Industry news

Blackstone tells US employees to get Covid-19 boosters to work from office

14 January | People

Alternative asset manager Blackstone has asked its US workforce to get Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to operate from office, reported Bloomberg.

The company has directed its employees to get the booster jabs ‘as soon as practically possible’, a Blackstone spokeswoman told the news agency.

Blackstone employees, who are working in the office, are also required to get tested on-site for Covid-19 weekly three times.

The bank, which was initially planning to open its offices next week, recently postponed its return to office plan to the end of this month owing to a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the US.

Besides Blackstone, a raft of other Wall Street banks and companies have now made Covid-19 vaccination and booster shots mandatory for their workforce to return to office.

27 January | Technology

RBC taps Avaloq to move Asia wealth management platform to cloud

RBC Wealth Management (RBCWM), part of Royal Bank of Canada, has expanded its collaboration with wealth management platform Avaloq to move its Asia wealth management platform to the cloud.

Avaloq, which first partnered with RBCWM in 2012, offers its core banking software, as well as its web and mobile products to the Toronto-based wealth manager.

As part of the latest collaboration, Avaloq will offer a Software as a Service (SaaS) model to enable the RBWM to move its Asia wealth management platform to the cloud.

This SaaS solution will leverage cloud computing to scale up ‘agility, scalability and flexibility’ of RBCWM’s Asia business.

The initiative will add two new front-office solutions, namely, RM Workplace and Investment Advisory, to RBCWM’s wealth management platform in Asia.

These products are designed to help relationship managers and investment advisors to offer personalised investment advice their clients by bringing together Avaloq’s core banking software and new digital platforms.

In addition, RBCWM will rollout Avaloq’s web and mobile offerings for clients of its Hong Kong business.

Synpulse, an existing technology partner of both RBCWM and Avaloq, will support the companies in the new initiative.

27 January | Deals

UBS signs deal to acquire US robo-adviser Wealthfront in $1.4bn deal

Swiss private banking giant UBS has signed a deal to buy US-based automated wealth management provider Wealthfront for $1.4bn in cash.

The move comes more than two months after a Bloomberg report said that Wealthfront is mulling business divestment at a valuation of about $1.5bn.

The transaction is currently expected to close in the second half of the year, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions.

Wealthfront manages over $27bn assets on behalf of its more than 470,000 clients in the US. It primarily caters to millennial and Gen Z investors.

The company’s platform provides users with access to financial planning capabilities, banking services and investment management solutions.

The acquisition will help UBS to bolster its presence in the US and expand distribution and capabilities.

Wealthfront’s capabilities will also help UBS to pioneer its new digital offering which will comprise access to remote human advice.

Additionally, Wealthfront will expand UBS’s existing offering through its Wealth Advice Center and Workplace Wealth Solutions business.

25 January | Strategy

JPMorgan merges major EU units under one entity

US banking giant JPMorgan is consolidating most of its European Union businesses into one legal German entity, known as JP Morgan SE (JPMSE), in a bid to simplify its structure for the bloc following Brexit.

The bank has merged Luxembourg and Irish units into the German entity – JP Morgan AG, which has been converted into a European public company.

Frankfurt-based JPMSE has branches across the European Economic Area (EEA), with considerable presence in Dublin, Luxembourg, and Paris.

It offers products/services across JPMorgan’s businesses including its corporate & investment bank, commercial bank and private bank.

JPMSE also provides access to EU liquidity for clients operating globally.

21 January | Distribution

Julius Baer builds team for Spanish intermediaries market

Swiss private lender Julius Baer has formed a new team to meet the needs of its intermediaries clients in Spain.

With a stint of nearly 25 years in the intermediaries space, Claudio Beretta will lead the team from its base in Madrid.

Beretta has been with Julius Baer since 2011 and held several management roles at the bank.

Most recently, he spearheaded Julius Baer’s intermediaries business in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland and in Monaco.

Claudia Linares, who joined the bank earlier this month, will be responsible for the development of the intermediaries Spanish market.

14 January | Deals

Gemini acquires digital asset platform BITRIA

Crypto exchange Gemini has acquired a digital asset portfolio management platform called BITRIA for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2017, BITRIA offers tools to enable advisors manage crypto holdings.

The move will see the integration of BITRIA’s platform with Gemini’s custody and exchange capabilities. This will enable the advisors to access the entire crypto ecosystem and manage clients’ portfolios from a single platform.

Overall, the wealth managers will get access to 70 cryptocurrencies. They will also gain access to features such as SMA construction and maintenance, portfolio rebalancing, tax loss harvesting and account planning among others.

Gemini global head of business development Dave Abner said: “The BITRIA acquisition positions Gemini as the first end-to-end technology platform empowering wealth and asset managers to meet rising demand among their clients for accessing and managing a full range of crypto investments.

26 January | Inclusion

IQ-EQ launches female fund manager initiative

A new initiative from IQ-EQ will support women to launch and grow their first funds through the new IQ-EQ Launchpad.

In addition, IQ-EQ Launchpad has a goal to expand inclusivity for the wider asset management industry and grow a self-sustaining network of women in senior leadership roles.

Funds with over 5% women ownership or a woman founder will be eligible to receive preferential service terms, tailored fund administration solutions, capacity building and access to a global network.

26 January | Distribution

Wealthtech Moonfare launches in US

Digital private markets platform Moonfare has launched operations in the US. This now gives it presence and operations across Europe, Asia, and the US.

The move follows a $125m Series C funding round led by Insight Partners. A Singapore launch is set for the coming weeks as well.

“We are thrilled to expand our global footprint and proud to be amongst the few European fintechs expanding into the US,” says Moonfare founder Steffen Pauls.

26 January | Products

Quintet launches climate-neutral investment fund

Luxembourg-based private bank Quintet has announced the launch of the world’s first multi-asset, climate-neutral investment fund.

The essential portfolio selection (EPS) Quintet Earth fund provides equal exposure to green bonds and low-carbon equities and offsets associated carbon emissions via reforestation activities.

Quintet Earth is a UCITS fund, which has been launched with €280m in assets, seeks to generate real-world impact along with performance.

Quintet noted that all green bond proceeds are invested in projects that seek to generate positive environmental benefits.

The basket of low-carbon equities is associated with 70% less carbon than conventional equities, it added.

The carbon emission is compensated for by acquiring carbon credits derived from community reforestation projects annually.

DWS, with €880bn of assets under management, will manage Quintet Earth, which is a liquid, multi-currency fund, with daily trading, and has a recommended three to five-year holding period.

Non-profit organisation Myclimate, which currently supports over 125 climate-protection projects in 37 countries, will help Quintet measure the fund’s carbon offset activities.

18 January | Distribution

Quilter Cheviot Europe to launch financial planning service, appoints head

Quilter Cheviot’s Irish wealth management entity, Quilter Cheviot Europe (QCE), has appointed Andrew Fahy as head of financial planning.

This appointment comes as QCE prepares to establish a financial planning service in Ireland.

Fahy has joined QCE from Brewin Dolphin Ireland where he served as head of tax & financial planning.

Prior to Brewin Dolphin Ireland, he held a similar role at Investec Wealth & Investment.

His appointment comes with immediate effect to launch the service. He will report to QCE CEO Brian Weber.

Quilter Cheviot’s strategy for growth involves setting up an integrated investment management and financial planning offering across its office network.

This is expected to “complement the work it does” with intermediary contacts to provide a wealth management service that is customised to the requirements of each client.

The latest move will set up the financial planning operation out of Dublin office of QCE to cater to clients in Europe, where it is witnessing a growing demand for financial planning and investment management.