘market price’ which, in itself, is something difficult to quantify. I enjoy such deals because the painting in question is usually a masterpiece and both parties are getting blue-chip returns – either a museum quality painting or an inflated price.

To overpay is fine, to underpay is potentially fatal. There simply are no bargains around. I can quote tens of examples. Twelve years ago, a client tried to haggle on a purchase, insisting on a 10% discount which, taking into account his overall wealth, was unnecessary. I explained that he was making a major mistake and he eventually withdrew his terms. The painting is now worth 15 times what he paid for it.

Buy the art, not the investment

The art market is, essentially, like any other: supply and demand are the motors. However, in the case of the blue chip ‘investments’ that I advise on, supply is running out and demand is strengthening.

To successfully invest in art one needs to be detached, less rational and less in control, leaving many of the decisions to those better qualified than yourself. Listed below, however, are the key things to remember:

• Find a trusted dealer
• Be patient
• Don’t expect miracles, no one lets great works sell at a discount
• Don’t buy names, buy pictures
• Go blue chip
• A painting is worth what someone will pay for it
• Don’t haggle
• High prices for the greatest works are always justified
• Enjoy it

In my opinion, the last word should come from Larry Gagosian, one the greatest dealers in the world today: “An art investment can also be a bad investment.” Therefore, buy the art, not the investment. If you have the great art that others covet, you’ll make money.

SME Entrepreneurs Announce Budget Wishlist
Private ClientWealth Management

SME Entrepreneurs Announce Budget Wishlist

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Businessmen give their views on what they want to see in the forthcoming Budget, which is to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne on Wednesday 19th March, 2014.

Anthony Rushton, CEO of leading online advertising auditing company Telemetry (www.telemetry.com).

“I want the government to announce solid Research and Development (R&D) tax benefits for Internet based tech providers.

“Also, there should be an increase in Entrepreneur Relief from £10m to £25m with improved terms for activation.

“Finally, I think the Chancellor should announce a reduction in stamp duty in the housing market.”

Scott Fletcher, Chairman and founder of Cloud Specialists, ANS Group (www.ans.co.uk).

“There should be a focus on encouraging business investment using the tax system in particular, employment of young people, capital investment, and Digital Economy.

“They should also abolish business rates for start-ups and abolish university fees in STEM – we need thousands more engineers.

“The Chancellor can save billions by investing in the Cloud, something that the government is not yet fully taking advantage of.

“It has proven to be more flexible and better value for money for businesses up and down the country. It could save the government billions, reducing the need for so much austerity and allowing government to reduce business taxes to encourage investment.”

Will Davies, co-founder and Managing Director of leading property maintenance firm, aspect.co.uk.

“I wonder if we focus on the Mansion Tax. As proposed, it seems like a crazy idea as it will hit many UK nationals as opposed to hitting foreign investors, which is the main intention.

“We think it will hit our market as large numbers of London home owners will have to fund this additional money annually. This will hit the amount they have to spend on improvements to their homes. Surely there must be a more efficient way to tax foreign money investing in UK property?”