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VC’S BEHIND ZOPA, REVOLUT, TRANSFERWISE & CLEAR SCORE CONFIRMED FOR JUDGING PANEL FOR PITCHIT EVENT

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VC’S BEHIND ZOPA, REVOLUT, TRANSFERWISE & CLEAR SCORE CONFIRMED FOR JUDGING PANEL FOR PITCHIT EVENT

LendIt Europe, Europe’s largest international fintech and lending conference, and StartupbootcampFinTech, the leading global FinTech accelerator, have today announced the judging panel for the second annual PitchIt Europe competition.

Representatives from Venture Capitalists: Seedcamp, Blenheim Chalcot, Commerz Ventures, and Balderton Capital will form the judging panel of experienced VCs from and around Europe.

Collectively, these four firms are some of the most active investors in the European fintech category and have played key roles in the success of several of the largest fintech successes in Europe. They will be looking for innovative fintech companies including those focused on lending, payments, wealth management, insurtech, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital identity and biometrics, regtech, fintech infrastructure, mortgage technology, real estate tech, digital banking, trading and capital markets, or any other category that represents innovation taking place in financial services.

The judges confirmed for the startup competition this year are:

  • ReshmaSohoni, Partner and co-founder of Seedcamp
    • Seedcamp is Europe’s seed fund, investing early in world-class founders attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. Since launch a decade ago, Seedcamp has invested in 250 startups and has helped companies go on to raise over $650M in follow-on funding.
  • Dan Cobley, Managing Partner, Fintech at Blenheim Chalcot
    • Dan, previous MD of Google UK, has returned to his original passion of working with startup companies. Dan has been a speaker at the TED Conference, has appeared as a technology expert on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, and is a trustee of the Technology Trust.
  • Patrick Meisberger, Managing Director of CommerzVentures
    • Patrick has decades of experience in fintech and M&A roles across various companies in Europe. His company, CommerzVentures, recently helped iwoca, one of the fastest growing SME lending platforms in Europe, to secure a $20m Series B equity financing round.
  • Rob Moffat, Partner at Balderton Capital
    • Rob started his career with five years in strategy consulting with Bain, before moving to Google, and then into Balderton Capital. Rob’s focus sector is fintech, in particular insurance and retail financial services. He has worked across businesses from Citymapper to Nutmeg.

Additionally, mentors are confirmed from the following firms:

O Kreos Capital O Growth Unlocked
O Seedrs O StartupbootcampFintech&Insurtech
O Target Global VC O Polymath Consulting
O Opus Una Financial Services Consulting O Capco
O Thiel Capital O Index Ventures

PitchIt, in partnership with StartupbootcampFinTech, has been designed to help boost the profile of ‘the next big thing’ from the fintech startup scene across Europe.

Last year’s finalists spanned a broad spectrum of fintech; from alternative credit scoring companies to alternative lending platforms.

The forthcoming LendIt event 2017 takes place on the 9th and 10th of October, at The Intercontinental London – The O2. In order to apply for a slot at the PitchIt event, startups can apply here.

Jason Jones, Co-Founder & CEO of LendIt Conference:

“The judges for this year’s PitchIt competition offer a fantastic range of knowledge, skills and experience. The high caliber of judges we’ve had over the years is a testament to how the competition has evolved, and it’s inspiring to see another strong panel taking to the stage for the competition. I’m confident that their diverse professional backgrounds will see one of the most exciting PitchIt competitions yet.”

Dan Cobley, Managing Partner, Fintech at Blenheim Chalcot

“Blenheim Chalcot have a firm focus in helping startups get their business idea off the ground, not just through funding – but through a hands on mentoring approach. The new wave of innovation which we’re seeing at events like LendIt is a great opportunity for us to see which businesses are breaking into the market, and how we can work with them to help them grow.”

ReshmaSohoni, Partner and co-founder of Seedcamp
“To see businesses not only from the UK, but from right across Europe, is what makes this event such a huge draw for Seedcamp. We’re hoping that the combination of energetic and passionate startups taking part, and the success we’ve had with investing in breakout fintech businesses such as TransferWise and Revolut, will help us find the ‘next big thing’ in the industry.”

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Should you reward high performance and if so how?

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Should you reward high performance and if so how? 1

By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four 

In our last article – “what do high-performing teams mean?” we identified four enabling conditions – a compelling direction, high accountability, clear expectations and trusting relationships to be the basic platform for high performing teams.  But work teams do not operate in an organisational vacuum. Organisational performance is the key interest for managers and executives; however, organizations only perform efficiently if individuals feel satisfied and committed as well as cooperate with colleagues.

Features of the organisational context, such as the reward system, specific incentives and career development opportunities as well as the coaching and feedback behaviours of team leaders, can have.

a seismic impact on the outcome of the team.  In today’s team-centric workplace, how do you recognise employees’ contributions to team success in the most effective way?

Individual vs. team reward

The problem is that group tasks are usually a mix of group and individual interests, a mixture of cooperative and competitive incentives.  Therefore, is team recognition better? Or is it best to reward individual contributors?

When you reward individuals for their hard work and for achieving results, you incentivise them to keep up the good work.  This recognition can, in turn, influence others to improve their performance.  However, rewarding individuals may create a more competitive environment, potentially undermining any efforts to establish or maintain a collaborative culture within the organisation.

Through a meta-analysis of 30 studies involving more than 7,000 teams, Garbers and Konradt (2014) found that team-based rewards yield moderate positive effects on team performance.  Recognising an entire team encourages greater camaraderie and when people are motivated to work harder for the good of the team, it often results in higher performance.  Moreover, it demonstrates to the team that others in their organisation (specifically, those who designed the reward system and administer it) care enough about a team’s performance that they are willing to expend organisational resources to recognise what it accomplishes.  Effective team rewards should elicit and reinforce collaboration among members as they work together to achieve compelling team purposes.  Recognition for good team performance encourages members to think of “us” rather than “me” and goes a long way in helping to sustain collective motivation.

Both individual and team-based recognition have their pros and cons.  So, what would be a compromise solution? A third option is offering a hybrid recognition program.

By simultaneously rewarding group and individual achievement, you can motivate everyone to work hard toward achieving the team’s goals.  At the same time, you also recognise individual team members who go the extra mile.  These are the people who make outstanding contributions to the team’s overall performance. The work they do is worthy of special recognition and should be rewarded appropriately.  When a team receives something that members collectively value, it becomes more likely that members will do again whatever it is that they did before.

The consequences of excellent team performance, therefore, must be something that team members themselves view as favourable.  Even if leaders think that putting a team’s name on the company intranet is kudos for high performance, that listing will have no effect if team members view it as silly, embarrassing or meaningless.

One kind of recognition that almost everyone cares about is money.  At least in Western societies, people have learned well to “follow the money” if they want to understand what is going on or what is most valued by those in charge.  Although compliments and nonmonetary rewards can go a long way in reinforcing team excellence, they cannot go all the way.  At some point, people want to see some cash—or at least feel they have a piece of the financial action.  What factors do you need to consider when designing your rewards strategy?

Equitable v’s equal

The evidence suggests that equitably distributed rewards are more effective than equally distributed rewards in

Matthew Emerson

Matthew Emerson

affecting team performance.  So, for example, the practice of distributing the same bonus to all team members at the end of the financial year, while it might be easier to do, may yield weaker effects on future performance.  Because fairness violations are processed more emotionally than rationally, even nominal rewards for team performance have implications for fairness perception and must be managed.

Communicate effectively

Communicate how you will distribute rewards: if you want to value individual contributions, you will need to define and say what the indicators of performance are (e.g., the amount of responsibility, hours worked, individual outcomes).  In other words, use equitable pay and be meritocratic.  Giving employees “voice” is an important first step of rewards fairness.  Objectives and performance should be measured among individuals, so that you can show what each team member has done and what they each receive as a reward.

Consistency is key

Finally, we encourage team leaders to make sure they use fair decision-making criteria when they are deciding on who should receive recognition.  Team members need to trust that you are recognising team members who make valuable contributions.  Distributing formal recognition based on arbitrary factors, or simply rewarding “teacher’s pets,” may compromise the positive (and exacerbate the negative) changes found in our research.  Many employees report feeling undervalued at the end of a project.  These less favoured members are usually separated from the favourable team members due to hierarchy or departmental lines.

Conclusion

Team-based rewards have both potential benefits and drawbacks for an organization, especially in the context of team trust. While they can be successful in highly interdependent team environments when reward measurements are fair and clear, they can also result in motivational loss, competitive behaviour and feelings of discomfort by team members who are reluctant to determine each other’s pay when such preconditions are not in place.  It is important for managers to take these dynamics into account when designing a team-based rewards program and remember that there is not a one size fits all approach.

About Author:

Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.

Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.

Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments.  He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.

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Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes

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Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes 2

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares climbed to near all-time highs on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies were eclipsed by optimism of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan to help revive the U.S. economy.

Sentiment in the region was also boosted by a report that China had surpassed the United States to be the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020 with $163 billion in inflows.

Futures markets also pointed to firmer starts elsewhere. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.37%, futures for eurostoxx 50 as well as London’s FTSE were up 0.3% each while those for Germany’s DAX added 0.4%.

“The FDI story has definitely lifted China and its near neighbours today, blowing an economic recovery tailwind into geographically adjacent markets,” said OANDA’s Singapore-based market analyst Jeffery Halley.

“Looking ahead, equities will find more meaningful reactions from the progress or not of the Biden stimulus package, and the level of dovishness displayed by the Federal Reserve at their FOMC meeting this week.”

Global equity markets have scaled record highs in recent days on bets COVID-19 vaccines will start to reduce the infection rates worldwide and on a stronger U.S. economic recovery under President Joe Biden.

Still, investors are also wary about towering valuations amid questions over the efficiency of the vaccines in curbing the pandemic and as U.S.lawmakers continue to debate a coronavirus aid package.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose to 726.46, within kissing distance of last week’s record high of 727.31.

The benchmark is up nearly 9% so far in January, on track for its fourth straight monthly rise.

Japan’s Nikkei rebounded from falls in early trading to be up 0.7%.

Australian shares added 0.4% after the country’s drug regulator approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a phased rollout likely late next month.

Chinese shares rose, with the blue-chip CSI300 index up 1.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leapt nearly 2% led by technology stocks.

All eyes are on Washington DC as U.S. lawmakers agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority even as they lock horns over the size of the U.S. pandemic relief package.

Financial markets have been eyeing a massive package though disagreements have meant months of indecision in a country suffering more than 175,000 COVID-19 cases a day with millions out of work.

Global COVID-19 cases are inching towards 100 million with more than 2 million dead.

Hong Kong locked down an area of the Kowloon peninsula on Saturday, the first such measure the city has taken since the pandemic began.

Reports the new UK COVID variant was not only highly infectious but perhaps more deadly than the original strain also added to worries.

In the European Union, political leaders expressed widespread dismay over a hold-up by AstraZeneca and Pfizer Inc in delivering promised doses, with Italy’s prime minister lashing out at the vaccine suppliers, saying delays amounted to a serious breach of contractual obligations.

On Friday, the Dow fell 0.57%, the S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq added 0.09%. The three main U.S. indexes closed higher for the week, with the Nasdaq up over 4%.

Jefferies analysts said U.S. stock markets looked overvalued though they still remained bullish.

“For the stock market to have a real nasty unwind, rather than just a bull market correction, there needs to be a catalyst,” analyst Christopher Wood said.

“That means either an economic downturn or a material tightening in Fed policy,” Wood said, adding neither was likely to occur in a hurry.

In currencies, major pairs were trapped in a tight range as markets awaited the Fed’s Wednesday meeting.

The dollar index eased to 90.073, with the euro at $1.2181, while sterling was last a tad firmer at $1.3721.

The Japanese yen was a shade weaker at 103.69 per dollar.

In commodities, Brent gave up early losses to be last flat at $55.41 a barrel and U.S. crude rose 3 cents to $52.30.

Gold was flat at $1,852.9 an ounce.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)

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Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries

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Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries 3

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar stabilised on Monday after a recent decline as fresh worries about the coronavirus and the global economy prompted investors to hang on to the safe-haven currency.

But analysts said the dollar could resume its fall if the U.S. Federal Reserve reaffirms its commitment to a highly accommodative monetary policy at its rate meeting later this week — as widely expected.

“I don’t think the Fed has any incentives to curtail its stimulus at this point, even though some market players may try to read between the lines for any signs of tapering in stimulus,” said Kazushige Kaida, head of FX sales at State Street Bank’s Tokyo Branch.

“I think the dollar is staying in a downtrend even though it is marking time for now,” he said.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal he has no plan to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon when the central bank concludes its policy review on Wednesday.

The dollar index stood at 90.172, flat on the day. It bounced back on Friday after hitting 90.043 on Thursday, last week’s lowest level.

Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as stringent lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard while UK data showed British retailers struggled to recover in December.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said on Friday there was evidence a new variant of COVID-19 discovered late last year could be associated with higher mortality, while problems in some vaccine roll-outs also weighed on sentiment.

Downbeat coronavirus news overshadowed some upbeat U.S. data, including a surge in manufacturing and an unexpected jump in existing home sales.

Bets against the dollar have become overcrowded, analysts also said, with U.S. data on Friday showing net dollar short positions swelling to the largest since May 2011.

The euro was little changed at $1.2174 , taking a pause after a 0.8% gain last week.

The common currency is capped in part by signs of political instability in Rome, which has also driven Italian bond yields higher. The yield spread between Italian and German bonds hit its highest since November on Friday.

Italy’s main ruling parties on Friday flagged snap elections as the only way out of its political impasse, if Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte fails to drum up a parliamentary majority after scraping through a confidence vote.

The situation in Italy demonstrates the widespread risks of political instability from popular discontent as communities grow weary of the pandemic, some analysts said.

“The stock markets’ rally during this pandemic is completely dependent on fiscal expansion and debt monetisation by central banks,” said Makoto Noji, chief currency strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities. “Political instability could delay fiscal measures. The year 2021 will not be the same as 2020.”

In Washington, the honeymoon after Joe Biden’s inauguration as President last week means investors are hopeful that at least a part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan will come through fairly soon.

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump expected early next month could complicate his efforts.

Elsewhere, the British pound held firm at $1.3684, not far off a 2-1/2-year high of $1.3745 touched on Thursday thanks in part to Britain’s lead in COVID-19 vaccinations.

Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 103.76 yen.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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