Welcome to our asset management marketing focus
This week’s edition brings you a global rebrand, finserv moves from Salesforce, more ETF exposure and Robot Wars.
Movers & Shakers
Is now ➜ Country Marketing Manager at Capital Group
Was: Head of UK Marketing – Senior Marketing Manager at Santander Asset Management
Is now ➜ European Sales – Head of Italian Distribution at RWC Partners
Was: Senior Marketer – Account Manager – Southern Europe at Brevan Howard
Is now ➜ Sales Director – Wholesale Germany
Was: Janus Henderson Investors, EMEA
Kurtosys expresses their best wishes to all starting in their new positions.
Rebrand Spotlight: Merian Global Investors
“A new day, a new dawn.”
That’s the motto attributed by Merian Global Investors to apply not just to their own launch but also a new feature here at AMMF: a spotlight on company rebrands.
It’s a move that doesn’t happen all that often in the asset management space, but the company formerly known as Old Mutual Global Investors has rolled out a new campaign across its digital channels.
Under its new guise, Merian, the company is looking to sum up their existing investment strategy. Taking inspiration from Maria Sibylla Merian, a world-renowned scientist and heralded as one of the leading entomologists, Merian Global Investors links her work to their multi-faceted approach to investment; as a polymath and an artistic depicter of the insects she studied, Merian “made science beautiful”, as well as showing a progressive nature and a strong sense of character which the firm prides itself on.
Their Twitter page is all-new, for now just complete with the initial quotation here…
— MGI (@MerianGlobal) October 1, 2018
…and their website has been updated with the rebrand, which includes their new butterfly-clad logo, and an animated carousel image of their trademark geometric shapes also restructured as members of the Papilionoidea animal family. You can read even more about the rebrand here.
Fund in Focus: PGIM Active High Yield Bond ETF
Prudential Global Investment Management (PGIM), like many of the largest asset managers, has taken a dip into the world of ETFs. Prior to this latest launch PGIM had only debuted its ETF platform in 2018, the PGIM Ultra Short Bond ETF, which has gained $64 million AUM since April, and was launched on NYSE Arca providing exposure to ultra-short fixed income securities.
PGIM Investments has titled its second actively-managed fund the PGIM Active High Yield Bond ETF. As with the aforementioned ETF, the fund is to be managed by sub-advisor PGIM Fixed Income. It is priced at 0.53%, which Morningstar’s data notes as 14 basis points below your normal active high yield ETF – certainly a reasonable pricing. It will try to outperform the Bloomberg Barclays US High Yield Very Liquid Index.
President and CEO of PGIM Investment, Stuart Parker, has stated that the launching of a new ETF is a way to scale and expand the flexibility of the platform with competitive products to match their pre-existing investment capabilities. Active managers in the sector will look to the firm’s credit research and risk management expertise for successful investing; the portfolio has been built using bottom-up credit research whilst risk is managed. A fifth of it can be assigned to bonds in foreign currency, but risk will always be hedged back to the US dollar.
Given the success of the first ETF launch from the firm, perhaps this next offering will also hope to double in size in just a few months, given the rising popularity of ETFs within asset management.
Firm in Focus: Fidelity Investments
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
On the front of asset management, it’s the 72 year old institution Fidelity Investments making the headlines for their chutzpah in the face of the future.
Artificial Intelligence and blockchain are terms that get banded ‘round plenty of times in the FSI, but deciphering who walks the walk instead of talking the talk is something we’re always looking to see. This week has seen a large acknowledgement of the efforts of the so-called “old dog”, or even the “sleeping giant” Fidelity Investments, who are doing their utmost to actually become the market leader in developing the most advanced of technologies. This would place it in the upper echelon of forward-thinking tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Apple or Facebook. Then again, CEO Abigail Johnson stated in a panel discussion that she believes the firm was “doing fintech before fintech was cool”.
It does this in an expensive way, investing a portion of their $7 trillion customer assets (around $2.5 billion) in technology through its scientific research arms: Fidelity Labs and the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology. It’s main technology targets are eponymously presented through its subsidiaries: Fidelity blockchain; Fidelity AI; and Fidelity VR.
Although, Fidelity’s experimental side is exactly that: experimental. Fidelity Labs is particularly vocal about this fact, stating that the centre’s mantra is “fail fast and fail early”. The adoption of new technologies even for the most advanced companies is difficult, using the best minds to adapt these futuristic capabilities to benefit as many industries as possible, no bit in the least financial services. And Fidelity wants to hit the ground running thick and fast, clearly, expanding their tech wings across many different uses, and developing the ideas as soon as possible, dumping them if unsuccessful. It’s a brutal trial and error strategy that seems to be paying off. Even as early as 1946, Edward C. Johnson (Abigail’s grandfather) stated that the company was to “take intelligent risk rather than follow the crowd”; the family-run business has clearly maintained its initial beliefs through to the modern age through generations.
Fidelity Labs has already created a mobile app, the Cora chatbot service and taken to the manufacturing of blockchain capabilities, as well as some failures, which is accepted as all a part of the nature for Fidelity Labs: the “safe space” for experimentation.
Almost one-third of the company’s employees are now technologists, around 12,000 individuals, but even then they are looking to source further tech talent through a large recruitment drive, again trying to compete with Silicon Valley’s established “cooler” brands, who are set apart from a bank who many would consider as ‘stuck in the Bronze Age’.
Nonetheless, the firm is clearly trying to align itself more with fintech competitors than the other long-lasting banking institutions, the counterparts they find themselves alongside historically. The full CNBC report below certainly marks out Fidelity Investments as a fore-runner in the race for a digital future, and a warning sign for any lagging businesses that aren’t doing enough to remain a key contestant in the AI Olympics.
Fintech News: A New Spaghetti Western
Cryptocurrencies certainly aren’t shy of run-ins with the laws that be, but an article by WSJ – summarised in part here by Finance Magnates – has highlighted the most recent concerns regarding the crypto-world.
An illegal practice within financial services is ‘spoofing’, which is the manipulation of trading by making transactions and cancelling at the eleventh hour. With the presence of automatic trading programmes, so-called “bots”, these rogue crypto traders have created a bit of a robot war between the good guys (who monitor digital assets to buy or sell appropriately on behalf of their owner) and the bad guys who trick these innocents by spoofing.
The seems but one episode in a crypto Star Wars franchise of Bitcoin market manipulation, hence the SEC’s constant rejection of Bitcoin-based ETFs (which are still piling on the heat more and more in recent times). Even the US Justice Department has started looking into spoofing within the cryptocurrency trading space, where it has led to constant finger-pointing to financial and educational institutions within the USA and abroad. Many exchanges are receiving subpoenas for supposed malpractice.
As exciting a prospect as crypto-trading is for some, it is its dark side which pervades the headlines still.
Artificial Intelligence news, however, seems to be forever on the up. Especially when, in the hands of the world’s leading CRM Salesforce, it can be used to further strengthen relationships with customers, particularly between wealth managers and their investors.
As reported by Forbes is the initial successes of Salesforce’s Financial Services Cloud platform, which was built in order to overcome difficulties in the sector. Using one of its most recent acquisitions – MuleSoft – the platform will use APIs to transfer client data from outdated systems to beautifully displayed dashboards for banks. But that’s just one part of a huge initiative for this part of Salesforce’s vast network.
This article outlines the efforts being made by General Manager of Financial Services at Salesforce Rohit Mahna, and the Chief Innovation Officer Simon Mulcahy in bringing a B2C focus to B2B. From visiting and talking to many wealth management companies, Mulcahy notes that millennials and female investors are underserved, and this is to do with how the industry’s organisational model needs to change.
Making processes more agile and simple will advance transformation rather than hinder it, with artificial intelligence added to the Einstein product allowing for better relationships and services to occur.
In what is probably well overdue, California has recently made it law for public companies based within the state to have at least one female member on their board of directors, as reported by Reuters.
Of course, for financial services companies, traditional or fintech, and some of the world’s largest tech giants (Apple, Alphabet Inc. and Facebook), this applies fully, with many based in the state or concentrated in Silicon Valley. These three examples must now, by law, add at least one more female member to their boards in the next three years.
Anyone that violates this new law faces a fine of at least $100,000.
It’s a move which will hopefully prompt companies worldwide to also implement this regulation, with California serving as a base for many international companies.
Open the Floodgates
In the tech-savvy realm of data, open banking and APIs is fintech company Tink – a virtual bank based in Sweden that uses data and account information to create a seamless banking experience.
At Money2020 Europe was Tink’s CEO and Founder Daniel Kjellén talked to Finextra about how data-driven banking is the future of finance. Kjellén believes that due to regulations such as PSD2 in Europe, traditional banking firms find distribution difficult, leading to increasing competition. A new market has become “unlocked”, leading to a “winner takes all” scenario within each niche of financial services.
You can check out the views of the fintech leader in this interview below.
We’re back with a brand new webinar on Thursday 18th October:
Teaming up with Kim Bell from Finserv Market Research agency Bdifferent, we look into how the generation of Millennials is affecting the financial services industry, and vice versa.
Bdifferent’s study of 1,000 Millennials in the UK serves as the basis for quantitative and qualitative analysis looking into the following issues:
- Millennial spending and investment habits
- Influencers in the investment space
- Trends in the Millennial financial journey.
Our Global Head of Digital Rich Watts will also be speaking about how asset and wealth managers can adapt their digital transformation efforts to best service Millennials.
You can sign up for this webinar at the link above.
…the saga of Elon Musk vs the SEC continues.
After already causing a problem with the Securities and Exchange Commission with his tweet hinting at taking Tesla private, only to remain public, Musk was then instructed recently by the regulator to accept a no-deal settlement. This would involve a hefty fine for both the company and its founder, and for Musk to step down as Chairman for two years.
Since then, quite a lot has happened. CNBC reported here that Musk refused the settlement as he felt that by accepting he would “not be truthful to himself”, but now, it seems that Musk has in fact agreed to these terms, but still holds the main power on the board by being able to choose his successor(s) himself.
Given Tesla’s popularity (or declining popularity), this ongoing story is of great importance to investment professionals, with this SEC/Musk decision being viewed as the perfect outcome for investors to some fund managers in Citywire.
That’s all for this week, but be sure to check back soon for more asset management marketing highlights and fintech snippets from Kurtosys.
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