Kurtosys Spotlight: Robin Stevens, the FCA and PSD2, Mark Polson podcast

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This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features Aviva’s Robin Stevens, active investing habits, our podcast with the lang cat’s Mark Polson, open banking, PSD2 updates, and transatlantic fantasy football/stock-picking.

Digital Leader Spotlight: Robin Stevens, Global Head of Digital at Aviva Global Investors

Robin-StevensRobin Stevens, now Aviva Global Investors’ Global Head of Digital, has his roots in design and brand marketing for companies including the BBC and Eversheds, now displaying these two avenues in a more digital sense in financial services.
First developing an experience in digital and media for financial services whilst at McConnells Group (where Lloyds TSB Commercial was an account he handled), Robin has since become a full-on branding master, rolling out global campaigns and rebrands across businesses. Starting out at Aviva plc in 2006 as a Senior Marketing Manager, he was responsible for strategy and customer and internal communications. Moving into the Head of Digital & Marketing Services for (what is now) Aviva Investors, he was in charge of this global rebranding, implementing a CMS, new website and sales enablement through Salesforce.
Robin is now the Global Head of Digital to best communicate with customers through content creation and distribution, implementing the worldwide digital roadmap and strategy for the firm. He has spoken at such events as Wealth 2.0, and acts as a thought leader for digital transformation through other panel discussions.
Robin is part of our Most Influential Digital Leaders in Asset Management gallery.

Featured White Paper: 3 Habits of Highly Effective ‘Active’ Investors

BlackRock’s iShares – the world’s largest provider of exchange traded funds – has once again come up with the goods with a white paper looking into the habits of active investors, in particular those that are successful with their more bullish approach. As the first page of this seven page document outlines, portfolio construction needs a welcome revamp due to the increasing changes and demands of the world and the global economy.
Starting off by talking through what portfolio construction means historically (the added incentive to place emphasis on fund selection), it outlines how successful investors are able to monitor their portfolios over time, with the initial fund decisions not being the be-all-and-end-all. Successful portfolio selectors will control unintended changes within their target to achieve a better outcome. If you will, for want of a better metaphor, it’s rather similar to the makeup and managing of a Fantasy Sports team. You can tell that’s the talk of the town at Kurtosys (more to come from that later).
Back to the white paper, iShares also assesses its research to find that manager selectors are moving towards assessing a blend of different strategies (index, factor, and alpha-seeking) in order to achieve wanted returns, which melds the active with the passive.
The report also looks into the fact that the modern world allows for more investment tools to be available at peoples’ fingertips, hence the difficulty in selection. Over 3,1000 ETFs are available to investors as of the start of July 2019 for example which, as highlighted within, is a grand scale increase from 2008 where there were only 850.
In summary, “Alpha management remains important, but finding the right balance is too”, and the company recommends utilising technology to combine different strategies and thus a varied portfolio which will lead to future success when controlled over time.
The report can be accessed through Savvy Investor.

Podcast: Connecting the Dots – Mark Polson

In this latest edition of our Connecting the Dots podcast, we chat with the lang cat’s founder and principal Mark Polson.

With the lang cat name shrouded in humorous mystery, Mark explains how his background and experience in investment platforms led to the formation of his own company, the lang cat – a consultancy/PR/marketing firm working with many different companies in the investment industry, fintechs and more – and what exactly it means to be a lang cat.
Weekly blogging is a consistent and excellent part of the company’s content marketing efforts; Mark shares his pointers for curating an excellent strategy for B2B marketing, and how his team manages to juggle the technical aspects (trend reports etc) with lighter, humorous material. Mark also highlights the best ways to know and target your audience, tying in the difficulties suffered from the effects of GDPR, and why everyone needs to get to know regulation as well as (if not more) than compliance teams.
The lang cat’s revolutionary content extends to their events, and Mark discusses their upcoming ‘beers in the crypt’ DEADx talk – a refreshing take on the financial services conference – plus the influence of counter-culture author Hunter S Thompson and the metalhead community in financial services.
Remember, you can also catch all of our episodes from the podcast series on our SoundCloud page, iTunes library, Spotify or Stitcher.

Video in Focus: Regulation at the Forefront

It’s been a bit of time since we’ve referred to the case of Open Banking and APIs, but positively, one of the most pertinent fintech futurists Brett King from Moven has featured in an Advertainment Media video to discuss more about what the past couple of years has displayed from the implementation of Open Banking – open APIs allowing third party developers to make applications for financial institutions and increasing transparency between account holders and those that hold their money.
Brett mentions in this short and sweet clip that use cases of Open Banking are certainly on the increase due to people’s demand for quick services, although it has not been fully realised yet. He feels GDPR has helped the journey towards the ‘conscious decision to trade data’, the transparency that customers want, as well as highlighting the pitfalls from Facebook and other examples. Check it out over on Fintech Finance.

Events: Fixing the Broken Customer Journey with Digital Transformation

It’s another event feast this autumn from the excellent people over at The Financial Service Forum, with September kick-starting a whole series of breakfast talks tackling the pertinent issues facing the fund management world today.
Following in the vein of digital’s effect of the industry, one of the upcoming month’s sessions will look specifically into its impact on the experience for firms’ customers. As we have found in our last digital marketing survey, and from talking to marketers from asset managers in our podcast series, many companies are citing personalisation as a main priority for their content efforts, and that’s certainly something that this talk is geared towards.
As the registration page notes, The Content Marketing Institute has recorded that 72% of marketers from across industries are further identifying that producing more relevant content is their biggest challenge – clearly trying to rectify the ‘broken’ customer journey that they are referring to in the title.
The session will be led by Royal Bank of Canada; Prue Thompson (Senior Director, Marketing and Client Engagement at RBC Wealth Management) will be speaking alongside Showpad’s Director of Sales Iain Masson, discussing how to creative innovative experience for B2B buyers, analysing behavior and data to improve customer reporting and the merging of sales and marketing efforts.
The event takes place at 09:00 (for a 09:30 start) on September 19 2019 at the following address: Engine Group, 60 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 7RT.
You can login and register over at The FS Forum’s event page.

Fintech News: PSD2 Update

Fintech and regulation convergence in this week’s news, and it comes courtesy of the United Kingdom’s well-known financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.
This time around, it isn’t GDPR or MiFID II, but the Payment Service Directive (PSD2) which affects the way that payment services providers and banks in the EU can verify their customers’ identity and authorise payments. It was introduced in 2016 with a slow roll out until now. Part of the last phase of the regulation are new strong customer authentication (SCA) rules which are due to be adhered to by September 14 of this year. However, with many businesses not certain that this would be possible, the FCA has decided to extend the deadline by a whole 18 months. This certainly isn’t the only extension we’ve seen to legislation in the UK, that’s for sure, but some businesses will likely be high-fiving at the prospect of more time allowance.
In a press release from the FCA, Jonathan Davidson, Executive Director for Supervision – Retail and Authorisation says that the FCA does not wish to take action until the end of the 18 month period. In the meantime, the regulator will monitor the extent to which banks and providers are able to comply with the new rules. By the end of the extension however, all liable businesses must be expected to provide well-tested SCA.
Interestingly however, as RegTech analyst notes, CEO of digital bank Pepper Michal Kissos Hertzog warned about the lengthy delay, stating that “instead of updating systems to be ready for the SCA by adopting better, faster and more agile technology, some have taken the ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach. However, implementing a digital core is crucial, as it enables any company to adapt, at speed, to consumer needs and changing regulations in an effective way.” The mantra being here that with technology moving at such a pace, to stay on track, firms need to take this time to enable the implementation of a full digital service beyond the SCA rule.
Regulation, after all, is there to further the services of firms despite seeming like a burden.
Social Spotlight: Fantasy (Again)
For our readers Stateside, all the talks of Fantasy Football (in the UK at least) may seem a little redundant, so this week’s social spotlight can look forward to the US’ football-coined counterparts and its relevance to stock-picking, courtesy of inimitable straight-talker Jim Cramer. Kinda similar to what I was talking about earlier, right? Enjoy!

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Elliot Burr

Elliot Burr

Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.