This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features Vanguard’s James Bryan, growing investment opportunities in the US cannabis market, Microsoft Dynamics for wealth managers, Global WealthTech Summit, sporting fintech partnerships, and the coming of the Vegan ETF.

Digital Leader Spotlight: James Bryan, Head of Digital Experience at Vanguard

James-BryanVanguard is an asset management company making a conscious effort to boost its digital capabilities, and a leader helping to make this a reality is James Bryan, Head of Digital Experience.

James has worked extensively throughout the financial services industry; whether that’s being responsible for developing marketing programs for American Express’ New Industry Development teams, or launching ING Direct’s first product extension for their savings account, James has been at the cutting edge of the digital plans for these firms. At BSkyB, as Senior Digital Marketing Controller, James was responsible for revolutionising the customer experience through a central online site, MySky, and improving UX, back-end analysis and personalisation through Agile. James has also led the development of digital expansion for Visa Europe, on a ‘test and learn’ basis to innovate the firm’s capabilities.

James now brings this technological savvy to Vanguard, to launch and optimise a new range of digital services for the asset manager to be at the forefront of the industry’s growth in digital expertise.

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

Featured White Paper: Investment Opportunities in the World’s Largest Cannabis Market

Cannabis-MedicalBefore we get on to one of the other (and perhaps newer) major talking points taking over the investment space, let’s dwell on another of the burgeoning markets that has been a divider amongst investors.

The United States is the largest cannabis market in the world, with this research paper from Echelon Partners determining that its long-term potential could be worth in the ballpark of $60 billion annually, also predicting that it could in fact emerge as a major consumer good with growing legitimacy. Already, in the US there are 11 states that allow legal adult-use of cannabis, and the production of hemp-derived CBD and THC presents other opportunities for investing.

Echelon Partners have gone above and beyond in this white paper, taking an advanced look into the legal status of cannabis and its legal spending per state, presented through the use of graphs and charts to break down the hefty amount of figures they have managed to generate. They also included their forecasted spending leading up to 2024 (an increase from the current $12.8 billion to a whopping $30.1 billion in only 5 years), a look into the consumer preferences per product (cannabis’ derivative products including vapes, extracts and edibles), and a map of legal use in the US helps to identify quite how much medical and adult-use legalisation of marijuana has pervaded the country, with only two states not permitting it in any way.

There’s a lot to digest in this excellent, holistic view of America’s cannabis market, and who knows where further legalisation can go, and how that will affect the opportunities available to investors keen on this burgeoning market, albeit with its critics.

You can download this Echelon Partners research via Savvy Investor.

Video in Focus: The Wealth Mosaic

The Wealth Mosaic acts as a resource for wealth managers to best understand their market and audience, and assists in finding valuable solutions for the needs of their clients. We’ve had an excellent chat with their co-founder and CEO Stephen Wall in our podcasts; listen to it here.

Stephen outlined in our exchange that the company was looking further into the rolling out of video content, and they’ve excellently developed a video series perfect for social media sharing. In the edition contained within the LinkedIn post below, it marks the second video interview with Business Manager at Xpedition, Ben Revill. Xpedition has been a Microsoft Gold Partner for the past 16 years and are experts in Microsoft Dynamics 365, specialising in customer engagement CRM.

In the interview, Ben outlines the general features of Dynamics for wealth management, from its fully mobile offering to enhance marketing and business development capabilities: KYC and client onboarding, for instance. Ben also looks towards the future of the wealth management industry, with more fuller integration of different platforms – ‘digital glue’ as he puts it – and how firms can adapt these platforms to best suit their own needs.

For wealth managers, it’s an interesting chat to see how these digital platforms are becoming invaluable for many aspects of business processes.

Events: Global WealthTech Summit

One of the wealth management sector’s most prolific events returns in a couple of months’ time. Global WealthTech Summit will convene in London, gathering together the ‘inner circle’ of wealth technology professionals.

Around 600 senior-level delegates are set to participate, including such C-Suite professionals as CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, COOs and MDs from asset management firms, heads of digital and technology, institutional asset management and private banking, as well as founders and CEOs from leading companies in the wealthtech space. The event gives participants the opportunity to learn about which wealthtech solutions are available for the asset management market, and to converse with investors from asset managers and banks.

Financial institutions already attending this year’s edition include BlackRock, Credit Suisse, Vanguard, Schroders, UBS and BNY Mellon among many others. Some confirmed speakers so far are Jeremy Taylor (CEO, Lazard Asset Management UK), Camille Blackburn (Global Chief Compliance Officer, Aviva Investors) and Joe Parkin (Head of iShares and Digital Wealth in the UK, BlackRock).

The event takes place in London on 5 November 2019.

You can register for the event over on the Global WealthTech Summit website.

Fintech News: The inevitable

Vegan

Despite the constant chat about ETFs and their varying niche-ness, this recent rollout news of a new brand of ETF seems like it has been a long time coming, particularly its growing relevance for the modern day investor more interested in sustainability.

That’s correct, we now have on our hands the first vegan-based ETF, courtesy of Beyond Investing, as reported by ETF Stream. Named the US Vegan Climate ETF, it debuted on the NYSE Arca last week under VEGN, and will look to screen companies according to principles related to veganism and climate change concerns, and according to ETF Trends, the index has around 280 components with an average market value of circa $220 billion. Companies that will be excluded from the stock-picking exercise will participate in the following activities:

Animals – testing, farming, exploitation, use in sport and entertainment, genetical engineering.

Planet – extracting and refining (or burning) of fossil fuels, high carbon activities, destroying habitats.

People – armaments and military and defence products, tobacco products, and anything contributing to human exploitation and independent policies on human rights and forced labour.

The number of vegans, vegetarians and semi-vegetarians worldwide is currently estimated at around 11% of the population, with this figure looking to grow significantly in the next few years as sustainability efforts on both an individual and collective/government-supported level are on the up. With environmental matters being so closely linked to the production and consumption of meat products, veganism is a prominent lifestyle choice gaining popularity to help the longevity of the Earth.

CEO of Beyond Investing, Claire Smith, appeared on Fox Business Network’s ‘Varney & CO.’ to speak about the new fund, as follows: “We are taking out about 43% of the S&P 500 […] adding in some of the mid-caps that are more forward-thinking like Beyond Meat (BYND) and Tesla (TSLA), in order to make up some of the differentials in order to compensate for the things we are taking out. We feel it’s a very forward looking product, which enables vegans to invest according to their principles and also looks ahead to the kind of companies that are going to be successful in the future.”

In the realm of both ETF and ESG matters, this fund launch is huge news and something that may be seen infiltrating the portfolios of many a sustainability-conscious investor.

Social Spotlight: Finance and sport combined (again)

There are many instances of financial firms boosting their marketing and branding through the sponsorship of the world’s most popular sports teams. You see it often with asset management firms supporting cricket and rugby tournaments in the UK and beyond, and we chatted through Fiserv’s collaboration with its hometown NBA team Milwaukee Bucks through the re-brand of the stadium – Fiserv Forum – after a 25-year naming rights deal, which we talked about a little with Fiserv’s President of Investment Services Cheryl Nash in our podcast. You can listen to that here.

There’s plenty more where that came from, as one particular fintech has decided to get into the game, as outlined in the Tweet below:

The new SoFi Stadium is the result of a 20-year deal for the 3 million square foot compound, which will be home to the two (newish) Los Angeles-based NFL teams, the Rams and the Chargers, next year. You can check out an interview with SoFi’s CEO Anthony Noto on why he decided to ink the sponsorship deal over at CNBC.

The financial space is clearly seeking to expand its global presence through some of the world’s most closely followed sporting events, with fintech too now becoming the household name that we’ve been speculating for years.

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Elliot Burr

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