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Finance Monthly. Ed i t or ’ s No t e Hello and welcome to the October 2022 issue of Finance Monthly Magazine! After a month marked by rising interest rates and tightened recession fears, we present you Finance Monthly’s October collection of articles and interviews covering some of the most talked-about topics in the world of finance. Here are some of our favourite stories from this month’s edition: All of this and so much more - I hope you enjoy the content in Finance Monthly’s October 2022 issue! For more financial news and commentary, please visit our website to stay upto-date on industry news as it happens, join the conversation on our Twitter (@Finance_Monthly), like our Facebook page and follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram (@FinanceMonthly). Best wishes, Katina Male Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2022 Published by Universal Media Ltd The views expressed in the articles within Finance Monthly are the contributors’ own, nothing within the announcements or articles should be construed as a profit forecast. All rights reserved. Material contained within this publication is not to be reproduced in whole or part without the prior permission of Finance Monthly. Circulation details can be found at www.finance-monthly.com Universal Media Ltd PO Box 17858, Tamworth, B77 9QG United Kingdom 0044 (0) 1543 255 537 10. Follow us on Instagram Financemonthly Find us on Facebook Finance Monthly Stay Connected www.linkedin.com/finance-monthly Tweet us @Finance_Monthly Monthly Finance 3 Interview with the UK Country Manager at American Express – Hannah Lewis 52. 34. Why FinTech is the Solution the Global Economy Needs to Thrive 44. What Bed Bath & Beyond Can Tell Us about Meme Stocks What You Need to Know about Binary Options Trading
Finance Monthly. Con t en t s 4 CONTENTS THE MONTHLY ROUND-UP News You Can’t Afford to Miss 8. 12. THE FEMALE LEADERS OF TOMORROW Hannah Lewis, UK Country Manager at American Express BUSINESS & ECONOMY What’s the Current State of M&A in Europe? Why System Integration is Key to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions Modern Slavery Reporting as an Issue for Quality Compliance 16. 20. FRONT COVER FEATURE 24.
Finance Monthly. 5 Con t en t s 48. 38. What Does it Take to Develop a Digial Bank? Thélios Acquisition of Metallart The Aerospace Project in the Azores Wefox’s $400 Million Series D Funding Round 58. TRANSACTION REPORTS 60. BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES What is Owners’ Representation? 28. Why FinTech is the Solution the Global Economy Needs to Thrive What Does it Take to Develop a Digital Bank? 34. FINANCIAL INNOVATION & FINTECH 38. INVESTMENT What Bed Bath & Beyond Can Tell Us about Meme Stocks How to Know the Right Time to Buy, Sell or Hold Stocks What You Need to Know about Binary Options Trading 44. 48. 52. 61. Why System Integration is Key to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions 20. How to Know the Right Time to Buy, Sell or Hold Stocks
Finance Monthly. Con t en t s
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Finance Monthly. 8 THE MONTHLY ROUND-UP News You Can’ t Af ford to Mi ss The Mon t h l y Round -Up Eurozone Interest Rates in Record Increase to Fight Inflation The European Central Bank has announced a record increase in Eurozone interest rates in an attempt to fight inflation. It’s lifted all of its main rates by ¾ of a percentage and said that a further rise could be expected later this year. The ECB has increased its key deposit rate – or how much interest it pays on deposits – to 0.75% from 0% and lifted its key refinancing rate – or how much banks have to pay when they borrow from the ECB – to 1.25% from 0.5%. “Price pressures have continued to strengthen and broaden across the economy,” said the ECB. “I cannot reduce the price of energy,” said the president of ECB Christine Lagarde. “I cannot convince the big players of this world to reduce gas prices. I cannot reform the electricity market. And I am very pleased to see that the European Commission is considering steps to that effect because monetary policy is not going to reduce the price of energy,” she continued. Lagarde added that if gas prices continue to “skyrocket”, a recession would be on the horizon. If Russia were to fully cut gas supplies to the European Union and it becomes impossible to secure alternative gas supplies from the US, Asia or Norway, the ECB expects gas rationing across the Euro area and a recession in 2023.
Finance Monthly. 9 The Mon t h l y Round -Up The World Bank has warned that the interest rate hikes by central banks across the world could trigger a global recession in 2023. It’s pointed out that the rise in rates has been done by central banks “with a degree of synchronicity not seen over the past five decades” to tackle soaring prices. The World Bank said the economy on a global level was in its steepest slowdown following a post-recession recovery since 1970. According to a study “the world’s three largest economies – the US, China and the euro area – have been slowing sharply,” it said. “Under the circumstances, even a moderate hit to the global economy over the next year could tip it into recession.” The World Bank also urged central banks to coordinate their actions and “communicate policy decisions clearly” to “reduce the degree of tightening needed”. World Bank Warns Global Rate Hikes Could Trigger Recession in 2023 Russia Blames European Sanctions for Pipeline Shutdown Russia has announced that it will not resume gas supplies along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe until sanctions are eased. The pipeline has been shut for three days for maintenance and will not reopen unless sanctions are lifted. “Pumping problems arose because of sanctions imposed against our country and against a number of companies by Western states, including Germany and the UK,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Gas prices surged over pressing concerns around energy supplies.
Hannah Lewis UK Country Manager at American Express At Finance Monthly, we love a female success story and this month, we introduce you to Hannah Lewis - UK Country Manager at American Express. In her role, Hannah leads all operations in the UK and a workforce of nearly 6,000 team members. She’s involved in everything from growing the company’s Cardmember base, to further expanding its network and the number of places Cardmembers can use their Amex card, to enhancing B2B payments proposition and strengthening local strategic partnerships. Hannah is also incredibly passionate about ensuring American Express remains one of the best places to work and has an inclusive and welcoming culture where all team members can thrive. Female Leaders The of Tomorrow 10 Finance Monthly. Fron t Cove r Fea t ur e
By hiring people from all backgrounds and perspectives, we can enrich our workplaces, our understanding and how we can best serve our customers. It makes our business stronger. Finance Monthly. Fron t Cove r Fea t ur e 11
Fron t Cove r Fea t ur e 12 Finance Monthly. Tell us about your career and the things that have led you to your recent appointment as UK Country Manager for American Express. I started out in my career in strategy consulting, and it was here where I was first introduced to the dynamic world of payments. I was attracted by the huge opportunity for transformation – everyone needs payments but at the time there was still a big offline volume. While there was potential for significant innovation it’s also a complex space and not something any consumer really wants to spend time on and that challenge really attracted me. That led me to American Express, with a brand and culture I admire and a customer centric approach that has consistently driven innovation. And I’m still here 14 years later! I think I joined with the expectation of being with the business for only a couple of years, not appreciating the depth and breadth of the organisation and the opportunities I would have to grow my experience and my career. In my time, I’ve worked in our consumer, merchant and commercial teams, among others and have really enjoyed that opportunity to move around the business. Not only has this meant there has never been a dull day, but it’s also helped me to broaden my skills and diversify my expertise. The holistic insight I have of the business is something that is really valuable for me in my current role. As a woman leader in the financial services sector, what do you think should be done to achieve better gender equality in financial services leadership? For me there are two key things. Firstly, I think as an industry we need to move beyond broad commitments to more tangibly measuring progress and setting ambitious targets which we are open about to meaningfully move the needle. Secondly, I think we need to really challenge ourselves to bring more women into the industry at all levels and to take a chance on people with slightly different skills sets or backgrounds. We will struggle to make progress particularly at senior levels, if we don’t do this and in the meantime businesses will miss out on a really valuable diversity of perspectives and ideas. I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made at American Express. If I think about things like the number of women working at a senior level, it’s consistently gone up. And from a recruitment perspective, we’ve made huge progress in working to attract individuals from all backgrounds. For now, and in planning for the future, it’s so important to think about how you are encouraging people from all backgrounds and groups to see the business as a place that they want to work. Photo: Jim Stephenson
Finance Monthly. Fron t Cove r Fea t ur e 13 How do you encourage younger women who aspire to pursue leadership roles in finance? I believe women role models are important and we should work to spotlight them and their experiences. It isn’t a naturally comfortable spot for me but I do feel the responsibility and recognise the role that I can play by talking openly about my own journey, my vulnerabilities, and experience to help other women in the industry. On an individual level mentoring can also be incredibly beneficial. I’m lucky that I’ve had some incredible colleagues and mentors from a range of backgrounds and experiences to learn from throughout my career, including some of my team. Their support has not only encouraged and helped me to navigate my career, but it’s also fuelled my own aspirations and ambitions. Finally, I believe we all have to get more confident in voicing our ambitions and asking for support. We launched the Ambition Project to inspire women to confidently pursue their ambitions, whether personal or professional, and pay it forward. Earlier this year we conducted a global study on women’s relationship with ambition and found that only 31% of professional women around the world said they are proud to call themselves ambitious whilst only 32% said they were confident they could actually achieve those ambitions in their careers. Given that, it’s imperative that we do all that we can to help normalise the conversation on women’s ambition. It can be exposing but you are much better off stating an ambition and hearing constructive and sometimes difficult feedback early that you can act on, than holding back and not hearing that until it’s too late. How can industry transparency help progress D&I? In my view it’s a no-brainer: transparency about progress being made and being prepared to be held to account is key to making demonstrable progress on diversity, equity and inclusion. At American Express, the number of women in senior management positions now stands at 47% and we are proud to disclose our workforce diversity data on median pay gap, hiring, promotion and retention by gender globally. But, in addition to the data, you need transparency and openness in your culture so that everyone feels they belong and can thrive. There’s no single answer on such an important topic but a willingness to talk openly about progress, and to acknowledge where and when you have more to do is a critical step. At Amex we have launched a voluntary Self-Identification programme, which gathers data on colleagues around how they identify, to help us to ensure we are meeting our commitments as well as help to inform our strategies. It’s not a solution in itself but as colleagues become more comfortable sharing their data it will be a critical enabler to drive change. What is American Express doing to encourage people from all backgrounds? By hiring people from all backgrounds and perspectives, we can enrich our workplaces, our understanding and how we can best serve our customers. It makes our business stronger. That’s why we have inclusive recruitment practices to ensure we are sourcing talent from all backgrounds. Retention of that talent is of course also key. Creating an inclusive work environment where all colleagues feel they belong, ensuring that their contributions are valued and their voices are heard, is a huge priority for us at American Express – we want a welcoming culture where everyone can thrive. Externally, we’re also really proud to have partnered with charity Blueprint for All to provide tools, support and encouragement for 18–30-year-olds in the UK from a diverse ethnic heritage to pursue a career in financial services. 31% of professional women around the world said they are proud to call themselves ambitious.” “
Business Economy. 16. What’s the Current State of M&A in Europe? Why System Integration is Key to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions Modern Slavery Reporting as an Issue for Quality Compliance 20. 24.
Although there have been some challenges to the Grand Duchy’s competitiveness in recent years, Luxembourg remains an attractive destination for the Alternative Investment Industry and is the 2nd largest investment fund centre in th world and the leading country in global fund distribution. Bus i ne s s & Economy Finance Monthly. 16
What’s the Current State of in Europe? Vincent Lebrun is a Tax Partner in the Alternatives Tax Structuring practice in Luxembourg with 24 years of experience in this area. He’s been leading the Alternatives Industry practice at PwC Luxembourg for three years after having led the Private Equity Industry practice since 2007. Vincent has also a very long and wide experience in tax structuring crossborder transactions, including acquisitions, refinancing and disposals, where Luxembourg is used as a fund and investment platform. Vincent has focused on structuring Luxembourg funds in a European Alternatives context for international and European investors through Luxembourg. He has specific experience with the choice of a suitable regulatory regime and investment platform structuring for Alternatives vehicles, tax issues arising in source European jurisdictions and in doing so has coordinated various projects for international fund clients with the PwC global network. Vincent Le Brun Tax Partner at PwC Luxembourg Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy 17
What’s the current state of M&A in Europe? To get a correct view of the current state of M&A in Europe, it needs to be placed in the context of 2020 and 2021, as these were record years in terms of transactions. 2021 in particular was a recordshattering year in many aspects (deal value, fundraising etc). In 2021 there was a special alignment of factors which favoured exits: • Massive amounts of dry powder under pressure to be deployed • Buoyant public market resulting in the resurgence of IPO as exit (and consequently the rise of SPACs) • Better than expected economic growth (fuelled by state aids) and stock prices that reassured strategic acquirers • Cost of debt practically at zero The recovery of the M&A market since the early days of the pandemic was impressive. A collateral aspect of this was that the high deal values and volumes resulted in heightened regulatory interest in deal-making, meaning new challenges for deal planning and execution. As the war in Ukraine continues, sanctions on Russia, and related geopolitical volatilities have the potential to impact the M&A outlook, but the extent is hard to predict. However, one trend likely to continue is increasing regulatory complexity. 2022 brings other types of challenges and therefore we are waiting to see the impact of market volatility, increase of interest rates as well as geopolitical crises on transactions. So far, M&A in Europe has demonstrated a strong resilience. In Q1 2022, 4,138 deals closed worth in aggregate EUR 433.5 billion—marking YoY increases of 2.6% and 10.7%, respectively. The closing in February of the EUR 39.2 billion merger between S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) and UK-based IHS Markit certainly impacted significantly overall deal value. Overall/globally, we are confident about 2022. However, given the tightening of economic conditions we expect that, contrary to 2021, 2022 will be more about medium and small size deals. We believe that in 2022, M&A players will be focused on deal value, portfolio optimisation, and looking for opportunities resulting from the cooling down of valuations. Looking forward, we expect that Tech and ESG will continue to attract valuation premiums especially when combined with attractive sectors such as health and infrastructure. What trends in fundraising are you seeing? While 2021 was a record year in terms of fundraising and there is plenty of ageing dry powder in the market, compared with Q2 2021, we see a decline in fundraising numbers by 50.5% by value and 57.8% by number of funds closed. Our analysis, and the figures, show that PE fundraising has taken a big hit this year due to the Fig 1.8: Private equity fundraising by fund manager location 250 200 150 100 50 0 200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 No. of funds Aggregate capital raised (€bn) 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 H1 2022 West Europe (Excl. UK) UK Nordic Central & East Europe Aggregate Source: Preqin Pro. Data as of July 2022 Bus i ne s s & Economy Finance Monthly. 18
market downturn and geopolitical uncertainty. As the graph below shows, PE Fundraising in Europe stands at around €60bn as of H1 2022 - thus it is highly unlikely that end-year figures will come close to last year’s (which were strongly bolstered by the post-COVID market upturn). Fundraising may come under further pressure as LPs digest market sell-off Private equity managers had $1.2tn of dry powder at their disposal at the end of 2021, which represented 26.3% of total private equity AUM (Fig. 15). Coming quarters may see additional pressure on fundraising, as LPs delay allocations due to the strong correction in risk assets, which has left private equity allocations higher as a percentage of their portfolios. Many of the clients that we have spoken with in recent months suggest that the fundraising environment is indeed becoming more challenging. The exit environment will remain so, especially in the IPO market. GPs will likely still be reluctant to accept exits at depressed valuations and we expect additional use of continuation vehicles in coming quarters. Similarly, we expect a bright outlook for the private equity secondaries market as some LPs also look to rebalance positions. In our opinion, private equity remains one of the asset classes most at risk from market turmoil. Why is Luxembourg an attractive destination for the Alternative Investment Industry? Although there have been some challenges to the Grand Duchy’s competitiveness in recent years, Luxembourg remains an attractive destination for the Alternative Investment Industry and is the 2nd largest investment fund centre in the world and the leading country in global fund distribution. In fact, an astonishing 98 out of the top 100 asset managers worldwide have funds domiciled in Luxembourg. AUM in Alternative Investments have grown by 39.5% on average per year between 2017 and 2020. Luxembourg’s international approach towards fund management Since the implementation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) in 2013, laws such as the Special Limited Partnership (SLP) have fuelled the rise of Luxembourg as the preeminent destination for the private equity and real estate industry, offering a gateway to Europe through utilising familiar features from established US and UK limited partnerships. Furthermore, when it comes to dealing with UCITS, the Grand Duchy boasts over 30 years of experience. Its AAA rating, emblematic of political and fiscal stability, allows for legal and regulatory certainty. Luxembourg’s regulated status offers investors stability in an otherwise uncertain world. Luxembourg is well known for the expertise of its service providers in back and middle office functions, and third-party AIFM services, with the ability to tailor solutions to the size and complexity of each asset manager. Fund Toolbox We attribute the exponential growth in recent years in no small part to the RAIF; a unique multipurpose alternative fund that can be marketed quickly as a diversification option. Coupled with regulatory supervision at fund manager level to ensure robust levels of investor protection, they form part of a grand arsenal of investment vehicles available in Luxembourg. But in order to remain competitive, what is clear is that an innovative legal and fiscal environment is critical to defend and improve Luxembourg’s competitive position as a centre for the domiciliation, administration and distribution of investment funds. “2022 brings other types of challenges and therefore we are waiting to see the impact of market volatility, increase of interest rates as well as geopolitical crises on transactions.” Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy 19
is Key to Successful Why System Integration Mergers and Acquisitions Nathan Shinn Founder and CSO BillingPlatform Bus i ne s s & Economy Finance Monthly. 20
Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. According to a survey from KPMG, global mergers and acquisition activity in 2021 surpassed pre-pandemic levels, nearly matching the peaks of 2007 and 2015. This upward trend looks set to continue, with the same report finding that business leaders expect this number to climb even higher over the course of 2022. While M&As can provide huge benefits to businesses, helping them expand into new markets, offer more products and services or gain a competitive edge in their industries, they also come with their own set of challenges. Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy 21
Finance Monthly. 22 Bus i ne s s & Economy The devil’s in the data One of the biggest challenges is the integration of organisations’ systems and processes after a merger or acquisition is completed. Bringing two businesses together and combining or replacing methods of working, information and technologies is a timeconsuming and difficult process which can take months or even years of hard work before the benefits are realised. This is especially true when it comes to integrating data. Businesses hold important information, such as customer account history, prior billing and invoicing information, which has to be integrated if the acquiring or newly formed firm wants to continue to offer these clients the service they expect. Yet getting access to this information, ensuring its integrity, andmapping it into a new data structure can be a monumental task, particularly if the two companies have different data and/or business models. If the integration of this customer data is not approached properly, the new or acquiring business risks harming the quality of service that their newly gained customers usually expect, which could lead to them leaving for another provider. At the same time, if an ineffective cost structure is put in place post-merger or acquisition, this will make it harder to achieve the synergies anticipated from the initial deal, costing revenue and not producing the returns for the board and shareholders that were originally promised or forecasted. If businesses want to merge data such as customer billing and invoicing information from two separate companies effectively and quickly, they need to harness tools which can manage the extraction and loading of data into the solution of choice. At the same time, they require solutions that have the ability to collect, deduplicate, consolidate, convert and route the information, matching records where possible and creating new accounts where necessary. However, bringing in a range of new platforms and technologies, or relying on legacy solutions already in place, to merge and manage customer data risks complicating the matter further and, as such, firms should be looking for a single solution they can implement which can easily integrate and run these processes, from data extraction through to creating new accounts.
Finance Monthly. 23 Bus i ne s s & Economy Get your head IN the cloud(s) Some more proactive organisations are solving this issue by prioritising cloud-native solutions, as they offer a scalable solution capable of consolidating disparate and legacy systems into a single, automated platform to store all customerrelated activities, support any business model and minimise the solutions needed. Identifying solutions that can support this process will mean that the acquiring or newly formed business will be able to effectively bring together data from across the different organisations without having to bring in a plethora of new technologies or relying on outdated, in-house platforms. This will speed up the integration process, helping ensure that customers’ experience isn’t negatively affected and the benefits of the merger or acquisition are seen at the earliest point possible. M&As are becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses as they look to consolidate and grow their positions in current and new markets. While there are clear benefits to M&As, decisionmakers mustn’t ignore the potential challenges, especially when it comes to integrating data such as customer billing information. If they do, they risk limiting the benefits before they’ve had a chance to be fully realised. Through implementing cloud-based solutions which can effectively collate, consolidate and manage this data in one place, rather than relying on a suite of new or legacy solutions, businesses can ensure that their merger or acquisition hits the ground running, maintaining customer satisfaction and helping guarantee that the benefits are seen at the earliest point possible. “While there are clear benefits to M&As, decisionmakers mustn’t ignore the potential challenges, especially when it comes to integrating data such as customer billing information.”
Bus i ne s s & Economy Finance Monthly. 24 Dr Felicity Gerry KC is an international counsel and expert in Modern Slavery law. Her current research project with experts in the US and China is on database analysis to monitor suspicious employment records. MODERN SLAVERY Reporting as an Issue for Quality Compliance Dr Felicity Gerry KC
Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy 25 usinesses may be failing in their due diligence when it comes to compliance if Modern Slavery Reporting is solely under the banner of ‘procurement’. Multinational companies that fall within the threshold for reporting modern slavery in supply chains also fall within a much broader mesh of regulatory compliance requirements with standards in a range of areas, including Safety and Environment – which make headlines when there are failures. There are risks for officer liability including Board and Director duties and reputational harm for non-compliance. Implementing quality guidance at every stage of a corporate project lifecycle, with feedback, is essential, not simply to complete a project, but to do so without human exploitation. If human rights abuses are to be tackled in a globalised market through corporate responsibility, quality across all systems becomes a cultural issue for companies and less of a legal issue for their counsel. Quality in supply chains is valued in design, operation and production which cannot be truly achieved if there are poor employment practices. Even where the quality of the product is high, if there is exploitation in the workforce, there are risks of safety and environmental breaches. Under the auspices of quality compliance, corporate areas can be linked throughengagementwithdifferent stakeholders across jurisdictions. Understanding the culture of the organisations as well as the operations can aid investigations including the treatment of people in supply chains. The trick is to improve transparency, to identify non-conformities and rectify and for that to reflect positively on the business – hence a quality approach is more likely to be reputationally effective and legally compliant. Regulatory compliance often comes alongside accreditation, especially for those corporates that operate in a competitive and global market. In several jurisdictions, it is a pre-requisite for companies wishing to tender for work to hold current accreditation across all functions. Accreditation and procurement practices provide assurance on competence in specific functions and reduce the potential of exposure to risk but are not necessarily an overarching demonstration of the quality of the supply chain. Reputation will be fundamentally undermined if exploitation of the workforce within supply chains is not monitored with the same level of diligence as the products being produced. The critical element for business is usually that the development of a superior product and value for money to the end user is likely to increase revenue but Modern slavery compliance is more than an added ‘carrot’ to achieve customer satisfaction and enhance reputation. Ignoring the quality of the supply chain workforce by focussing on procuring quality supplies risks producing a modern slavery report on paper but raising public concern about ethical standards. Combining the reduction in rectification costs and reducing the risks of human exploitation by proactive knowledge and remediation processes, including where suspicious employment practices are identified, becomes an up-front preventative mechanism when it is approached as the overarching monitor of industry standards. If grasped properly proactive quality project delivery driven by a human rights ethos allows for rectification of both product and supply chain defects such that remediation can also be seen positively. Not only can operations be positively influenced through effective systems being in place but when it includes modern slavery reporting, quality provides the respect that a compliant business deserves. “Even where the quality of the product is high, if there is exploitation in the workforce, there are risks of safety and environmental breaches.”
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Banking Financial Services 28. What is Owners’ Representation?
We speak with Leith ter Meulen, the Principal of Landair, Inc. about what owners’ representation is and who needs it. What is Leith ter Meulen Principal of Landair Inc. www.landair.us OWNERS’ REPRESENTATION? Tell us about what you do. I have primary responsibility for setting strategic business direction for the firm, organising and managing project teams, and allocating financial and human resources. I am a native New Yorker and have spent my entire career in capital development, with a passion for projects that enhance the quality of life for diverse communities and residents. My bio describes me as “a highly regarded real estate and project management consultant to not-forprofit institutional, governmental and community development clients.” With 40 years’ experience, I bring significant expertise working at the intersection of public/private initiatives that lead to economic enhancement, and return on public investment, including re-positioning and adaptive reuse of underutilised non-profit, institutional, and government properties. Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s 28 Finance Monthly.
I lead clients through all aspects of the real property development process, providing community development consulting, project management, and owners’ representation. Working within strict regulatory guidelines I advise municipal owners and their project teams on strategic capital plans that align real estate assets with financial objectives. Prior to founding Landair in 1992, I worked in private sector development and served as assistant commissioner in charge of facilities development and capital planning for major New York City mayoral agencies. What is an owners’ rep and who needs one? In its strictest definition, anOwners’ Representative (OR) helps clients organise and manage their capital projects. We serve as the client’s primary point of communication and control, support their efforts to secure financing, gain approvals, prepare and monitor Finance Monthly. Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s 29
30 Finance Monthly. Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s budgets and schedules, select and manage the right team of experts. Our professionals have worked in both the private and public sectors - in design, construction, production, and operations - and have managed, run and chaired nonprofit organisations. We tell clients that having “walked a mile in your shoes”, we understand how impactful a project will be on an organisation’s future operations and mission. Landair’s professionalsalsobringexperience as owners and developers and thoroughly appreciate that risk is ever present. We believe the OR is especially critical to highlight ‘risk alerts’ to the owner and to work with the owner’s design and construction team to minimise and mitigate risk to the project and the client. An owner’s rep is especially valuable to any client who lacks the experience and/or the human resources to effectively manage a capital project, without jeopardizing day-to-day operations. An OR’s responsibility as a facilitator is as important as their role as a project leader and serves as “command central” for all aspects of theplanning, design, and construction process. Ultimately, though the responsibility for timely and rational decision-making rests with the property owner, the OR’s expertise and professional advice assures trustworthy guidance throughout the entire real estate process to enable them to make decisions with confidence. The OR is often the arbiter between the architect and the construction manager. And while everyone from the architect to the construction manager should protect the client, the OR is the sole consultant whose only agenda is to protect the client’s interests at all times. In recent years, Landair has expanded the definition of owners’ representation to include a much wider spectrum of services. Compliance is particularly warranted at the confluence of public-private partnerships (P3). At the root of P3 projects rests an agreement that is sealed by the shared goals and mutual obligations of both sectors. Frequently these opportunities involve public investment, and always public trust. We provide our government owners with an extra layer of ‘eyes and ears’ to ensure their statutory and contractual rights are being properly delivered. What are your vision and mission? As an entrepreneur, I firmly believed in starting with a bold vision and providing a high level of integrity in our work. Today, 30 years after founding Landair, I still embrace our bold vision and trust in the power of seeing each project and client challenge as a unique service opportunity. Landair routinely assembles a panoply of consultants, designers, architects, and contractors to adapt, renovate, construct, preserve and modernise. We thrive on complexity. We are not building out simple office space (though we can!). Rather we seek opportunities that are challenging and complicated and that involve a lot of uncertainties. We are completely comfortable with
31 Finance Monthly. Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s fixed budgets and unforgiving deadlines. Our mission is to participate in public/private Initiatives with a social impact. We are naturally drawn to transformative projects that enhance the economic quality of life in our communities through resourceful re-invention, preservation of history and culture and imaginative investment. Projects like the re-development of Times Square in NYC, Tampa’s Channel District Arts Plan, disaster recovery for Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and most meaningfully, the reconstruction of Post 9/11 Lower Manhattan. We also take pride in serving non-profits that bring significant benefits to their communities such as the Center for the Women of New York, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Weeksville Heritage Center, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, The Africa Center to name just a few. What’s the most rewarding part about your job? As the founder, I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead talented, capable teams of professionals serving many extraordinary clients. Clients who themselves are leaders in the delivery of public services – in the performing and visual arts, entertainment, education, community recognition and historic preservation. Our team members are as diverse as the communities we serve. We collaborate, we communicate, and we are genuine. By far the most gratifying aspect of this business has always been serving public and institutional clients who themselves are serving the public to enhance their communities. What could be better? We focus on the gritty details of building a project so they can stay focused on delivering services to the public. And we get to participate in that and feel so gratified at the end of the day to say, yes, we helped to make this happen. What are your aspirations for the future? In 30 years in business, we have evolved Owners’ Representation to include every aspect of the real estate development process from “Concept to Compliance”. Our portfolio spans conceptual planning to the realisation of urban projects involving redevelopment, revitalisation and recovery including the application of critical path scheduling, conflict avoidance and risk mitigation. These assignments are typically high profile and of interest to the public and the press. I want to continue our practice of working in collaborative partnership with other small, women, minority, LGBTQ and Veteran owned businesses, and mentoring entrepreneurs entering the field to encourage their productive pursuit of projects that preserve the public good. I see the future as bright for the work we do with clients. The need today for an experienced, highly trusted and valuable partner in privateandpublic sector programs, projects and processes is even more critical in an interconnected world. Landair has grown from its strong project management core into the multi-faceted program management company it is today by turning our clients’ challenging projects and complex compliance issues into custom-built solutions. Our vision remains a part of every project we undertake. “I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead talented, capable teams of professionals serving many extraordinary clients. Clients who themselves are leaders in the delivery of public services.”
Innovation 34. 38. Financial FinTech Why FinTech is the Solution the Global Economy Needs to Thrive What Does it Take to Develop a Digital Bank?
After 2020 and COVID-19, our world entered a new era. An era that brought forward a number of urgent global challenges that might have been present beforehand, but were especially enforced by the pandemic. I want to specifically cast a spotlight on three of these: Rising inequality, demographic shifts, and climate change. Irene Skrynova Chief Customer Officer at Unlimint FINTECH Why is the Solution the GLOBAL ECONOMY Needs to Thrive F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 34 Finance Monthly.
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countries, 40% of people who made a digital payment from their account (to a merchant or for a utility service) did so for the very first time since the start of the pandemic. The gender gap in account ownership has also shrunk for the first time, narrowing from 9 to 6 percent in developing countries. Yet, there is still a lot of work to do with roughly 1.7 billion people worldwide who remain unbanked. The demographic shift is another big challenge shaking up our world that FinTechs can help with. With more developed economies’ societies rapidly aging and developing countries facing significant changes in their populations’ age structures, there isn’t a more urgent time than now for governments worldwide to join forces with financial technology companies to bridge the gaps in the provision of financial services and to stabilise economies. While in emerging countries a younger, tech-savvy population rises - one that’s ready to embrace existing challenges by easily adapting to new technological trends and developments, FinTechs are mostly needed to support their hunger for freedom and new discoveries. Upper- middle-income and high-income countries, where effective labor is growing much more slowly, aging is leading to a declining support ratio and the GDP is likely espite the fact that some experts still believe that worldwide digitalisation might carry new risks for the economy and fear the unknown future, I believe that we would be blind not to acknowledge the value of modern financial technological solutions on our journey to tackle these three challenges. Inclusivity and equality are fundamental cornerstones for a thriving economy and FinTech companies have designed a bridge so that we can reach them sooner. Thanks to new innovative financial solutions emerging, developing markets can overcome existing financial inclusion obstacles like distance, documentation, and lack of funds, and create a world of equal opportunities for their populations. By working together with FinTech companies, governments can influence and significantly diminish the percentage of unbanked people, essentially making the first but very important step towards solving existential issues such as economic growth, employment, poverty, and income equality in both developed and developing countries. We can already see signs of these changes. According to the Global Findex Survey in 2021 after the massive digitalisation caused by the pandemic, two-thirds of adults worldwide now make or receive a digital payment. In developing 2/3 of adults worldwide now make or receive a digital payment 40% of people who made a digital payment from their account (to a merchant or for a utility service) did so for the very first time since the start of the pandemic 9-6% The gender gap in account ownership has also shrunk for the first time, narrowing from in developing countries 1.7 b people worldwide who remain unbanked Roughly there are F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 36 Finance Monthly.
to grow more slowly as a result of demographic change. They will require the support of new financial solutions to maintain stability and equal financial opportunities for their nations. Finally, there’s climate change – not just a challenge but a horrifying threat to the world as we know it. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report has continued to shed light on the fact that the changes in the physical climate system have adversely affected natural and human systems around the world, contributing to a loss and degradation of ecosystems, reduced water and food security, additional mortality, human migration, and increased inequality. Today, almost twothirds of people across 50 countries view climate change as an emergency compared to just over half across 23 countries in 2013. In late 2019, protests calling for strengthened climate action reached an unprecedented level of over 6,000 events in 185 countries, with a reported estimate of 7.6 million participants. And yet again, financial technology companies have risen to the challenge. A new industry division called “climate FinTech” was born, focused on leveraging Big Data, AI, and blockchain technology to help speed up the “greening” of capital flows and help people globally become more climateconscious asset owners. FinTech companies worldwide are trying to make a difference by either enabling customers to invest savings into causes that are revolutionising access to clean energy, water, sustainable food, etc. or offering to plant trees for every transaction, instead of more traditional rewards such as cash back, discounts or travel perks. Even blockchain, which is still quite a controversial technology climate-wise, is today considered a vital enabler in tracking carbon emissions and consumption and is even used to track responsible tuna sourcing. To summarise, I believe that FinTech should be viewed as a force of reformation, which stimulates growth, development, inclusivity, and economic stability. We must not fear the innovative progress, but rather embrace it and leverage it to fill the existing gaps that threaten our physical and financial environments. By forming a partnership between nations and financial technology companies and working together, we can bring significant change to the world and truly prepare ourselves and the new generations for tomorrow. About Irene Skrynova Irene Skrynova is Chief Customer Officer at Unlimint. She started her career in finance by working with projects developing white label trading platforms and cryptocurrencies. Her current role is to overlook all client interactions from leads to portfolio, as Unlimint offers a range of payment solutions for customers to be able to accept payment from anywhere in the world as needed. She boasts diverse international experience from PR and marketing roles to crypto and business development in recent years, which enables her to understand platforms as well as the startup landscape which allows her to offer a fresh perspective and professional wisdom. About Unlimint Unlimint is an all-in-one futurefocused FinTech solution that provides fast-growing, innovative businesses with advanced payment capabilities through an evolving financial interface. The company embraces a wide range of financial platforms to allow start-ups and entrepreneurs to expand globally and provide them with a seamless digital finance management experience. Headquartered in London, Unlimint has over 400 employees across 16 offices and five continents, including Frankfurt, Singapore, São Paulo, Hong Kong, and Mexico. For further information, please visit: www.unlimint.com Finance Monthly. F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 37
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Accelerated by the pandemic and empowered by the latest technological advancements, it has quickly entered people’s lives and aligned with the demands of businesses. Statista predicts that the number of US citizens using digital banks will hit 216.8 million. Among the reasons why consumers turn to online banking are the ease of use, security, and extensive banking capabilities available within their favourite solutions. The concept of digital banking admits easy and swift money management, performing fund transfers and online transactions, payments automation, and more. Modern banking solutions provide the ability to operate with digital currencies, introduce asset management, and provide comprehensive lending options. The reasons for developing digital banking platforms are many. Let’s figure out what the process of financial mobile app development is like and how to start an online bank. What Does it Take to Develop a DIGITAL BANK? Finance Monthly. F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 39
branches behind. The latter is often called neobanks or digitalonly banks. To operate legally, they partner with bank license issuers and distribute virtual and physical cards just like traditional banks do. Among the most popular banking solutions that provide digital services are: • Chime is the US most popular neobank that allows its customers to open deposit and debit cards, view their credit history, easily withdraw cash, automate savings, and more. • Wise is not purely a mobile bank, but a system offering electronic money accounts. It offers international and domestic money transfers, provides debit cards, and provides options to operate with different types of currencies. • N26 is a German digital bank that evolved from a startup and is now functioning in more than 50 countries. For users, its capabilities include direct deposits, international fund transfers, and personal finance management. • Monzo is a popular neobank from the UK. Their services include p2p transfers, splitting the bills, easy budget tracking, digital loans, and many more. Each success story has a tedious formation process and hours of work behind it. Now, let’s figure out how to develop a digital bank. How can you develop a digital bank? Banking software development requires a deep knowledge of the market. This includes understanding the legal part, complying with the industry requirements, and bringing to the table hands-on technical knowledge. Getting started with digital banking, make sure you’ve figured out the things to do first and have in place all the assets to get you covered. Among the challenges you may face on this way are: • Building product architecture requires involving a Business Analyst and a Solution Architect. Together with the stakeholders, they are to decide which of the architecture types (monolith, microservices, or layered) better aligns with the technical requirements and business goals. • Choosing the right technology stack you need to mind the time to market, a long-term development strategy, and the risks to mitigate. A quick overview of the digital banking market The market for FinTech services is growing exponentially, and it’s projected that by the end of 2022, more than 65% of the US population will be banking online. The target audience for digital banks. Taking into account their lifestyles and aspirations, Millenials and Gen Z representatives are considered to be the most active mobile banking users. At the same time, the share of online banking users aged 50+ has also grown in recent years. While Millennials turn to online banking to make the most of online transactions, peer-topeer transfers, and cashback, the representatives of older generations may benefit from obtaining information about bank products, receiving mobile payments, and tracking their balances online. So, deciding on the audience to target with your banking product, you better take into account the needs of different age groups. Popular online banking solutions Some banks make digitalisation a part of their transformation strategy and FinTech businesses provide digital banking without having any brick-and-mortar F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 40 Finance Monthly.