AMMF #62: Charitable fund, Fintech100, MiFID II returns

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Welcome to our asset management marketing focus

This week’s edition brings you a charitable fund initiative, the new Fintech100, Black Friday/Black Monday and the ghost of MiFID II.

Movers & Shakers

Camilla McKane headshotCamilla McKane
Is now ➜ Executive Director, UK Funds at J.P. Morgan Asset Management
Was: Executive Director, Global Liquidity at J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Further information: Investment Week

Benoit Pommier headshotBenoit Pommier
Is now ➜ Sales & Marketing at Contineo Limited
Was: Structured Solutions at Commerzbank AG

Further information: Finews Asia

Mark Rodino headshotMark Rodino
Is now ➜ Managing Director & Head of Distribution at Amun, AG
Was: Managing Director, Head of US Marketing at Prosdocimi, Ltd

Further information: Funds Europe

Shivani Sedov headshotShivani Sedov
Is now ➜ Head of Marketing at Tiller Investments
Was: Head of Marketing, Investment Solutions at EFG Asset Management

Further information: Investment Europe

Kurtosys expresses their best wishes to all starting in their new positions.

Website Spotlight: The 300 Club

In a flurry of website revamps is this release from the 300 Club, a website for investment leaders which aims to raise the profile of industry-wide challenges. The site is owned by Hermes Investment Management, and features many a classy design feature.
Not least of those is the immediate banner video: a looped animation featuring numerical values, graphs, charts and icons which really grabs the user’s eye, all capped off with the bold purple 300 Club logo. The purple and orange colour palette is a new feature, and permeates the site for an attractive look.
The site houses necessary news and events and thought pieces from contributors offering insights into such topics as investing in different markets, pensions, ESGs, and company culture. It’s easy to surf through these excellent pieces with a sticky navigation bar and a neat block layout.
Whilst not needing to house impressive fund centres, this site is a perfect blend of stylish design and thoughtful content. Oh, and if you’re wondering where the name comes from, here’s the reason from the site itself:
The “300” refers to the legendary 300 Spartans who in 480 BC held off the vastly numerically superior invading Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae to give sufficient time for the remaining Greek forces to regroup. The story of the 300 has become a symbol of what can be achieved by a small band of high conviction individuals against overwhelming odds.

Firms in Focus: The Big Exchange

HomelessnessIt’s a big-time announcement for the AMMF fund launch spotlight this week, showcasing a crossroads for financial institutions, charities, technology providers, investors and publications. In a constant search to highlight the collaborative efforts of financial firms, within and outside the industry, this is surely one of the most noteworthy.
As reported by Investment Week is a large-scale funding initiative spearheaded by Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) and Columbia Threadneedle. Dubbed ‘The Big Exchange’, this venture is one way in which major financial institutions are continuing to boost the impact of their ESG impact funds in the public eye, by teaming up with UK magazine The Big Issue; a street newspaper founded in 1991 by John Bird and Gordon Roddick as a way to provide homeless individuals with an income to find their way out of poverty and back into mainstream society.
ASI and Columbia Threadneedle have already been backed by other fund houses including Alliance Bernstein and Alquity as founders to launch this digital investment platform, which is determined to use a mobile-first approach to provide investment opportunities for all; a ‘blockchain-based ecosystem that works for everyone’. Ultimately, the product will give investors the chance to put their money into doing good, a most popular choice of investment in today’s climate.
As well as initial financial backing of £1 million, multiple tech and marketing teams, banks and regulatory bodies are involved with the creation of ‘The Impact Platform’ (AKA The Big Funds) including, but not limited to, FNZ, HSBC, Trowers & Hamlins, 3D Investing, Fimatrix and Rexigon Securities. A beta version of the platform is set to launch early next year having already been developed for a user testing stage.
It has certainly drummed up a serious amount of interest and support. Chairman of The Big Exchange and The Big Issue Group Nigel Kershaw outlines the initiative’s shared principles with the magazine itself:
“It follows the same principles of its co-founder Lord John Bird of a hand up, not a hand out […] A mission-driven business that is more effective and sustainable because it is not a charity. It will help millions of people to help each other build a better society. That is huge.”
An excellent cause, and investment opportunity, which has brought together many valuable players into one charitable ESG-focused bundle.

Regulatory Matters: Still MiFfed

Ghost MiFID IIHalloween’s long gone, but the ghost of MiFID II hasn’t.
Remember MiFID II? It’s been a while since we’ve revisited the regulation that came into effect at the start of the year, and what a fast year it’s been.
However, it seems very much the same story all this time down the line, this news week’s spotlight being its product governance rules, which means advisors and product manufacturers need to identify target markets to best service their clients. But much like all the usual problems with the directive, there’s concerns that many advice firms are not compliant. In fact, coming up next year is a review from the FCA – the Retail Distribution Review – looking into the issue. As is quite worrying, during an advisor roadshow, former technical specialist at the FCA Rory Percival identified that less than 10 people in a room of 100 knew about the rules…
The FT Adviser looks into the issue, looking back to the pre-MiFID II days when product governance requirements were already in place (but far ‘narrower’ than the current rules). At the end of it all, the lesson stay the same: advisors need to be clued up on the ins-and-outs of the regulation before some consequences come a-callin’.

Fintech News: World Leaders

Robot-FNThe fairly recent humans vs robots debate: will we see a Terminator-style future? In the hedge fund world, it’s looking that that may indeed be the case.
It’s at least what many hedge fund managers and members of the Alan Turing Institute believe to be true, according to a great piece from Financial News London. The mundane tasks in trading can be done in a far shorter time, and on far more of a mass scale with machines; the processing of quantitative data has never been more easily achieved. And now, firms are really starting to leverage artificial intelligence as has been prophesised, in science fiction to start, but now for real within financial circles. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates and Man Group are two examples of firms that have seen the potential of machine learning for years, and have certainly looked to use it for practical use.
Then again, that’s not to say that machines are as flawless as humans are; when data patterns change, the robots can’t quite keep up, and human intervention is thus recruited to deal with such issues. Point72 have in fact maintained a ‘quantamental strategy’ that relies on the input of machines and humans in tandem.
And as for finding out where the ‘rock star’ hedge fund managers of yesteryear are hiding, this piece outlines that they are away from the headlines more than usual, instead hiding in the shadows of tech hotspots such as Chicago and California.
At the end of it all, I think we’re all praying that machines are there to simplify and fasten processes, rather than taking over core jobs. The machines are rising, but hopefully they’re not at their full conquering best yet.
Ft100-rocketAmongst this talk of conquering, recently the 2018 version of the Fintech 100 has been released, as always a joint project between H2 Ventures and KPMG, now in its fifth year. You may be familiar with the excellent annual survey from our Fintech World Series.
You can discover much of the key highlights from the report at this in-depth landing page, including the top 10, ranked (no spoilers here however) and the methodology behind the report.
The PDF is free to download, and is as colourful and presentable as ever. Featuring ranking tables, distribution maps, and all the necessary information to find out all about leading fintech companies from all across the globe. Check it out!

Industry Insights

The power of poker
PokerAlmost like a movie (more on that later) is an article from Bloomberg looking into the effort of Susquehanna International, a Philadelphia-based firm looking to become market leaders in the ETF revolution.
And not just that, but the casino-loving aficionados behind the company are hedging their bets on many numbers at this roulette table, looking into private equity, betting and Bitcoin as well as the exchange-traded fund space. Going from poker players in their university days to founders of a financial powerhouse seemed to be a natural progression; as the founders argue, their philosophy is based on the fact that probability-based decisions which govern many a card game can be used to assess uncertainty in financial markets. Pretty smart, huh?
The article details the making of Susquehanna: a far-reaching kind of firm whose website covers everything from software development to sports-day-out blog posts, very much the ‘tech startup mindset’ that seems to be infiltrating the minds of companies from every industry. However, their knowledge of the markets led them to become early supporters of the ETF market, combining their entrepreneurial, financial and technological expertise, and have become a springboard for many individuals to reach the market’s top players. Certainly an intimate look into an interesting niche of the financial world.
We’ve kept an eye on the signing of the Women in Finance Charter – a document which looking to increasing diversity within the financial sector. The last time we covered the progress of the charter was back in June here at AMMF, where the number of signatories was 272.
A few months on, and now it has hit the milestone of 300. There’s still plenty to do towards the cause, but this is a significant amount of progress from the industry. Below is a tweet from Schroders looking at what this news means, courtesy of HM Treasury.

And finally…

…with today being Black Friday and all, it seems wholly appropriate to check out the trailer for Black Monday: a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the most brutal day in financial history (October 29th 1987), courtesy of Showtime. Featuring Don Cheadle as a straight-talking trader, here it is for your viewing pleasure (with the premiere on 20 January 2019):
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That’s all for this week, but be sure to check back soon for more asset management marketing highlights and fintech snippets from Kurtosys.

Elliot Burr

Elliot Burr

Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.