We have an open, approachable way of doing things and welcome every opportunity to meet and talk in person.

Press enquiries

For press enquiries only, please contact Lauren Dempster on 07719254040 or lauren.dempster@multrees.com

OMBA Release
New Strategic Partnership Announcement

Multrees Investor Services (Multrees) a leader in investment administration, technology, and custody, today announces that Omba Advisory & Investments Ltd has selected Multrees to provide custody and white labelled platform/client reporting solutions to its Family Office, Ultra High Net Worth and retail clients.

Omba, a London based wealth and asset manager provide investment management solutions through a range of global actively managed multi-asset and equity ETF portfolios and UCITS funds. Founded in 2017 Omba are ETF specialists utilising the benefits of cost, liquidity, and global exposure they offer for clients but with an active investment management process to actively select ETFs for expressing investment views on country, sector or theme allocation.

The partnership with Multrees will enable Omba to provide both UK onshore and offshore custody solutions to its clients.

David Pierson, Omba Chief Operating Officer said: “Following a detailed RFP process of the platform market Omba selected Multrees due to their suitability of booking locations, their partnership with world class sub custodian networks and a modern technology platform solution. The open architecture of their platform will allow us to achieve operational efficiencies through straight through trade processing and centralise custody to continue to achieve cost savings for our current and future clients”  

Clive Stelfox Multrees Executive Director said: “We are delighted to have been selected as strategic partners for Omba. As ETF specialists managing money for family offices and high net worth clients, Omba have grown significantly as the demand for cost effective ETF investment solutions continues to expand in the UK and across Europe.  Following a rigorous selection process we are proud to have been selected for our award winning, flexible and technology enabled solution, further cementing our position as a key player in the global custody market.”


Multrees have recently announced two new additions to the Board of Directors as well as their strategy to double the client base over the next five years.

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Elaine Clements Board Member (002)
Multrees Investor Services appoints Elaine Clements to the Board of Directors

Multrees Investor Services (Multrees) is pleased to announce the appointment of Elaine Clements to the Board of Directors.  Elaine joins the existing Board alongside recently appointed Chairman David Nicol, Ausaf Abbas, Chris Fisher and Clive Stelfox. 

Elaine has over 35 years of experience in global regulation and compliance. Her previous roles have seen her acting as a senior global adviser to international, listed and multi-sector clients on legal and regulatory aspects of their business strategy. A qualified solicitor, Elaine joined JP Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM) in 2000 initially as a senior lawyer before being appointed Global Head of Compliance of JPMAM in 2006.  Leading a team of around130 people in 11 countries, Elaine was accountable for strategy, resourcing and execution of the JPMAM compliance, regulatory risk assessment and monitoring programme.  She was also a member of JPMAM global executive, EMEA audit risk assurance committee and group wide regional committees. 


Following her role as Global Chief Compliance Officer at JPMAM, Elaine has held a number of board appointments including non-exec member of the Audit Risk Assurance Committee of UK Gov Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Dept, and non-exec director and committee chair of Cambridge Investment Management.


Elaine Clements said: “Growing and managing business risk across multiple markets has been a key focus throughout my career. In a heavily and increasingly regulated environment this is a time of significant change in our industry. Multrees with its award-winning global custody and investment administration solution, as well as its heritage in market leading technology, is well positioned to continue its expansion.  I am excited to be appointed to the board of such a rapidly growing and successful organisation”.


Multrees Founder and CEO Chris Fisher adds “Elaine’s breadth of experience and in-depth knowledge of regulated fiduciary businesses will bring significant value to our expanding team.  Our successful development strategy has enabled the business to witness unprecedented client growth over the past 12 months and we are well positioned to continue to expand our market share.”


Multrees recently announced the addition of a number of new team members and strategy to double its client base over the next five years.

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Multrees pays tribute to Sir Roger Gifford, Non-Executive Director of Multrees

We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Sir Roger Gifford, Non-Executive Director of Multrees. Sir Roger was the representative on our board for our majority shareholder, the SEB Pension Fund, and was instrumental in stewarding the relationship between SEB and Multrees. His passing is a great loss to our company. 

Born in St Andrews in 1955, Sir Roger served as Lord Mayor of London in 2013, and had worked for SEB since 1982. He will be remembered more widely as a champion of UK financial services and more recently as a strong advocate of climate linked financial services, eventually being asked by the government to lead the Green Finance Taskforce.                                                 

Our thoughts are with Sir Roger’s family during this difficult time.

Below is a link to the obituary published in the Financial Times this morning.



PRESS COVERAGE: Multrees CCO Andrew Back talks about the evolution of the platform market and why a modular approach is the future in Professional Adviser

Multrees Investor Services CCO Andrew Back talks about the evolution of platforms in Professional Adviser and is featured on their homepage! Andrew highlights the unique perspective Multrees has on a modular platform approach: 

"The idea of a modular approach to platforms (and therefore only paying for what you need) has become very appealing. Not only that, we are also seeing adviser firms demanding more sophistication from platforms, particularly in the area of investment functionality - many adviser firms have, or are seeking, discretionary permissions and recruiting specialist investment professionals who are far more used to institutional-grade functionality."

Click the link below to read the full article...


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Multrees hosts Virtual Client User Group

It has become something of a running joke that we have ended our last few Client User Group Events with “We hope to see you in person for the next one!” but that is certainly now feeling more likely as the UK beings a return to normality.

Our Client User Groups are regular forums where we discuss our proposition updates, platform development ideas and changes to regulations and our business that impact our Clients. As well as an open discussion of topical industry issues and best practice sharing amongst our Clients. These forums offer a unique perspective on the challenges facing wealth managers and advisers today and in the future.


Alongside Multrees own subject matter experts, we often host interesting guest speakers as part of the agenda – and certainly have exciting plans for the rest of this year’s series, but for this event the special guest was an afternoon tea box delivered to our Clients by Piglets Pantry. This is a small local UK business committed to sustainable packaging with their boxes, padding and Bio-Plastic inserts 100% recyclable and minimising the negative impact on the environment. This not only aligns with Multrees own corporate focus on sustainability and ESG but was a delicious highlight to the agenda.

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PRESS COVERAGE: Multrees CCO Andrew Back in Money Marketing

Multrees Investor Services CCO Andrew Back is featured in the recent Money Marketing Issue, sharing some insights on the evolution of the platform market... https://digitalissues.emap.com/MM/250321/index.html#


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Apprenticeships at Multrees - Business Backing Talent
This Scottish Apprenticeship Week shines a light on the great things that happen when business backs apprenticeships. At Multrees Investor Services we believe that apprenticeships can secure a pipeline of talent for both our business and the industry as a whole – and so far it has been a great investment – with 70% of our previous apprentices still with Multrees, six years on from our initial programme with many gaining experience from across different parts of our business.
Executive Director Clive Stelfox comments “Expanding our teams through apprenticeships helps us to tackle a shortage of digital skills, the futureproofing of our business and is a key part of achieving our ambitions as a company – we are committed to hiring and more apprentices than ever before.” 
Jason Scott joined Multrees as an apprentice in 2018 and has recently moved from the Data Management team to the role of Marketing Assistant and adds “Gaining an apprenticeship with Multrees was a really great opportunity for me to develop in a field I would not otherwise have got a chance in at all. An apprenticeship gives you the best of both worlds allowing you to gain qualifications and experience on the job whilst learning and developing within your role.”
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David Nicol
Changes to the Board of Directors of Multrees Investor Services

We are pleased to announce that David Nicol has been nominated to the Board for Multrees Investor Services, and further, pending regulatory approval David will be proposed as Chairman of the board effective May 1st 2021 when current Chair Hugh Mullan will step down after six years of service.

Until June 2020 David was CEO of Brewin Dolphin where he led the successful transformation and significant growth of this business during his seven-year tenure, and prior to this he spent 27 successful years at Morgan Stanley, initially in finance and then operations, working across the UK, Continental Europe, and Asia. David’s career in the financial industry spans well over three decades and includes extensive executive and board experience in the areas of finance, risk, wealth management, operations, and technology.


David has held numerous board appointments across foundations and the finance industry, including Euroclear, CISI and ICAS. Earlier this year, David has also recently been appointed to the Board of Directors for Julius Bear. He joins the existing Multrees Board of Directors with Ausaf Abbas, Sir Roger Gifford, Clive Stelfox and Chris Fisher.


David Nicol comments “I am very pleased to be joining the Board of Multrees Investor Services and I look forward to bringing my experience and playing a part in the continuing development and exciting ambitions of Multrees."


Multrees Founder and CEO Chris Fisher adds “I am delighted to welcome David to our business – he brings a deep and diverse range of experience drawn from an extensive and successful career, and will provide valuable input and challenge to Multrees as we continue our sustainable, responsible growth.”


Current Multrees Chairman Hugh Mullan adds “It has been a pleasure to serve on the board of such an exciting and dynamic business, and I welcome David as my successor and wish him the best as Multrees sets out on the next phase of its growth ambitions.”

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Press coverage of Multrees growth ambitions, new CCO Andrew Back and sales team expansion

Here is some recent press coverage of our recently announced growth ambitions, new CCO and sales team expansion... click through the links below.

https://www.wealthadviser.co/2021/02/17/29 6014/multrees-plans-double-client-base-five-years 

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Multrees unveils push to double client base in five years and expands Sales function

Award-winning provider of bespoke platform and investment services, Multrees Investor Services, has set out ambitious growth plans to double its client base over the next three to five years, in response to increasing demand for an alternative, bespoke, approach to platform and technology services.

The drive for growth will be led by newly appointed Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Back, who brings extensive experience to Multrees, having previously worked on the UBS EAM Platform as well as being part of the launch teams behind both the Novia and Selestia platforms.

Andrew explains how the Multrees platform, which currently has over £11.8 billion assets under administration and 23 clients across the wealth management, family office, Institutional and Financial Planning sectors, will achieve this ambition:

“Whether it’s a family office or a financial planning firm, businesses across the advice sector are reaching a tipping point where they are demanding more from their technology and platform providers. And quite rightly because for too long now firms have been expected to fit around a completely standardised platform or technology proposition, which inevitably compromise’s the adviser’s way of doing things and also asks their clients to pay for services they don’t need or want. ”

“At Multrees our experts have always done things differently by taking platform service components and building these completely around the needs of each firm we work with, to deliver their own bespoke platform. This approach, alongside the support from my new sales team colleagues, leaves us poised to answer the demand for change from the advice industry and we are confident that this will deliver exciting results for both our business and clients going forward.”

Putting these growth plans into action will be four new sales team members who together bring with them extensive experience. David Maher joins Multrees as Business Development Manager, from his previous role as Regional Director for Aviva. Robin Copley, Business Development Manager and John Trower, Sales Solutions Consultant, also join Multrees from specialist SIPP provider [insert name]. And finally, the sales team will be supported by independent consultant and well-known industry expert Paul Miles who has worked with Advisers and Platforms for over 30 years, most recently through his own consultancy company, The Silverback Group.


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PRESS COVERAGE: New Strategic Partnership announcement with Wills & Trusts

Here is some recent press coverage of our new strategic partnership announcement with Wills & Trusts... click through on the links below.


https://www.wealthadviser.co/2021/01/19/ 294623/wills-trusts-wealth-management-group-selects-multrees-provide-bespoke-white-label
http://managersofwealth.com/article/8485 3/wills-amp-trusts-wealth-management-group-selects-multrees

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New Strategic Partner Announcement: Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group selects Multrees to provide bespoke white label platform

Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group selects Multrees to provide bespoke white label platform

Multrees Investor Services has been selected by Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group in a new strategic partnership providing a fully white labelled bespoke custody and platform solution for clients and advisers.

In addition to the bespoke white label platform, Multrees will also provide back and middle office support and investment services to the Wills & Trusts Wealth Management team.

David Batchelor, founder of Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group comments: “We'd grown tired of compromising our way of doing things and limiting what we provide to clients simply because of platform developers' previous decisions. We needed a clean slate and the control to build a platform from scratch, entirely focused around our clients' needs and putting those needs first. That's precisely the unique and fresh opportunity that Multrees has given us; the stars have aligned for our businesses with this partnership. Finally, we have a platform partner that listens to us and understands that the needs of the client must come first.

Andrew Back, Chief Commercial Officer, Multrees Investor Services, adds: “The team at Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group are incredibly dedicated to delivering the best client experience and service and our flexible modular services are designed to allow them to focus on doing just that.

“Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group are the perfect example of the tipping point which many wealth managers and advisers are now reaching, having been shoehorned into a ‘one size fits all’ platform or technology propositions. Put simply, this traditional platform model is broken and there are many firms out there in the industry who are now looking for a new way of doing things.”


Wills & Trusts Wealth Management Group is an award-winning, independent chartered financial planning firm with well over 25 years of experience. Renowned for their unique 'family' approach, their loyal client base has propelled Wills & Trusts into becoming one of the UK's leading full-service wealth management firms. The groups' discretionary fund manager, Trust DFM, was recently opened to fellow IFA firms who share the groups philosophy of client first and the desire to build futures and cement legacies. Trust DFM has over £400m in assets under management with expectations to exceed £1bn within the next three years.

Working with advisory businesses, wealth managers, private banks and family offices Multrees Investor Services provides open-architecture platform and investment services, including investment administration, tailored technology, custodian services and client reporting. These modular services are completely flexible, allowing advisers and wealth managers to individually configure the platform to their exact needs. Established in 2010, Multrees currently has £11.5 billion asset under administration.

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Church House
Multrees announces new strategic partnership with Church House Investment Management

Multrees Investor Services has been selected by Church House Investments (CHIM) as its new strategic service provider.

Working with wealth managers, private banks, family offices and advisory businesses, Multrees Investor Services provides open-architecture platform and investment services, including investment administration, tailored technology, custodian services and client reporting.  


CHIM is an independent fund and portfolio manager with over 20 years of experience offering specialist services to individuals, financial professionals and institutions. The business currently has approximately £1.5 billion assets under management across discretionary managed portfolios and its range of six funds.

Multrees will work with CHIM to provide outsourced services to power its bespoke risk managed portfolio solutions for discerning Private Client investors together with trading and settlement services for its own range of funds.  


Roger Davis, Operations Director from CHIM comments: “Multrees are the ideal partner for our business. They offer a custody, technology and administration service that skilfully balances the benefits of configurability with the operating efficiencies that allow firms like us to scale. Plus, they are also great people who genuinely understand the needs of independent Private Client Managers and their clients”


Andrew Back, Chief Commercial Officer, Multrees Investor Services, adds: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with the team at Church House in order to deliver flexible services that are individually configured to their business model. Our aim with everything we do is to provide scalability and improve process efficiencies for our clients, while also enabling them to take greater control over their end client user journey.” 

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Edinburgh Image
Multrees Investor Services eyes further growth with new Edinburgh operations centre

Multrees Investor Services is getting set for its move to a newly refurbished, larger-scale, Edinburgh operations centre after taking up a new tenancy in the heart of the city at 40 Princes Street.

Multrees provides a range of outsourced platform services and technology for investment firms, including financial advisers, wealth managers, private banks and family offices. The business, which currently has over £11 billion assets under administration, was established in 2010 and has grown to over 80 employees.

The new Edinburgh office location, which has capacity for future expansion, reflects chief executive Chris Fisher’s growth ambitions for the business:

 “Our new central Edinburgh office is not only great news for the Multrees team and clients, it also reflects our confidence that we can continue to grow our profits by winning new client relationships, building our assets under administration, and expanding our own team in both our Edinburgh and London locations over the coming years.

Glenn Murphy, UK Chief Operating Officer for family office Stonehage Fleming, a client of Multrees, commented:  

“It's great to see Multrees go from strength to strength with the opening of their new office space and we're excited about the prospects that the future investment in their business will bring for clients like us.”

Apprentices: vital to filling Scotland’s skills gap in financial services

Another important part of Multrees’ long-term growth plan is to help fill the skills shortage in Scotland’s financial services market. Domain experts from across the business are putting this into action by supporting the firm’s apprentices through the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, as Chris explains:

“Our apprenticeship programme was born out of the awareness that certain skill sets, such as data management and operational analysis, are not readily available in the Scottish financial services market. Our team have long-standing experience and are real experts in their fields, so they can share this with our apprentices. We have made a commitment to employ more apprentices than ever before and, instead of just looking to meet a resource requirement, we are focused on helping our apprentices progress through the organisation to become future leaders.

“Apprenticeships can secure a pipeline of talent for both our business and the industry as a whole, and so far it has been a great investment, with 75% of our previous apprenticeships still with Multrees four years after our initial programme.”

Following a full refurbishment of the office space, Multrees will move its staff to the new Princes Street location in early November.

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Multrees OS
What do awards really tell you about a platform provider?

Last week Multrees had the privilege of winning Best Outsourcing Solution at the WealthBriefing European Awards for the second year running. Naturally, we’re incredibly proud of this achievement and all the support from our staff and clients that has helped get us here. But rather than just giving ourselves a big-old pat on the back, we want to share the top three things this award really says about how we work with our clients.

1. We treat our client firms as individuals

Whether our role includes 3rd party data consolidation, overlays, performance, pricing, white labelled client reporting or any other investment administration activity, we build out a service proposition based on the operating model of the investment manager, not a factory standard.

This effectively gives each of our clients its own private investment platform on which to build their business.

2. We listen and deliver to your needs, not ours

As the COO from one of our client firms put it in his own words, “In an outsourcing relationship there has to be a good dialogue, an understanding of our clients, our business model and a willingness to make it work through the ups and downs. That’s when you see the real value of Multrees.”

We view ourselves as an extension of an investment manager’s operations team and share the same ambition to enhance service delivery for end clients because we know how important quality of service is to wealth management firms.

In practice, this means driving efficiencies such as our new client onboarding timeframe of 15 minutes, and creating a scalable platform for those with a need to access more complex investment strategies and alternative investments, including private equity and illiquid assets.

3. Access to flexible technology solutions that deliver all this

Staying on the theme of working to your needs, our open architecture interface lets wealth managers retain and integrate their own preferred technology tools and 3rd party providers, as well as allowing access to a best-in-class technology strategy.

Great outcomes for investment managers and their clients can only happen if the platform architecture supports the enhancement of client specific technology components. And it’s this cornerstone that our award-winning technology outsourcing and integration approach is built on.

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Legos Modular Approach
Lego’s modular approach can teach financial services a thing or two

At the turn of the century the Lego brand was in trouble, posting big deficits and flirting with bankruptcy.

Since then it has become the world’s most powerful brand and the biggest toy company in Europe and Asia, with sales also booming in North America,[1] while The Lego Movie 2 recently hit cinemas.

It’s a story of revival and reinvention to inspire any business. But there’s another aspect of the Lego brand that other sectors and businesses can learn from - the effectiveness of the modular approach to building products and services.

One of the big trends in the world of architecture is the rise of lego-style construction, in which buildings are made up of independent units (i.e. kitchens, bedrooms) that fit together like lego blocks. The companies that specialise in designing and building the independent modular boxes present architects with different options to choose from, allowing them to develop properties to specification.

It’s not a new idea - modular forms of architecture have been around for decades (the prefab buildings of the post-Second World War period being an obvious example). But what has changed is the technological advances that have opened up new possibilities around modular approaches, particularly in a world in which flexibility and choice are increasingly valued.

The modular principle applies in financial services as much as any industry, with wealth management a classic example. The traditional one-size-fits-all approach to client services propositions retains a hold over many in the sector. We still see too many service providers forcing square pegs into round holes by making the client’s proposition fit their own.

But it is an increasingly outdated model in a world when technology enables services to be moulded to the needs of clients and not to the limitations of the business.

People have higher expectations of service, communication and delivery than they used to, yet elements of the wealth management sector are taking too long to adapt. More and more clients value flexibility and tailored services and are less likely to tolerate the ‘factory settings’ approach.

A company outsourcing operations to a service provider invariably seeks flexibility, expertise and a relationship that is dictated by their needs and not by the preferences or limitations of the partner.

Every company has its own way of doing things, its own priorities, its own needs and objectives. It is entirely logical that service propositions are built with those characteristics to the forefront and not as an afterthought. Above all, they are making the investment and their name is on the proposition - they want to retain a high degree of control, because they know their business better than anyone else.

This is one reason why an open architecture philosophy is becoming far more popular to wealth management firms who are looking to revamp or build new platform services. Open-architecture support services for wealth managers, private banks, family offices and advisory businesses might include: investment administration, tailored technology, custodian services and client reporting. When firms work with platform service providers that offer open architecture, they will naturally look to suppliers that are able to demonstrate a deep understanding of the sector and experience of working with a huge range of firms through project managing transformational change.

Returning to our Lego theme briefly. You can easily buy a kit from any toy store that will allow your children to build something simple with an easy to follow instruction book. But what you’ll end up with will be the same as everyone else who has bought the same box. Your imagination is limited to the types of bricks you’re supplied with and the end result will probably look nice, but it won’t be personal. So, if you want to build something special and unique, you’re going to want to employ a Lego master builder (yes, they do exist) who has the necessary expertise and access to all those ‘special’ bricks that you can’t just buy off the shelf. In wealth management terms, this translates to a project management team that has the necessary skills and know-how to help you construct something truly special. That project manager must be able to evidence their ability to deliver to your exacting specifications. That means they’ll need to be able to integrate suitable technology solutions through APIs and demonstrate they have access to specialist tools and services required for the job.

The ability to customise your build is also important. A wealth manager might require custody services, compliance support and investment administration, but not technology support or reporting services. In which case, that’s exactly what they should get. It’s a modular and flexible approach that delivers compelling propositions allowing firms to differentiate themselves in what will invariably be a competitive and crowded field.

Staying on the same theme. If you’re paying an architect to design your dream house you would expect to work with them to create your vision, not theirs. You might make modifications based on their expert recommendations, but ultimately you would stay in control so that what you end up with, through the project management of an expert in your corner, is what you set out to achieve.

Businesses are entitled to the same expectations in our industry. They are often working with very complex needs, not least in a wealth management sector caught in what can feel like a regulatory whirlwind. They need support that makes life easier for them and for their clients.

They appreciate it too when the pricing structure is transparent, the plan is clear and the process is efficient.

In working with businesses to build our services around their needs, we place a premium on honesty, transparency and collaboration. In other words, we aim to ‘play well’ - which also happens to be the Danish mantra that translates into the ‘Lego’ name.

[1] https://www.wearesonder.com/how-lego-became-the-worlds-most-powerful-brand/

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Big Single Tech Platforms Dominate Our Lives But They’Re Not Necessary Image
Big single tech platforms dominate our lives but they’re not necessary

It’s not even 9am and I’ve already browsed digital versions of newspapers, emailed from my google account, checked social media and downloaded some music onto my phone during my morning commute.

You might assume, therefore, that I am in thrall to the global technology giants and their products. You would be right, to a point - but it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it.

I’m far from alone in being frustrated at feeling so tied to their way of doing things. Google and Facebook in particular have suffered a backlash over the past couple of years, not least for their role in data privacy, user experience standardisation and fake news controversies. Yet they remain dominant in their markets and many of us continue to depend on them to a frightening degree, despite their one size fits all strategies.

That’s because, as platform businesses, they meet a need - but it comes at a cost, as many of us continue to discover. When it comes to technology providers, big single platform tech isn’t necessarily best. That applies as much in the financial services industry as anywhere.

I started my journey in the wealth management sector during the pre-mobile phone era and when email was still only widely used in the academic sector. Interestingly however this was probably the very period when wealth management was delivered through the most bespoke and personalised service. The technological changes we’ve seen since then are simply staggering, from the evolution of the internet and the emergence of social media to smartphones and the rapidly increasing sophistication of AI, and have rendered that old wealth management model unwieldy and unscalable.

Client expectations over use of technology have evolved and grown accordingly, however their desire for a high quality personalised service has not changed at all. This makes it surprising to see the dominance of large single technology platforms focused on scale and simplicity.

The Multrees investment platform cut its teeth in 2011 servicing businesses advising HNW, UHNW and institutional clients, probably the most demanding in terms of the way buying power can dictate service quality and customisation. And the challenge was to deliver this level of quality and customisation at scale, so we developed a multi component, open architecture, technology strategy that allows us to tailor a service to each adviser firm and its clients, while retaining core processing scalability.

One of the great paradoxes of the technological revolution is that the companies which have become household names, are also the problem. Big technology has become too big, and that goes for the wealth management sector too. Despite rapid technological advances, flexibility and the tailored experience is somehow still secondary to the one-size-fits-all culture of the traditional service and technology providers.

I can see how we got here. With the industry maturing rapidly, firms feel pressure to adopt technology that meets every need. The value of being able to really excel in any one area – and differentiate yourself in the process – is too often overlooked or forgotten.

The traditional service and technology providers have so far succeeded in convincing the wealth management sector that their technology, their methodology and their processes are the only way forward. But firms and their clients are paying a price for this – even if you ignore the disruption, the costs of implementing and then aborting projects which ultimately damage reputation, the ability for users of single large platform tech to differentiate their proposition in a crowded market is extremely limited.

In the early days of Multrees, our alternative strategy nearly killed us as we underestimated the complexity our architecture brought. However, driven by the near-constant shift of investor expectations, regulatory developments and technological innovation, we believe the emerging success of this approach offers a viable alternative to the one-size-fits-all culture. As an adviser, you can use one platform, multi-platforms, or now you can actually have your own private platform that will allow your business to scale whilst retaining all of your important differentiators.

Digital capabilities allow for a much more bespoke and nuanced approach. Firms partnering with a services provider want to retain a sense of control rather than lose it; after all, it’s their company’s reputation on the line. They want flexibility, expertise and a relationship dictated by their needs and not by the restrictions imposed by the provider’s culture and structure.

We know that different firms have different priorities, needs, strategies and styles, so it should be equally clear that service propositions must be individually configured. Big technology is becoming an anomaly at a time when companies need to be nimble and capable of evolving in line with their clients.

One size certainly does not fit all and shoehorning your proposition into our own isn’t going to serve either of us. In 2019 it’s increasingly apparent that being beholden to the traditional service and technology providers, and their insistence that their way is the only way, is both constraining and disruptive.

Big tech doesn’t empower you - it controls you. I realise that my daily technology consumption is dictated far too much by the preferences and capabilities of a small handful of very large firms.

Financial businesses in thrall to the technology they use and the traditional providers to whom they cede control are taking a similar risk - and one they cannot afford.

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Tech Innocation
Managing a major technology project without affecting client service

Upgrading your technology can be a test for any business, regardless of size.

Trying to execute major change and adapt to new systems while ensuring that day-to-day business carries on as usual is a daunting challenge. It’s no wonder we’ve seen a number of big name providers struggling with replatforming projects this year, with numerous tales of missed deadlines and sunken costs.

We embarked on our own upgrade project at the end of last year, on our core custody platform.  Our goal was to improve straight-through-processing; reduce risk while adding control for client instruction processing; and enable greater scalability and sophistication of delivery for our clients. 
The project was a success and it passed off without having any adverse impact on day-to-day processes. It was also a useful learning exercise, so we thought we’d share a few things that we took away from it.

1) Be clear about the benefits of upgrading

The first step in any project is understanding exactly why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve. We were clear from the outset that an upgrade was crucial if we were to have the operational, technology and infrastructure scalability to comfortably match our ambitious business growth targets for the foreseeable future.

A key part of the project was the development of a leading API, letting us connect to a wide range of partner applications. Cutting edge technologies allow us to work with a range of innovative partners, looking to leverage industry developments around blockchain, RPA and AI initiatives, all leading to a digital transformation of the industry. By ensuring that Multrees can engage in these developments, we can future-proof our offering and provide confidence to our client firms that they, alongside Multrees, are ideally placed to benefit from disruptive technological advances.

2) Have clear project governance

The success of our upgrade, completed within a nine-month timeframe and within budget, was due mostly to the robust governance of the project. This means having a clear point of accountability. Each of our Change projects has an executive sponsor, who in turn is supported by a dedicated project manager. We also have a bi-weekly Programme Board meeting, hosted by our internal Change team to monitor the status of all our projects and ensure that they are not impacting day-to-day activities.

Our best-in-class technology partners were able to assist closely during the project, being always on hand to answer questions and provide support, both onsite and remotely. This really emphasises the importance of a thorough vendor selection process - ensuring you are working with good partners from the outset makes handling future upgrade projects a lot easier.

3) Have a clear plan and roadmap for future developments

As with all of our projects, we have built on the success of our upgrade work through continuous development, with a continual stream of innovation activity seeking to improve our systems. This has included adding new self-service applications to the portal, saving manual entry for our clients as well as operational resource. 
The resulting resource savings also free up time internally for us to engage in more value-add activity, such as improving the interface of the client portal through custom content applications (which, in turn, improves the overall client experience).

Our current upgrade projects include further developing our core custody platform and our web API capabilities. We all look forward to the success of these projects and making sure that the Multrees platform keeps ahead of the technology curve.

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Safety With Background
Protecting client assets

It’s now more than a decade since Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, but we were given another reminder earlier this year as to why we can’t be complacent about risks to client funds.

Retail investors were facing losses on funds they had invested with Beaufort Securities when it was declared insolvent in March, with its administrator planning to use customer money to cover the cost of insolvency proceedings.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme stepped in but the episode reinforced that the financial services industry must still learn lessons about how to minimise risks to client funds from insolvencies.

Security of client assets is critically important and client asset custodians, who hold client assets for safekeeping, must take their responsibilities very seriously. These responsibilities were increased after the 2008 financial crisis when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), rigorously enhanced its Client Asset Sourcebook (CASS) in order to better protect retail investors. This Sourcebook provides rules for firms that hold or control client money and safe custody assets.

The actions taken by the FCA have helped establish the UK as a leading jurisdiction with respect to the safety and security of retail clients’ assets.

Specialist custodians that focus on servicing wealth managers should operate a low-risk business model focused on asset safekeeping and security. Being conservative, independent and un-conflicted, and having the CASS rules as the main regulatory focus of the business, helps to reduce risks to clients.

In short, the protection of clients’ assets should be at the heart of everything that a custodian firm undertakes, and it is this that Multrees aims for. The UK’s suite of rules, regulations and guidance, combined with an operation that works closely with Risk, Compliance and Internal Control teams, means Multrees has a strong holistic approach to client asset safety that permeates the whole business.

Add a low risk and conservative business model that focuses on capital adequacy, conflict avoidance and independence, and wealth management firms and their clients can be confident in Multrees.

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Innovating in execution to make your life easier

Wealth managers face a number of constantly evolving challenges: increased regulatory pressure, greater margin pressure, and the need to meet the ever-changing demands of clients are just some of them.

At Multrees, we work with our clients in a unique partnership approach to develop innovative and quality solutions that allow them to focus on their clients and investment strategies. The development of our execution services offering, which we rolled out earlier this year and have continued to improve, is an example of this.

The new service lets advisers execute exchange-traded assets through existing systems architecture, making us a ‘one stop shop’ for execution and settlement.

We have recently added a range of new order types, making our service as comprehensive as possible. These include:

  • Good ‘til cancelled (GTC) – the order remains active until either it’s filled or the investor cancels it.
  • Good ‘til date (GTD) – the order remains active until a specified date, unless it’s been filled or cancelled.
  • Fill or kill (FOK) – the order must be filled immediately in its entirety or it will be cancelled.

We are also developing the order type offering to include care orders (those that are carefully worked into the market in order to avoid market impact costs).

Making sure that our service is as comprehensive as possible helps our clients reduce the risk of managing multiple counterparties whilst enabling timely execution of trades and settlements in the market.

It is also important that we help our clients meet their compliance obligations and provide clear reporting for their clients. We already provide transaction reporting and are now developing best execution reporting functionality for our online portal, Multrees Compass. This will allow our clients to review the execution quality of transactions. We will also conduct a regular review of our broker network and quality of execution.

The development of our service will therefore give clients the scalability and efficiency of a truly automated end-to-end process. We will take care of all activity following the investment decision, allowing our clients to focus on the important work of servicing the needs of their clients.

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User Group
Keeping the finger on the pulse

As a business with an intensely client-focused proposition, we find that the best way of meeting the needs of our clients is to have a regular open forum where we can discuss our upcoming projects with them.

Our Client User Groups, focus on regulatory change, product development and a roadmap of upcoming technology upgrades. They enable us to take on client feedback from an early stage and keep the needs of our clients at the heart of the constant evolution of our products and services. Our most recent Client User Group was held in August at our London office, where we discussed our upcoming projects, as well as wider issues affecting the industry at large.

The main topic of discussion was MiFID II and the requirement for those that provide investment services to disclose all associated costs and charges to their clients. Multrees will help provide reports on behalf of our clients, and we proposed a timeline for the development and delivery of these reports that puts us ahead of the April 2019 regulatory deadline.

The format of the reports will be developed in consultation with our clients, with several different options being looked at. We used an industry template provided by the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) as a starting point for discussion, before confirming the specific key requirements of our clients, such as the required granularity of the reporting.

The discussion also covered FX timestamps. We are implementing a solution that will allow FXs to be routed with automation, provide greater transparency and allow for the checking of best execution. The workshop provided us with a useful avenue to directly demonstrate this development work to our clients, ensuring openness and transparency throughout the process.

We also looked at a roadmap for some of our system upgrades. This includes processing improvements and client enhancements, following on from last year’s platform upgrade. For example, a further update to our custody platform will provide an increased number of private equity transactions types, to enhance the full service solution we have in place today. This builds upon our expertise in the custody and servicing of illiquid assets, which requires a more bespoke approach than market-listed investments.

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The value of apprentices in an increasingly digitalised world

In a wealth management industry undergoing a process of digitalisation, the value of human solutions is being recognised.

Nearly 60% of investors surveyed in 2017 for an Accenture report on “wealth management in the era of hybrid advice” said they felt that human advisers provided the best customised advice.

While at Multrees our focus is on custody and investment administration rather than investment advice, we recognise that our clients feel it important that we have high quality staff that can work as an extension of their own operating team.
Developing great staff who are able to work closely with clients is therefore a priority for us as an organisation. We are particularly proud of our apprenticeship scheme, which helps to train school leavers in financial services as they start their career at Multrees.

Andrew McCaffery, our HR Manager, says that “We want to give something back and invest in the training of new employees. The main advantage in hiring an apprentice is that you’re able to lead them in how they develop from an early stage. We have five new apprentices this year and it’s excellent to see how they’ve all settled in.”

The apprenticeship lasts 12-18 months and involves a series of modules, governed by the assessment body that we work with. There are mandatory units involving numeracy and ICT, as well as other optional modules, all helping to build useful skills for the workplace and the ability to contribute to our high quality service.

“When I left school I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to go somewhere I could progress myself and develop my skills,” says Jason Scott, a Data Management apprentice who has been at Multrees for two months. “I see an apprenticeship as the best of both worlds, where you’re able to gain training, as well as learning through working at the same time. Hopefully, in the next year or so, I can know my whole job role to a really good standard and make sure I also achieve the apprenticeship qualifications.”

Another apprentice, Kate Henry, has been at Multrees for three months and works in our Treasury department. “The key skills that I’ve had to develop are definitely organisational and time management skills,” she says. “You have to make sure that you’re on top of things, as there are a lot of different deadlines that we have to meet.”

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Multrees achieves IASME 'Cyber Essentials' Certificate of Assurance

Multrees is pleased to announce that we have achieved the IASME ‘Cyber Essentials’ Certificate of Assurance, including the extensive ‘GDPR Ready’ assessment elements.

This standard provides cyber security and data protection assurance for small & medium sized enterprises. It is based on international best practice, is risk-based and includes a wide range of data protection and information security aspects, such as physical security, staff awareness, and data backup.

Fraser Bennett, Multrees’ Data Protection Officer, said ‘This has been the result of a lot of hard work from across the whole business. Protection of personal data is a responsibility that Multrees takes very seriously, so it is pleasing to attain independent validation of our IT infrastructure, policies and procedures.’

‘Multrees recognises that meeting the stringent standards expected under GDPR is an ongoing challenge, but this certification recognises the efforts made so far by the team to prepare for the incoming regulation.’

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Process Improvement
The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement

Our process improvement work is helping us provide a more efficient service to our clients.

Innovation in wealth management is not just about embracing advanced technology like blockchain and artificial intelligence. It can be just as important to improve existing processes within a business. With this in mind, we’ve been working to improve business-as-usual processes to ensure that we offer a more efficient service to our clients.

Part of this work is automating many tasks that were previously manual processes. For example, our settlement team’s new trade check template can automatically populate some of the comments and has a button to create the ‘Nominee Payments’, ‘Expected Funds In’, ‘Settlement Today (All)’, and ‘Failed Trades’ tabs. This helps to save between two and four hours a week of resource, which can then be spent on more value-add activities!

Aiming to achieve operational efficiency is something that is very important throughout the wealth management industry. A 2016 report by Clearstream showed that 30% of wealth managers thought that improved operational efficiency was the most important thing that they needed to focus on. Efficiency gains can be achieved through automation and improved processes, with freed up resource being used to tackle the key priorities for wealth managers - staying on top of regulatory change, ensuring a high quality client experience and achieving business growth.

Our BAU process improvement project stemmed from our collaboration with the University of Surrey’s Centre for the Digital Economy. The first step in this programme was to get suggestions from staff of some of the processes that could be improved. Internal process improvement forums led to over 100 ideas being suggested by members of staff. From these, 13 ideas were identified as being priorities for improvement.

Business analysts Neil Balch and Nicole Lowes said ‘This has been a great initiative that we have enjoyed creating the roadmap for and helping the business stay on track. This has been both interesting and helpful, and it has been very rewarding hearing about the time and money saved implementing the improvements to Multrees’ current processes. We have also benefitted from getting to know people in the business that we wouldn’t usually work directly with and have also learned a lot about different areas of the business.'

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Our can do attitude to Private Equity holding

Private Equity investment continued to have a stellar year in 2017 even surpassing the 2015 record by 9% to reach $681 billion, as capital poured in through traditional funds, co-investments, separate accounts and direct deals. Forbes reported that the asset class is set to make more records this year as new and current investors deposit more capital into their allocations. The magazine did sound a warning though, saying ‘both managers and investors need to be flexible and open-minded if they are to successfully negotiate the increasingly complex asset category.’

As an independent global custody, consolidated reporting and investment administration specialist, we know not all custodians are able to hold Private Equity. However, at Multrees we work with our clients as flexibly as we can to make it happen.

Due to the bespoke nature of many Private Equity funds and the lack of standard market instruments, each investment is assessed on an individual basis to identify the optimal custody arrangements. Funds often place legal or financial obligations on the legal owner of the investment, i.e. the custodian, rather than the underlying investor and at Multrees we address this by registering the holding directly in the name of our own nominee company.

We have experience of processing corporate actions, which by nature can be complex, to ensure the prompt processing of calls, distributions and the update of book costs. Clarity of reporting has traditionally been a challenge for custodians, and with our methodology, it provides transparency on the underlying private investments.

We have worked hard to structure our proposition to ensure we are well positioned to meet our clients’ needs. This year already looks set to be busier than ever as global Private Equity continues to be popular with investors.

For more information, please feel free to contact us.

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Multrees wins two WealthBriefing European Awards

Multrees is pleased to announce that we have won two awards at the WealthBriefing European Awards 2018: 'Outsourcing Solution' and 'Global Custodian to Private Client Businesses'.

Showcasing ‘best of breed’ providers in the global private banking, wealth management and trusted advisor communities, the awards were designed to recognise companies, teams and individuals which the prestigious panel of judges deemed to have ‘demonstrated innovation and excellence during 2017’. Sky News, Sunrise Anchor, Sarah-Jane Mee, presented the awards during a glitzy gala black-tie dinner, at the Guildhall in the City of London.

ClearView Financial Media’s CEO, and Publisher of WealthBriefing, Stephen Harris, was first to extend his congratulations to all the winners. He said: “The firms who triumphed in these awards are all worthy winners, and I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations. These awards were judged solely on the basis of entrants’ submissions and their response to a number of specific questions, which had to be answered focusing on the client experience, not quantitative performance metrics.

The judging panel also offered comments on each of the winning entries. For the Outsourcing Solution award, the judges thought that our ‘focused approach on tailoring its work for customers was a winning factor in this category’. In their comments for the Global Custodian for Private Client Businesses, they said that: ‘This was a tricky choice, but the panel were attracted by one firm’s approach to the safety of client assets and its use of technology to enhance the client experience.’

Chris Fisher, CEO at Multrees, said: ‘I’m proud of each and every one at Multrees that has worked so hard to help us to this fantastic double achievement. After eight years in a competitive marketplace, a great team and happy clients makes this recognition very satisfying.


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Humans And Robots
thewealthnet: Multrees at the PAM Annual Front Office Dinner

“Having cutting-edge technology is only of use if you have the right quality of enthusiastic staff to help innovate and deliver advances for your business”, Farzana Khalil, Client Solutions Manager at Multrees Investor Services told the PAM Annual Front Office Dinner.

“Today we are in a digital age, where empowered buyers demand a new level of customer obsession. This is compared to an earlier industrial age where manufacturing firms such as Ford thrived with mass production of relatively simple products and processes through traditional skill sets”.

“Facebook and Apple are trying to understand and anticipate what their clients need; however, if you really look into their business models, they are also actually trying to guide their clients on what their needs should be. Therefore, if we compare today to the industrial age from about 100 years ago, we can see that there is now greater uncertainty in the value drivers and skills needed to ensure a satisfied client base,” Ms Khalil said.

“In this age there are greater skills required for increasingly complex jobs, there’s mass customisation for the consumer and it is all about value-add products and processes. In the digital age, robo-advisors, a new type of wealth manager has emerged into the industry and they are driving wealth management in different ways”, Ms Khalil noted.

“With the advent of automation in the industry, everyone has a different view on how to engage with our clients, with the “robo-advisers, they’re aiming to deliver a 24/7 seamless, faultless and faster service. Unless you operate a ‘follow the sun’ model, it’s very difficult to do that without technology,” Ms Khalil said.

Ms Khalil noted that what the robo-advisers did successfully was having a “laser-like focus” on the customer proposition coupled with a “willingness to apply technology in fresh ways.” They really focused on the digital experience of the consumer. Robo-advisers implement the use case of the investment management process and built a platform product out of this. They focus on a real challenge, however they don’t see it as a "challenge, but as an opportunity - they looked into the inhibitors and in overcoming these, put the platform out for adoption with the consumers."

As wealth managers, clients require you to talk about the world, the market and how we can help them with their lives going forward. The important thing for wealth managers “is balancing clients’ digital expectations and the need for human collaboration. Innovation has been there along the way throughout the ages piecing things together, but when innovation fails it’s not usually due to a lack of creativity, but it’s almost always because of a lack of discipline,” said Ms Khalil.

“We naturally assume that technology can solve all the problems but it is important to view the reality behind the hype. We spend millions each year and drive new technology solutions into our businesses, however we sometimes forget to look at the structure, the data quality and, most importantly, the ‘buy-in’ from our people. Change plays a big impact on staff morale and some of the innovative technology solutions coming through will also play an impact on the status quo,” she added.
Whilst robotic process automation has its positives, as humans are not very good at repetitive activity, so you can remove the mundane and manual elements of what they’re doing day to day, the negative however is the perception of job losses. Ms Khalil continued, “the emotional impact can play a large factor in whether or not you’re successful in delivering change within your organisation.”

Fostering the right culture is achieved through helping staff understand how innovation can improve their day-to-day lives in how they work and also how what they do contributes to the wider business. “A culture of innovation really stems from the top - from you, as the leaders, really empowering your people with the strategy, the client engagement model and how your staff can help shape and drive how things work.”

“In this way we have a more focused workforce, and one that will come up with new ideas and deliver solutions for how things can develop. As a result of automation, we are finding that the requirements of the human resource need to be of a higher standard. More than we originally expected it to be and therefore, you not only need them to think smarter but to work smarter too. Ultimately, attracting and retaining the right quality staff plays a big impact on success,” Ms Khalil said.

Commenting on the client service lifecycle, Ms Khalil said: “Looking at client on-boarding, client suitability and portfolio modelling, right through to the end result of client reporting, there are chances for collaboration in all these cases. Fintech firms are focused on niche parts within that end-to-end process, proving that you can have innovation at every stage and it doesn’t need to be a big bang approach. The key thing is staff engagement around the ideas that come from you and your teams. Essentially you are entrepreneurs – understanding what has taken place with the markets, your clients and collaborating to discuss new ideas driving the real change.”

Furthermore, innovation is taking place right at the operating model stage. “Gamification methodologies are coming through where, for example, users can set themselves fines for guilty pleasure spending. Technology is available beyond our comprehension and as an industry we are behind, but we will catch up,” Ms Khalil said.

She added, “it really comes down to this: with things being so uncertain today, can you afford to be in the late majority, or even worse, the laggards, in not exploring potential ideas and use cases from your teams to see where they might take you. If you employ the right people and develop the right culture, they will help ensure that your business is constantly innovating and improving.”

The PAM Annual Front Office Dinner took place on 8 May 2018 at the Goring Hotel in London. It was attended by 20 members of senior front office staff, three speakers and was chaired by the founder of PAM Insight, James Anderson. The evening was kindly supported by Multrees.

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Client Relationship Team - All hands on deck

Kevin Mitchell, CRM, on what relationship managers can learn from good sailors.

Our approach to client service is not dissimilar to how a sportsperson improves their technique to achieve great results. As a keen sailor, I can’t help but notice similarities between the perfect sail and how we achieve client satisfaction at Multrees. Sounds tenuous, but bear with me.

Envisage sitting back in the corner of your local sailing club after hours of midweek racing. The sun sets as you sip something cold and contemplate the day’s successes and areas for improvement. Anecdotes of decision making and strategy abound with heated passion.

Our approach to perfecting client service is a similar setting. We always take time to analyse, think and strategise. Listening to the views of others and questioning our decision making removes any room for complacency.

Adapting to surroundings and anticipating danger is essential for a good sailor. Similarly, within any business an efficient team is able to anticipate when conditions are about to change and adapt accordingly. Within such a fast paced environment, it’s paramount that effective client management and oversight is adhered to. Mitigating risk involves being proactive about navigating pitfalls.

Across all industries, the best measure of service is not on days of calm seas, but when the winds are high and there’s ample swell. Whether we are dealing with urgent client account openings, trade instructions or last minute reporting changes, the most important port of call is to isolate what is in front of you, find a solution and then work towards perfection.

A good sportsperson knows how to utilise good equipment. For us, one of our best pieces of equipment is our client and investment management platform, Multrees Compass. It’s imperative for us to consistently add value during our day-to-day interactions, as well as during more strategic relationship building initiatives. This is achieved through our other greatest asset – Multrees’ people.

Building good relationships is crucial when setting out on long voyages. Similarly, we take pride in the fact that our relationships with clients evolve into long-term strategic partnerships. That’s because we like to immerse ourselves in understanding their business. Our mission is driven by operating effectively as an extension of client firms. Championing and driving incentives – such as new product development, process improvements and striving for an STP provision – allows us to deliver for our client partners.

So when deciding how best to serve your clients, life experiences can often provide the answers to questions. For me it’s often “What would a sailor do?”

Getting to know you 

Why I like my job
There are always plenty of opportunities to influence strategic change in the business; both operationally and directly for our client base.

Favourite film
Too many to choose from, but Tom Hardy films are always a winner for me.

Who would play me in a film about my life
Jim Caviezel or Leonardo Dicaprio.

First gig
I love music, but not a fan of going to gigs – I play the guitar.

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Ap Multrees 2018 137
“Doctor doctor, I think I’m a compliance officer”

Angus Johnston joined Multrees in August 2017 as our Head of Risk and Compliance.

In case you don’t know the rest of the joke, the doctor responds: “Well, have you double-checked?” Like accountants, there are a few jokes made at our expense. It’s not the most rock ‘n’ roll job in the world, but it’s certainly not a quiet one.

I joined Multrees last year, which was the next logical step given my career in enterprise risk management, as well as business governance and analysis. My current role is a progression of my previous experience, which merges the responsibilities of risk and compliance together. Joining the team felt like a natural evolution and it has been a great learning experience.

MiFID II is taking up a lot of my time at the moment, as we continue to build our capability to assist our clients in meeting their regulatory responsibilities. Longer term, I’m looking at how I can improve our policy, procedure and control framework so that we can support the business’ operating model as it grows. When the MiFID II deadline crept up on the industry earlier this year, we saw firms rush to implement the necessary infrastructure to comply with the transaction and trade reporting regulations. Fund managers are required to provide full transparency of their fees and product performance, and we are constantly evaluating new ways to help our clients pass this information on to their clients effectively.

Now that GDPR is just around the corner, we’re working to ensure that the way we store and use data is compliant ahead of the enforcement. On top of that, the Senior Manager Regime is expected to come into force next year which will require some additional regulatory adjustments. Thankfully we have an expert team at Multrees, so ensuring compliance with the new regulations isn’t a cause for concern.

In a world awash with failures, it is more important than ever to be on top of R&C within any business. Sometimes errors can be caused by fundamental system flaws, whilst some result from more simplistic human error. For example, the recent case of the Hawaii missile false alarm resulted from the ‘test’ and ‘live’ options sitting beside one another in a drop down menu. You better hope you don’t have fat finger syndrome!

Speaking of recent events, the “Beast from the East” brought weather chaos to much of the UK for several days this month. While some larger organisations struggled with business continuity meaning their operations practically shut down, by implementing our business continuity plans we were able to maintain service levels with virtually no impact to clients. This really brought home the value of proactive risk management.

Getting to know you

Why I like my job
What I like about Multrees is that everyone wants it to succeed; there are no pockets of people just plodding along doing their own thing. It’s proactive and not some big super tanker which means we can pivot very fast. Everyone is keen to solve problems.

Favourite film
Where Eagles Dare by Alistair McLean. A good old fashioned ripping yarn.

Best advice ever received
I read the meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor from 161 to 180) on stoicism and liked what he said about listening to what people say. He teaches that others may have a legitimate point of view and so you shouldn’t project your way of thinking onto someone else. Good advice I try to apply on a daily basis!

Most embarrassing moment
At a corporate sporting event, I sent an ex-England rugby player, Mark Mapletoft, to the bar for me because I mistook him for a waiter. He fetched me a coke, which was very nice of him but I only had the one - I didn’t push my luck.

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Hugh Mullan
Fintech Finance: Multrees appoints new chairman
  • Hugh Mullan joined as a Non-Executive Director in 2015
  • His appointment is in succession to the late Nigel Pilkington

Multrees, the support services partner for wealth management and private investment offices, today announces the appointment of Hugh Mullan as Chairman. Mr Mullan had been acting as interim-Chairman since Nigel Pilkington’s death in January.

Mr Mullan said: “I’ve had the good fortune of being part of Multrees’ growth story for a number of years and have seen first-hand how it has become a quality outsource provider with a growing client base. As Chairman, I look forward to continuing Nigel’s remarkable legacy of leadership and stewardship which has served this business so well.”

Prior to joining Multrees, Hugh was the UK CEO at Fidelity Worldwide Investment. He has extensive experience managing investment and retail savings businesses, having held senior positions at Barclays Wealth, Schroders and Citibank.

Whilst at Fidelity, Hugh was also a member of the company’s Global Operating Committee and, prior to his UK CEO role, as COO he managed customer services, operations, technology and fund accounting across all of Fidelity’s European businesses.

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees said: “The Board and I are delighted to have Hugh as our new Chairman. Hugh joined us in 2015 as a Non-Executive Director and has played an integral part in the success of the business. He brings a wealth of industry expertise and insight which benefits us and our clients. Hugh’s appointment is befitting of his predecessor Nigel, who was instrumental in helping our start-up business become the strong organisation it is today.”

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Multrees shortlisted for three WealthBriefing European Awards

Multrees is pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted in three categories for the WealthBriefing European Awards 2018. The categories in which we have been shortlisted are:

  • Client reporting
  • Outsourcing solution
  • Global custodian to private client businesses

Showcasing ‘best of breed’ providers in the global private banking, wealth management and trusted adviser communities, the awards were designed to recognise companies, teams and individuals which the prestigious panel of judges deemed to have ‘demonstrated innovation and excellence during 2017’.

Winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner, which will be held in London on 26 April at The Guildhall.

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Chris Fisher With Background
Budge over Brexit: 2018 is all about innovation and specialism

We have seen a vastly changing business landscape in response to economic events and shifting client needs over recent times – artificial intelligence, user experience, data integration & handling and blockchain. Now we’re into 2018, it’s difficult to predict what will come of political and economic affairs, but we can be sure that technological advancement, innovation, increased regulation and the need for specialist insight will be driving our industry’s agenda.

The wealth sector is known for being fairly traditional, but we are seeing signs of that beginning to change. Technology is moving through the gears at breath-taking speed and clients expect us to keep pace.

I’m excited about this year because it’s an opportunity for firms to seek partnerships with innovative outsourcers and develop specialist solutions, particularly as the new wealth generation present some fresh challenges.

PWC’s latest Global Fintech 2017 report showed that 77% of Financial Institutions will increase internal efforts to innovate and adopt blockchain as part of an in-production system or process by 2020. I expect these figures to increase as institutions look to gain a deeper insight into customer behaviour and ensure day-to-day operations remain efficient and cost effective.

In 2016 alone there were almost 27,000 new blockchain projects on the market, yet only 8% remain active, according to Deloitte’s paper. I think these statistics have the potential to change during a year of more blockchain R&D, so watch this space.

There’s a great need for specialism starting to surface across the industry. Tech-specialists are not the only ones in demand, regulatory experts are also highly sought after. With MiFID II and GDPR, businesses need to assess their current models and make necessary changes to comply with new laws. This is no easy feat for financial services firms and it will result in dramatic and extensive shifts throughout the industry, both in terms of staffing requirements and operational procedures. I’ll be monitoring this with interest! You can read about those regulations in this issue.

I can be found on LinkedIn, where I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts on any of these topics.

Until next time,

Chris Fisher

Related article: Innovation – Keeping speed with change

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“GDPR, yes okay, but what does it mean for my business?”

Jaco Cebula, CTO, Multrees Investor Services, gets down to the details on the coming regulation

It is hard to imagine there is anything left to say about the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation, because it has headlined consistently for months. Despite this, many remain unsure of its implications and the changes necessary to ensure compliance.  Our response is simple, you need to understand what the regulation means for your business, and then use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your firm’s robust approach to data governance.

It’s all about the data…

The GDPR – and the copious discussions surrounding it – is heavily focused on data. For financial services firms, the concept of high quality enterprise data, and the associated data governance should be no new thing. GDPR simply extends the scope of the enterprise data governance to include a wider range of personal data over and above standard financial metrics.

At Multrees, our clients rely on us to safeguard their data as well as that of their customers. We oversee thousands of investment accounts, with each one holding personal data, so we know a fair bit about the GDPR and the responsibility we all need to uphold.

For most businesses, the regulation will require a number of work streams to capture the following:

  • Identification categorisation of personal data – including all underlying application databases, unstructured data and HR systems.
  • Data providence – downstream and upstream analysis of the organisation’s data flows, both internal and external.
  • Rationale for holding data.
  • Mapping and retrieval of data, plus delivery mechanism – for example, an achievable goal may be to automate the Subject Access Request process from a downstream client, returning all data held across all system boundaries on demand.
  • How to handle the process for erasure or for subject access request – key point being that these should not be ‘new’ processes, but will need to be refreshed for GDPR.
  • How to report a data breach – clear understanding of responsibility, reporting mechanism, limitations of breach detection capability etc.
  • Marketing, CRM and HR databases – greater risk of sensitive data.
  • Upstream/ downstream clients and vendors.

This applies not just to customers and prospects, the regulation will impact internal HR data too. As seen with the final point above, businesses will need to assess whether their vendors are GDPR compliant. At Multrees, we know that our business can only move as fast as the slowest component in our process chain, and this includes our vendors. Ahead of the May deadline, 17 vendors will be assessed to ensure they are all compliant.

Multrees too will be subject to assessment as a vendor to all of our client firms, and will need to provide reassurance that we can respond in a timely fashion to regulatory requests. 

The EU GDPR will be enforced on the 25th May 2018.

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24 Clock
MiFID II transaction reporting: A race against the clock

The Financial Conduct Authority clock starts counting down the second clients make a transaction, but you don’t need to be Jack Bauer to file a report by the end of the next working day. This MiFID II rule is to help prevent market abuse, but reporting a trade can be a race against time if the data isn’t on point and quickly produced.

Clients who use our best-in-class digital platform can have the confidence and convenience of Multrees meeting the regulatory requirement on their behalf. Partnering with us as your outsourcing provider means we already store a wealth of data on each individual account that makes transaction reporting easy. And we can report directly to the FCA without our clients being burdened by any part of the process.

Transaction reporting applies to discretionary or execution only trades, forward FX and some corporate actions.

It’s just one of our quality back office services we provide for the wealth sector.

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New year, new Execution Service

Clive Stelfox, COO, on how a level playing field can be a real game changer for Multrees.

Unbundling research costs from execution fees has levelled the playing field for companies like Multrees. MiFID II and its enforcement of cost transparency is a positive development, not just for us but also for our clients. Our new execution service couldn’t be better timed.

The Execution Service offers clients the opportunity of trading a range of asset types through existing systems architecture. This reduces the risk of managing multiple counterparties whilst ensuring timely execution of trades and settlement in the market.

The service covers a range of asset types and all major markets are served. The solution can be accessed through a variety of input methods (e.g. Multrees Order Management System, file transfer, SWIFT) and orders are automatically routed to brokers.

It has the following benefits:

  • Comprehensive market coverage via multi-provider solution
  • Simple and transparent commission schedule on a per trade basis
  • Best execution ensured
  • Management of counterparty risk
  • Fully MiFID II compliant

As a specialist wealth management solutions provider, our Execution Service gives our clients the scalability and efficiency of a truly automated end-to-end process. Multrees can now take care of all activity post the investment decision to allow our clients to focus on servicing their clients.

Contact us using the details in the footer to discuss using our Execution Service.

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S18845 Nigel Pilkington 0023 Provided By Seb For Use 19 08 2014
Multrees mourn the loss of our Chairman, Nigel Pilkington

It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our friend and Chairman, Nigel Pilkington, who passed away on Sunday night after a long battle with cancer.

Since our establishment in 2010, Nigel was instrumental in helping our start-up business become the strong organisation it is today. He will be sorely missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.

Despite this terrible loss, my colleagues and I are very grateful to have the privilege of continuing his remarkable legacy.

Hugh Mullan, a Non-Executive Director since 2015, will succeed Nigel as interim Chairman with immediate effect. Hugh’s previous roles include UK CEO for Fidelity Worldwide Investment and senior positions at Barclays Wealth, Schroders and Citibank. We are delighted that he has accepted the position.

Please send any messages of condolence to Nigel’s family c/o Multrees, 33 Castle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3DN.

Chris Fisher

CEO Multrees

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thewealthnet: FCA's 2018 interim report on platforms is an opportunity to increase investors' value for money, says Multrees CEO

The Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) platform review is seeking transparency, fairness and value for money for the underlying investor, chief executive of Multrees Chris Fisher told thewealthnet.

Investment platforms are increasingly used by consumers and financial advisers to access retail investment products and to manage investments. The platform market has steadily grown, with assets under administration (AUA) for both adviser and direct platforms increasing from £108 billion in 2008 to £592 billion in 2016, according to data from the FCA.

Mr Fisher stated that the platform market is very diverse with firms such as Multrees at one end, catering for discretionary managers and high net worth individuals, and retail platforms at the other. The two types create different dynamics and according to him, retail platforms focus on scale, process and product, whereas a more open architecture platform such as Multrees has necessarily developed to provide value for money for a more knowledgeable and discerning customer.

"We ran a detailed price analysis of what we [Multrees] charge compared to the retail market and we were amazed at the difference. There's a lot of scope for the retail market to get more efficient and improve value for the customer in our view. It appears that a lot of investment has gone into developing product propositions in the retail platform market, as opposed to creating fully open architecture and efficient investments support engines, which has been the focus at our end of the market.”

For Mr Fisher, the platform review is coming at a timely interval as it will "level the playing field". He considers that the ability for investors to transport themselves from one platform to another in order to get the best deal is crucial and not necessarily the case at the moment.

He added: "We never dictate to clients that their customers have to be on our platform and we have the infrastructure to deal with off platform clients as well. That's the way retail investors are going to go. The customer has to be able to move easily but still have advisers in place."

Increased choice for advisers and their customers is a key element of the platform review, Mr Fisher said, and will lead to platforms being more competitive and more transparent.

It will also have beneficial effects for customers in terms of cost, he noted. According to Mr Fisher, when a platform allows an adviser to consolidate all its clients on a platform and manage them efficiently, this has a positive effect on an adviser’s business model. Despite the adviser firms benefitting from consolidation, it is the client that shoulders all the costs in the retail market.

"The FCA review is good idea, and timely, and certainly makes me look up and think ‘how does our business model fit into the market’. In a lot of respects I think that we are in a good position but there is always room for improvement. Overall, the platform market has a lot to learn, and ultimately consumers will have better access to better platforms as a result," Mr Fisher concluded.

The FCA aims to publish an interim report by summer 2018 which will set out preliminary conclusions and any potential remedies to address concerns.

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From Grammar Police to Devil’s Advocate: what Fraser Bennett brings to the Multrees team

Fraser Bennett joined Multrees as General Counsel in 2013, bringing with him 12 years of legal experience, both in private practice and in-house. His role involves a wide range of legal advice for internal stakeholders and company secretarial support.

Fraser is a dual-qualified Scots and English lawyer, a chartered Company Secretary and Multrees’ resident grammar pedant.

My core responsibilities involve mitigating the company’s exposure to legal risk by ensuring that we have robust contractual protections in place with both our service providers and our investment manager Clients. Luckily for me, I’m one of those sad people who actually enjoys reading the small print. This is not so lucky for my colleagues, however, who are no doubt fed up of me being ‘devil’s advocate’ and insisting that everything is captured in writing!

In terms of our Client contracts, we have refined our templates down to three principal agreements, which makes the onboarding process streamlined from a legal perspective. I’m conscious that not everybody has the time to digest each contract in full so we provide a term sheet to Clients summarising all three agreements at the outset of engagement.

We have various projects under way in preparation for current and forthcoming regulatory change. As Multrees’ Data Protection Officer, much of my recent focus has been in preparation for the General Data Protection Regulation. This enters into force next May and, with four months left to prepare, we are already in good shape. I also have the luxury of calling upon external law firm support whenever anything tricky comes up: an important skill of the in-house lawyer is knowing what questions to ask and the best people to answer them. 

Much like Hugh Mullan said in his blog, it is gratifying to work in an environment that is both positive and collaborative, and seeing the real impact these qualities have on the Multrees business.

First and foremost my role is to protect Multrees, our Clients and Customers through contractual provisions. Keeping our templates fresh is an iterative process; I find myself making tweaks to drafting on a regular basis, be it as a response to Client feedback or in preparation for forthcoming regulatory change etc. I am confident that our pro forma documentation is suitably detailed and future-proofed, which is invaluable support for my colleagues who work very hard to achieve ambitious strategic goals. 2018 will be a big year for the company – I’m looking forward to it.

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Innovation (1)
Innovation: Keeping speed with change

Custodian and administrator Multrees Investor Services is collaborating with academia to ensure clients are getting everyday innovative solutions to ever increasing challenges.

Wealth management faces enormous challenges in helping clients grow against a backdrop of technological development, new markets and increasing regulatory change. Dedication to clients’ growth is one thing, but to continually do this means being rigorous about exploring new ways of working on an on-going basis. That’s where good outsourcing partners earn their crust.

Multrees is partnering with the University of Surrey’s Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) to solve everyday problems for clients in the wealth management sector.  Clive Stelfox, COO says "On the one hand we must engage in the wider strategic innovation within the industry, engaging with emerging technologies such as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) but on the other hand we need to be agile in helping our clients solve the everyday problems that they face now."

Clive says the collaboration with CoDE has given Multrees the perspective and skills to devise and deliver change at pace, and offer solutions to many of the challenges clients are facing.  He adds “The success of any initiative is about whether it delivers a benefit. Since working with CoDE we have seen a big uptick in both the range of change we are able to deliver for our clients, and the speed at which we do it.” 

Jaco Cebula, CTO at Multrees, explains the collaborations with CoDE puts Multrees at the forefront of innovation.  “The cutting edge work we are exposed to with CoDE allows us to think beyond the immediate future and consider the longer term. It’s about giving people scope to work in a structured manner on proof of concept technologies, generating as many ideas as possible and quickly assessing which are viable and which aren’t.”

“Multrees applies agile practices to explore innovations in business models by proposing service value propositions that exploit new digital technologies,” explains Dave Griffin, a member of CoDE's research team. “This practice takes good ideas and converts them into minimum viable products that can be delivered effectively to market at speed — rather than being bogged down in over engineering a solution.  And because it’s agile and constantly assessed, lessons can quickly be applied to ensure it delivers maximum value to clients. To optimise digital opportunity, we are finding this way of working to be more vital now than ever before.”

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thewealthnet: One size doesn't fit all when it comes to outsourcing, PAM Annual Operations Dinner hears

One size does not fit all when it comes to outsourcing, diners at the PAM Annual Operations Dinner heard.

Farzana Khalil, client solutions manager at Multrees, pointed to a growing trend with the wealth management industry towards outsourcing with most senior level executives considering it as an option.

However, she noted, outsourcing is quite immature within the industry as a whole with it being more common in other industries.

Taking the example of Apple, Ms Khalil considers that the technology multinational used outsourcing to successfully leverage their platform. By understanding their value chain, Apple used partners to build various component parts which drove their proposition forward.

In another example, Ms Khalil pointed to designer brands such as Chanel using outsourcing to expand their product line to build a more sustainable model. Remaining selective when choosing partners ensure the same standard of quality.

These examples, described as "well thought out", by Ms Khalil, demonstrate the use of a modular approach to outsourcing which necessitates an understanding of one's value chain and priorities before selecting a partner.

Ms Khalil stated that business models can be "spliced and diced" but the way firms view their value chain will differ from one to another. This means that "one size does not fit all" as firms will have different priorities.

"There are different styles of wealth managers and different styles of strategy so there needs to be a different style of service proposition," Ms Khalil commented.

She also warned against "mis-buying", meaning that clients do not fully understand an outsourcer’s proposition. Also cultural alignment is an important factor when choosing a partner.

The key takeaway for Ms Khalil is making sure that the choice of client partner is the right one and that there is a well thought out approach in order to succeed in outsourcing.

The PAM Annual Operations Dinner was held at the Goring Hotel on Tuesday 10 October 2017. It was attended by 22 wealth management chief operating officers (or the like), three speakers, and chaired by James Anderson, founder of PAM Insight.

The evening was kindly supported by Deloitte, Pulsant and Multrees.

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Portfolio Adviser and International Adviser: D2C platforms prioritise best-buy lists over client experience

A drive toward transparency in the platform market will narrow the gap between big retail players and the institutional market, Multrees Investor Services chief executive officer Chris Fisher predicts.

Fresh inquiries by the Financial Conduct Authority into the booming direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform industry have sparked a heated debate about the transparency and value provided by the so-called fund supermarkets.

Critics of platforms such as mega D2C firm Hargreaves Lansdown, have argued that these organisations are blurring the lines between distributor and asset manager.

Eventually, Fisher thinks the UK regulator’s and clients’ demands for greater transparency around fees and value creation will push retail platforms into a more institutional direction in the long term.  

Fisher’s firm Multrees is by his own admission “quasi-institutional”, providing custodian, investment administration and consolidated reporting services for high net worth clients of private investment offices, multi-family offices and private client arms of larger global institutions.

“From our perspective, it’s a really interesting time out there,” said Fisher.

“A lot of retail investment platforms have invested a lot of money to build up their platform capabilities. I question slightly whether or not that has gone more into the products proposition and the best-buy list proposition, as opposed to the customer experience.”

By contrast, the institutional end of the market has become more transparent over time because of intense competition between firms and the sophisticated client demands.

“If you look at our counterparts in the retail platform market, in order to help their clients and IFAs, they have provided products, they have put together recommended lists, they have negotiated terms with distributors and fund manufacturers. We’ve never had to do that and never wanted to do that.

"The end of the market we play in has always been quite competitive because it is quasi-institutional. By the time you get to the size of the account of the clients we service on our platform, the clients are much more sophisticated and are much more able to analyse what they are paying for and who they are paying for.”

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Pedal Power: Multrees team raises more than £1,200 for children’s charity

Ryan Scoular and seven colleagues took part in Pedal for Scotland 2017 – a 45-mile charity cycling ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh to raise money for Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids charity, which helps children with special needs in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.

Ryan is a programmer in Multrees’ IT development team and said:

“I might not be the first person you’d expect to lead a charity bike ride as I only learned to ride a bike as an adult a couple of years ago.  After a few skinned knees, I felt confident enough to cycle to work on my bike a couple of times a week – a 25-mile round trip. However, since then I’ve been looking for more of a cycling challenge and this year a team of us decided to enter Pedal for Scotland.

In its 19th year, Pedal for Scotland is Scotland’s biggest bike event, involving roughly 10,000 participants. Team Multrees, comprising of eight employees from both our Edinburgh and London offices, participated in the ‘Classic Challenge’ which took place on Sunday 10 September. This began in Glasgow and finished 45 miles later in Edinburgh - in what I can only describe as not ideal conditions!

Fortunately, the rain did not last for the entire day. There are a number of pit-stops along the way where the riders can get fed and watered, with the last one at Linlithgow Palace, 15 miles west of Edinburgh. At that point, the sun came out and to make it even more enjoyable, it was a long downhill stretch to the finish line in Edinburgh.

We all completed the ride within 20 minutes of each other and I estimate that we were on the saddle pedalling hard for just over three and a half hours. Whilst it was very tiring, knowing that the event was all for a good cause helped to keep us motivated throughout the day.

Our cycling team, which included Multrees’ chief executive officer Chris Fisher, Jaco Cebula, Ron Murray, James McLay, Keith Sinclair and our only ‘leading lady’ Ella Whitley, celebrated the achievement by discussing what our next challenge should be.

It is very encouraging to work for a business that not only promotes the fitness and well-being of its employees, but also strongly cares about corporate social responsibility.  Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids charity helps children from disadvantaged areas, as well as children with learning disabilities, mobility challenges, and other physical needs.  As it is a great local charity, it is something that Multrees is especially proud to support.

Multrees has been designated as a Cycle Friendly employer by Cycling Scotland and provides secure indoor bike parking and shower facilities, which is essential if you want to commute on two wheels in the Scottish weather!

The sponsorship page is still open for those wishing to donate and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us support this fantastic charity.”


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Sir Roger Gifford
Former Lord Mayor of London is helping Multrees look towards a post-Brexit future

Sir Roger Gifford joined Multrees Investor Services as a non-executive director in March 2014. He has worked for the Swedish bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB), for many years and is currently Senior Banker at SEB UK.

Sir Roger has had a long and illustrious career in financial services, spanning 30 years in London and overseas, and was appointed as Lord Mayor for the City of London in 2012. He is the Chairman of the London Green Finance Initiative and an ambassador for UK financial and professional services. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Association of Foreign Banks.

“I hope to bring broad experience to the role of non-executive director at Multrees, having been in the banking industry for more than 30 years, primarily in the debt and equity capital markets. 

“During this period, we’ve seen the capital markets transform but I believe it can help to take the long view when looking at how best to drive this business forward.

“The wealth management industry faces particular challenges today, and it’s important to remember that financial and economic markets tend to be cyclical.  However, the drive for greater efficiency coupled with the need to be ever more vigilant, technically and governance-wise, give expert specialists like Multrees a vital role to play. I don’t believe that direction will ever go into reverse.

“One of my roles at Multrees is to represent the interests of the company’s shareholder, SEB's pension fund. This includes looking at aspects of the business from governance and best practice to sitting on the remuneration committee.

“As a business, Multrees is very much looking to the future. I believe there is a real opportunity within the sector they operate in, specialising as they do in providing services for the discretionary wealth management sector.

“I am not a ‘Brexiteer’, but I think there are areas for the City of London and the asset management sector in particular, to flourish after the UK has left the EU. Of course, much will depend on the final terms of any Brexit deal, but I think London can carve out a niche as an even larger global wealth management centre.

“Part of the role the City of London takes, with the Lord Mayor its principal ambassador, is to look at what can be done to promote the UK abroad, whether it's in legal services, insurance, shipping or banking. London has all the key elements needed: a range of specialist ancillary services, from research teams to analysts, lawyers, accountants and so on; a favourable time zone and language; an independent judiciary and with it, the confidence that assets will be securely managed and looked after.

“Since the global financial crisis, the asset management industry in London has doubled from around £3.5 trillion to £7 trillion. I see no reason why this upward trajectory should not continue in a post-Brexit environment.

“Improved technology has helped the wealth management industry flourish over the past few decades. This has made transactions quicker and more secure, and has helped the whole industry reduce costs. 

“It has also helped make discrete businesses, like Multrees, become more viable. Many global private banks used to be sprawling businesses offering a whole range of services. Today however, more and more are concentrating on the core aspects of their business and outsourcing ancillary services, be it treasury management, custody or investment administration services to specialists.

“So I’m optimistic about the future of Multrees, operating as it does in a thriving sector. As I’ve worked in London and overseas over many years, spending a considerable period of time in Japan, I also hope to bring some useful contacts, making introductions that will benefit Multrees, its shareholders and its clients.”

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Investment Week: How AI is shaping the wealth management industry

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer of Multrees Investor Services, explains how artificial intelligence (AI) is shaping wealth firms’ internal processes and client experiences.

With potential for increased efficiency and reduced costs, the application of AI in the wealth management industry is set to escalate rapidly.

AI can assist wealth management firms in two broad areas: ‘first line’ client facing interaction, and in the automation of internally facing processes and capture of knowledge.

The aim is for AI to improve the experience for clients, whilst also enhancing a firm’s internal processes and efficiencies.

Client Facing

In a client facing capacity, AI can provide an option for the first point of digital contact, with the ultimate intention of saving both the firm and the client time for routine tasks.

It can also prompt strategic interaction based on critical ‘events’ that are derived from the full extent of personal and financial data available.

However, a key consideration is ensuring that any AI solution, such as an adviser chat bot, can recognise when it is on the verge of exceeding its capabilities and should pass the client to a ‘real’ adviser – getting this hybrid model correct is a key challenge in this market segment.

An alternative, and possibly more innovative approach, is to integrate facial and voice emotion processing APIs into your apps that can be used to identify when the client experience is becoming strained and automatically transfer the client to a ‘real’ adviser.

At a time when client costs and charges are already under close scrutiny, the danger is that high-net-worth individuals and ultra-high-net-worth (HNW/UHNW) individuals may not appreciate the lack of personal touch provided by AI.

Therefore, the general sentiment among wealth management experts is that client-facing AI is not yet advanced enough, nor is it currently appropriate for firms that specialise in wealth management for HNW/UHNW individuals.

This provides a degree of respite for the wealth management firms. The key aspects of the bespoke, personal relationships these firms offer is something that AI currently struggles with, e.g. empathy, responsiveness, the ‘personal touch’ and human intuition.

While such qualities are outside the realm of existing AI technology, the clock is ticking as technology improves.

Nevertheless, what is required clearly goes way beyond the simple Turing test approach to AI, whereby a human would be unable to distinguish between another human and a machine. This, therefore, buys some time for firms in this segment.

As long as HNW/UHNW clients continue to invest enormous sums of money and pay premium fees, it is hard to imagine a time when they would prefer a robot (beyond initial novelty value), rather than an experienced and fully trained individual, looking after their account in a more holistic fashion.

Internally Facing

In some ways, the more interesting application of AI is internally within firms looking to improve productivity.

Robotic process automation holds huge opportunities for improving processes and streamlining the middle and back office, particularly when there is long term investment in legacy technologies that do not have the benefit of modern Web APIs for integration.

It is perhaps helpful to think of these types of automation as ‘macros on steroids’, but with the key differentiators of requiring little by way of actual coding, and far greater reliance on machine learning to capture highly complex, yet predictable tasks.

However, it is important to avoid a key pitfall with this technology, i.e. using automation as a ‘sticking plaster’ to compensate for fundamentally broken processes, or poor interfacing and data quality.

‘Chatbot’ technology is another form of AI which is becoming increasing accessible. There are some great Cognitive Services and Data Analytics APIs that can be used in conjunction with existing cloud ‘chatbot’ frameworks to build out proof-of-concept AI solutions.

The key first step is for firms to spend time with their IT department or external IT provider, evaluating the available technologies.

A good starting point is to build out ‘proof of concept’ chat bots that can draw on existing customer data, business processes and wider corporate knowledge, with internal staff providing the initial user base.

The educational and discovery aspect of this initial work can be considered more important than the outcome, and it should be used to provide the inspiration and foundation for any subsequent, more strategic, developments.

Additionally, operational support AI bots can provide ‘expert advice’ to less experienced staff when programmed with a consistent training strategy.

The technology can serve as a mechanism to formalise the capture, harvesting and retention of organisational knowledge, which greatly helps with any succession planning.

Finally, the RegTech space is a large area of AI development, contributing to easing the ever-growing burden of compliance.

The automation of KYC/AML is an example which has seen a good deal of growth.

Firms that are early adopters in the existing technology advances in this area can radically streamline their entire on-boarding process.

Where this is combined with advances in banking Web APIs, new client on-boarding could theoretically become instantaneous.

The robots are coming, and the opportunities for wealth managers are plentiful.


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Hugh Mullan
The right job at the right time: why a former Fidelity CEO and Barclays executive joined the Multrees team.

Hugh Mullan joined Multrees as a non-executive director in March 2015, bringing with him extensive senior level experience in running retail investment and investment management businesses.

His previous roles include UK CEO for Fidelity Worldwide Investment, as well as executive positions at Barclays Wealth, Schroders and Citibank.

“As an outsourcing services business, I was attracted to Multrees by the prospect of joining a dynamic and growing company. In particular, one that’s working at the cutting-edge of many technological changes within the industry.

“My experience and expertise dovetailed neatly with what Multrees was looking for. After stepping back from a full-time executive position, this was exactly the kind of exciting role that I had been seeking.”

Part of Hugh’s role at Multrees is to help develop, broaden and maintain the service and technological capability it offers: “I was the Chief Executive Officer of a global investment and distribution business and so I understand the challenges that a company like Multrees faces.”

Hugh’s executive experience has also seen him manage complex change programmes: “Multrees’ clients face a number of evolving challenges and opportunities. Part of my role is to help them manage this change, as well as to identify how Multrees itself can adapt and evolve as a business.

“I have a lot of experience in this area: researching complex markets which are influenced by a whole range of factors. I explore how businesses position themselves to meet these future challenges. This doesn’t just involve strategic thinking; it includes making decisions about the best way to take a business forward, and taking responsibility for these decisions.”

Alongside his technical expertise, Hugh has the requisite regulatory and compliance experience. “One of my roles at Multrees is to head up the Audit and Risk Committee, which is particularly important as the wealth management industry faces a number of challenges. Externally, change will be strongly influenced by the regulatory environment and technical developments, and this is where firms like Multrees can excel. Many companies don’t have the resources or time to research all the latest tech options – for example, the emerging use of blockchain for trading and record keeping. Instead, they may prefer to utilise the services of a company like Multrees that offers this expertise.

“These external factors aren’t the only thing driving change in the wealth management sector. Our clients’ demands are also changing, as are the expectations and requirements of their customers. Ultimately, we are designing products and services that help meet these changing needs.  

“For example, a traditional high-net-worth client may in the past have been happy for a private bank to look after their portfolio without providing frequent updates. But customers today expect far more transparency: they want up-to-date information on how their money is invested, often using mobile phone or online interfaces. We help our clients to deliver this level of service.”

For all the emphasis on efficient information channels, wealth management remains a people-centric business. Hugh continues: “This is one of the main reasons why I joined Multrees two years ago. I knew many of the senior team here from previous roles, including the founder, Chris Fisher. I have a lot of respect for their capability and talent, and felt this would be a great team of people to work with.”

Hugh’s decision to join the company came after taking a year-long break from the corporate world, which saw him spend a month in the Outer Hebrides and travel to the Rockies and Patagonia.

“This was an opportunity for both myself and my wife to focus on what we wanted to do after an intensive executive career. The opportunity to join Multrees as a non-executive director felt like the right role at the right time for me.

“I hope my experience and expertise will help Multrees continue to develop and grow as a successful business.”

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Framework development and initial release of new Web Application Programming Interface (Multrees Web API)

Multrees to provide Web Application Programming Interface (Web API) service solutions

  • Simple, automated and real-time integration with other B2B and B2C applications
  • Straight-through processing via native REST (Representational State Transfer) architecture
  • Industry standard security and common integration code samples

Multrees Investor Services (Multrees), an independent specialist provider of global custody, consolidated reporting and investment administration solutions to wealth managers and private investment offices, announces the successful completion of the framework development and initial release of its new Web Application Programming Interface (Multrees Web API).

Multrees is using this platform to build functionality that enhances its existing interfacing capability, both with other organisations and partner software applications, to significantly reinforce its existing systems and data integration capabilities.

By creating a single and comprehensive interface covering its core services, the Multrees Web API will provide the following benefits:

  • Secure and segregated integration to client-retained applications. For example, integrating a client’s CRM application into the platform means that creating a new client record becomes a straight-through, automated process.
  • Consistent mechanism for accessing reporting data across multiple platforms.
  • Improved white-labelling and customisation of functionality, enabling transformed digital integration.

The investment in a highly extensible development and deployment framework, using the latest Microsoft technologies, allows Multrees to quickly add new functionality in an extremely agile fashion. Primary roll out will cover core business entities and provide reporting and lookup data to enhance the functionality in the Multrees Compass web portal. Subsequent phases will aim to add further data capture functionality and make the client on-boarding journey a seamless process, such as integration into CRM tools.

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at Multrees said: “As a specialist wealth management solutions provider, particularly from a technology point of view, we strive to stay ahead of the curve by continuously innovating and further enhancing our products and services. This enables our clients to remain competitive and take full advantage of new and emerging technologies.”

Web APIs have created an ecosystem for companies, ranging from the tech giants to smaller niche players, looking for a seamless customer experience. Multrees’ new Web API initiative is an exemplary model of delivering a frictionless customer experience.

Initial Technical API Documentation is available here

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New Profiles 220814 Ausaf Abbas
Strategic thinking and international experience: what Ausaf Abbas brings to his non-executive director role.

Ausaf Abbas joined Multrees’ senior management team in 2013 as a non-executive director.

He brought with him more than 25 years’ experience working in the wealth management sector, along with an in-depth knowledge of the challenges facing the industry today.

Ausaf says: “I’ve run private wealth management businesses for both Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Through these, I’ve built up relationships and contacts with many people working in the City. This is a useful part of my work for Multrees.”

One of his main roles for Multrees is to support its expanding client base. And he says it’s here that his previous experience comes into play.

“I’ve held a number of senior roles across investment banking and private wealth management. These involved strategic management and looking at the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for these businesses. I hope Multrees, and their clients, can benefit from this approach.”

Ausaf believes that there are two related challenges facing the wealth management sector at present: increased costs and a squeeze on revenues.

He points out that costs have increased substantially in recent years, particularly as a result of the increased cost of technology and regulation. “A decade ago, many compliance departments were a couple of guys working from a basement office. Today, it’s more likely to be a team of 50 highly qualified staff.”

At the same time, many wealth managers face a downward pressure on fees, thanks to RDR and the move from active to passive management. “This presents a profitability challenge for many companies. Here is where companies like Multrees, which offers outstanding service and cost-effective outsourcing solutions, can help.” 

Ausaf says that one of the advantages that Multrees can provide is to tailor-make their services to fit the client’s needs.  “Too many companies do the reverse of this,” he says. “They build a one-size-fits-all system and then try to market it to clients.”

But by understanding the particular challenges that clients face — both today and in the future — the team at Multrees can come up with a customised solution.

“Times are particularly tough for medium-sized wealth management firms and strategic thinking has a vital part to play in this process. The smaller niche providers have their own market, and the largest wealth managers in the world are probably ok. But it’s a lot tougher for the larger group of companies that fall between these two extremes. “

For the past four years, Ausaf has chaired the judging panel for the WealthBriefing European Awards. He mentions: “This has allowed me to review many of the different business models and new developments that are being adopted within the wealth management industry. I can see which ones are working well and how Multrees’ solutions can help to address some of the challenges.”

Ausaf has a broad international experience and has spent more than 13 years living and working in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Japan.

He continues: “Many of Multrees’ clients have an international outlook, particularly if they are focused on ultra high-net-worth individuals. These customers tend to have a more global focus, particularly when it comes to their investments. I believe that my experience working across Europe, the Middle East and Asia can be of use.”

Ausaf says his role as a non-executive director allows him to take more of an overview of the industry. “Hopefully my experience can help Multrees grow as a business. But this is a two-way thing: this is an industry that doesn’t stand still, so I continue to learn and gain new insights from my work at Multrees.”

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The Cyber Menace And How Wealth Managers Should Face It

In the UK alone, businesses were hit 230,000 times each by cyber-attacks in 2016. Jaco Cebula, ‎Chief Technology Officer, Multrees Investor Services, gives his insight into how firms must organise themselves to ensure they minimise this risk:

“Cybersecurity threats have undoubtedly become more intense over the years and will naturally drive more and more of the attention and the budgets of businesses globally to focus on mitigating the issue. The most recent case of the WannaCrypt cyber-attack which affected over 150 countries is the best real-time example of the rapidity and the scale of the impact this can have.

“The cyber challenge will remain complex and evolve rapidly, placing companies, particularly those dealing with vast volumes of financial data, under immense pressure. They must keep customer data safe and drive the need for constant innovation to maintain robust security frameworks and help minimise the risk of security breaches.  

“Worldwide annual expenditure on cybersecurity software, hardware and services is expected to reach $101.6 billion by 2020 compared with spending of $73.7 billion in 2016, according to research from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

“While constant innovation is crucial in tackling the issue, the approach should also be a holistic one, involving people and an improved process of intelligence gathering, and sharing of that intelligence via more effective communication channels.  

“The need to rapidly generate new products to survive in a highly competitive market makes delivering robust security controls extremely challenging. However, as the level of threats grow, it is crucial that banks become more open when it comes to their cyber strategy and work together as an ecosystem to combat the issue.”

“The more traditional ‘technical’ approach to cyber security, while necessary, is not sufficient in itself to ensure that firms can minimise the impact of any attack.  The majority of regulated firms will have controls in place to ensure that their IT security team is taking the necessary measures, such as keeping virus definitions up to date, patching servers, locking down firewalls, setting minimum required permissions, providing intrusion detection systems, and testing perimeter defences etc.”

“However, while the WannaCrypt ransomware attack has shown spectacularly that there are no grounds for complacency in these areas, it important to realise that many of the most effective measures lie beyond the realm of IT Security, and relate more to a less predictable area of vulnerability – an organisation’s people.”

“As a result, it seems pertinent to examine a number of key non-technical measures that demonstrate a number of ways that Multrees has tried to take cyber-security ‘out of the IT Security department’:

  • Online training – this should be a mandatory part of the staff induction, and the CISI online training catalogue which includes an introduction to Cyber Security, is a good example.
  • ‘Lunch and Learn’ approach – this covered the main ‘social engineering’ categories of Cyber Threats, and included real life examples, as well as reviews of actual attacks on Multrees and lessons learned.
  • Understanding of different data domains – it is vital that individuals understand where and how corporate data is stored e.g. local devices, corporate network, cloud etc., as well as the risks inherent in each.
  • Downstream supplier impacts – it is no longer sufficient to understand the impact of direct threats to your own organisation.  Effective supplier management of application providers (both on-premise and cloud based), infrastructure/network partners and B2B counterparties should include due diligence on security measures, as well as reporting and transparency around any attacks via service reviews.
  • IT ‘coding for security’ – a myriad of online courses and certifications are available to ensure that all software developers have an awareness of how to build security into their software ‘from the ground up’.
  • Simulations – this does not have to be time consuming or costly, but it is vital that staff are aware of the procedures in the event of a ‘real world’ attack. A simple spear phishing simulation which requires a little creativity and the creation of a dummy website, could provide an opportunity to analyse the responses, to target training and resources more effectively.  Ransomware is also  very easy to simulate and track with only a small amount of scripting.
  • Be aware of ‘patterns’ in attacks e.g. DDoS is often a cover for a more forensic data theft. It is important not to lose sight of the perimeter while dealing with the initial incident.

A key to getting buy-in to this activity is to understand that one will, inevitably, be the victim of some form of cyber-attack.

In 2016, Multrees itself was hit by a Ransomware attack that was not identified by the mail scanner.  The effect of this breach, however, was minimised swiftly via appropriate user permissions, allied to effective segregation of the network, meaning that core databases and application files were simply not accessible. However, it is important to note that these technical protections would not have been necessary, had the offending email been treated with appropriate levels of suspicion and tighter scrutiny at the point of entry by the recipient.  

Being hit by a real-life attack, even one with minimal impact, can provide a timely wake-up call to ensure that cyber awareness is embedded in the organisation’s culture.

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WealthBriefing.com: UK wealth sector has no need to get into a Brexit panic; uncertainties show value of advice

The wealth management industry in the UK hasn’t reason to be scared about Brexit although some firms may struggle to get the talented staff they need to sustain growth, a roundtable discussion in London heard recently.

The industry should be able to adapt to the changed landscape caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union, although the sector will need to start making decisions relatively quickly, as the two-year period between the triggering of Article 50 and the actual departure deadline will pass rapidly, the roundtable, held by Multrees Investor Services, heard. Multrees is a specialist provider of consolidated reporting, investment administration and custody solutions.

The roundtable, at which your correspondent was present along with some other journalists, included speakers from Multrees, Lincoln Private Investment Office, Sandaire and Stonehage Fleming.

“Why would we change a lot if we don’t have to? If we maintain strong compliance and regulatory standards here, that should work. I’m not sure that the wealth management industry is going see a lot of clients withdrawing money from here and going to the EU,” Nigel Pilkington, chairman of Multrees, said.

Discussants seemed to broadly agree that the wealth management industry enjoyed a cluster of mutually-reinforcing benefits to being in London – language, law, communications proximity, timezone, culture, liquidity, relatively-light taxes and political stability. In combination, these factors gave London a formidable advantage in wealth management, even if certain regulatory and other complexities arise because of Brexit.

Ross Elder, managing partner of Lincoln, said there was a relatively tight timetable for the industry to consider; when holidays and other issues are taken into account, the UK doesn’t have two years to prepare for Brexit. “I don’t believe it is feasible for [the industry] to do it in that time,” he said. Perhaps paradoxically, the uncertainties of the present time underscore the need for high-quality advice.

There is considerable uncertainty, judging by conversations in the sector, but it is unclear that Brexit will be a negative overall for the industry, Alexandra Altinger, chief executive officer of Sandaire, told the roundtable.

Stonehage Fleming’s Matthew Fleming, a partner at that firm, said that an issue he wanted to focus on was what he called “the marginalisation of a generation” - referring to young adults feeling that they were being sidelined by developments such as around Brexit. “Some of them are feeling quite bruised by the experience and trying to understand where they fit in,” he said.

On another “international” theme, attendees at the roundtable were asked how the UK’s clampdown on non-domiciled residents, along with tax changes to foreign-owned properties and other developments, might have affected the UK’s status as a place where high net worth individuals want to live. Altinger said that she has found that there appears to be a stronger emotional connection to the UK among such international wealthy persons than had been appreciated. There hasn’t been a large exodus of people, she said. “We haven’t seen clients leave [because of changes to non-dom laws]. There are just not that many other options,” she said.

One of the ironies of Brexit, said Chris Fisher, chief executive of Multrees, is that the uncertainties and changes will give wealth management advisors a chance to prove their worth. “You have to look at this as an opportunity,” Fisher, who said he had voted for Remain in the 2016 referendum, said.

Fleming said he took a different view to some on the controversies of the moment: “We are looking after clients where they are thinking in terms of the next 50 years rather than the next three years.”

Regulation and governance

Discussion took a turn away from Brexit and tax to the current waves of regulatory activity and compliance burdens associated with it. Altinger noted that the UK in some ways is at the forefront of understanding around “conduct risk”.

It is an issue of business research and development to be able to keep pace with the flow of regulation affecting financial services, Hugh Mullan, Multrees non-executive director, said.

The regulatory trend has helped drive some wealth management firms towards companies such as Multrees, Fisher argued. “The pace of change of regulation is not going to let up any time soon,” he said, referring as an example to the upcoming updates to European data protection regulations.

Lincoln’s Elder said: “I think that's the risk on the front end side is that the regulation puts off wealth management firms from giving what is their best advice and opinions to their clients."

Active management

Turning to the age-old debate about the pros and cons of active investment manager versus the so-called passive approach, Sandaire’s Altinger said that she expected to see some return to the active approach, but not a full-scale return to traditional active management. It has now become easier than ever before to custom-build indices giving exposure to specific strategies in a relatively cost-efficient way, she said.

Finally, attendees at the roundtable discussed the current trend of interest in private capital markets, both on the equity and the credit side. An issue is that with more money entering these sectors, there is likely to be some compression on returns, as was seen over a decade ago in the hedge funds space.

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thewealthnet: London remains a credible market place despite Brexit and regulation increases- Multrees roundtable

Leading wealth management experts got together for a roundtable held by Multrees Investor Services, to strongly debate changes to the industry, in relation to Brexit, technology, culture, regulation and millennial mind-set.

The wealth management industry rest on three pillars, access to talent, a credible market place and a fair tax regime according to Alexandra Altinger, chief executive of Sandaire.

For Ms Altinger, Brexit, while creating uncertainty, is unlikely to impact London's credibility as a market place. Although the tax regime will change, she said, it will still be considered to be fair and not completely out of line with other jurisdictions, notably those in the EU. The main concern, therefore, will be access to talent as there is uncertainty around financial passporting which could make the industry less mobile.

From a client point of view, Ross Elder, managing partner of Lincoln Private Office, noted that there is a strong emotional connection to the UK. He said that global clients feel comfortable in the UK and with geopolitical risk going on elsewhere; people are more attracted to London despite uncertainties.

However, Mr Elder expressed concerns with regards to the feasibility of completing the Brexit negotiations in time. With the possibility of extended negotiations or a complete rupture from the EU, Mr Elder advises wealth managers, investors and firms to make decisions quickly and "look through the noise".

He added: "People will need high quality advice and you can still find that in London".

Chief executive of Multrees, Chris Fisher, believes that Brexit could be a positive for the wealth management industry. For him, it could create opportunity and freedom as the UK will no longer be tied to EU legislation and the UK can use Brexit as an opportunity to become more attractive.

Nigel Pilkington, chairman of Multrees, does not expect Brexit to bring much change with it: "Why would we try to change if we don't need to? The only reason to change that much is if we are forced to. The best thing we can do is maintain our strong and well respected regulatory and compliance standards."

Mr Pilkington warned that if the UK changes its standards, it might result in wealth managers not accessing potential clients or in clients withdrawing their money.

Non-executive director of Multrees, Hugh Mullan, also agrees that Brexit might not bring drastic change. He pointed to the fact that most fund managers already deal with a multi-jurisdictional model so asset managers are "geared-up" for Brexit. For him, Brexit remains "business as usual". Mr Mullan also considers that UK regulation is strongly in favour of the end investor compared to other countries from the EU.

Indeed, Ms Altinger believes that the UK is at the forefront of good regulation with more transparency and accountability being introduced.

She said: “I think the UK is at the forefront of this whole conduct risk mind-set and that's really powerful. I think conduct risk is about good corporate cultures and so I think it will become ever more important. I think the conduct risk mind-set or framework is what we're evolving too, so that you can't short circuit that. I think others will end up adapting to that to some degree for sure. I think investors will ignore at their peril.”

Partner at Stonehage Fleming, Matthew Fleming stated that there is a danger that increasing regulation is forcing wealth managers to be quite "samey" and are becoming less and less diversified.

Mr Elder also pointed to the risks, particularly for the front-end. He commented that regulation could be putting off wealth management firms from giving what is best advice in their opinion: "As a firm, we must follow the letter and the spirit of the law but our ultimate goal is to provide best advice."

As well as political and regulatory changes, technology and innovation is another big theme affecting the wealth management industry.

"Robotics is coming," said Mr Elder. "There will be huge advantages but it's going to be the businesses that have the relationships and distributions that are going to have to pick up these skill sets. There are some areas where technology will allow firms to bypass inefficiencies which allows managers to free up time."

Mr Fleming considers that the relationship that you build with clients is more important than how you technologically interact with them: "It is a tool for spreading information, but technology doesn't necessarily help you communicate."

In terms of target audience, Mr Mullan stated that there is not enough money in advice for the mass affluent market as the lower fees don't justify the regulatory process to give customised advice. For him, the mass affluent market will be revolutionised with a large part of the market being automated.

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Chris Fisher
The Inside Track: how Chris Fisher has overseen the growth of Multrees

As chief executive of Multrees Investor Services, Chris Fisher is able to enjoy his hands-on role within the business. He was instrumental in setting up the business in 2011, building on a proven career in asset servicing and wealth management. Through his skills and vision, Chris has helped grow Multrees into a successful outsourcing provider for the wealth management sector.

Perhaps his biggest contribution is to have realised the potential for a business like Multrees and to have helped turn this idea into a viable and thriving organisation. Chris explains: “When we launched, we could see there was a gap in the market. After the financial crisis, many bank providers to the sector began to remove services.” 

Multrees stepped into this space to offer independent custody, investment administration and consolidated reporting services. “We knew there was a potential for a company that took a fresh approach to technology and offered clients flexibility and more customised solutions.”

The challenge, he admits, is maintaining this individual approach as the business has grown: “One of my priorities has been to ensure that as we’ve scaled up the business, we haven’t lost our unique service proposition, nor the flexibility to respond to the needs of our clients.”

Chris has been instrumental in helping recruit and retain many of the people who work at the company today - whether this is within the technology side of the business or the client solutions team. “My role has been to explain how Multrees offers something different to our competitors. I’ve helped persuade the right people to come and join us.” This remains critical to the success of the business: “We wouldn’t have achieved what we have without our talented, loyal and enthusiastic workforce.”

These skills have been put to good use when attracting new clients to the business. In recent years, Multrees has grown both its private and institutional business at an impressive rate.

The strategic guidance provided by his leadership continues to be important, as Multrees negotiates the challenges - and maximises opportunities - in today’s wealth management market.

Chris says for many in the industry the challenge is how to thrive in an era of low returns: “The wealth management industry is maturing quickly but there have been growing pains along the way for wealth managers. Our job is to make their life as easy as possible, allowing them to focus on serving the needs of their clients. There will continue to be pressure from robo-based operatives and passively managed funds. We hope our smart use of technology will show that we can help wealth managers deliver the right solutions at the right price for their clients.”

Chris continues: “Technology can still provide answers for many in the wealth management sector - but the trick is to choose the right technology and think carefully about how this is integrated within the business. You need to remain nimble. You don’t want to pay for a whole system only to find it’s obsolete within a couple of years.” At Multrees, Chris and his team continue to pioneer a more flexible and adaptable approach: “We want to put in place building blocks that can be updated or amended as necessary. Doing so has helped us stay ahead of the game.”

Chris concludes: “My role is not to come up with ideas. I’ve others in the business to do this. My job is to make decisions on which of these ideas will be best for the business and will continue to help drive it forwards.”

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Wealth managers come together to tackle the key issues affecting the industry

Multrees Investor Services is joined by Sandaire Family Investment Office, Stonehage Fleming, and Lincoln Private Investment Office at a roundtable discussion

  • London to remain a competitive global wealth management hub
  • UK regulation a contributing factor in London’s global appeal
  • Technology will fail to replace human touch for UHNW clients
  • The generational divide in investment strategy is becoming more prominent

Multrees Investor Services hosted a roundtable event on 11th April, which saw industry leaders discussing Brexit, tax, regulation, corporate governance, technology and investment strategy. Attendees included Alexandra Altinger, CEO of Sandaire, Matthew Fleming, Managing Partner at Stonehage Fleming, Ross Elder, Managing Partner at Lincoln Private Investment Office, and Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees.

Alexandra Altinger, CEO of Sandaire, commented: “There is a stronger emotional connection to the UK than has previously been appreciated. London is global and open-minded. There is concern about what is changing in the UK due to Brexit, but the wealth has to go somewhere and there are few competitive alternatives. When looking at other options to the UK, it is a relative decision, there isn’t an ideal solution out there.”

Hugh Mullan, non-executive of Multrees and former UK CEO of Fidelity Investments, commented that: "UK regulation has tended to be strongly supportive of the rights and protection of the end client. That enhances the UK's case as an excellent domicile for client assets. Following Brexit, I do not see that priority changing and, in my opinion, we are very likely to continue to see further moves to strengthen the position of the end-investor as regulation continues to evolve”.

Ross Elder, managing partner of Lincoln, noticed similarities between the present and the 1999 dot-com bubble and urged restraint: “Undoubtedly there are huge advantages to robotics but nothing can replace the subjective, personalised part of what we do. Robo should ultimately help bypass wealth manager inefficiencies to allow advisers to spend time doing what they should be doing, which is focussing on their clients’ requirements and navigating markets.”

Time and budget savings, as a result of technological improvement and outsourcing, enable wealth managers and financial services providers to focus and invest in innovation, which is fundamental in attracting the next generation of UHNW clients.

Partner of Stonehage Fleming, Matthew Fleming, commented: “We’re seeing tension around the style of investment between the generations. The under 35s want their investment portfolio to make a positive contribution to society whilst making money. Whereas, and this is a massive generalisation, the older generation tend to want to make money and then do good with it. In some ways, this is driving the agenda for wealth managers.”

Changes to the wealth management industry will undoubtedly continue to develop as Article 50 negotiations transpire. As the financial services sector strives to satisfy its tech savvy and principled millennials, London will continue to remain a global wealth management hub.

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Citywire Wealth Manager: Leveraging technology - A practical guide

Jaco Cebula, CTO at Multrees Investor Services, highlights the importance of wealth managers staying technically competitive and explains how organisations can encourage a culture of innovation.

The majority of the wealth managers we work with focus on relationship management to best cater to the needs of their high net worth clients. As a result, they often lack in-house technology experience. 

By outsourcing to technologically advanced investor services specialists, wealth managers can stay technically competitive, and focused on their clients.

During an economic downturn it is even more important for finance and technology firms to continue to encourage and invest in innovation through technology. After all, innovation is driving growth across all industries and helping organisations to achieve a competitive edge.

Encouraging innovation within an organisation comes down to providing employees with the opportunity to put forward ideas. An office can have a space dedicated to discussing ideas. This ‘innovation hub’ promotes a form of ‘internal crowdsourcing’ where people will naturally gravitate towards the best ideas.

There has to be an understanding that there is quite a high attrition rate for new ideas, but businesses should not be ‘afraid to fail’, or to express ideas which may not survive. In fact, a ‘failed’ idea can be the catalyst for something even greater, helping to generate a new or improved vision for the business.

Who can select the best tech…

The best type of innovation is tailored to the industry voice and client needs. We are seeing additional demand within the development of Web APIs. Primarily used for providing a new mechanism to interact with other organisations, Web application programming interfaces (APIs) provide a business-to-business level of integration. They involve leveraging a number of cutting-edge technologies, but in doing so provide an opportunity to demonstrate technological capability. 

By introducing a public interface into your services, you become placed, technically, in the shop window for other businesses to integrate their products to you. 

This allows businesses to partner with other innovative software vendors and services and provide true end-to-end integration across a number of application technology stacks. Developing a Web API provides some of our more tech-savvy clients with a new way of integrating their business processes with us.

Tailored tech: a client example

Tailored tech is built to an organisation’s requirements and suited to the client-focused nature of the business. Recently, a client chose to focus their technology innovation specifically in the digital client delivery area. Rather than recruiting a large team of developers, they partnered with us to deliver their branded single sign-on, secure portal solution.

Recognising that they needed to be more sophisticated with their client information, which is held on our investment administration and custody platform, the client did not want an out-of-the-box option. 

We worked with them to deliver a tailored solution geared towards their specific and immediate needs. This included the benefit of full Web API integration to the custody, reporting and related services provided from our services platform.

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Financial Planning Today: Budget – reaction and key changes

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees Investor Services, speaks positively of Philip Hammond’s announcement, considering the needs of the UK financial services:

“The budget needed to protect the UK’s extremely strong financial services sector, and help encourage the retention of foreign talent within the industry. 

With the triggering of Article 50 right around the corner, the Chancellor’s announcement goes some way to safeguard the competitiveness of the sector. The unchanged non-domicile tax regulation is positive in preventing a brain drain of talent to foreign fields. This, plus the proposed support regarding business rates, and the £270 million fund set aside for AI and robo development, will enable tech firms to innovate and stay ahead. 

The government and UK companies must be bullish to ensure a thriving Britain beyond Brexit. Only this will ensure that, among the handful of prime global centres for financial services, the U.K remains at the vanguard.”

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Edinburgh office designated as a Cycle Friendly Employer by Cycling Scotland

The award recognises the work that has taken place to encourage their staff to make more environmentally friendly and health-conscious travel choices.

Wendy Graham, Edinburgh’s Cycle Friendly Employer co-ordinator, said “Staff at Multrees Investor Services are fully supported and encouraged to cycle to work with secure cycle parking; shower and changing facilities; and a business mileage rate for cyclists, alongside other pro-cycling facilities, services and policies. As such we are proud to formally honour the effort and hard work which has gone in to cycle promotion at Multrees Investor Services, with the nationally recognised Cycle Friendly Employer Award”.

Clive Stelfox, Chief Operating Officer at Multrees, said “At Multrees, we look for ways to encourage the wellbeing of our employees and, therefore, are very keen to support them in implementing a sustainable travel plan. As a responsible employer, Multrees welcomes this award as it acknowledges our ongoing commitment to reducing business mileage and our environmental impact.”


From left to right: Max Hawkins, Richard Bogle, Ryan Scoular, Martin McKillop, Ron Murray

Cycling Scotland’s Cycle Friendly Employer Award is run in conjunction with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives. The aim of the award is to give employers the incentive to achieve a nationally recognised award for promoting cycling in the workplace, which will result in benefits for employers and staff alike. The award also provides best practice guidance in relation to cycle commuting and can be used as a practical tool to implement cycle measures as part of a sustainable travel plan.

For more information on the award please see Cycling Scotland’s website: http://www.cyclingscotland.org/our-projects/award-schemes/cycle-friendly-employer

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EUBankers.net: How will 'Black swan' events and interest rate changes affect investors?

Ahead of the UK interest rate decision (15th December), Ausaf Abbas, non-executive director of Multrees Investor Services, answers the question: how will this year's 'black swan' events and changes to interest rates affect investors?

For the past few years investment experts have been suggesting that we are at an inflection point for interest rates, but they have been consistently wrong. So, the question is, if they call it again in 2017, as they are beginning to do, why should investors believe them? Of course, Trump and what happens in the US, plus Brexit, will be critical in determining how rates react so the levels of uncertainty are huge.

The vote for Brexit and the election of Trump are surprise events. If you had bet f 1 on the UK leaving the EU, Trump becoming president and Leicester City winning the Premier League at the start of 2016, you would have made an enormous amount of money.

Events with expected remote probability seem to occur with surprising frequency, so wealth managers must react quickly and think about how these black swan events will impact investment. We are seeing clients changing their tactical asset allocation in response to these extraneous events, and we have to provide them with the support to implement their decisions quickly and efficiently.

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FTAdviser: Advisers welcome Autumn Statement scrapping

Chancellor Philip Hammond's decision to scrap the Autumn Statement was an "unexpected firework" but will "make tax planning easier", according to the IFA community. 

Leaving his announcement to the end of a speech that delivered policy on corporation tax and tax avoidance, infrastructure projects, National Insurance, the living wage and the personal allowance, Mr Hammond said: "No other major economy makes tax changes so many times a year and neither should we."

He added that the spring Budget in March would be the final one, and that from now on he would now only deliver an Autumn Budget.

Mr Hammond said that this this would allow tax changes to be considered ahead of the new tax year.

When contacted by FTAdviser the changes drew a mixed reaction for the financial services community.

Les Cameron, head of technical at Prudential welcomed the change, and said: “The Chancellor’s decision to abolish the Autumn Statemen  will make tax planning easier for advisers.

"The system of announcing major tax changes in the Budget and Autumn Statement has been making it increasingly hard for advisers to keep up to date with new regulations.

"Switching to an announcement once a year will make it easier to keep abreast of tax policy changes.”

James Hender, head of private wealth and partner at Saffery Champness, added: “The Chancellor’s move to abolish the Autumn Statement was certainly an unexpected firework.

"While shifting to a spring statement may seem as mad as a March hare, many will be pleased by the prospect of greater stability which, we hope, will come with just the one key fiscal event.”

However, the Autumn Statement did not go far enough for some financial professionals. Chris Fisher director at Edinburgh-based Multrees Investor Services, said that the Autumn statement did not go far enough to protect the financial services industry of the eve of the UK's exit from the EU.

“Given the distinct ambiguity regarding Brexit and how it’s implementation will be felt across all industries, it is disappointing that Mr Hammond did not deliver any key positive messages to help the businesses who with each day are facing uncertain futures," he said.  

"It is imperative that the financial services industry - the key revenue generator of the UK - is reassured and given strong signals that the UK government is thinking ahead on how to keep its key industries competitive in a global environment.

"Mr Hammond needs to think about this and start implementing ideas now ahead of Article 50 being triggered."

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techradar.com: Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain

Forget vague notions of trust – code is law on these new transactional platforms


pwmnet.com: Multrees’ mix and match approach to finding tech providers adds flexibility


dataIQ.com: The five must-knows of blockchain in financial services

Ahead of the Blockchain World Congress on September 13 - 14th in New York, Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at Multrees, gives his view on the five 'must-knows' of blockchain in financial services.

1.What? “Blockchain can be thought of simply as a shared ledger, with the technology behind the scenes ensuring that it is secure, up to date, and tamper proof.  Access to this ledger can either be public or private depending on the application.

2.Why? Put simply, blockchain can increase the speed and decrease the cost of processing transactions. The technology uses a single, shared database, removing the need for complex message handling, translation and reconciliation. Transactions are therefore applied immediately, significantly reducing turnaround times and costs for (among several examples) trade settlements.

3.When? Blockchain is now available as a development technology, and can be used by organisations to build applications that would benefit from shared, distributed and secure ledger functionality.  Beyond BitCoin however, there are few actual LIVE applications, but there are key areas such as settlement and reconciliation where this is being worked on.  The key is agreeing cross-industry standards, and this is where a number of major banks, and organisations such as SWIFT, are working now.

4.Pitfalls? There is a technological distinction between being a ‘consumer’ of blockchain services, and a ‘producer’.  For the former, knowledge of blockchain APIs is essential.  For the latter, developer-friendly technologies such as Ethereum can be utilised, however this is still seen as a niche area for many financial services technology teams.

5.Competition? The technologies that underpin blockchain (distributed data, cryptography etc. etc.) have been available for a long time.  It is the linking of them together into a single technology that provides the benefits – as such, no, there are no similar offerings.

In summary, we have seen great progress in financial technology innovation, with blockchain likely to improve procedure and processes within financial services and the wealth management space. The potential for efficient and economical transactions provides an exciting prospect for the future of financial technology.”


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ftadviser.com: Hail the tech-savvy manager

By Chris Fisher

Advisers are always looking for the best alternative ways to look after their clients’ funds, and to do this they must consider the current wealth management landscape, its gathering pace of change, and the associated pressures to reduce costs and stay competitive.

The industry is presently driven by several factors: regulation, accountability, next-generation clients, lower returns, higher operational costs, cyber security and pension freedoms, to name but a few. In an age of change, whether it is keeping pace with technological innovation, the value chain becoming more digitalised, or multi-channel methods of communication, many, if not all potential problems have an answer being addressed by modern technology and a maturing selection of outsourcing service providers.

The rate and pace of this change puts increasing pressure on the ability of firms to adapt. Being flexible with the way everything is constructed and structured allows you to do so, and also take advantage of opportunities to develop business models that meet new standards and expectations, including GenX and GenY.

How business systems are architected is important, as is the ability to adapt to unexpected changes that arise, including clients’ expectations. This could include the emergence of a new model of competitor, broadening demographics and channels of engagement, regulatory pressure, plus demands for new products or services.

With clients’ needs changing, these empowered investors have higher expectations. Therefore, it is more important than ever that firms are adaptable, with efficient applications and front-end tools that maintain productivity and connect in the ways that clients want.

A ‘hybrid model’ adviser is emerging, with the ability to use robo-adviser technology capabilities where it makes sense to do so and, at the same time, maintain the human touch that is still valued by many clients. Getting a machine to do the things that humans can reliably leave to this type of technology, such as applying formula to get the depth of data that supports calculations and regulatory reporting requirements, opens up opportunities for the firm to excel.

Looking at all the things that the adviser is trying to provide, achieving an edible blend between what you do in a machine-automated way and what you do as an individual, seems a wise strategy to follow. After all, ‘robo’ and its equivalent is likely to get smarter, quicker, and more efficient, so more can be done than is being done today.

Realistically, whether it is termed ‘machine learning’ or other techniques, software and technology will continue to evolve and become increasingly capable over time. Therefore, if ‘human’ advisers can respond to the challenges with easy, responsive and adaptable solutions, why not use these and free up time to concentrate on things that add value to the business because of their (end clients’) personal complexity.

An analogy of this could be the medical world and healthcare. Here, specialists are increasingly applying enhanced digital machines that are driven by a ‘human’ operator for precision outcomes and, potentially, reducing human error. As with the ‘hybrid model’ adviser, this technology supports rather than excludes the human-focused specialist. Therefore, as technology advances, the ‘human’ input can be maintained, increased or reduced.

Dealing with tough, complex tasks that are increasingly multi-dimensional, restricted and defined, then advanced technology is an enabler for the adviser, to enhance theirs and their clients’ experiences. Providing the means to delve deep and extract comprehensive analytics allows clients’ needs/values/motivations to be determined in fine detail. This also helps to support business governance, risk control, adherence to regulation, brand management, and strategy development. Such insightful, in-depth data brings enhanced accuracy and access to the high-quality breadth and depth of information needed to analyse, report and justify decisions. There are many benefits to acquiring this level of business insight, including improved client engagement, reduced operational costs, easily identifiable risks and business decisions justified.

The ‘new breed’ of wealth manager is forming partnerships with nimble service and technology providers, which can help them provide turnkey solutions to the challenges faced by professionals whose core role is managing their client’s money.

Of course, survival is possible without fully embracing disruptive technologies and services, but doing so means a huge commitment of time and energy in order to understand and implement solutions to shield oneself against risk.

Chris Fisher is chief executive of Multrees Investor Services

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Five years of service excellence and technology innovation

Multrees Investor Services (‘Multrees’), a leading independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and family offices, is celebrating its five year anniversary this month.

Since 2011, Multrees has built a strong reputation in the wealth management industry, providing a dedicated, independent service to some of the best known businesses for managing investment assets for ultra-high net worth and family office clients. Multrees is increasingly being seen as a strategic partner of choice as technology becomes ever more important in gaining competitive advantage and effectively addressing risk and security challenges.

Highlights of the Multrees journey over the last five years include:

  • Growth in assets under administration from £50M in February 2011 to over £8bn in January 2016.
  • One of the first UK investment platform businesses to offer a full multi-currency, multi-asset class on and offshore portfolio administration and custody service.
  • Launch of Multrees Compass in 2014; among the first to market with leading web portal technology.
  • Appointment of a high quality management team and deeply experienced non-executive Board, including Sir Roger Gifford, former Lord Mayor of London and Hugh Mullan, former CEO of Fidelity UK.

Multiple forces, such as tighter regulation, cyber security, fast-paced customer demands and disruptive technologies have created a new playing field for wealth managers, leaving them little choice but to invest strategically. With its advanced technology platform and highly experienced workforce, Multrees configures an integrated service model to support each unique client business model.

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees, commented on reaching this five year milestone:

"Multrees has successfully evolved a service model, based upon a leading fintech platform, enabling the provision of innovative solutions to our clients. We also help protect them against the growing concerns of how they should safely and effectively scale their businesses. The team have worked extremely hard over the last five years to reach this point, and are eager to continue revolutionising the way our customers approach partnering with us.

"With technology in the industry coming under increased scrutiny, it is crucial wealth managers identify a provider who understands the unique issues they face to ensure they maximise any opportunities presented while continuing to be protected against any risks that may occur.

Looking to the future, Chris Fisher said: “We will keep investing time and energy in our employees, helping them reach their potential through exposure to a range of innovative technologies and first-class training methods. We are equally committed to investing in and delivering cutting-edge technology, now and in the future. Retaining our clients’ trust will depend on our continued ability to innovate and provide a premium service which adds value to their business."

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thewealthnet: the 'shock' that transformed wealth management

Increased regulation was a necessary consequence of the 2008 financial crisis. It sought to stabilise markets, reduce financial crime and recover public confidence in an industry that had suffered its greatest fall from grace in almost a century.

But, in reality, it did so much more. It transformed the wealth management industry and generated a new breed of service provider in order to cope.

For the most part this has been a good thing. Clients have been repositioned at the forefront, with the majority of regulation focused on better meeting their needs. However, as firms struggle to comply with this recent and ostensibly relentless influx of regulation, there is a risk that they could lose sight of the end goal – or buckle under the financial pressures – Ian Marsh, the head of asset management at Stonehage Fleming, has suggested.

“We were not good enough as an industry at explaining to clients what we were doing. I’m afraid we needed the shock. Everyone in the industry has now got the joke. Perhaps not all of them are following regulation as diligently as they could be but it’s improving.

“Regulation has driven us to do things better for clients. Overall this has been a good thing and has taught us to be more careful. But it has also driven up the barriers to entry and has led to more mergers and acquisitions as firms struggle to cope with the financial and physical burden. I think we can expect this to continue; although ours is a fragmented industry and it’s toys and egos that are currently preventing it from happening more frequently.”

Speaking at a roundtable discussion hosted by outsourced services provider Multrees last week (02/02/2016), Mr Marsh said that the present regulatory demands could not be sustainable and called for a “comfortable middle ground”.

His sentiments echoed those laid out by FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones last November, when he expressed the regulator’s concern that firms are spending “too much time dealing with regulation rather than taking care of their businesses”. He said that in the long-term “wealth management businesses will flourish if they provide valued and trusted service, so there will be less regulation.”

Yet, while on the one hand heightened regulation has proven inhibitive and consuming for firms, it has also paved the way for innovation and economic growth within the wealth management industry.

Chris Fisher, Multrees’ chief executive, said regulation had been the catalyst behind the genesis of his own firm, which launched in 2011 to help wealth managers navigate new and changing regulation by providing administrative, reporting and custody services.

“The crash and increased regulation enabled companies like Multrees to emerge and focus on these pressures, allowing wealth management firms to concentrate on outcomes for clients,” he said. “We benefited from being a new firm that could react quickly to these incoming changes.”

As the landscape has grown increasingly accommodative for these new outsourced services firms over recent years, there has also been a marked rise in the number of wealth managers looking to them as a means of offloading regulatory and technological pressures. It was estimated by Compeer research last year that half of wealth management firms are now outsourcing an element of their operations, with a further 17 percent considering doing so in the near future (see thewealthnet 08/10/2015).

This is evidence of the changing face of the wealth management industry, GAM’s head of private clients and charities, Joe McLoughlin, said; but it’s also a promising indicator of its future. With greater facilitation services available, wealth management firms are increasingly able to return to their core processes: a reassuring prospect for both the regulator and clients.

“It’s important to pick your battles,” said Mr McLoughlin. “Firms should be focusing on the client and it’s about taking that step and realising what you are as a business and outsourcing what you’re not.

“It’s very brave but it’s crucial. Too many firms are trying to do it all and it doesn’t work. Clients will be reassured by seeing that there is a separate outsourcer in place, enabling you to stick to the knitting.”

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FT.com: Low returns will be new norm for investors


The Scotsman: Pulsant dials up data deal with Multrees


Lord Mayor Roger Gifford's predictions for the City of London

Interest rates, a Fintech revolution and more investment in the UK: what former Lord Mayor Roger Gifford predicts for the City of London

Sir Roger Gifford is the former Lord Mayor of London, non-executive director of Multrees and current country head of SEB UK, and has worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years.


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Graduation stories – from games to financial services

Aidan Temple was recruited by a prestigious financial services company in Edinburgh, and now works developing software for major international banks and investors.

He studied the postgraduate Professional Masters in Game Development, which gave him experience of working directly with games companies.

We caught up with Aidan recently to hear about his career - and his advice for new students.

What's your current job, and what does it involve?

"I currently work as an Analyst Programmer for Multrees Investor Services who are based in Edinburgh city centre.

"As part of this role I am responsible for the design and development of financial software utilised by banks and financial investment firms. This is achieved by working alongside a team consisting of many different skillsets including design, engineering and economics."

How did Abertay help prepare you for this role?

"Abertay helped me achieve this role by helping to enhance my skillset through a series of software engineer modules which were delivered by those who have real-world games industry experience, which many university lecturers do not have."

Were there any projects at Abertay that particularly helped you stand out?

"While I was at Abertay I studied for my professional masters in computer games development. As part of this course students are tasked with working as a large development team to help simulate the environment of a games studio and to produce a project.

"For this project the team had to pitch game ideas to Sony and to develop the one that was deemed most appropriate for their flagship hardware, the PlayStation 4. This project gave me a greater insight into the development of computer games as part of a team consisting of 20 or more developers, artists, audio engineers and game designers.

"This project also allowed me to improve my core skills which lay in software engineering as well as improving my communication and team working abilities. As a result of this project I managed to achieve a distinction in my field of study which helped me stand out amongst others."

What's been the best part about studying at Abertay?

"The best part of studying at Abertay is the people that you get the opportunity to meet. Abertay offers the opportunity for games development students to meet with industry professionals both from Scotland and further afield.

"This has allowed me to further my connections in the games industry and to gain a greater understanding of the opportunities available to those who have the skills. Abertay has also allowed me to create new friendships with people from all across the globe for which I am grateful."

Do you have a message for students starting at Abertay this year?

"Make sure you have an interest in your area of study, don't waste your time on something you don't love or don't have a passion for. To help you realise this you can do some research online to see what is required of you and what you can achieve once you're qualified.

"No matter what your area of study is, having a basic understanding or experience in your chosen discipline prior to university can help you to succeed further both academically and professionally."

For more information about Aidan's course, please visit the Professional Masters in Game Development page.

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Jaco Cebula on key considerations for wealth managers planning their digital strategy

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer of Multrees Investor Services, comments on the key considerations for wealth managers planning their digital strategy:

An issue for many seasoned wealth professionals today is defining a digital proposition that supports their business strategy but that does not expose their company to a greater cyber security threat.

Wealth managers are largely playing 'catch up' in trying to define and implement a digital strategy, but in the rush to bridge that gap, there are two key areas that are critical to success:

  • Firstly, a digital strategy does not exist in a vacuum - it should be defined in the context of the overall business strategy, and be complementary to the more traditional channels in which wealth managers operate
  • Secondly, increased exposure to the internet through digital simultaneously increases the risk of a cyber security breach (whether cyber-attacks or more subtle financial fraud). Security measures cannot simply be 'bolted on' after the fact, and must be included in initial design plans

Those working within the wealth industry should define their digital strategy in the context of these key questions:

  1. How does this complement your business strategy?
  2. What channels are you targeting, and how do you want to interact with your customers?
  3. How do you plan to manage and update content?
  4. And finally, do you have access to the appropriate expertise to manage your exposure to cyber security threats?

Overall, technology remains a complex topic with regulation continuing to drive and shape the future of this space.

Wealth management firms face an ongoing challenge in terms of risk and security but technology remains a key opportunity for competitive advantage re client experience and operational benefits.

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Multrees Investor Services Goes Live with Digital Keystone’s Adaptive Portal

Digital Keystone's State-of-the-Art Customer Experience Platform Powers the Multrees Compass

Digital Keystone, a leading provider of financial services software, is pleased to announce that Multrees Investor Services (Multrees) has successfully implemented the Adaptive Portal to enhance the existing functionality available in the Compass platform and support the delivery of services fully aligned with its clients' digital strategies.

With one single sign-on, Multrees Compass provides a range of functionality and a suite of integrated self-service solutions including global custody, portfolio modelling, order management, multi-level business intelligence reporting and analytics. The technology is device agnostic and runs smoothly across PC, Smartphone and Tablet.

"As Multrees continues to grow, we need sophisticated and secure technology to enhance our customer experience" said Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees. "Digital Keystone is an industry specialist and their Adaptive Portal is a great solution. It's user-friendly, flexible and allows for rapid implementation of new functionality."

"The Adaptive Portal is a game-changer for financial services companies with ambitious digital transformation plans," said Ihab El-Saie, Managing Director of Digital Keystone "Multrees has an exciting and forward thinking vision and we look forward to working with them to help the firm deliver the highest levels of service to their clients."

The Adaptive Portal enables financial services companies to improve their online channels, enhance customer experiences, and create clear, simple and intuitive user journeys for PC, Smartphone and Tablet. The software provides elegant and intuitive user-interfaces to present financial information and functionality, together with a framework for integrating underlying and third party systems and digital content.

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thewealthnet.com article: Outsourcing 101 - a provider’s perspective

Outsourcing 101: a provider's perspective, Karen Gilchrist thewealthnet.com 08.10.2015

Although still in its infancy and a topic of continued debate, outsourcing is now a reality for half of wealth management firms. As uptake looks set to continue, prospective clients should consider what they can do appeal to providers.

Turning the premise of Compeer's latest research project on its head (see thewealthnet 07/10/2015), Chris Fisher, chief executive of Multrees Investor Services, urged the audience of wealth managers to ask not 'does outsourcing work for wealth management firms?' but 'do wealth managers work for providers?'.

Outsourcing - or the offloading of a task to a third party - is nothing new. The concept has been around since virtually year dot; but it remains "relatively immature" within the wealth management industry as high costs, increased regulation and data protection concerns have historically deterred firms. However, Compeer's latest research suggests that half of firms are now outsourcing their IT and operations, with a further 17 percent considering doing so in the near future.

With five years' experience in providing outsourced services for investment managers and family offices, Mr Fisher highlighted some of the questions he should but "surprisingly doesn't get asked about" by prospective clients. These included whether the provider is a realist or simply a 'yes person' and whether they have the capacity to manage your needs, both now and further down the line. This, he said, was a case of buyer beware, and wealth managers must do their research. However, he warned firms to watch out for referee bias, where referees may have ulterior motives for wanting you to share the same outsourcer.

Mr Fisher also pointed out some of the key turn-offs when establishing a partnership with a prospective client. Here, price and passing the buck of responsibility were the top ranking. "If the first question is price, forget it. It's a value proposition: what value is your business going to get long-term. Similarly, if I get the sense that people are trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility to do with regulation, that's a pretty big turn off for me."

Alongside listening to feedback from providers, who may have suggestions to improve a firm's business model, establishing compatibility and maintaining a relationship should be key. "Provider-client relationships are relationships. If there's not a daily, weekly or monthly get together or team building exercise that's a really simple way for a relationship to turn sour or end prematurely." Mr Fisher's wealth manager warnings were later echoed by fellow speaker Jerry Crossfield, vice president of business development at L3C LLP, who said: "Wealth management is based on relationships. You should be able to formulate a good relationship with your provider."

Mr Crossfield's presentation also drew on Compeer's research, particularly in terms of IT and its impact on firms' scalability. According to the study, 33 percent of firms either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement 'our model makes efficient use of IT systems.' Poorly performing legacy systems are one of the major reasons for this and Mr Crossfield urged firms not to feel inadequate if they need to call in specialists to update these. He added: "The market is now demanding a digitised service. If you don't fill the gap, disrupters certainly will."

The presentations were made in association with Compeer at a conference held at London's Fishmonger's Hall on Tuesday 6 October. The evening also revealed the findings of Compeer's latest research into outsourcing, which drew on the views of wealth managers, investment managers and private banks who collectively manage £200 billion of assets and generate £1.5 billion in revenues.


Copywrite www.thewealthnet.com reproduced with their kind permission

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Multrees is chosen by AllianceBernstein as administration and custody provider
  • Multrees is selected as the provider for AllianceBernstein's innovative, low cost income solution for individuals transitioning into retirement
  • The income solution is known as Retirement Bridge℠

Multrees has been selected as the provider of administration and custody for AllianceBernstein's retirement income solution Retirement Bridge℠. Billed as the UK's first low-cost, flexible, default retirement income solution, Retirement Bridge℠ offers a sustainable income solution in the early stages of pensions decumulation.

"Retirement Bridge℠, built as a separately managed account service, needs effective, efficient administration and custody support," according to David Porter, Head of Pensions Investment Delivery at AB. "We selected Multrees as they provided the best technology and service combination allowing us to offer a solution that all defined contribution scheme members between 55 to 75 can access cost-effectively irrespective of the amount of their pension savings."

Founder and CEO of Multrees Investor Services, Chris Fisher commented: "By partnering with Multrees, AllianceBernstein has found a unique way to deliver a private client level of service within an institutional investment environment. We are pleased to be supporting this smart innovation in a growing area - pensions decumulation. We see a huge opportunity as asset managers look to develop bespoke solutions for retirees that are cost-efficient, even for small pension pots, flexible and scalable."

For further information on Retirement Bridge℠ see:


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Multrees appoints former Fidelity UK CEO, Hugh Mullan, as non-executive director

Multrees Investor Services, the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and family offices, has appointed former Fidelity UK CEO Hugh Mullan as a non-executive director.

Hugh Mullan joins Multrees Investor Services from his prior role as the UK CEO at Fidelity Worldwide Investment. He has extensive experience managing investment and retail savings businesses as well as broad knowledge of financial services operations and technology.

Whilst at Fidelity, Hugh was also a member of the company's Global Operating Committee and, prior to his UK CEO role, he managed customer services, operations, technology and fund accounting across all of Fidelity's European businesses. He joined Fidelity in 2008 from Barclays Wealth where he held roles as chief operating officer of the Investment and Product Division and as global head of operations. Hugh has also held senior business and operations roles at Schroders and Citibank.

Nigel Pilkington, chairman of Multrees, comments: "Attracting someone of Hugh's calibre to Multrees is incredibly exciting for the business. He is exceptionally talented across a broad range of business needs, making him an ideal individual to help provide further industry expertise and guidance to the Multrees board."

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees, says: "We are very much looking forward to having Hugh join as a non-executive director. His experience of the investment, IT and wealth management industries, alongside his in-depth experiences across operations, ensure he will be an invaluable asset. His new role will provide an ideal aid for our chief operating officer, Clive Stelfox, and chief technology officer, Jaco Cebula, as we grow and scale our business efficiently in our core target markets."

Hugh Mullan adds: "I am delighted to be joining Multrees at this important stage in its development. These are interesting times for wealth managers as regulation and increasing customer sophistication challenge business models.  Through its investment in modern technology, and its strong service focus, Multrees is well-positioned to support the growth and success of its clients."

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BNY Mellon selected as global sub-custodian by Multrees Investor Services

BNY Mellon, a global leader in investment management and investment services, has been appointed by Multrees Investor Services, a UK-based specialist provider of outsourced support services to boutique asset managers and family offices, to provide global custody and related services.

Under the terms of the new mandate, BNY Mellon will take on the role of Multrees' sub-custodian network and also provide foreign exchange services.

Chris Fisher, CEO at Multrees Investor Services, said: "The team at BNY Mellon has supported us through a professional and robustly controlled transition, ensuring a successful implementation process. Over the coming months we look forward to further growing our business with the support of the diverse range of services BNY Mellon has to offer."

Daron Pearce, global investment manager segment head at BNY Mellon, said: "Our long track-record as a global custodian and administrator means we are ideally positioned to help Multrees to meet its strategic goals through a combination of innovative solutions, market expertise and high quality service."

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Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 in Edinburgh

A team of 13 Multrees staff took part in the Men's Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 run in Edinburgh on the 19 October to raise money for a number of good causes.

The run, originally billed as 10km, turned out to be closer to 12km and took the team up and down the streets and scenic land marks of Edinburgh and mixed running with plenty of additional obstacles to test even the fittest of competitors.

The course lead us up to Edinburgh Castle before charging down the Royal Mile, scaling the top of Carlton Hill, back through the Hollyrood Park and over the Radical Road leading up the side of Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh's highest hill. Finally, the course looped around and we ran back through into the city centre, before finishing in Princess Street Gardens.

Included in the already challenging route, were independent assault courses, cargo nets, ice cold plunge pools, climbing walls and various other obstacles, designed to drain any remaining energy from our tired bodies.

We are pleased to say that everyone in "Team Multrees" completed the course and managed to drag themselves over the final 8ft high "Wall of fame", before celebrating with a well-earned beer and burger.

Together, the team managed to raise a total of £530 for the Marie Curie, Charity Right and the Princes Trust charities. It was a fantastic day out and a great achievement for everyone.

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UK wealth managers share concerns over MiFID II

Ahead of the FCA's conference on MiFID II on the 18th September (or the closure of the call for evidence in the House of Lords' investigation into the EU financial regulatory framework), Jonathan Sokhanvari of Multrees Investor Services comments on the viability of the wealth management market in the UK with regards to the regulation:

"While MiFID II's aim for increased transparency is laudable, the UK wealth management industry has two major concerns regarding the directive; the potential high compliance costs, and its seeming incompatibility with the traditional structure of UK non-bank wealth managers.

"Compliance with the new directive would be costly for most UK firms. Examples of the directive's requirements that would impact the UK wealth industry are many.  These include changing collateral requirements, changing workflow for execution only and advisory businesses, the revision of products deemed 'complex' and enhanced requirements to evidence best execution.

"MiFID II will put pressure on systems and IT resources. It will also open a wider scope for inadvertent regulatory breach and associated reputational damage. The challenges for UK wealth managers are further exacerbated by other factors. The shortening timelines for delivery create issues, as do the clash of inconsistent definitions between separate regulations, the challenge of attempting to bring together multiple asset classes under a single framework, incompatible national standards, and a lack of clear guidance.

"In the UK, the FCA has a stated aim of increasing competition within the industry.  MiFID II threatens to promote increased costs and higher capital requirements for wealth managers. This will inevitably threaten the client-focused specialist boutiques and non-bank wealth managers which UK regulators have done so well to foster. Ultimately customer outcomes, the key driver in this industry, could be negatively affected as choice of provider becomes more limited.

"MiFID II will have a wide-ranging impact on the regulation of investment services and activities in the EU. Much of the detail however, remains to be filled in under level two legislation and ESMA technical standards. The full picture will not emerge until this process is complete. In many areas it will be necessary for firms to expend vital resource at a much earlier stage to ensure compliance with the new regime."

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Multrees launch 'Multrees Compass' a leading Wealth Management Portal

'Multrees Compass' set to innovate service delivery for independent wealth managers and private investment offices.

Multrees Investor Services (Multrees) has today announced a major evolution in its service proposition, the launch of 'Multrees Compass'. Multrees, the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and private investment offices, has designed this online interactive web portal to transform the wealth advisers' experience and help them manage their clients' assets more efficiently.

Multrees Compass offers wealth advisers a range of functionality and tailored services based upon their clients' needs. Under one single sign-on solution, Multrees Compass provides a suite of integrated services including content management, portfolio modelling, order management and accounting, multi-level business intelligence reporting, and analytics.

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer, said: "Multrees Compass uses market-leading technology to provide wealth managers with a holistic visual display of their own client information and seamless access to Multrees' range of wealth management tools and services. Just as everyone has their own combination of apps on their smartphone, each wealth manager will have a tailored combination of services based on their log-in; reflecting their specific business models and requirements."

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees, said: "It is crucial that we continue to invest in technology to be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to changes in the wealth management industry. Our clients have unique requirements and their resources are finite. They want easy access to professional information and control over their clients' investments to provide a premium service that addresses new regulation. We are committed to providing this support so that clients remain at the forefront of the industry."

Nigel Pilkington, Chairman of Multrees and senior Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB executive said: "Multrees has really listened to the industry, thus showing their commitment to supporting clients through dynamic technology solutions, quality products, and effective services that help them to grow their businesses. It's another milestone on the journey, empowering wealth managers to focus on addressing the multiple needs of their clients and to safely and easily navigate the increasingly complex wealth management marketplace."

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Multrees Investor Services has today announced the appointment of Jaco Cebula as Chief Technology Officer

London, 28 April, 2014: Multrees Investor Services (Multrees), the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and private investment offices, has today announced the appointment of Jaco Cebula as Chief Technology Officer.

Formerly of Kames Capital, Cebula brings over 18 years of specialised technology experience to the role. Cebula's appointment provides technology leadership to ensure that speed, innovation, and quality drive the development of Multrees' products and services.

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer, said: "Multrees has a reputation as a quality product and service provider in the wealth management industry and I relish the opportunity to lead its technology team. I will ensure that Multrees continues to invest in and develop key technologies for the benefit of our clients and their customers."

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees Investor Services, said: "Following a stringent selection process, Jaco emerged as the best candidate to be our Chief Technology Officer and lead our technology developments. We are committed to bringing innovative solutions to our clients; Jaco's extensive experience and expertise of IT solutions will ensure Multrees is well positioned to respond to change in the industry. Jaco will play a key part of my senior management team and I welcome him to Multrees."

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Professional Wealth Management article: Family Offices struggle in new environment

Clive Stelfox, Head of Client Relationship Management at Multrees, contributes to discussions within this Professional Wealth Management article (see section 'Complex Web'):


Multrees Investor Services announces new appointment of Non-Executive Director

Former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Roger Gifford, has joined Multrees Investor Services as a Non-Executive Director.

LONDON, 24 March, 2014: Multrees Investor Services has today announced that Sir Roger Gifford has been appointed as a Non-Executive Director. The former Lord Mayor of London and current country Head of SEB UK has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry enabling him to bring invaluable international expertise and insight to the business.

Sir Roger Gifford was honoured for services to international business, culture and the City in the 2014 New Year Honours. He became the 685th Lord Mayor of the City of London in November 2012, acting as ambassador for UK financial and professional services. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Association of Foreign Banks.

Sir Roger Gifford said: "I am keen to see Multrees thrive and grow in the important UK financial services sector. They represent an excellent example of London-Scotland co-operation, which we will continue to enhance and strengthen. Multrees provides an exceptional service, enabling clients to be fully up-to-date with the regulatory framework."

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees said: "We are very pleased to announce Roger's appointment today. His experience enables us to continue to be at the forefront of our industry. Our service ensures our private investment office and wealth manager clients benefit from the most advanced custody, consolidated reporting and administration solutions."

For more information please see: www.multrees.com

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Multrees bolsters senior management to spearhead new development strategy

Multrees appoint Oli Prendergast and Ausaf Abbas to enhance its investor services offering to clients

London, 17 December, 2013: Multrees Investor Services, the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and family offices, has today announced the appointment of Oli Prendergast and Ausaf Abbas to its senior management team.

Oli Prendergast, formerly of Credit Suisse and UBS, joins Multrees as Head of Sales to spearhead its new business development strategy. With 20 years' experience in the wealth management industry, Prendergast will bring extensive marketing expertise and valuable industry insight.

Prendergast's previous role was at Credit Suisse Private Banking UK marketing their External Asset Manager solution. This role established him as a highly credible partner to UK wealth managers, which will now help Multrees grow through the formation of trusted long term relationships.

Ausaf Abbas will also join Multrees Investor Services' senior management team as a Non-Executive Director, with a specific remit to support its expanding client base. Like Prendergast, Abbas has over 25 years of experience in the private wealth management and investment banking sectors.

From 2002, Abbas was head of Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client business in EMEA. He then moved to Morgan Stanley as Head of Sales & Marketing of its EMEA Private Wealth Management business. In 2011 Abbas established his own financial advisory and consultancy firm, Coombe Advisors.

Chris Fisher, Chief Executive at Multrees Investor Services, said: "The appointments of Oli and Ausaf signal a step change in the development of Multrees Investor Services as we seek to build on a very successful first three years.

"The fact that two established and respected industry figures have joined Multrees shows that we are now firmly recognised as a leading independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and family offices."

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Multrees Investor Services

Multrees is pleased to support the Sunday Times Raconteur Wealth Management Supplement published on 3rd March 2013.

Read the report, published by RaconteurMedia, on the following link:


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RDR raises questions for Family Office Market

RDR raises questions for Family Office Market.  

To read more on this Professional Wealth Management article, follow the link below:


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Multrees Investor Services appoints Jonathan Sokhanvari new COO

Multrees Investor Services (Multrees), the independent provider of designed investment administration, reporting and custody services to wealth managers announces the appointment of Jonathan Sokhanvari as Chief Operating Officer.  Sokhanvari joins from Vestra Wealth where he was COO for five years.

Also announced today is the appointment of Tanya Castell as independent non-executive director. Castell brings 25 years of financial services experience, with a predominantly risk and regulatory background at organisations including JP Morgan and UBS. Castell joins to support Multrees in ensuring that its risk management and compliance practices continue to be robust and proactively meeting client needs.

Chris Fisher, CEO at Multrees Investor Services, said, "Jonathan's experience will allow him to be immediately impactful, helping to further drive our services and capabilities.  Tanya's arrival will help us to broaden our client and market thinking. These new colleagues will strengthen our team and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our clients as we continue to grow."

Multrees recently announced its appointment by Alliance Bernstein and Salisbury Partners, and revealed a rebranding of its business.

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