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Third Seven Group Acquires Stake in UDIS Capital Partners



Third Seven Group Acquires Stake in UDIS Capital Partners

Third Seven Advisors appoints Amit Dogra as CEO and Michael Block as managing director

NEW YORK- Third Seven Group LLC, an investment bank (Third Seven Capital) and registered investment advisory firm (Third Seven Advisors), today announced that it acquired a stake in boutique investment management consultancy UDIS Capital Partners (“UDIS”) and will integrate their services into both the investment bank and the advisory side of the firm. UDIS specializes in introducing foreign and domestic capital, managing cross-border transactions and providing foreign currency solutions.

Third Seven currently offers direct investment opportunities to pre-IPO companies and access to The Growth Center, a proprietary solution that includes business consulting and unique technology to aid in any stage of an advisor’s business life cycle created by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. This partnership with UDIS furthers Third Seven’s goal to arm their clients with tools and opportunities not available at other firms.

In addition to this partnership, Third Seven announced the promotion of Amit Dogra to CEO of Third Seven Advisors. Dogra, previously President of Third Seven Advisors, has grown the firm to approximately $800M in AUM/AUA over the course of his first five months. Prior to joining Third Seven, he was a managing director at HighTower Advisors where he oversaw advisor growth, relationship management and practice management.

“Third Seven’s partnership with UDIS provides us with specialized expertise to address the complexities of cross-border transactions, currency exchanges and currency fluctuation risk,” said Dogra. “We firmly believe that as the financial services landscape continues to shift, we need to shift with it. We are committed to providing our clients with unique tools that are becoming a necessity in the modern age, and UDIS separates us from a crowded field of roll-ups and aggregators that simply offer more of the same.”

The firm also announced the strategic hire of Michael Block to the role of managing director and market strategist for Third Seven Advisors. In this capacity, he advises on macroeconomics, market strategy, risk management and asset allocation. Prior to joining Third Seven, Block served as partner and chief strategist for Rhino Trading Partners where he advised institutional clients including hedge and mutual funds, pensions and endowments. He also founded Rhino’s Capital Introduction program, which enabled capital raising for a range of alternative and traditional investment opportunities including hedge funds, private equity and venture capital.

“I’m ecstatic to have Michael on board with us at Third Seven. He brings invaluable experience and expertise that will further drive the success of our firm, advisors and clients alike,” said Third Seven Group CEO Richard Hillson. “I also look forward to Amit continuing to serve us in this new capacity – the success of Third Seven is largely due to the talented individuals who make up our team, and we are confident that strategic appointments like Michael and Amit will propel us into future growth.”

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Now’s the time to get a UK-EU trade deal over the line



Now’s the time to get a UK-EU trade deal over the line 1

After four years, two General Elections, two Prime Ministers and a seemingly endless number of setbacks, the negotiations over the future trading relationship between the UK and EU have reached their final act. But a deal is still not done and Ana Boata, head of macroeconomic research at the world’s largest trade credit insurer Euler Hermes, outlines why failure to act will be damaging for all involved.

For many observers it will feel like the end of a long film that had a difficult plot to follow from the start. And as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic ripple through vast swathes of the economy, the drawing to a close of the negotiations on a trade deal between the UK and EU will be greeted by an indifferent shrug for people worried about unemployment, the future of their towns and cities and lockdowns. But the aftereffects of Brexit will be felt for years to come and it’s vital its potential negative impacts are negated.

The transition period of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU officially ends on 31 December and while there’s a general consensus that either a trade deal will be agreed or an extension settled upon before then, the likelihood of a no deal remains high and the clock is fast ticking down.

With both sides broadly relaying the same message – ‘we want a deal, but the other side needs to budge’ – it’s important to remember that an agreement is in the best interests of all parties. The pandemic should serve to highlight that.

We forecast that the UK’s GDP will grow by around 2.5 per cent next year should both sides sign on the dotted line of a deal. In the midst of the biggest downturn in business activity in 300 years, that bounce back will be invaluable. We expect the alternative – a transition onto World Trade Organisation terms – will lead to a 4.8 per cent decline in GDP growth in 2021 and €14bn in export losses.

But both sides know the UK won’t be the only country feeling the impact of a no deal Brexit. We anticipate it will cost Germany €8.2bn, the Netherlands €4.8bn and France €3.6bn in export losses, while the bloc as a whole will lose around €33bn.

These impacts will be felt in some of those countries’ biggest sectors, all of which employ thousands. We forecast German car manufacturers will be hit for €2.8bn, Dutch producers of machinery and electrical equipment will see a €1bn loss and French chemicals firms will lose €400m in the event of a hard Brexit.

This will hit the EU hard, but it’s a starker picture in the UK. In the event of both sides agreeing a deal we forecast business insolvencies to increase by 31 per cent next year, mostly caused by the full effects of the pandemic feeding through to the economy. Yet that figure rises to 53 per cent should the country tumble out on no deal terms. That will impact jobs, especially after March when the government’s furlough scheme will end, with unemployment touching eight per cent. Investment in the UK would also suffer, falling by an additional 10 percentage points on the 15 per cent drop expected in the event of a soft Brexit.

The potential economic disruption has been exacerbated by the loss of one of the aces up the sleeve of UK negotiators – the likelihood of a Trump administration fast-tracking a transatlantic trade deal. That now looks unlikely as Joe Biden takes up his residency in the White House from January and should focus minds on crossing the final hurdles to agree a deal.

It’s clear both sides need to come to an agreement and after Covid-19 has shone a light on some of the shortcomings in public policy and economies across Europe, the last thing both sides need after a difficult year is a no deal Brexit. The second part of the Brexit sequel is just getting started, but neither the UK nor EU will be better off in the event of a clean break. Now’s the time for both sides to agree a deal that will speed up the recovery from the pandemic, not deepen its impact.

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Investing into a more sustainable future: changing businesses from the inside out



Investing into a more sustainable future: changing businesses from the inside out 2

By Shawn Welch, Vice President and General Manager of Hi-Cone Worldwide

As industries across the world are facing unprecedented uncertainty and anticipating the economic implications of the current health crisis, business leaders have the unique opportunity to seize the chance to make lasting, positive changes and re-interpret the business challenges in a positive way – without forgetting or minimising the toll the pandemic has taken. When trying to identify a way forward, the future must be sustainable. We must take this opportunity to find a more sustainable way for businesses and manufacturers to survive.

Environmental and economic concern have only increased the gap on what consumers want – more sustainability – and how much progress businesses can make without risking their viability. However, rather than giving up on ambitious goals, maybe we need to reframe the way we look at sustainability. So far, businesses have tended to react to consumer demands, often without looking into the long-term implications and research-based due diligence one would expect. Therefore, now is the right time to be more deliberate: to continue on the path towards a truly sustainable ‘new normal’, businesses need to consider the bottom line impact more than ever before and truly invest in changing their business models to become more sustainable.

Shawn Welch

Shawn Welch

To meet the UN’s ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, businesses ultimately must thrive – working towards establishing a circular economy remains crucial. Instead of a linear ‘extract, use, dispose’ approach, materials need to be respected and re-used as many times as possible, which is only possible if products are designed for re-use, re-manufacturing, repair or restarting. After all, any and all consumption comes at a price. In manufacturing, processes draw on resources to produce items that, once they have served their purpose, become surplus to requirements. Yet, to ignore this is to take an incomplete view of sustainability: instead, materials are extracted from waste to re-enter production processes. Reuse and recycling initiatives are central to this and great strides have been made in raising awareness of this need. The full environmental cost of production and consumption includes the choice of materials themselves but also the level of carbon emissions generated, and energy consumed.

Once products and processes have redesigned for a circular approach, this initial investment will often easily be recouped, especially if we start with looking at the facts when starting this crucial process. To make the Circular Economy a focus for any business very often means changing the business model. Here, investing in research and development is vital. In the packaging industry, for example, we are seeing that customers and consumers are increasingly more focused on sustainability, and that surprising changes can unlock societal and business value. Through minimising a product’s carbon footprint or making recycling easier for consumers, lifecycle-assessment-based product redesigns or using recycled plastics instead of larger quantities of cardboard, companies are identifying these more creative options and enjoying the long-lasting benefits that come with implementing them. In any case, leadership is key. A research-driven approach gets everyone on-board and seeing management committing to these goals as part of business plans helps cement these. At a recent Reuters Responsible Business Summit virtual panel, I was part of an interesting conversation. Here, Yolanda Malone, Vice President Global R&D Snacks PKG, PepsiCo, discussed how leaders have to drive the behaviours within the organisation and the tone for the culture. She explained that her sustainable plastics vision is a world where plastics never become waste. Only through putting the mantra of “reduce, recycle, rethink and reinvent” can we bring circular products to consumer. She stressed that, if we don’t reinvent, we will fall back into old habits.

Of course, consumer behaviours play a part and the easier the solution, the more likely consumers will get behind it. End consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of packaging. So, to be truly circular, we need to take into account the entire lifecycle. Mindset change needs to continue to happen. Consumers need to be clear about what their choices are. To achieve this, we must change our businesses from the inside out, allowing for close collaboration inside and outside of our organisations. Other organisations – such as governments and recycling organisations – will need to be involved in businesses’ efforts, multiplying the impact our investments will have. We must address all aspects of sustainability and, for example, have better recycling, a focus on infrastructure and emphasis on consumer education. To recover, reuse and recycle, the R&D must be in place and dedicated to sustainability. Partnerships are important as we, as other leading global companies realise, cannot do this alone. Collaboration is key when investing in a more sustainable, more Circular, future.

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Securing Information Throughout the Supply Chain – Preventing Supplier Vulnerabilities 



Securing Information Throughout the Supply Chain – Preventing Supplier Vulnerabilities  3

By Adam Strange, Data Classification Specialist, HelpSystems 

The financial services sector is experiencing extreme disruption coupled with rapid innovation as established institutions strive to become more agile and meet evolving customer demand. At the same time, new market entrants compete fiercely for customers. Increasing operational flexibility, through the deployment of cloud infrastructure or via digital transformation initiatives, is critical for future competitiveness but it has also driven regulatory and security challenges, particularly around working with suppliers.

That said, the benefits of a diverse, interconnected supply chain are compelling: agility, speed, and cost reduction all weigh on the positive side of the equation, prompting financial institutions to pursue close, collaborative relationships with suppliers, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands.

Weakness in the supply chain

On the negative side is the increased cyber threat when enterprises expose their networks to their supply chain. In our modern interconnected digital ecosystems, most financial organisations have many supply chain dependencies and it only takes one of these to have cybersecurity vulnerabilities to bring a business to its knees.

As a result, breaches originating in third parties are common and costly – a Ponemon Institute/IBM study found that breaches being caused by a third party was the top factor that amplified the cost of a breach, adding an average of $370,000 to the breach cost.

Concern around the supply chain was also evidenced in a recent report we have just issued, whereby we interviewed 250 CISOs and CIOs from financial institutions about the cybersecurity challenges they face and nearly half (46%) said that cybersecurity weaknesses in the supply chain had the biggest potential to cause the most damage in the next 12 months.

But sharing information with suppliers is essential for the supply chain to function. Most financial services organisations go to great lengths to secure intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data internally, yet when this information is shared across the supply chain, does it get the same robust attention?

Further amplified by COVID-19

Financial service organisations have always been a key target for cyber attacks.  Our research showed that since COVID-19 hit, the risk has elevated further, with 45% of the respondents seeing increased cybersecurity attacks during this period. Likewise, hackers are rejecting frontal assaults on well-defended walls in favour of infiltrating networks via vulnerabilities in suppliers.

But financial services organisations must maintain reputations and ensure customer trust. Firms are keen to demonstrate that they are protecting customer assets, providing an ultra-reliable service and working with trustworthy partners. So, what can they do to better protect their supplier ecosystem?

At the very least, they need to ensure basic controls are implemented around their suppliers’ IT infrastructure.  For example, they must ensure suppliers maintain a secure infrastructure with a minimum of Cyber Essentials or the equivalent US CIS certification controls. Cyber Essentials defines a set of controls which, when implemented, provide organisations with basic protection from the most prevalent forms of threats, focusing on threats which require low levels of attacker skill, and which are widely available online.

Likewise, they need to ensure good information management controls are in place and this begins with accurate information/data classification. After all, how can you apply appropriate controls to your information unless you know what it is and where it is?

How ISO27001 helps organisations put in place a data classification process

The international standard on information security, ISO27001, describes the basic ingredients for data classification to ensure the data receives the appropriate level of protection in accordance with its importance to the organisation. It comprises three basic elements:

  • Classification of data – in terms of legal requirements, value, criticality and sensitivity to unauthorised disclosure or modification.
  • Labelling of data – an appropriate set of procedures for information labelling should be developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.
  • Handling of assets – procedures for the handling of assets developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.

Adoption of this methodology will help financial services organisations and their supply chain take a more data-centric information security approach. However, there are essentially four key stages for implementing a data risk assurance supply chain approach and these are:

 1. Approval – in organisations with complex supply chains senior management, vendor management, procurement and information security will all need to support a robust risk-based information management approach. Details of previous incidents and their impact alongside the business benefits will be essential to gain stakeholder buy in.

 2. Preparation – Organisations should start with Tier 1 suppliers and initially identify the contracts with the highest business impact/risk. They should identify and record information repositories and the data that they contain together with the responsible business owners. Define a business taxonomy based on information categories of that data and include supply chain factors such as what information categories are shared.

For example, they need to understand the business impact of compromise against each of the information categories. Have any suppliers suffered security incidents? What assurance mechanisms are in place? Once all this information is collated the organisation can create a data classification policy and define a set of controls for each data category.

 3. Discovery – Select each data category and identify the associated contracts. Then prioritise the data category based on the risk assessment and verify that the data security controls and arrangements for each data category and contract meet the overall requirements. Once complete, hand over the contract for inclusion in the vendor management cycle.

4. Embed process – the overall objective is to embed information risk management into the procurement lifecycle from start to finish. Therefore, whenever a new contract is created there are a number of actions required which embed data risk at each stage of the bid, tender, procurement, evaluation, implementation and termination phases of the contract.

To summarise, organisations should start by researching the information risk and security frameworks such as ISO27001 and others. They should then focus on defining their business taxonomy and data categories together with the business impact of compromise to help develop a data classification scheme. Finally, they should implement the data classification scheme and embed data risk management into the procurement lifecycle processes from start to finish. By effectively embedding data risk management and categorisation into their procurement and vendor management processes, they are preventing their suppliers’ vulnerabilities becoming their own and are more effectively securing data in the supply chain.

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