Kurtosys Spotlight: Human capital, Rob Brown, e-sport investing

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This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features digital leader Rob Brown, a report into human capital, our social media and #Fintwit chat with Courtney McQuade, e-sport investing, finserv’s foray into blockchain, and fintech’s finest sporting competition.

Digital Leader Spotlight: Rob Brown, Global CMO at BBVA

Rob-BrownJuggling event and internet marketing, creative design and digital properties is Rob Brown, the Global CMO at BBVA and based in Madrid, whose experience has resulted in him leading the firm’s worldwide digital revolution.
Starting his career in finance for First USA Bank (now Chase Card Services) and Barclaycard, Rob moved up from marketing roles to the Head of Creative for the latter company. He was selected to build and lead the first in-house creative team for business partnerships, marketing strategies and pitch materials (print, video, interactive) for Barclaycard’s credit-card business. He then got promoted to Managing Director and Head of Global Design and Digital Office, leading the company’s global design team (growing them from 9 to 130 persons) to deliver client experiences across all Barclays’ businesses, stationed in the US, UK, South Africa and Lithuania. Rob was also Design Director and executive mentor for their accelerator program RISE, and launched their first design language project worldwide.
Now at BBVA, Rob leads digital sales, marketing, design and responsible business. He has brought onboard 200 designers in 11 countries for BBVA’s digital push; BBVA Experience is their digital platform allowing bank designers around the world to create banking products and services on a mass scale, made successful by Rob’s global design team.
Rob is part of our Most Influential Digital Leaders in Asset Management gallery – see the full list of leaders here!

Featured White Paper: Advancing the human capital agenda – Hermes Investment Management

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There’s a scene from The Office whereby an office training day officer asks “What’s the most important thing to your business?” David Brent replies “the staff” before being corrected to “the customer”.
Customers are highly important, it’s true, but Brent may actually onto a good thing when stating that the trainer was “coming at it from a different angle”, his general buffoonery aside. As this recent report from Hermes Investment Management outlines, there’s now a shifting trend in citing the success for a business as human capital, rather than financial performance, due to the role of social media and – in the US more than other developed nations – limited rights granted to employees.
Such issues that come into play worldwide from the employee rights argument include paid leave, maternity and paternity leave, family-leave, and wage pressure, and more and more US employers have seemed to oversee the long-term commitment to the workers that make them successful, but there’s also a necessity to maintain a diverse workforce, with employees covering many generations and backgrounds, to offer different skills and perspectives to a business.
This short yet excellent report outlines how this lack of investment in employees leads to dissatisfaction, inevitable turnover and further expense, and what certain (anonymous) companies have done in the US and beyond already to create value for their workers. Such examples include offering a tuition benefit to subsidise degrees for employees wishing to further their education, providing workers with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to assist with those suffering from mental health problems, and even providing healthy meal and exercise programs for sustained wellbeing.
The report finishes by outlining that the human capital issue is only in its early stages; needing to be talked about to a greater degree amongst all institutions, regardless of industry. Offering a few questions to consider, is your company doing its utmost to support its employees?
The paper can be downloaded over at this link on Savvy Investor.

Podcast: Connecting the Dots – Courtney McQuade

In this latest edition of our Connecting the Dots podcast, we talk with social media for financial services expert Courtney McQuade.

Courtney has 20 years’ experience within the financial world, with specific focus on marketing and sales strategy, having worked for startups to hedge funds to some of Wall Street’s largest banks. Working as a social media consultant for financial firms, Courtney has great insights here into how firms can engage with their followers in a compliant way (with regulation being the major roadblock for social sharing), and we reflect on whether Facebook remains relevant and the best ways to leverage LinkedIn’s paid-for services.
Elsewhere, Courtney discusses how financial companies can start up their marketing efforts on social media through finding advocates within their workforce, the strength of the #FinTwit community, and the best tips for Instagram, which boasts 1 billion active users.
Be sure to follow Courtney on LinkedIn and on Twitter @CourtMcQuade, and you can catch all of our episodes from the podcast series on our SoundCloud page, iTunes library or Spotify.

Video in Focus: A new ETFrontier

The ETF space is always one to stir the pot in the cluttered kitchen of investments, consistently looking to present opportunities in places that non-alternative funds wouldn’t dare to venture into.
In this video excerpt from Yahoo! Finance, Ed Lopez – the ETF Product Head at VanEck – explains the role of e-sports and gaming as the main up-and-coming industry looking to completely transform investments in traditional media and entertainment formats.

The video looks into the financial nitty-gritty of the returns from holdings in such companies as Tencent, Activision or Nintendo, with the APAC region in particular marking the main positive areas for game makers, with e-sports competing with traditional sports in the present age for popularity and, well, revenue.
With the global e-sports market estimated to top a worth of around $1.1 billion this year (in a study by NewZoo), video gaming is truly an opportunity that investors should be researching more into, with this video a great starting point, particularly in connection with thematic ETFs.

Fintech News: Tech titans power forward

Blockchain-JPMThere’s some big news coming out of the camps of two major tech corporations which the financial world loves to keep an eye on: Amazon, and Salesforce.
First up: the Jeff Bezos e-commerce behemoth, and it’s of some importance to financial institutions that are also looking to leverage blockchain technology; a major talking point for the industry for the past few years which looks to be coming to fruition.
VentureBeat has noted how the pre-announced and previewed Amazon Managed Blockchain is now becoming available for use from 1st May, first in Virginia before expanding to other regions. A small step, but you have to start somewhere. There’s plenty more to the packed blockchain issue though, given that businesses that will look to use the blockchain network can have a preference of Ethereum or Hyperledger Fabric, despite an email interview revealing that Ethereum isn’t available just yet, but not revealing why.
Hyperledger Fabric, developed by IBM and the Linux Foundation, was demonstrated to be a good example of blockchain for financial companies whereby sensitive information is shared only with chosen banks, as privacy and permission is a key part of its application. Ethereum, on the other hand, really relies on transparency between its members, and the network needs to be distributed openly. But nonetheless, the process of a highly available blockchain network that is scalable, shareable and secure is becoming a reality through AMB, and the smoothness of transactions are going to go from strength to strength. Certainly time for financial big-hitters to contemplate the real-time usage of distributed ledger technology that has been foreseen for a long while now. Adding further weight to the validity, companies including Nestlé and Accenture are already displaying keen interest.
Elsewhere, it’s news from Marc Benioff’s cyclopean CRM Salesforce, who have debuted their AI and machine learning application specifically for the financial services space. Einstein Analytics for Financial Services can be used by wealth advisors, retail banks and asset managers, and are a set of customisable tools to better understand their customers. The app builder can connect with data sources to gain loan payments, credit card balances etc., but all in a secure environment.
Reported also by VentureBeat, it’s already in use by Citizen Bank and Royal Bank of Canada One, and follows a string of AI-technology releases from Salesforce including Einstein Voice, Einstein Translation and Einstein Optical Character Recognition.
With financial services teaming up with, or at least following in the robotic footsteps of some of the globe’s most influential tech giants, these already interesting ideas are looking to finally take flight, and maybe push for skies further afield.

Social Spotlight: Current affairs

A slightly different take on the investment chat in the earlier video, these regular snippets from Charles Schwab & Co.’s Chief Global Investment Strategist Jeffrey Kleintop are a refreshingly laidback and informative 90-second roundup of weekly economic outlooks and market changes, as well as reeling in some popular culture references, including Game of Thrones [no spoilers]. Definitely worth a watch and a follow for future editions!

And for those that are football crazy, there’s only 8 games left in the ongoing Fintech League, a dedicated 5-a-side tournament between some of London’s most prominent fintech companies, with Funding Options FC leading the pack at this stage. With their latest game with 11:FC rivalling Liverpool’s stellar comeback against Barcelona this week, what’s in store for this tournament, and who’s going to come out on top of the Premier League this Sunday? It’s all equally exciting. Watch this space.

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Elliot Burr

Elliot Burr

Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.