Industry news

Coinbase and ConsenSys cut staff amidst cold crypto winter winds

11 January | Digital

The cold winds of the crypto winter have been blowing for over a year, but the blizzard shows no signs of relenting.

Last year was brutal as a result of crypto crash. The chilly and volatile market has shaved about two-thirds off the cryptocurrency market’s value over the past 14 months. Investors have grown reluctant to invest in the sector as a result, making it harder for businesses to top up their coffers.

Investment drying up has been one of the reasons why casualties were piled high in 2022. Other companies – like Celsius, BlockFi and FTX – collapsed due to a combination of scandals and their business models being found wanting.

This week, crypto companies Coinbase and Consensys showed that the crypto winter is far from over. Both businesses were reported to be going through huge layoffs this week, exacerbating the job cuts bloodbath that’s lately been tormenting the overall tech industry.

6 January | M&A

Skerritts Group buys Equinox Wealth to propel expansion

Wealth management firm Skerritts Group has bought Kent-based Equinox Wealth to boost its presence in the south coast of the US.

The deal adds £62m to Skerritts’ assets under management (AUM).

This is the fifth acquisition made by Skerritts since it received an investment of £55m from British private equity firm Sovereign Capital Partners.

The investment, which was announced in March, 2021, was aimed at supporting Skerritts’ growth.

9 January | M&A

Nucleus Group to buy Curtis Banks Group for £242m

Nucleus Clyde Acquisition (Bidco), a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Nucleus Financial Platforms, has entered into a deal to purchase Curtis Banks Group for £242m on a fully diluted basis.

Headquartered in the UK, Curtis Banks currently provides self-invested personal pension (SIPP) as well as small, self-administered pension schemes (SSAS) solutions.

The new deal will see the creation of a retirement-driven adviser platform with around £80bn in assets under administration.

The planned platform will combine Curtis Banks’ SIPP and SSAS tools with Nucleus’ experience in the British platform market. It will cater to the financial advisers and their clients.

Curtis Banks’ existing network of advisers will also be able to avail new platform services offered by Nucleus Group, such as onshore and offshore bonds, among others.

6 January | M&A

Focus partner firm Kovitz to add real estate fund manager Origin

Focus Financial Partners has finalised an agreement to enable its partner firm Kovitz Investment Group Partners to include American private real estate fund manager Origin into its portfolio.

Origin, which was established in 2007 by David Scherer and Michael Episcope, primarily caters to the multifamily residential real estate segment.

The company handles several funds that purchase, develop and lend to properties owned by multifamily entities.

It helps its investors with tax-effective income as well as capital gains and diversified investment options.

Over 3,000 individual investors have invested in funds managed by Origin.

Once the latest deal is completed, Origin will continue to be managed by its existing leadership and investment team. The company will also retain its brand name.

6 January | Products

Digital Currency Group shutdowns wealth management business

Digital Currency Group (DCG),aUS-based cryptocurrency conglomerate, has closed down its wealth-management arm amid turmoil in the crypto market, reported The Information.

The wealth management unit, called HQ, reportedly had over $3.5bn in assets under management.

Late last year, DCG, which owns asset manager Grayscale Investments and cryptocurrency brokerage firm Genesis and others, reduced the size of its workforce by 10%.

Genesis has also announced a plan to layoff over 60 people, which represents 30% of its staff.

4 January | Distribution

PineBridge Investments reshuffles Asia Fixed Income team

American asset management firm PineBridge Investments has appointed Omar Slim and Andy Suen as new co-heads of Asia ex-Japan Fixed Income team.

The appointments come before the retirement of Arthur Lau, who has served as co-head of emerging markets and head of Asia ex-Japan Fixed Income. Lau will retire in June 2023.

New appointees Slim and Suen bring extensive industry experience of 20 years and 15 years respectively.

Both have been with PineBridge’s Asia ex-Japan fixed-income team for approximately a decade working alongside Lau as senior portfolio managers.

Slim and Suen work closely across all regional fixed-income capabilities and actively participate in the investment management and portfolio management decision-making processes.

In their new roles, they will report to the global head of credit and fixed income Steven Oh, who is based in Los Angeles

11 January | Distribution

RBC Wealth Management to retreat from Guernsey market

RBC Wealth Management has announced plan to close its operations in Guernsey after completing a review of the business.

The move is a part of the company’s plan to centralise its activities, primarily in Jersey and other locations.

It is expected to take two years of time to complete the closure.

The Guernsey office currently employs 89 people, whose fate will be decided by their positions, said RBC Wealth Management.

In a statement, RBC Wealth Management said it had been a “difficult decision”.

RBC Wealth Management added that the company “is committed to ensuring that employees are kept well-informed and treated fairly and respectfully as the firm closes its activity.”

The latest development comes after the £1.6bn takeover of Brewin Dolphin by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in September last year.

Guernsey Committee for Economic Development president Neil Inder was quoted by BBC as saying that it was “disappointing to lose such a well-established company.”

However, he was “assured this is very much a business decision to centralise its operations.”

9 January | Strategy

UBS expects growth in wealth business as China reopens border

UBS Group is expecting a surge in the size of its Asian wealth business this year as China decided to reopen its border after the breakout of Covid19, Bloomberg has reported citing the group’s Asia Pacific president Edmund Koh.

The Swiss wealth manager, which experienced a tough time last year, is also planning to increase its headcount in the region.

Reopening of the border has paved way for a positive outlook both for the region and other parts of the world, with actual growth picking up in China from the second quarter of this year, added Koh.

5 January | M&A

Twenty7tec snaps up Broker Sense to streamline mortgage affordability research

UK-based fintech firm Twenty7tec has acquired mortgage affordability platform Broker Sense for an undisclosed sum, reported FT Adviser.

The acquired firm, which was founded by Stuart Phillips and Mark Spilsbury, aids mortgage advisers by streamlining affordability research.

Through the platform, advisers can assess client affordability against lender rules, while ensuring that the correct lender is recommended as part of the research process.

The platform is said to provide affordability statistics from almost 100 mortgage lenders in both the residential and buy-to-let sectors once client data is entered.

5 January | Strategy

Kuwait’s Burgan Bank secures preliminary approval for wealth unit

Kuwait’s Burgan Bank has received a licence from Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to offer wealth management solutions to its clients.

The licence has been issued as a preliminary approval with validity for six renewable months, reported Trade Arabia.

The approval, granted under CMA resolution No. 200 of 2022, allows Burgan Bank to offer investment advisory, unregistered securities brokerage, investment portfolio management and other services to its clients.

The bank’s wealth management team, which includes a number of relationship managers, will offer the service that ranges from local to international investment opportunities.