Wall Street Pushes Higher Amid Deal Flurry

Wall Street | January 13, 2020

U.S. stocks pushed higher after the open Monday, as global macro concerns eased and investors took on board positive company-specific news, including a flurry of midcap mergers and some upbeat earnings guidance. The S&P 500 index was trading 6 points, or 0.2%, higher by 0935 ET (1435 GMT), with the NASDAQ Composite up 33 points, or 0.4%. The Dow Jones gained 27 points, or 0.1%. Fears of major military action in the Middle East have dimmed, although the Iranian authorities are under pressure from domestic protests over the downing of a Ukranian passenger plane last week. At the same time, the trade spat between China and the U.S., the two largest economies in the world, looks set to come to an end with Chinese negotiators traveling to Washington this week to sign a phase one trade deal with the U.S.

Spotlight

At their core, financial services industry (FSI) companies are technology businesses. Every product and service they offer is technology-enabled, and the rapid evolution of mobile banking and digitization of processing in general makes technology even more critical. At the core of these technology businesses, however, sits a long-standing, and growing, problem: outdated information systems. Layer upon layer of aging information technology (IT) systems, including mainframe computers dating back to the 1960s, pose significant problems – excessive maintenance costs, process and decision-making friction, degraded business agility and more – that can easily degenerate into strategic risks.


Other News
WEALTH MANAGEMENT

Secfi launches ‘Secfi Wealth’, a fully independent RIA to provide startup founders and employees with financial planning and investment management

Secfi | September 28, 2022

Secfi, the leading provider of equity planning, today announced the launch of Secfi Wealth, offering personalized financial advice, investment management, and access to alternative investments opportunities for those with startup equity. As a registered investment advisor (RIA), Secfi will now expand on its equity planning expertise to provide comprehensive financial advice and ongoing investment management specifically for the startup community. Equity is the most exciting yet daunting aspect of a startup employee’s financial life, and requires dedicated expertise and guidance to get it right. The startup community is underserved by today's wealth managers who lack extensive experience with stock options, advanced tax planning, and a deep understanding of venture valuations. In addition, they often require clients to have at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in investable assets. Secfi provides investment advice when it matters most early in one’s financial life which is why Secfi doesn’t require a minimum amount of investable assets to work with an advisor. Secfi brought John Morrison on to lead the design and management of client portfolios, as well as educate clients on investing. John brings over a decade of portfolio management experience to Secfi. He was a portfolio manager of systematic active strategies at Dimensional Fund Advisors for several years. He also spent a number of years evaluating alternative investments from a risk management point of view at Goldman Sachs, and consulted at Bain and Company. We listen to our clients and build a portfolio that suits them and their unique situation. Our goal is to save them money, make them money, and/or lower their risk by taking a systematic, data driven approach to investing while controlling what we can control in the structuring and management of their portfolio, Many of our clients reached their current level of financial wealth by taking a chance at a startup, working hard, and reaping outsized returns as a result. We help them grow that wealth in a way that avoids single points of failure so they can have the freedom to live the life they want to live and potentially take another chance on something with confidence,said Morrison. “Startup equity is an important gateway to future wealth, which is why it’s key that it be incorporated into financial planning, Historically, access to this level of expertise and wealth management would be limited to startup founders. But the reality is that it’s needed by all levels of startup employees. We’ve been waiting for this day ever since we started Secfi to provide a holistic offering to our clients.” -Frederik Mijnhardt, CEO and Co-Founder of Secfi With this additional offering, startup employees receive access to specialized expertise in pre-and post-IPO equity planning, stock option exercise and selling strategies, tax planning, preparation and filing, secondary and tender offers, and investment diversification creating a one-stop shop for employees to understand their choices around their stock options and how this impacts their larger financial goals. Since 2017, Secfi has been the startup community’s leading equity advocate, and has worked with employees from 90% of all U.S. unicorns including Airbnb, Palantir, and Doordash, helping them understand, maximize, plan, and provide cash to unlock the value of their stock options. More than 30,000 startup employees have used Secfi’s platform for equity planning, representing $48 billion in equity. About Secfi Secfi is trusted by startup employees for equity planning, stock option financing, and wealth management. We’re the first to provide a digital platform for equity planning, 1:1 financial advice, and ongoing investment management, as well as financing products that enable employees to own a stake in the company they helped build. We’ve worked with employees from more than 90% of all U.S. unicorns, and built more than 30,000 equity plans worth $48B in equity value. As an expert in valuing private companies, Secfi has studied and underwritten hundreds of high-growth startups.

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FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

OneConnect unveils OneConnect Smart Technology in the UAE

OneConnect Financial Technology | October 11, 2022

OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd ("OneConnect" or the "Company", Stock Code: 6638.HK), a leading Technology-as-a-Service ("TaaS") provider, today unveiled OneConnect Smart Technology (ME) Limited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the leading international financial centre of the capital of the UAE. Earlier, OneConnect announced that it will help develop the ADGM SME Financing Platform, an integrated digital finance marketplace that will transform the financing services landscape for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE. The intelligent marketplace aims to advance financial inclusion, enhance transparency, alleviate cost of finance operations for SMEs and improve the overall customer experience for SMEs and their funding partners. The ADGM SME Financing Platform will be an open and inclusive digital finance platform that improves SMEs' access to financing. As a marketplace connecting various key stakeholders such as SMEs, multi-lenders and data sources from government agencies, and supported by a robust loan origination process which enables seamless transfer of data, the platform will enable better, faster and more risk-appropriate financing decisions to be made. The entire loan application process is made agile and simplified through the use of digital tools such as e-contracts and e-signatures. Ms Tan Bin Ru, CEO (Southeast Asia) of OneConnect Financial Technology, officiated the opening ceremony and said: OneConnect Smart Technology further expands our footprint in the Middle East. We are excited to bring our expertise in developing digital financial solutions for SMEs within the UAE and eventually to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Muhairi, CEO of ADGM Registration Authority said, SMEs are a key contributor to economic growth and are deserving of an open and transparent marketplace for financial products, He added, With the new platform, SMEs will find more convenient, affordable and effective financing solutions that will further improve the competitiveness and diversification of the UAE economy and transform the financing landscape in the MENA region. In 2021, OneConnect had worked with ADGM to launch the Digital Lab, UAE's first Open API platform that allows financial institutions and FinTech innovators to collaborate and build the next generation of digital financial services. "With two successful cooperation initiatives with AGDM and the newly-opened OneConnect Smart Technology office in Abu Dhabi, we are confident of contributing to the digital transformation of the finance sector within the MENA region," - Annie Ong, Chief Revenue Officer of OneConnect Financial Technology Despite challenges caused by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, OneConnect has been successful in securing new partnerships building a strong relationship with ADGM. Through a comprehensive suite of technologies, a unique "Finance+Technology" business model and a customer-oriented approach, OneConnect will continue to explore future opportunities within the MENA region following the adoption of a cutting-edge platform by the leading financial centre and common law jurisdiction within the region. During the event, OneConnect introduced the End to End Digital Banking Solutions Suite, OneCosmo, the result of the joint product offerings of a partnership between OneConnect and Pismo, a cloud-native core processing platform from Brazil, to the business counterparts in the UAE. As of August 31, the technological solutions on OneCosmo platform has been utilised by more than 50 million new accounts, registering more than 2 billion transactions with a total transaction value exceeding US$109 billion.

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FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Card Curator and Invstr Announce New, Exciting Partnership

Card Curator and Invstr Ltd. | September 09, 2022

Card Curator, an app that informs rewards credit cardholders on how to earn the most out of their purchases without spending more, and top-rated U.S. investment and financial education app Invstr, have partnered together to help Invstr users make sharper decisions on their daily card spending with Card Curator’s award-winning credit card recommendation tool. Invstr users will no longer have to play the painful guessing game of which credit cards to use on purchases, as the tool will recommend the “best” card in their wallet that yields the greatest rewards on gas, groceries, dining, and more. It can be found in the Hub of the Invstr app. All in all, Card Curator’s credit card recommendation tool will provide Invstr users with the clarity and guidance they need when choosing their credit cards for any given purchase. It does this through independent and objective advice, as Card Curator does not receive compensation from banks or credit card issuers for its card recommendations. “Invstr is one of the leading pioneers in financial literacy and has educated globally over 1 million members of its community on how to become savvier investors through the support of their highly acclaimed features, Now with this partnership, Invstr users will become sharper with their daily card spending and won’t be missing out on maximum reward earning opportunities. The number one reason why cardholders miss out on rewards is that they simply use the wrong credit cards on their purchases, and our tool corrects that.” -John Taylor Garner, Founder and CEO of Card Curator Invstr is delighted to be working with Card Curator to help consumers determine the best credit card to use. Our mission is to empower everyone to take charge of their financial future. We aim to help our customers at every stage of their financial journey from learning how to invest, to managing their banking, brokerage, crypto, insurance, and now credit cards in a single easy experience, said Invstr Founder and CEO Kerim Derhalli. About Card Curator Card Curator (CC) is the first and only true rewards optimization platform that demystifies and simplifies the credit card rewards game, helping users earn an average of $4,000 per year. CC was designed by algorithm and rewards experts to maximize earnings and offer individually tailored recommendations based on each user’s objectives--not influenced by card issuers or third parties. CC is the fastest, most efficient way for cardholders to optimize their spending and maximize the value of their award redemptions, typically generating five times the returns of standard card rewards programs. With guaranteed security and customization, Card Curator levels the rewards playing field between the complexities created by financial institutions and the cardholders who want to maximize the value of their spending but don’t have the time or inclination to decipher the fine print. Based in Lakeville, CT, Card Curator is privately held. About Invstr Ltd Invstr is a technology company with a presence in New York, London and Istanbul. Through its award-winning smartphone app, Invstr is determined to democratize finance. Founded by Kerim Derhalli in 2013, the app combines fun, learning, and competition to break down barriers and help users become better, more confident investors. Derhalli was named the 2019 Tech Entrepreneur of the Year at the Go:Tech Business Awards in 2019 and Invstr the Fintech App of the Year at the 2019 UK App Awards. Invstr also won the Fintech Innovator of the Year at the UK Business Tech Awards 2018 and Fintech Founder of the Year at the BMW i UK Tech Founder Awards 2018.

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FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, FUNDING

Aktia Launches Rare Dark Green Corporate Bond Fund

Aktia | September 06, 2022

Aktia Launches Rare Dark Green Corporate Bond Fund. In addition to long-term financial returns, the UI-Aktia Sustainable Corporate Bond aims to achieve significant social and environmental benefits by investing in European sustainable development bonds. Initially, the fund will be available to both domestic and foreign professional institutional investors, but it will made available to retail investors as well at a later stage. Aktia has launched the new UI-Aktia Sustainable Corporate Bond fund on 1 September 2022. It is classified as a so-called dark green fund in accordance with Article 9 of the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. The fund invests only in green, social, and responsible bonds as well as sustainability-linked bonds (SLB), and each investment object is also required to have a positive net impact, considering, for example, the impact on society and the environment. In assessing the sustainability of investment objects the corporate bond fund uses, for example, the ISS ESG climate risk analysis as well as company-specific ESG assessments and analyses. Aktia also utilises ESG data produced by Morningstar (Sustainalytics). The investment objects’ net impact on the social and ecological environment are continuously analysed and reported through the AI-based impact tool developed by the Finnish Upright Project. “Aktia has been carrying out portfolio management that takes sustainable development into account for a long time, and we have been reporting on the impact profiles of our equity and corporate bond funds via Upright’s tool since 2019. However, there is a growing demand on the market for investment products with clearly measurable sustainability impacts. It is great to be involved in the creation of this dark green corporate bond fund, which is still rare even in Europe, and where investment objects do not only comply with the sustainable development objects but also generate significant social or environmental benefits,” - Jonne Sandström, Portfolio Manager of the new fund UI-Aktia Sustainable Corporate Bond will initially be available to professional institutional investors, but the objective is to make the fund available to retail investors at a later stage. The fund is also sold to professional institutional investors internationally through Universal-Investment-Luxembourg S.A., Aktia's fund distribution partner in Europe. In Finland, the pension insurance company Veritas has entered the fund as a seed investor with EUR 20 million. As a pension investor, it is important for us to invest responsibly but without compromising returns. This fund combines the skills of experienced portfolio managers and the innovative mindset of a startup – and it does all this with domestic expertise. We want to support concrete actions to promote sustainability, says Ville Iso-Mustajärvi, Portfolio Manager at Veritas. While UI-Aktia Sustainable Corporate Bond primarily invests in investment grade bonds, it can diversify up to 20% of its investments to high yield bonds with a rating of at least BB -. An exception to this is unrated bonds, in which up to 3% of the fund can be invested. The largest individual sectors for the fund's investments are financial services and utilities, with a wide company-level diversification. Regarding sustainable corporate bond categories, the majority of investments are directed towards green bonds. Aktia has taken ESG issues into account for a long time in its investment activities. The company also systematically develops its climate strategy published in 2021. As part of its climate strategy, Aktia joined the international Net Zero Asset Managers initiative at the end of 2021. The initiative in support of emission restrictions, which has become a financial standard, offers more concrete tools for sustainability work. Aktia has also participated in CDP’s Non-Disclosure Campaign and the CDP-led Science Based Targets project. Moreover, Aktia reports annually on climate change in the CDP portal. In 2021, Aktia became a public supporter of TFCD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) and reports in accordance with these recommendations. As an indication of Aktia's expertise in financial management, Morningstar awarded Aktia as Finland's best fund house in February 2022. Aktia won the award as the best fixed income fund house for the eighth time.

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Spotlight

At their core, financial services industry (FSI) companies are technology businesses. Every product and service they offer is technology-enabled, and the rapid evolution of mobile banking and digitization of processing in general makes technology even more critical. At the core of these technology businesses, however, sits a long-standing, and growing, problem: outdated information systems. Layer upon layer of aging information technology (IT) systems, including mainframe computers dating back to the 1960s, pose significant problems – excessive maintenance costs, process and decision-making friction, degraded business agility and more – that can easily degenerate into strategic risks.

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