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SEBA Crypto AG raises CHF100 million to build a FINMA* licensed Bank and Securities Dealer

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SEBA Crypto AG raises CHF100 million to build a FINMA* licensed Bank and Securities Dealer

*FINMA – Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority

SEBA Crypto AG (SEBA) has secured CHF100 million to ignite its vision to build a regulated bank to bridge the gap between the crypto and traditional financial economies.

Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, SEBA wants to give institutions, corporates and individuals the confidence to operate in both economies, enabling new thinking, creating solutions and managing digital wealth efficiently.

Traditional financial market participants widely exclude themselves from crypto markets, because crypto investments are perceived as risky and lacking investment specific regulatory protection. Similarly, crypto companies and investors are finding it difficult to move assets from the crypto markets into the traditional regulated banking world. SEBA intends to solve these challenges, bringing together a Swiss-based team of global experts focused on obtaining a banking and securities dealer license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and developing a new platform, leveraging state-of-the-art FinTech and best-in-class service partners to deliver military-grade secure traditional and crypto banking experiences.

Andreas Amschwand, designated Chairman of SEBA and formerly UBS Global Head of Foreign Exchange and Money Market, commented: “In Switzerland we have commitment from various authorities to establish a comprehensive regulatory environment for the development of blockchain technology and the sustainable, stable growth of crypto assets. This makes Switzerland the ideal place to launch a new financial services paradigmI’m excited to be part of a team of experts helping to usher in the crypto economy.”

The CHF100 million investment came from a mix of Swiss and international institutional and private investors, demonstrating support for SEBA’s vision to redefine finance for the new economy. Guy Schwarzenbach, CEO at BlackRiver Asset Management AG, investor and designated Board Member of SEBA said: “SEBA is an extremely promising start-up with an ambitious mission. The investment in SEBA is predicated on deep analysis of the velocity of the cryptographic asset market – if adoption, use and utility continue to gain traction at the same rate; crypto will become a legitimate, sound asset class and therefore hold a requisite allocation in investors’ portfolios.”

SEBA aims to bring crypto and blockchain products and services to the market by providing an easy-to-use and fully licensed and supervised one-stop banking solution, offering products and services for private individuals and institutional investors, as well as corporate investors. Following the grant of the FINMA license, SEBA will combine an online and a retail bricks and mortar experience, to cater to all possible user requirements for crypto and traditional banking services.

SEBA is in contact with FINMA for the application of a banking and securities dealer license. This license would allow SEBA to offer a comprehensive range of services, including secure storage and custodial services, trading and liquidity management, crypto corporate finance advisory and crypto asset and investment management services.

Jack Chung, Managing Director of Summer Capital, a SEBA investor, said “We see our investment in SEBA as leveraging the known ties between Switzerland and Asia, marrying the deep heritage in financial services and security standards of Switzerland, with the impressive growth and innovation that is powering Asia.”

Concluding today’s announcement, Guido Bühler, CEO of SEBA, said: “A fundamental aspect of our mission is education, we want to promote the potential blockchain holds for global economic reform and financial inclusion. With safety, transparency and performance as core values, our ambition is to become a market leader in the convergence of traditional finance with the crypto economy.”

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UK leads the way in sustainable finance with the first set of requirements for investment management

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UK leads the way in sustainable finance with the first set of requirements for investment management 1

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has today published the first specification for responsible and sustainable investment management. It addresses the policies and processes needed to create and embed a responsible approach to investment management.

It is the second publication from the Sustainable Finance Standardization Programme delivered in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the UK financial services industry in support of the UK Green Finance Strategy. Its launch coincides with the UK preparing to assume the G7 presidency and host next year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), placing a spotlight on the need for business to unlock sustainable finance in order to build resilience, particularly for those operating in the world’s most climate vulnerable countries.

The new standard, PAS 7341:2020, Responsible and sustainable investment management – Specification, sets out the requirements to establish, implement and manage the process of integrating responsible and sustainable considerations into investment management.

It is structured across five key principles of sustainable investment:

  1. Governance and culture
  2. Strategy alignment
  3. Investment processes
  4. Investor rights and responsibilities
  5. Transparency

It underlines the importance of effective disclosure to appropriate stakeholders, and builds on existing industry guidance, principles and regulatory developments.

Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, said: “The financial system is playing a crucial role in helping to rebuild a more sustainable future through responsible economic growth. This is the first consensus for delivering responsible investment management at corporate level. The new standard, called PAS 7341, creates a way for financial management organizations to transition from ‘responsible’ to ‘sustainable’ investment management. In our role as the UK National Standards Body we are proud to support the government’s Green Finance Strategy with this globally relevant, pioneering and practical standard.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, said: “Transforming our financial system for a greener future is crucial as we build back better from Covid-19 and to meet our legally binding target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Building on our pioneering Green Finance Strategy, this new standard will help the UK investment sector become even more sustainable as we strive to lead the world in tackling climate change.”

This free to download standard has been produced by a steering group1 of technical experts made-up of organizations from the UK finance eco-system.

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Why investing should be treated like healthcare

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Why investing should be treated like healthcare 2

By Qiaojia Li, co-founder and CEO at the award winning wealthtech company, Rosecut

For many people, the process of investing can seem opaque and impenetrable, and filled with jargon.

They can see the potential benefits, but they can also see the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) risk warnings.

Despite – or perhaps because of – this, the long-term trend suggests that more individuals are open to investing. One set of statistics suggests the percentage of individuals investing in stocks and shares in the UK grew nearly three per cent between 2010 and 2018.

Here are four steps for sensible investing:

1. Figure out why you invest, ahead of everything else

The key here is knowing what the overall goal is.

It is a constant source of amazement that when it comes to investing, few people stop to consider why they are actually doing it. Whether they have £100 or £100,000, many do not think about how their approach should be dictated by their overall goals.

For instance, someone looking to buy a house in the next 12 to 24 months should not be looking to dive into the world of bonds and equities, because they have a short-term target which requires reasonably fast access to cash. Tying their resources up in different funds and stocks will not only limit how quickly they can get their hands on their money when it comes to putting down a deposit, but they will not see the return that they would expect due to the short term price fluctuation of these assets. They would be better using a Cash ISA and enjoying the tax-free allowance.

On the other hand, if they have spare cash lying around that they won’t need for the next 3-5 years or longer, or they want to get a headstart on earning their retirement or long-term financial freedom, investing into financial markets is the way to generate compound return. That will give them a chance to beat inflation and, in all likelihood, it will give them a higher return than real estate would.

It is like any big project – determining the overall goal informs the strategy, which dictates the tactics. In the world of investment, this means management. Yet even deciding what goals they are working towards can be challenging for some people – they might have overinflated ideas or be too conservative.

This is where independent, objective, and knowledgeable financial planning comes in. By giving an individual’s finances a thorough check-up – much like visiting a GP – a qualified and experienced financial planner can consider circumstances, wishes and constraints. Only when this has been completed can they assess how feasible a client’s goals are, and the client can start considering how they should invest.

It needs to be a bespoke diagnostic and prescription process, in much the same way that a trip to the doctor requires the practitioner to have an understanding of any contributing factors and your medical history.

2. Seek professional help

If you were going to buy a property, you would look for a capable and qualified property lawyer instead of reading legal textbooks and undertaking training. The same logic applies to other professional advice, such as accounting, medical treatment and tax. Strangely, though, when it comes to investing, many people attempt to teach themselves.

While this approach is to be applauded, and there is certainly a huge amount of information readily available within a couple of clicks, the intricacies and vagaries of asset classes and funds, opposing investment styles, individual savings accounts and a hundred and one other terms can be overwhelming.

Forging ahead without professional guidance is a bit like having a pain in your hand and deciding to do a bit of exploratory surgery based on watching medical documentaries – there is only a slim possibility everything will turn out fine. This is why 99% of people have lost money by DIY-ing their own investments. It is a risky learning curve that, frankly, is better outsourced.  Learning how to find a good investment provider can be a more efficient and less risky use of your time.

3. Do not trade

Qiaojia Li

Qiaojia Li

In the report quoted above, there is an alarming line: “Investors are now holding onto their shares for 0.8 years on average before selling them. In 1980, the average was 9.7 years, representing a decline of 91.75%.”

The proliferation of trading apps brings convenience and lowers barriers, helping people to access financial products, but the user friendliness of the technology often encourages over engagement at a real financial cost.

On an individual basis, each time you buy and sell any financial product (not just shares, but funds too)  you lose a tiny slice of your capital, even if you can trade for free – this is due to “spread” which, put simply,  is the price difference between purchase price and sale price. As you trade, this quickly adds up and eats into your principal, which you need to earn back before seeing any profit. This is a direct cost, in addition to the time you invest, checking the share price several times a day, the sleep you lose during volatile days, and the potential for developing an addiction, which is a common result of trading. Take a look at your work pension investment report if you have any – there is a reason why professional investors don’t buy and sell frequently.

On a collective basis, crowd trading behaviour drives more “boom and bust” cycles of financial markets, which has happened many times before and will continue to happen in the future. It is a more pronounced characteristic of less developed financial markets where there are fewer professional/institutional investors to stabilise  the market for everyone’s benefit.

4. Diversify globally, meaningfully

Sensible investing requires a skillset that is the opposite of most professional careers or entrepreneurship. In the latter, one strives to become an expert in a chosen arena in order to command the highest possible pay or profit margin. A wise investor, meanwhile, needs to be a generalist rather than a specialist, and investing is about hedging all possible risks before seeking a return. One of the biggest principles to reduce risk is to diversify on various levels:

  • Your holding currency – for example, GBP has lost more than 15% in value against USD compared to the pre-Brexit high of five years ago, so it is a bad idea to hold all your assets in GBP only
  • Your country/geography exposure – for example, you can buy GBP priced US assets, or USD priced US assets, such as S&P 500 tracker, to have a slice of US economy growth. We strongly encourage people to consider a globally diversified portfolio, for the reason that different economies go through business cycles and are at different stages at any given point of time. With a globally diversified portfolio, you can always benefit from the growth of some country, somewhere, at any given point of time
  • Asset classes – If all your money is in London real estate, for example, you are likely to have felt some value depreciation since 2014. You take a risk if you tie your financial future to a single city’s economic cycle and potential rise and fall.
  • Industry allocation – as a former banker I never bought banking stocks or bonds, simply because my job and salary were already tied to the UK banking sector, and owning a piece of banks is like doubling down in a casino – not wise for risk mitigation. This is an often overlooked risk – people like to invest into companies and sectors they know well, typically from professional exposure and “inside knowledge” but this leads to blind spots and concentration risk.

Investing should be part of one’s long term financial strategy hence there is no one size fits all recommendation that I could give here. A simple step by step guide is:

1. Save a good portion of your monthly income, that allows you to enjoy your current life but also prepare for the future

2. Shortlist 3 financial planners (include Rosecut as one option) and pick one that you feel you can trust and who is cost effective to lay out your big picture and future plan

3. Invest regularly into a globally diversified, professionally managed portfolio that fits with your future goal and then make minimal changes. Ideally you should only even consider changing on an annual basis

4. Learn from this loop, iterate and optimise, ask many questions along the way!

Rosecut is a financial planning partner and investment manager, giving access to the knowledge you need to plan for the future you want. Start your free financial health check today at https://app.rosecut.com/ or download the app.

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Are clients truly getting value from their BR solution?

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Are clients truly getting value from their BR solution? 3

By Matt Dickens, Senior Business Development Director at Ingenious

Financial planners and wealth managers strive to deliver on the needs of their clients by always providing the most suitable and effective advice. But as with any service, this advice should also be delivered at the best possible value for the investor. Value can be simplistically defined as the service that delivers the most benefit, balanced against the financial cost, but in the estate planning space, how do you assess what good value is?

1. Total fees and charges

Product fees are guaranteed to negatively impact returns, so it is important to minimise their impact when looking to gain the best value from the investment. Some managers report little or no fees paid by the investor to the manager, but instead charge the company or investment service itself. While this might initially be seen as better value for the investor, it is not as simple as that. Investors in unlisted BR services become a shareholder of the portfolio companies, so the reality is that any fees paid by the companies are effectively being paid by the shareholder (or investor). Therefore, both investor fees and company fees will both negatively impact the final return and must be considered together.

Analysis of what a manager is paid by the investor and by the company over a significant period will enable an adviser to conclude if the manager is offering good value, or if a disproportionate amount of fees is going to the manager at the expense of their investors.

2. Real investment returns

Another key component of assessing value is what the investment actually delivers. For BR solutions, investors’ main objective is commonly to pass on the maximum sum possible to their beneficiaries upon death. This may lead to a conclusion that delivering Inheritance Tax relief at the lowest possible cost is the primary driver of value. However, especially for clients with longer time horizons, the one-dimensional goal of avoiding a potential 40% Inheritance Tax bill can easily over-shadow the equally important goal of aiming to steadily grow the investment, preventing erosion by inflation, drawdowns and investment fees. Unlike some IHT-focused solutions, such as trusts or gifting, investors in BR services do not have to accept zero growth of their wealth from the point of investment.  Instead, investors can continue to earn returns, either taking an income stream or increasing the final sum to be passed onto their beneficiaries, precisely in line with their original objective.

While most BR managers predict their ongoing returns at a certain level, those targets are not guaranteed and historic performance varies widely.

3. The relationship between fees and risk

Given that the majority of managers in the BR space state their performance targets net of fees, to produce positive growth and achieve their target return, those managers must first earn back any fees they are taking. Let’s take the below scenario to illustrate this point.

 Are clients truly getting value from their BR solution? 4Manager 1

Annual performance target, net of fees: 3%

Annual fees: 3%

Gross performance target: 6%

 

Are clients truly getting value from their BR solution? 5Manager 2

Annual performance target, net of fees: 4%

Annual fees: 1%

Gross performance target: 5%

Initially, it might appear that Manager 2 must be taking more risk to target a higher net return of 4% than Manager 1, who is targeting 3%. However, Manager 1 has to deliver an additional 2% of gross return than Manager 2, to make up for charging higher fees. Higher fees not only impact returns and value, but they can also mean greater risk.

Market comparison

In the Tax Efficient Review’s most recent analysis of Unlisted BR Services1, they released data that ranks services in the market in terms of both investor returns and total fees. IEP Private Real Estate achieved the top rank for returns delivered, with the second lowest total fees in the market, demonstrating that it represents attractive value for investors in comparison to other services.

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