Tag Archives: US

LFP076 – Convergence: Insuretech/MGAs as an Example of Straddling Old & New FS with Charlie Blackburn CTO Azur

Do you have to be either “a Fintech” or “an incumbent”? Increasingly as #newFS and #oldFS converge this duality becomes less meaningful and its more about how well FS players young and old are embracing both “digital” per se as well as the business model changes it both implies and enables.

Azur is a great example of this trend. As an “MGA” (more on that anon) they fit into a well-established “old” category of the insurance industry. They are a comparatively new company whilst part-owned by a global giant. And they certainly “get” the digital thing in terms of both “tech” and also “business model changes”.

In LFP074 Andy Rear of the reinsurer MunichRe discussed with us their concept of reinsurance as a service. Put simply the ability to, as it were, just plug into the wall for your electricity/reinsurance – which then leaves InsureTechs able to do everything they might want and avoid falling into a regulatory net and needing a gazillion dollars of capital. Andy said that the key to the future were MGAs – Managing General Agents – but we barely skinned the surface on them

So here we are diving into MGAs and in the interests of brevity lets jump into the topics we discuss:  Continue reading

LFP074 – Will Reinsurance as a Service Change InsureTech? Andy Rear, CEO Munich Re:Digital Partners

Can InsureTech change the landscape of insurance as a whole or will it just enhance parts of the value chain? Conventional wisdom says the latter but the appearance of a model called “Reinsurance as a Service” [HT to Daily Fintech] could have far wider repercussions.

Traditionally insurance (in all its very diverse/speciated forms) is in three layers. Brokers. Insurers and Reinsurers. Traditionally you would deal with a broker. They would get the policy from a an insurer (eg Aviva who we had on the show in LFP048). Insurers in turn would re-insure themselves with aptly named – er – Reinsurers.

We’ll talk about how Reinsurance as a Service might change that “stack”.

Andy is the CEO of Digital Partners, Munich Re’s entity for interfacing between it and the Insuretech world. MunichRe is one of the worlds largest reinsurers. To give you an idea of what that means it has around 43k employees, €50bn of revenues and €276bn of assets.

Incumbents across FS are trying all sorts of approaches to the Fintech phenomenon. Judging by results to date Munich Re have found one of the best avenues. In a relatively short time they have established partnerships with a number of InsureTechs, none of them “tangential”, including Bought by Many (stars of LFP027), Blink Innovation, Next Insurance, Simplesurance, Slice, So-sure, Trov, Wrisk.

Topics discussed on the show include:  Continue reading

LFP065 – Special Episode! Creating Society – Policy, Regulation & FS with Lord Turner former Chairman of the FSA

"Inspiring the economics profession to engage the vital social and economic challenges of the 21st century"

“Inspiring the economics profession to engage the vital social and economic challenges of the 21st century”

Everything exists in a context. FS is a social construct that has differed massively over time and space, always existing in a context of Policy and Regulation.  Over my 30 years in FS I have seen deregulation time turn into hyper-regulation. Talk about pendulums (pendula?). Where do these changes in Policy and Regulation come from? How does the “game” of setting the rules for the “games” work?

Adair_TurnerIn LFP065 I am delighted to be joined by Lord Turner who headed the FSA from a few days post Lehman’s crash (“welcome to your new role…”) and was intimately involved in the years-long process of the creation of the Basel 3 global regulations for banking.

Apart from wearing these FS hats (with more background in FS per se) he has worn the BigBiz hat when he headed the CBI and the state/social-good angles when he chaired the Pensions Committee, the Low Pay Commission and the Committee on Climate Change in the UK.

He is also an academic and an author and his latest book “Between Debt and the Devil: money, credit and fixing global finance” dives deep into the nature of money and banking. As a taster I recommend his YouTube talk at the LSE. He is currently Chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

So there is literally no-one better to guide us through the whole set of processes whereby policy “emerges”. How does the world change? Where does policy come from? What are the roles of academics, bankers, lobbying groups, politics, government, regulators? Do the people ever get a look in?

We start by examining the backdrop to the past 30yrs in FS and in understanding that give an understanding of where we are in the cycle of current crises leading to new ideas and future Policy and Regulation

This is a special episode – both in length and content – it’s nigh on impossible to make enough notes on this without it turning into a transcript .. however key points include: Continue reading

LFP064 – P2P in the US, China and UK with Peter Renton

Lendit US 2017After organising nearly 1,000 folks in the O2 for Europe’s largest P2P conference ever I managed to grab Peter long enough to have a fascinating tour of the globe and P2P sitrep in the three major hubs.

Peter Renton PhotoPeter Renton has perhaps has more of a broad and deep understanding of P2P worldwide than anyone.

When he first came on the show way back in LFP015 he shared with us the fascinating history of US P2P with its hugely up and down roller-coaster road.

Since then he has created the world’s go-to conferences on P2P in the US, China and Europe which gives him a unique insight into what’s what and where.

It’s a big world and P2P is a vast domain these days so there is plenty to discuss. Key topics are: Continue reading

LFP058 – Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Tutorial, Bitcoin, Blockchain & Fintech with Laurent Kssis CEC Capital

CEC Capital

Today I have the pleasure to be joined today by Laurent Kssis MD of CEC Capital who has worked in the ETF industry for 14years. We’ve spent a few episodes recently in the heady heights of the super-big picture so let’s get back to the coalface and dive in depth into an important area of FS.

ETFs – Exchange Traded Funds – have been many times on the London Fintech Podcast, always in passing, so I thought it was more than overdue to attack them head on.

Like Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth ETFs are the thing that haunt the whole Investment Management Fintech scene … if, in essence, you can gain exposure to equity markets in a balanced way via a vehicle with minimal fees what exactly is there for Investment Management Fintech to disrupt?

Laurent KssisLaurent certainly has feet in both #oldFS and #newFS camps being the non-exec chairman of the Blockchain investment company Coinsilium. So he is the ideal expert to talk to us about this sector today.

Conceptually ETFs started life as traded funds – if you like index-tracker investment trusts – although why they weren’t just called investment trusts is a question for Laurent. According to wikipedia since 1993 in the US where they were first created an unbelievable $3trn have been invested in them. They have also moved a long way from their origin as index-trackers with (quoting wiki) “By the end of 2015 ETFs offered 1,800 different products covering almost every conceivable market sector, niche and trading strategy”.

So that’s ETFs per se. But like everywhere in FS the wave of innovation that is Fintech is lapping on many shores. If ETFs have inhibited the growth of one area of Fintech what is Fintech doing to them? Listeners will certainly get their money’s worth today as we range from a tutorial on the basics of ETFs through Bitcoin ETFs to blockchain – a huge waterfront.

Topics discussed include:

– how Laurent’s career led him to being an expert on ETFs and progressing that into hot areas like Bitcoin and Blockchain

– the relevance of the “transition management” world [what happens when one fund manager takes over eg a pension fund from another]

– an ETF is a “marketable investment vehicle that allows you to buy and sell during trading hours of the Exchange a basket of stock/bonds/commodities through a single share”

– comparing and contrasting investment trusts and ETFs; management fees, transparency, NAV calculation, premia/discount ranges

– the multiplicity of ETFs eg there are around 50 different ones on the Euro Stoxx 50; different exchanges, currencies, market timezones leading for challenges for  market makers in setting prices, hedging themselves etc

– “trading channel” effectively the arbitrage channel is the range in which ETFs trade compared to their underlying components; over a decade ago this could have been as much as 10%/+5% to -5% (“quite extortionate”) but then illiquid, hard to hedge against;

– this changed rapidly when institutions started to get involved in larger size

– management fees (“TER” – total expense ratio) typically, on ETFs such as Euro Stoxx 50, have gone from ~0.65% a decade ago to ~0.12% today

– ETFs are allowed in ISAs, SIPPs, 401k

– in 401k’s over 50% of the investments are in ETFS (!)

– ETFs are UCITS compliant (which allows passporting into Europe), registered mostly in Ireland and “tax-advantageous” locations (Jersey/Guernsey/Luxembourg)

– ETFs are open-ended they can increase in size at any point (depending on demand:supply); how this is done

– ETFs are undergoing a huge explosion in diversity – you can buy almost anything via ETFs – gold silver, precious metals, industrial metals, agricultural products

the huge opportunity for Fintech in providing a more up-to-date angle to investing in these; the tendency of the first wave of Investment Management Fintech to just replicate investing in the same boring old stuff as existing I.M. firms (core equity markets and bonds for example)

– a whole interesting tale about Bitcoin ETFs and what Laurent learned on that journey – you’ll have to listen to hear that tale 😉 …

– the difference between ETFs and ETNs (Exchange Traded Notes)

– the recent Bitcoin hacking through BitFinex and how it differs from last years MT Gox; a high quality exchange, the role of regulation in re; hot wallets and cold wallets – a painful tale all round 🙁

– blockchain versus bitcoin

ETFs were new once and have been a great success – what can Fintech learn from that (you’ll have to listen ;-)) …

– ETFs have had a rough ride too – from journalists to scandals…

– an overview of Coinsilium – the world’s first listed blockchain publically listed investment company

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!

 

LFP056 – “Everything You Wanted to Know About Fintech Venture Capital But Were Too Afraid To Ask” with Rob Moffat Partner at Balderton Capital

Balderton BannerI am  delighted to welcome Rob Moffat, Partner at Balderton Capital to dive into the topic of Venture Capital and Fintech.  As I aim to present London Fintech in the round I have been – for a long time – keeping my eye open for a friendly VC to have on the show. This has taken two years would you believe!

Viewed from Mars you might think this is curious given how the whole mainstream tech media is so focused on fund-raisings, so-called valuations (and fantasy animals with one horn), and the whole machismo around money.

Viewed not from Mars the VC sector globally is perhaps rather problematic. If this is a surprise to you then I recommend as an entry point Diane Mulcahy’s 2014 Harvard Business Review article Venture Capitalists get well paid to lose money. As a former VC she knows where to direct the fire – high fees, illiquidity and underperformance. As I recall in the greatest tech boom ever, in the US the aggregate stats are something like that the average VC hasn’t even returned to the investors the funds they raised, let alone got a carry cheque (the performance related fee).

Furthermore as we heard way back in LFP008 with Richard Goold the UK/European venture capital market was very thin indeed in most of the 20th Century (post-WW2 the UK basically had the (originally government) 3i as the only player for a long time) and returns were poor.

Set against this virtually every Fintech that scales needs VC money – without which there would be no boom at all.

Equally like in all industries there are always some good players with a reputation for adding value. It was such a lead that led me to Balderton Capital who are one of the real players in the London Fintech scene.

Rob MoffatRob also writes a lot on the industry – I recommend his blog – and is on the board of seven of Balderton’s investments, the best-known of which in UK Fintech are perhaps GoCardless and Nutmeg. Balderton invests around £20m per annum into Fintech.

Above and beyond this Rob is – finally – someone who is happy to talk on air about the reality of VC and Fintech. As he joined the firm in 2009 (from Google) he has experienced the Fintech world from roots through shoots and now into a rather varied garden.

There is more than plenty discussed on the show, key topics include: Continue reading

LFP046 – Payments -Theory, Practice & Laughs with Hiroki Takeuchi CEO GoCardless

LFP GoCardlessThis week we have a super-clear dive into Fintech Payments companies with Hiroki Takeuchi CEO and co-founder of GoCardless.  GoCardless, founded in 2011, are experts in recurring payments (where they process over $1bn per annum (via the direct debit “pipes”).

Hiroki TakeuchiTheir clients range from gyms and scout groups include the UK Government, Tripadvisor, Virgin, the Financial Times and Funding Circle – so clearly they have had their tires kicked and found rock-solid by some high profile names.

They are backed by some very blue-chip VCs including Balderton Capital, Accel partners, Passion Capital and Y combinatory.  Their Series A in 2013 raised just over $3m, Series B $7m in January ’14 & a large Series C is rumoured to be in the works.

Their nice, simple strapline is “GoCardless is the quickest and easiest way to take one-off and recurring payments online”. They currently take payments from bank accounts in the UK, Sweden and the Eurozone.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP045 – A Deep-Dive into APIs with Stephane Dubois CEO Xignite

LFP Xignite

I am delighted to welcome Stephane Dubois founder and CEO of Xignite on the show to take a deep-dive into APIs which are not only the very Lego building blocks of Fintech but also set to become even more important with forthcoming legislation around opening up banking data.

I also share some exciting developments in making the London Fintech Podcast more interactive – for now exclusively available only in the podcast 😉

LFP Stephane DuboisXignite is a decade-old company, focuses on market data, has just raised $20m in a Series C round  and is one of the leading providers of financial APIS in the world with more than 1000 clients in over 50 countries and serve a staggering 60 billion API calls a month. They anticipate doing over 1 trillion API calls in the first half of 2016 alone.

So what are all the facets to APIs – why is something so tecchie of such importance?

You will have all heard of APIs but whether you know comparatively little or if you live knee deep in them all day I’m sure you’ll find plenty of angles of interest in Stephane’s long experience, clear metaphors and views of where they are going over the next decade.

In this show we discuss, amongst much more: Continue reading

LFP043 – Reality vs Hype in UK Fintech Startups with Ruzbeh Bacha CEO CityFalcon

CityFalcon London Fintech Podcast banner

On London Fintech Podcast episode 43 I am delighted to have Ruzbeh Bacha CEO and founder of CityFalcon on the show.

CityFalcon’s mission is to democratise access to financial news thereby creating a level-playing field for all investors whether retail or institutional. They provide comprehensive real-time and relevant financial news which is free for consumers and at a modest fee for business.

They were recently described by Twitter as: “One of the 10 most industry-disrupting and innovative solutions in 2015“.

Ruzbeh BachaRuzbeh founded the company in an archetypal way, in his bedroom just over two years ago and it has now grown to over a dozen staff.

Those of you who listened to the previous show, LFP042, the 2016 New Years Special will have heard me taking a deep dive into media distortions – in essence for a whole bunch of reasons there is what one might call a War on Truth. This applies whether it’s the mainstream media on War, the Euro or health all the way down to the well-known phenomenon that people post only the sunny side of their coin of life on Facebook.

And this is as true in Fintech as any sector. In fact its probably more hyped than any other sector.

So we are here to talk about real “primary journalism” – interviewing a coal miner who has been at the coalface long enough, and is honest enough, to share what it’s really like.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP038 – Highlights from Lendit 2015 Europes Largest P2P Conference with Peter Renton

The road goes on forever - next Lendit already teed-up.

The road goes on forever – the next Lendit is already lined-up

I am delighted to be joined by Peter Renton to discuss some key highlights from the Lendit Europe 2015 conference, especially for those of you who weren’t there and even for those of you who were as in the afternoon it split into two streams.

Peter Renton PhotoPeter was back on the show in LFP015 way back in last December wearing his Lend Academy hat relating to us the amazing story of the development of P2P in the US – something he saw from it’s very origins when it was scarcely noticed.

Today he is joining me wearing his Lendit Conference hat. Lendit now runs by far the world’s largest P2P conferences – some 2,500 in Lendit US 2015, 500 in Lendit China 2015 and yesterday around 750 in Lendit Europe.

In this episode we have an off-the-cuff conversation about what leaps out to us as the really interesting things happening in P2P in Europe right now.  It’s a great way to get up the curve fast and we discuss a wide range of topics: Continue reading