This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features BNY Mellon’s Mary Jane Ajodah, social media mistakes, our podcast with Byron Lotter, Europe’s most valuable fintech, panel discussions and a ‘new India’.

Digital Leader Spotlight: Mary Jane Ajodah, VP Chief Digital Office – Strategy and Delivery at BNY Mellon

Mary-Jane-AjodahAs one of BNY Mellon’s most prominent spokespeople for digital in recent years, Mary Jane Ajodah makes our list of digital leaders, now working as the Vice President of the firm’s Chief Digital Office.

Before joining BNY Mellon, Mary Jane held the position of Internal Strategy Consultant at IBM, helping to develop its Digital division, enabling enterprise clients to purchase products through a digital sales capability. Mary Jane’s projects here helped develop an understanding of agile methodology, web analytics and SaaS platforms and won awards in 2014 and 2015. Since working at BNY Mellon, Mary Jane has paved the journey for fintech and emerging technology partnerships, as well as developing one of the earliest proofs of concept for blockchain technology. Working in the Strategy team, Mary Jane has led a partnership with Goldman Sachs to develop another early proof of concept for the Symphony industry utility to boost operational workflow, as well as managing relationships with fintechs and vendors. In very recent news, BNY Mellon and BlackRock have announced an alliance for the former firm to incorporate their data and servicing tools into BlackRock’s investment platform Aladdin.

Elsewhere, Mary Jane is a key thought leader, speaking at such events as Symphony Innovate 2017 and 2018, and Finovate Fall 2018, where she has featured in video interviews to discuss the importance of major digital innovations in the financial space, including AI and machine learning.

Mary Jane is a recent addition to our Most Influential Digital Leaders in Asset Management gallery – check out the full gallery here!

Featured Report: Wellington’s research trip


One of Wellington Management’s main initiatives is to take research trips to better understand opportunities in emerging markets, by talking to real people from consumers to business owners.

Recently, the team travelled to India, which as we saw from our Fintech World Series article on the country is rapidly responding to being a largely underbanked nation by harnessing technology to serve the population – the second most populous country in the world. Wellington have titled their report from the journey Jai hind: This is the new India, with the phrase being a popular term in the country, now apparently becoming “young India” due to having the highest population of millennials in the world. Jai hind can mean many things, but all positively looking towards the future of India, which we see here is driven by high data usage resulting from plummeting costs.

The firm has also conducted an online survey of 1,200 people in India ranging between 20 and 30 years old to find out about consumption trends as Internet access becomes far more mainstream. It is now apparent that digital payments, social media and meal delivery apps have taken hold outside of metropolitan cities and to ‘lower-tier cities’. But it’s more than just technology deciding the pace of change for a ‘new India’, with increased nationalism amongst the younger generations providing the groundwork for wanting to invest more into India’s tech scene to become a huge world economy. Rather than relying on Western products and ideals, consumers instead want to combine “eternal” and “emerging” India through the modernisation of domestic goods.

This report shows how financial inclusion and, even further, complete financial independence is a major aspiration for young Indian generations, which in turn is showing where further investments in the country need to go, namely real estate development and digital entertainment platforms.

You can see what their portfolio managers Liliana Castillo Dearth and Simon Henry made of their findings, and how the ‘new India’ is, financially and technologically, well underway. The report can be found via Savvy Investor.

Podcast: Connecting the Dots – Byron Lotter

In this latest episode of our Connecting the Dots podcast series, we chat to Byron Lotter, Director at Vestact Asset Management, based in Johannesburg.

In this podcast, Byron explains why personalisation is so important to South African investors and outlines how Vestact puts client relationships at the core of everything they do. He also comments on the general education gap that exists for many South African investors who did not grow up learning how to invest in stocks from their parents. Following on from that he also gives some advice to first time investors who don’t know where to start.

Elsewhere, we discuss the potential of robo-advisors in the South African investment space and whether South African investors are ready to entrust their money to AI investment vehicles, and Byron highlights some of the finance influencers he follows.

Remember, you can catch all of our episodes from the podcast series on our SoundCloud page, iTunes library or Spotify.

Video in Focus: 11:FS Roundtable

11:FS have made a big name for themselves in the industry, with excellent Fintech After Dark events, charitable merchandise, and a team in the Fintech League. Most notably however is their ‘filmed’ podcasts which are shared all over social media – clips from their insightful panel discussions looking into the biggest news in the fintech world.

This week, they’ve released a whole 10 minute discussion video where Sarah Kocianski is joined by Karen Kerrigan (CEO of Seedrs), Romi Savova (CEO/founder of PensionBee) and Iona Bain (Young Money blogger and speaker) to discuss the allocation of funds from the RBS Remedy fund, which went to Nationwide, Investec and Co-operative Bank. The main point they raise is: why has Monzo not been given a grant?

As we look at the rise and rise of such disruptors, this seems a fitting and topical debate, filmed with aplomb by the excellent team at 11:FS.

Featured Event: Transforming Financial Services Marketing through Content Innovation and Social Data

As well have learned in our podcast with Courtney McQuade, financial services companies are still struggling to correctly implement social media marketing in its full capacity. And as the past few years of history have shown, some companies have even made terrible blunders from social media channels that certainly haven’t helped reputation.

Now that social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are so highly engrained into modern society, and certainly businesses, it’s best to see how these channels can do more than simply share a few pictures and pointers – they can even drive revenue and get that all-important ROI.

Another event courtesy of the Financial Services Forum, this talk will be a practical session featuring Dr Matthias Göllner, Account Director for Financial Services at Hootsuite. After benchmarking data for over 100 finserv and insurance companies, and interviewing marketers and industry experts, attendees will then learn how data integration is to become the top priority and how new ways to present content will increase engagement.

The event takes place on 13 June 2019, from 09.00 until 11.30. The address is Hootsuite’s London offices, at 1 St Katharine’s Way, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London, E1W 1UN.

For more details and registration, follow this link to the FS Forum event page.

Fintech News: Taking the Crown

Don’t worry, I won’t dawdle about the ending of Game of Thrones with that title, as that has inevitably divided the fanbase and bored non-viewers senseless for a long while…

…More importantly, in the realm of fintech, there’s a new leader in Europe (by valuation), as made evident in this tweet from fintech’s Cersei Lannister, OakNorth (sorry).

That’s right, Transferwise is now the most valuable fintech company in Europe after a secondary share sale which saw Vitruvian Partners, Lone Pine and Lead Edge buying stakes in the business, now valued at $3.5 billion. A leading unicorn indeed.

The company is based in London, and was founded by Skype’s first employee Taavet Hinrikus and financial consultant Kristo Käärmann, Estonians working between their native country and the UK. It is a money transfer service which processes £4 billion in transaction every month for 5 million customer. Commenting on the news, Hinrikus had this to say in an interview, reported by CNBC:

“Eight years ago we had a dream, and in a way the whole world was against us […] And we’ve been able to step by step build the business and also change the environment around us to be much more consumer friendly.”

Transferwise has been a profitable company for the past two years and has received investment from BlackRock, Baillie Gifford and Sir Richard Branson. It operates across 12 offices around the world. The investment is intended to grow the company; now at 1,600 employees, Transferwise is looking to hire 750 more people. An excellent success story for a fintech startup, let’s see how mega they can get.

Social Spotlight: Errors continue

Instead of the usual embedded Tweet to showcase some of the finer social media work in finance, this week we’re looking into a point we made earlier about the mistakes made by firms on Twitter. It still goes on…

The Financial Brand has looked into a recent Tweet from Chase Bank, who wrongly used the popular #MondayMotivation hashtag and faced a bit of a backlash (as well as some support, too) from Twitter users. The ongoing article details the events at the end of April, and also looks into what makes for an ill-advised tweet so that these moments can be avoided. It’s a tough world out there on social media: be prepared.

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Elliot Burr

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