This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features Matthews Asia’s Colleen Rodgers, the top 300 pension funds, Bunq in the EU, our podcast with Olivier Khatib, year-end articles beginning, and the release of 11:YEARS.

Digital Leader Spotlight: Colleen Rodgers, Vice President, Digital Marketing at Matthews Asia

Colleen-RodgersWith multiple marketing roles throughout a 15-plus tenure at Matthews Asia, Colleen Rodgers is an experienced marketing professional, particularly in the realm of all things digital.

Starting out as an Associate Product Marketing Manager for Franklin Templeton, Colleen was responsible for a variety of marketing communications, particularly focusing on the product side, especially within retirement plans. After this, Colleen continued to hone her marketing expertise as a Marketing Specialist and Account Manager in a different industry at Applied Biosystems – a genetic analysis technology company under the Life Technologies brand. However, since returning to the financial services world with Matthews Asia, Colleen has stayed there to develop as a key figure in the digital marketing space.

Going from the initial title of Marketing Assistance, Colleen has ascended the ranks to hold responsibilities including Communications Managers and then various management positions within digital marketing, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her expertise can also be recognised through her participation on the IMEAConnect 2018 Digital Council alongside other leading digital marketing experts in the funds world.

Colleen is part of our Most Influential Digital Leaders in Asset Management gallery, which we have (very) recently updated. Check it out!

Featured White Paper: The world’s largest 300 pension funds 

If you can believe it or not, we’re now in the final third of the year 2019, with the sudden thought of it actually being the end of another decade finally hitting me. And when it comes to reports over here at the Spotlight, you know what that means! We’re bound to see a huge influx of the very best roundups in the financial world, whether it’s recaps of yearly assets for fund managers, venture capital expenditure, fintech successes, or even the ubiquitous trend report looking into how the next few years (or, indeed, the whole next decade) will look for the industry.

So, to kick us off at the start of October is an yearly analysis of the pensions industry, put together by the folks at Thinking Ahead Institute, from Willis Towers Watson, a not-for-profit research firm looking to promote change for the investment industry. The report, entitled The world’s largest 300 pension funds does exactly what it says on the tin, but not just content with a simple ranking of the top funds in the pensions space, it goes much further.

Starting out with an executive summary of how the figures looked at the end of last year, they also assess which accounted for the most of total assets (this being, to give a small hint, sovereign and public sector pensions funds) as well as where the highest number of funds are domiciled. Elsewhere, the report looks into the value of the top 20 for the past five years, as well as how the AUM changed over these too, segmented by area, displaying how the top 2018 funds were housed in countries including Japan and Norway, with new entrants arriving from Denmark and South Africa.

There’s plenty of distribution graphs crammed into the report, looking into how assets by type of fund are distributed, as well as how the top 300 right now (in terms of AUM) are shared amongst regions. The USA leads the pack with 39.8%, quite far ahead of second placed Japan, with 11.9%. Then again, with its accompanying chart showing that the US owns 141 total pensions funds, those valuations seem valid.

The final roundup of the paper does as is expected and ranks the individual pensions funds from 1 to 300. It’s a formidable deep dive into pension funds, but a perfect start to the all-important end-of-year-roundup-season we now have on our hands. Get ready!

You can find the full report over on Savvy Investor.

Podcast: Connecting the Dots – Olivier Khatib

In this latest edition of the Connecting the Dots podcast, we chat with Olivier Khatib, CTO and Chief Data Scientist at Sensefolio.

Olivier first outlines his background in finance and technology throughout his time at university, studying Business Management and obtaining a Masters in Computer Science. From here, Olivier and his brother shifted their focus to the asset management space, looking to educate and improve the industry through two of its biggest buzzwords: machine learning and ESG.

Olivier felt like there were a number of pain points surrounding ESG issues and the asset management world, including the fact that ESG viewpoints differ so much between companies (an issue that isn’t stressed enough), and that investors need to be aware of the vastly different ESG frameworks available. Sensefolio offers a non-biased and objective view of companies through data aggregation, gathering 100,000 different sources of information from the opinions of companies themselves to those of third party stakeholders.

Olivier tells us how Sensefolio captures its information (company news, social media posts, company review sites etc.) through machine learning as a result of more than 4 years of consistently improving algorithms, and chats about how people are finally starting to understand and implement algorithms that have existed for years. There are clear regional differences between ESGs – some more towards gender equality, some preoccupied by sustainability reports or environmental matters and pollution, and differences in generations of investors too.

He also explains the danger some companies face in experimenting with poorly implemented machine learning and having no plan for investment improvement. Sensefolio wishes for theory to be put into actual practice, for the good of every stakeholder.

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: Successful serials

There has been some absolutely excellent  series this year. With personal highlights been Fleabag (s2) and Chernobyl (mini), both deservedly reeling in the rewards of their Emmy nominations, television isn’t the only medium to capture the greatness of an industry.

In more financial news, Citywire’s New Model Adviser (NMA) has been releasing episodes of their PlanSmart series, in partnership with Invesco, all focused (as you may guess) on financial planning. From interviewing both IFAs and clients, it gives an insight into how planning ranges across individuals and businesses.

In this edition on their website, the main topic is how self-employed people and those that own companies cope with pensions and taxes. With over 5 million self employed people in the UK, they face their own challenges in regards to financial planning for themselves and those in their employment.

There are interviews aplenty in this 8-minute video, including a business founder of a pension provider, a founder of a cleaning company working with a financial advisor and a partner of an accountant firm, all discussing how they’ve been seeking the financial planners to best see how the next few years ahead will change for them financially, in investments such as pensions, income protection, or life cover. There are also discussions on generational differences in savings, and the lack of education about financial advice.

Fintech News: Disruption continues

One of the up and coming fintech outfits, very akin to other similar ‘neobanks’ including Revolut, Monzo or N26, is Bunq which has so far gone under our radar here until now, with some news from their camp showing the growing gravitas of disruptor banks in the UK, EU, US and beyond.

For one, Bunq’s social media pages are of note due to its excellent rainbow-clad branding, which extends to bright and attractive imagery and colourways on its photography heavy Instagram page, with the added bonuses of well-utilised Instagram stories to explain the features available from the bank, including its travel card, business banking options, events and company news. But it’s the post below which helps to accentuate the main story of the moment from Bunq:


That’s right: as of October 1st, Bunq has extended its Travel Card capabilities by launching in a further 22 markets, to bring the total to 30 countries where users can sign up. This now includes all EU markets as well as Norway and Iceland, where originally it was available in its homeland of the Netherlands, as well as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Austria and Belgium. As reported by TechCrunch, in these countries you are able to apply for a complete bank account including your own International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and debit card, available via a monthly subscription fee.

Whilst the Netherlands does not actually have Google Pay as a payment option, the fintech has made Apple Pay and Google Pay support available for its Travel Card users in many of the counties listed above. The Travel Card complements the existing bank account whereby you can top up an e-wallet and spend with the Bunq Mastercard without any added markup fees for foreign transactions, as many banks charge. The Travel Card can be purchased for less than €10 without a monthly subscription fee.

Not bad! Bunq now joins a range of similar digital banks that we’ve covered in the existence of disruptors taking over the financial world, all growing exponentially and extending their reach year-by-year.

Social Spotlight: 11:YEARS

This week on social has seen a Hollywood-esque hype train courtesy of the fintech folks at 11:FS. As it has been 11 years since the financial crisis, it’s the time for the team to take a retrospective look at how the eleven years since has seen the birth and rise of fintech in the UK.

The release of this hefty and excellent project has been accompanied by trailers of its own…

…until yesterday finally saw the drop of fintech’s very own blockbuster, which was of course spread through 11:FS’s Twitter page too. Check out the full hour-long documentary by following the link!

If you’d like to have news, people, a new website or articles featured here, please get in touch via Twitter or email us at marketing@kurtosys.com

Elliot Burr

Content Marketing Editor at Kurtosys
Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.