Here, as well as information on the firm, you will find our thoughts on relevant issues, details of events we have attended and news in general.
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The Edinburgh office of Multrees Investor Services has recently been 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
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.
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."
techradar.com: Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain
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.”
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
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."
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.”
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.
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.