The finance industry briefing
The latest news, views and numbers you need to know this month
News in Numbers
AI-powered investment management platform Vise has raised $65m in a Series C funding round led by Ribbit Capital.
The round, which was joined by existing investors including Sequoia Capital, brings the total capital raised till date to over $125m.
The company said its assets have more than quadrupled to over $250m since its Series B funding round in December 2020.
During the period, it also completed the integration with major custodians and rolled out several new product features for customers.
The new financing round will accelerate Vise’s investments in its platform. The company plans to use the proceeds from the round to hire talent and support the rollout of new product features.
A key focus area will be continuing to scale the engineering function led by CTO Fong, said Vise.
Credit Suisse has revealed plans to hire more than 1,000 IT employees in India this year to establish the country as a centre for technology innovation across the bank globally.
The Swiss wealth manager said that the new hires will comprise developers and engineers with expertise in emerging technologies to support its digital aspirations.
This includes capabilities in fields such as cloud, cybersecurity, data analytics, API development, machine learning and artificial intelligence that are anchored in Agile and DevOps delivery methods.
The bank noted that it has hired 2,000 IT employees in the last three years.
India is said to be the largest footprint of any Credit Suisse location globally, with the country accounting for around 25% of the bank’s global IT staff.
Credit Suisse head of India IT and senior franchise officer John Burns said the latest hiring plan highlights the bank’s continued commitment to India.
The hiring ambitions for 2021 will play a critical role in ensuring the bank’s digitisation-ready architecture, robust platform, adoption of IT best practices and technologies.
Swiss financial service company VZ Group has acquired a stake in London-based advisory firm Lumin Wealth, making its entry into the UK market.
VZ said it is taking a 50.1% stake in Lumin with the aim of acquiring the remaining shares in five years. Financial terms of the deal have not been shared by the company.
Founded in 2010, Lumin Wealth offers fee-based independent advice and asset management services. The firm primarily operates in the North London area and has a team of around 40 experts.
Lumin Wealth’s first acquisition was Bedfordshire-based Hyperion Financial Planners. The deal, announced last April, added £85m in assets to Lumin Wealth.
Brazilian crypto asset manager raises Hashdex has reportedly secured around $26m in a new funding round from investors including SoftBank and Coinbase.
The Rio de Janeiro-based firm raked in a majority of the new capital from Valor Capital Group, Bloomberg reported.
In addition to SoftBank and Coinbase, the round saw participation from Brazil’s Igah Ventures, Globo Ventures and Canary.
Founded in 2018 by former Microsoft executive Marcelo Sampaio and Bruno Caratori, Hashdex manages over $765m (BRL 4 bn) in assets.
Earlier this year, the firm’s first crypto exchange-traded fund, Hashdex Nasdaq Crypto Index Fundo de Indice, was listed in Brazil’s local exchange.
The company is planning to use the new capital to propel its expansion outside of Brazil.
Hashdex CEO Sampaio said the capital injection will enable the firm to open new offices internationally. The company also has plans to raise its headcount from 25 to 100 by the end of the year.
Malaysia’s 1MDB, which recovered more than $3bn from firms including Goldman Sachs, has reportedly pressed charges against firms including JPMorgan and Deutsche over $23bn loss.
The defunct state investment fund is claiming $1.11 bn from Deutsche Bank Malaysia, $800m from JP Morgan Switzerland and $1.03bn from a Swiss-based Coutts unit, and interest payments from all of them, according to a lawsuit seen by Reuters.
The claims are based on ‘negligence, breach of contract, conspiracy to defraud, injure, and/or dishonest assistance’, 1MDB said in the lawsuit.
JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Coutts did not comment on the claims in the lawsuit, which did not mention their roles in the scandal.
A Deutsche Bank spokesperson told Reuters: “We have not been served any papers, and we are not aware of any basis for a legitimate claim against Deutsche Bank.”
According to Malaysia’s finance ministry, 1MDB and a former unit filed 22 civil suits to recover over $23bn in assets from companies and individuals allegedly associated with defrauding the fund and its ex-subsidiary.
Malaysian and US investigators said that at least $4.5bn was stolen from 1MDB in a scandal during 2009 and 2014.
In 2019, the US Department of Justice reportedly launched a probe against Deutsche Bank to examine the latter’s role in the 1MDB Malaysian state fund scandal.
Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment last year in relation to the scandal.
Northern Trust names new global product management head for asset servicing
Northern Trust has appointed Arthur Hill as senior vice president and head of product management for asset servicing.
Hill will oversee product strategy and development, managing a global team of asset servicing product leads.
He replaces Hollis Otero, who has been appointed as the company’s chief risk officer of EMEA.
Hill has over 25 years of experience in the financial services and insurance industry. Most recently, he served as a senior director at Capgemini’s global insurance and financial services group.
During his career, Hill spearheaded major initiatives for financial services clients in the US and UK among other countries, delivering strategy, process improvement and digital enablement programmes.
Earlier in his career, he served as an executive relationship manager for top-tier insurance clients in the US.
He also served key positions in the development and delivery of insurance accounting solutions.
JP Morgan Private Bank names new China market leader for Singapore
JP Morgan Private Bank has named Elaine Zhang as its new China market leader for Singapore.
Zhang, who will join the company as a managing director, is expected to assume the new role in this August, Business Times reported.
She will report to JPMorgan Private Bank Singapore and South-east Asia head James Wey.
Zhang has over 20 years of experience in the private banking space. This includes servicing UHNW Chinese clients and leading teams of China market relationship managers.
She joins JP Morgan from Credit Suisse, where she served as a market leader for Greater China in Singapore.
Prior to that, she worked at American Express Private Banking, DBS, and Bank of China.
Stonehage Fleming hires head of estate planning
Stonehage Fleming has appointed Hélie de Cornois as director and head of estate planning.
He will be based in the Luxembourg office and will report to Jacqui Cheshire, partner and head of family office in Switzerland.
As a result, de Cornois will advise ultra-high net worth private clients and investors on a range of domestic and international tax and estate planning matters.
Prior to taking the role at Stonehage Fleming, de Cornois was head of estate planning and international patrimonial services at Banque Degroof Petercam in Luxembourg. He is also a Member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and the Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LPEA).
Standard Life Aberdeen names new head of personal wealth division
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) has hired Brooks Macdonald CEO Caroline Connellan as the new head of its personal wealth unit.
As a member of the executive leadership team, Connellan will report directly to Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Stephen Bird. She will be based in London.
Commenting on her appointment, Connellan added: “It’s an exciting time to be joining SLA given its ambitions and commitment to the growing wealth market. Stephen’s vision for the business is dynamic and bold, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead and shape the Personal Wealth business, building on its current quality offering.”
Connellan has been CEO of wealth manager Brooks Macdonald since early 2017.
Prior to this, she worked at HSBC and handled held key positions at the firm including the head of UK Premier and Wealth.
Mirabaud appoints new UK wealth management chief
Mirabaud has hired Stuart Bates as the new CEO of its UK wealth management branch to bolster its wealth proposition in the country.
Bates will head a team focused on raising Mirabaud’s global, independent and customised approach to wealth management in the UK market.
He will focus on strengthening Mirabaud’s UK platform and expanding its presence in the UK through the selective hiring of relationship managers.
Mogo brokers deal to buy Canadian broker-dealer Fortification Capital
Canada-based fintech firm Mogo has brokered a deal to buy Canadian broker Fortification Capital to accelerate the development of its planned commission-free stock trading platform.
The deal consideration consists of a cash payment of C$500,000 and 75,000 Mogo shares.
Mogo is looking to build a digital wealth platform in Canada as the demand for digital wealth services rises.
The firm recently acquired local saving and investing app Moka Financial Technologies, expanding its offerings to include saving and investing offerings.
Mogo said the latest deal would provide it with order execution only (OEO) registration capabilities. OEO is a necessary regulatory requirement for the firm to provide stock trading to its members.
The addition of Fortification will also bring in necessary licenses, registration, and technology needed for the firm to speed up the development of its stock trading solution.
These include an order management system and market data processing capability, among other things.
British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne, following UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the Freeports selection process will see the first sites in England set up by the end of 2021:
“This is a welcome development and by being more inclusive in terms of the number of freeports there might be, the government can now explore how to better deliver on its levelling up agenda without picking regions over each other. Coastal communities are often in areas of high deprivation and have also experienced challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown so this potentially transformative policy will be welcomed across a range of suitable locations.”
AssetCo brokers deal to buy Saracen Fund Managers
AssetCo has reached agreement to buy Edinburgh-based Saracen Fund Managers for an effective total consideration of $3.9m (£2.75m).
The deal consideration includes a combination of 166,904 new ordinary shares of £10 each and 664,774 in cash.
The acquisition is subject to FCA approvals, which are expected by the end of September this year.
Founded in the late 1990s, Saracen manages three funds on the T Bailey Fund Services platform: Global Income and Growth Fund, UK Alpha Fund, and UK Income Fund.
The company, which currently oversees £120m in assets, has net assets of £400,661 as of 31 March 2020.
Following the transaction, Saracen will retain its current brand and continue to operate from Edinburgh, while Saracen employees will enter new employment contracts.
As part of the agreement, AssetCo directors Martin Gilbert and Peter McKellar will join the board of Saracen on completion of the deal.
Advent mulls stake sale in Indian wealth manager ASK Group
Advent International is reportedly weighing options to divest its stake sale in Indian investment and wealth management firm ASK Group.
The company is in talks with Japanese broker Nomura for a potential sale, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
Advent is looking for a valuation of over $1bn for ASK Group in a deal, which may take longer owing to the raging Covid-19 outbreak in India, the report says.
Founded in 1983, ASK Group primarily caters to HNW and UHNW individuals, institutional clients, family offices, pension funds, funds of funds, and sovereign wealth funds across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
The company has four key businesses, namely, ASK Wealth Advisors, ASK Property Investment Advisors, ASK Pravi Capital Advisors, and 20 offices and branches across India, Dubai, and Singapore.
As of 31 March 2021, ASK Group managed more than $9bn (INR660bn) in assets.
Advent purchased a significant holding in the firm in 2016 for an undisclosed amount.
InvestCloud inks wealth management deal with Japan’s MUFG
Fintech firm InvestCloud has partnered with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) to help the bank cater to the wealth management needs of Japanese investors.
The Japanese bank will leverage InvestCloud’s Wealth Adviser Platform to support end-to-end wealth management and financial planning.
InvestCloud said that the MUFG partnership reflects the multi-jurisdictional reach of its platform as well as its pioneering status in Japan.
InvestCloud, which made its entry to Japan in 2019, has expanded its local team of IT and wealth management professionals with an office in Tokyo.