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Charles Pardue, CEO Prophis and Dorothee Furhmann, Executive Director Pr...

Empowering Accelerated Innovation in the Investment Management Industry

Dassault Systèmes announced the winner of the 3D FinTech Challenge 2014, an immersive program designed to empower and accelerate technology innovation in financial services and specifically, this year, within the Investment Management industry.

Prophis, formerly known as Pontchartrain Advisors, was declared winner by the judges and audience. Their solution helps enterprise identify relationships and derive exceptional value and insights from their “medium data”. Prophis impressed the judging panel composed of leading figures from the FinTech, Investment Management and Venture Capital industries and they beat 5 other finalists including Closir, Data-Next, Heckyl, PensionMandate and PrairieSmarts.

Prophis will be taken by Dassault Systèmes to New York to connect them with the Challenge’s mentors’ US based colleagues. They will also leverage Fried Frank’s “Coming to America” programme.

Charles Pardue, Managing Partner and Founder of Prophis Technologies, said “The 3D FinTech Challenge provided the focus and environment for us to more rapidly build out our investment management solution.  With valuable input from Dassault Systèmes, mentors, partners and subject matter experts, we made terrific strides in productizing the powerful functionality embedded in our Proteus platform.”

The 3D FinTech Challenge 2014 identified, nurtured and accelerated high performance start-ups focused on delivering solutions that can potentially transform and shape the Investment Management Industry. The themes were set by senior industry executives. Over the 7-week period, the finalists benefited from an immersive programme of master classes and on-going commercial mentoring from leading industry figures and senior executives at Dassault Systèmes. They also received technical and legal support, and pitching guidance.

Dorothee Furhmann, Executive Director Prophis  and Charles Pardue, CEO Prophis

Dorothee Furhmann, Executive Director Prophis and Charles Pardue, CEO Prophis

Throughout the Challenge, Dassault Systèmes has taken an innovative approach to running the program. This included encouraging collaboration between participating teams, interactive audience participation in the Finals Day voting, and ensuring that the teams have exposure to the buoyant FinTech communities of New York and London. Unusually for a FinTech challenge Dassault Systèmes does not take equity in the start-ups but may consider investing in them should there be a good business fit.

Kevin Pleiter, Vice President of Financial and Business Services Industry, Dassault Systèmes said, “We are proud to have collaborated with leading financial services industry experts and senior executives together with the FinTech community in running this year’s 3D FinTech Challenge. We were especially impressed by the high calibre of the start-ups selected for the final and are delighted that Prophis has won this year’s accelerator Challenge. We are confident they will be a driving force in revolutionizing the Investment Management Industry.”

Furio Pietribiasi, Managing Director at Mediolanum Asset Management Ltd. said, Dassault Systèmes’ 3D FinTech Challenge is an integral part of London’s FinTech ecosystem.  With its investment management focus, the Challenge has helped drive and deliver innovation and bring together interesting people with compelling skills and competencies to help shape the future of asset management. Prophis’ innovative technology was a good choice and with our own focus on client centric innovations, I look forward to following their progress.”

Nick Hungerford, CEO and co-founder of Nutmeg and one of the 3D FinTech Challenge judges said, “It’s rare that an innovation curriculum can give the teams involved enough freedom to be bold with their ideas and at the same time bring to the mix a stellar range of mentors and innovators who can inspire great thinking and hard work. Dassault Systèmes have made all this possible and their genuine enthusiasm and focus on giving all participants the best chance of success is both admirable and unique. The investment management industry badly needs more companies prepared to offer unequivocal transparency and the 3D FinTech Challenge participants are truly in that mix. I hope Dassault will continue the program next year and beyond.”

Descriptions of 3D FinTech Challenge 2014 finalists


Closir is a London and New York based online investor relations platform for companies and investors to discover, connect and engage with each other. The platform provides companies with a simple and beautifully designed template to tell their investment story, target and extend their reach with global institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, pension funds and family offices. For those investors, Closir provides a standardised way to track company disclosure and manage engagement with their current and prospective investments. Closir’s proprietary data and analytics provide the investment community and IR teams insights for better decision making.


DATANEXT is the B2B platform that allows asset managers to analyse financial data in the cloud. As SaaS, its offering ranges from portfolio management and risk management to client and regulatory reporting. Unlike its competitors, Zurich-based DATANEXT covers the entire investment process: from idea generation to trading.


Heckyl, based in London and India, processes millions of data nodes (social media, open data sources, exchange data) in real-time to bring the most intuitive, insightful graphs and clear visual indicators of dozens of factors that represent and influence stock market dynamics. It connects decision makers in finance, business and government to a broad and dynamic network of information, news, people and ideas enabling faster, more effective decisions. Enabled by a Big Data Platform that helps users understand the Past, analyse the Present and gain insights into the Future. Heckyl transforms unstructured data into actionable insights, identifying the most relevant information in real time, and delivering it to the user.


PensionMandate, based in London, provides an independent platform powered by Instintell Institutional Investor Intelligence Limited in London. They offer an alternative service delivering real-time Information about institutional investor activity in Europe, Americas and Asia. Their data covers both main asset classes and alternatives. The data is sourced directly from the pension funds/institutional investors and their service provides intelligence and research services including relevant information about the process of preparation, reviewing, tendering investment mandates by institutional investors to asset managers and data about asset allocation, current investment mandates, in-house personnel, investment consultants and advisors.


Prophis, formerly known as Pontchartrain Advisors, is a London-based software and consulting company with the overarching goal of helping companies extract more value and insights from their data, particularly highly connected financial data. Prophis’ Proteus platform uses a unique approach to data, cutting edge analytics capabilities and flexible, bespoke visualisations to enable financial institutions to solve the risk data acquisition, analysis and communication challenges they face today. Complementary to existing systems, Proteus is an information and analytics platform designed with the entire enterprise in mind.


U.S. based PrairieSmarts calculates, simplifies and explains financial risk at the individual security and portfolio levels, across assets and in real numbers. They provide asset managers, advisors, money managers, banks and broker-dealers with an advanced, heavy tail distribution model that far exceeds Value at Risk (VaR) and other models currently available. It provides superior estimates of downside risk, taking events into account, and with the capability to assess both points of ruin and tolerance – as well as analyzing asset concentration. Furthermore, risk is currently communicated in terms of colors (red, yellow, green) or financial jargon that advisors, investors and money managers may not understand. PrairieSmarts reports are number, not color or jargon, based and clients can run scenarios on-demand. Their solutions are easy to integrate and low cost, and provide clients with genuine and actionable insight

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OPEC+ to weigh modest oil output boost at meeting – sources



OPEC+ to weigh modest oil output boost at meeting - sources 1

By Ahmad Ghaddar, Alex Lawler and Olesya Astakhova

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – OPEC+ oil producers will discuss a modest easing of oil supply curbs from April given a recovery in prices, OPEC+ sources said, although some suggest holding steady for now given the risk of new setbacks in the battle against the pandemic.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, cut output by a record 9.7 million bpd last year as demand collapsed due to the pandemic. As of February, it is still withholding 7.125 million bpd, about 7% of world demand.

In January OPEC+ slowed the pace of a planned output increase to match weaker-than-expected demand due to continued coronavirus lockdowns. Saudi Arabia made extra voluntary cuts for February and March.

Three OPEC+ sources said an output increase of 500,000 barrels per day from April looked possible without building up inventories, although updated supply and demand balances that ministers will consider at their March 4 meeting will determine their decision.

“The oil price is definitely high and the market needs more oil to cool the prices down,” one of the OPEC+ sources said. “A 500,000 bpd increase from April is an option – looks like a good one.”

A rally in prices towards $67 a barrel, the highest since January 2020, the rollout of vaccines and economic recovery hopes have boosted confidence the market could take more oil. India, the world’s third biggest oil importer, has urged OPEC+ to ease production cuts.

Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) ends next month. While Riyadh hasn’t shared its plans beyond March, expectations in the group are growing that Saudi Arabia will bring back the supply from April, perhaps gradually.

Some OPEC+ members also anticipate that the Saudis will be willing to ease cuts further, but it was not clear if they had had direct communication with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has warned producers to be “extremely cautious” and some OPEC members are wary of renewed demand setbacks. One OPEC country source said a full return of the Saudi barrels in April would mean the rest of OPEC+ should not pump more yet.

“The Saudi voluntary cut will be back to the market,” the source said. “I’m personally with no more relaxation, not until June.”

Russia, one of the OPEC+ countries which was allowed to boost output in February, is keen to raise supply and a source last week said Moscow would propose adding more oil if nothing changed before the March 4 virtual meeting.

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal and Nidhi Verma; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)


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UK’s Sunak to build bridge to recovery with more spending



UK's Sunak to build bridge to recovery with more spending 2

By William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will next week promise yet more spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.

Sunak, who is due to announce a new budget plan on March 3, has already racked up more than 280 billion pounds ($397 billion) in coronavirus spending and tax cuts, pushing Britain’s borrowing to a peacetime record.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to lift England’s current lockdown entirely only in late June so Sunak is expected to rely heavily on the debt markets again.

His job retention scheme, paying 80% of employees’ wages, will probably be extended beyond a scheduled April 30 expiry date, further inflating its estimated cost of 70 billion pounds. Support for the self-employed looks set to stay too.

Businesses are demanding Sunak keep other lifelines, such as exempting the firms hardest hit by the lockdown from property taxes and giving them a value-added tax cut.

And calls are growing for an extension of a 20 pounds-a-week emergency welfare increase due to expire in April.

The Times newspaper said Sunak would prolong his stamp duty property tax break for three months until the end of June.

Sunak hopes that by then Britain will be emerging from its deep freeze thanks to Europe’s fastest vaccination programme.

Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane likens the economy to a “coiled spring” primed with the savings that households have built up after being stuck at home.

A strong recovery would mean a jump in tax revenues, doing some of the Treasury’s job of fixing the public finances.

Rupert Harrison, an aide to former finance minister George Osborne, said Sunak should not try to slash Britain’s 2.1 trillion-pound debt mountain, equivalent to 98% of GDP – a ratio unthinkable for decades.

Instead he should write new budget rules tied to the cost of debt servicing, which is close to record lows.

“We can safely carry higher levels of debt than before,” Harrison told a webinar organised by Onward, a think-tank.

But the scale of Britain’s borrowing is raising questions about how long Sunak and Johnson can stick to their promises not to raise key taxes, made to voters before the 2019 election.


The huge costs of tackling the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to ease in the months ahead, meaning this year’s 400 billion pound budget deficit should narrow.

But Britain is probably on course to be stuck with a gap of 60 billion pounds between revenues and day-to-day spending by the mid-2020s, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank says.

In a nod to that, Sunak is expected to start raising Britain’s low corporation tax rate.

The Sunday Times said the rate would rise steadily to bring in an extra 12 billion pounds a year by the time of the next election, due in 2024.

Other options include ending a freeze on fuel duty increases which has been in place since 2012 and looks at odds with Britain’s plans to be carbon net zero by 2050.

But higher fuel prices now would hurt the haulage industry, already struggling with Brexit-related disruption, and could alienate working-class voters who backed Johnson in 2019.

Higher capital gains tax or lower pension incentives would anger lawmakers in Johnson’s Conservative Party.

David Gauke, a former deputy finance minister, said the only big revenue-raising options were the ones that Johnson has promised not to touch – income tax, VAT and national insurance contributions.

“In the end, they are going to have to say, sorry we just can’t responsibly maintain that manifesto commitment,” Gauke told the Onward webinar.

($1 = 0.7046 pounds)

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans)


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Women inch towards equal legal rights despite COVID-19 risks, World Bank says



Women inch towards equal legal rights despite COVID-19 risks, World Bank says 3

By Sonia Elks

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women gained legal rights in nearly 30 countries last year despite disruption due to COVID-19, but governments must do more to ease the disproportionate burden shouldered by women during the pandemic, the World Bank said on Tuesday.

Nations should prioritise gender equality in economic recovery efforts, the bank said, warning that progress on equal rights was threatened by heavier job losses in female-dominated sectors, increased childcare and a surge in domestic violence.

“This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage girls and women,” David Malpass, World Bank Group president, said in a statement accompanying the annual “Women, Business and the Law” report.

“Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the centre of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A total of 27 countries reformed laws or regulations to give women more economic equality with men in 2019-20, said the report, which grades 190 nations on laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunities.

While countries in all of the world’s regions made improvements in the new index – with most reforms addressing pay and parenthood, women on average still have only about three quarters of the rights granted to men, the report found.

Notably, nearly 40 countries brought in extra benefit or leave policies to help employees balance their jobs with the extra childcare needs created by coronavirus restrictions.

But such measures were “few and far between” worldwide and will probably not go far enough to tackle the “motherhood penalty” many women face in the workplace, it said.

The report also noted separate data from a United Nations tool tracking gender-sensitive pandemic responses which found 70% of such measures addressed violence, with just 10% targeting women’s economic security.

The pandemic could result in “a backslide on various hard-won advances in women’s rights achieved in recent years”, said Antonia Kirkland, the global lead on legal equality at women’s rights organisation Equality Now.

“This disruption is a unique opportunity for countries to rebuild more resilient, inclusive and prosperous economies,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

“But this can only be achieved alongside the removal of sex discriminatory laws that prevent women from participating fully and equally in economic, social and family life.”

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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