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ROBINHOOD’S IPO COULD TURN THE TRADING PLATFORM INTO A 35 BILLION DOLLAR CONCEPT

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  • US share and crypto trading platform Robinhood is expected to list on the Nasdaq on 29 July
  • The company will trade under the ticker HOOD
  • Stock expected to be priced between $38 – $42 per share
  • Listing would put a value on the company of around $35 billion
  • Robinhood is under the regulatory spotlight following the GameStop craze
  • UK investors can’t participate in IPO but can buy shares when trading begins

 

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

‘’There is likely to be huge interest in Robinhood’s IPO, given the swirling speculation about the company on social media forums and the media coverage the company received as it became a central figure in the GameStop craze earlier in the year.

The company was set up to help further democratise investing in the US and draw more ordinary traders into the Wall Street world. If the stock does list within the range of $38 – $42 per share, this will turn out to be a $35 billion dollar idea. But the company has come under the regulatory spotlight and that could have a big impact on the company’s future potential as an investment.

The app has come under fire for the so called ‘gamification’ of investing with the use of rewards and celebratory notifications to encourage users to trade more. Its strategy is paying off with the number of accounts increasing to 18 million by March this year from 7.2 million in March 2020.

The way that Robinhood makes money has also come under intense scrutiny. Instead of charging investors a dealing commission, it puts clients’ trades through certain companies, and in return, these companies pay Robinhood a fee. It’s these charges, called “payment for order flow” that make the company most of its money.

Even though each fee is a tiny fraction of a cent per share traded, it soon adds up. Over the last year Robinhood made $720m from payment for order flow – three quarters of its total revenue. That rose to 81% of revenues in the first 3 months of this year.

But this model is now under review, with the US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) planning to look again at the stock market trading rules, which could include payment for order flow.

The concern is that it stops investors from getting the best price for their deals and could create a possible conflict of interest between firms like Robinhood and their clients. Firms promise to trade at, or at better than, current market price. But the question remains about whether, under the system, there are even better prices available with other market making companies, which they don’t use. If rules do change this could be a big worry for the firm’s revenues and future investors in the company. It was enough for Robinhood to highlight a potential ban on payment for order flow as a key risk in its prospectus.

This isn’t the first time Robinhood has come under fire from US regulators. In December last year, Massachusetts securities regulator accused Robinhood of gamifying investing. The case included a customer, with no investment experience, who traded 12,700 times in six months. More recently, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Robinhood a record $70m. It said the company had caused “widespread and significant harm” to investors.

And there could be more storms gathering on the horizon. The Robinhood prospectus named seven US state and federal bodies investigating the company. All this could add up to potential issues down the line, so investors need to take such risks into the equation when they consider investing right from the start of Robinhood’s listed life.

If Robinhood can bat away these issues, or if the SEC decides not to change the current rule book, the groundswell of support among day traders the company has already gathered could potentially accelerate, leading to further growth for the company.’’

 

How to buy Robinhood shares

UK investors can’t take part in the Robinhood IPO. But HL clients should be able to buy Robinhood shares once they start trading on the US stock market which is expected to be on 29 July. If you believe in the long-term prospects for Robinhood and want to buy the shares, you first need to choose an account to hold the shares in. Once listed on the stock market, you can hold Robinhood shares in a general investment account (Fund and Share Account), ISA or Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). Before you buy your first US share with HL, you’ll also need to complete a W-8BEN form.

On the first day of trading, it can take several hours to get a live market price. During this time, it isn’t possible to buy or sell the shares. Investors will be able to deal the shares through HL once there’s a live market price, and trading and settlement has been confirmed by the UK clearing and settlement service. This could be after the shares have already started trading on the stock exchange.

 

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IF IT’S A LOSS, YOU’RE TOO LATE – WHY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO FOCUS ON FIRST NOTIFICATION OF RISK

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Simon Dicks, Insurance Channel Manager EMEA, Lytx

 

Insuring commercial fleets can be an expensive business. Average repair costs have increased by up to 40% in the past 8 years and disputes about who was responsible can drive up expenditure for both fleets and insurers.

Part of the problem is that the insurance industry hasn’t had the tools to forecast costs and premiums accurately enough in this sector. Underwriting decisions are still made in the same way they always have been, by looking back at historical data from previous years. This approach simply isn’t giving insurance companies an accurate indication of potential risk – or a proper indication of the impact of driver behaviour.

Technology is helping insurers to an extent by providing information about First Notification of Loss (FNOL) – automatically sending notifications when unusual G-force readings are captured within a black box tracking device as a result of sudden braking or impact. This is good, but far better is the ability to use proactive technology to detect when an incident is at risk of occurring and when a driver is distracted.

The only way to address this is to put a highly accurate level of camera technology both inside and outside cabs, supported by sophisticated technologies such as Machine Vision (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This way, we can see not just that an incident has happened, but why it happened. What’s more, we can assess risk before an accident happens at all and prevent it happening in the first place. We call this First Notification of Risk (FNOR) – and it’s a whole step up from FNOL.

Machine Vision scans the internal and external environment of the vehicle to identify distracted driving behaviours such as mobile phone use, eating, drinking, smoking, inattentive behaviour or failure to wear a seatbelt. AI, comparing the behaviour against a vast bank of accumulated data, is then able to determine the riskiness of that situation and whether it needs to be flagged to the fleet manager, driver, or insurer via a short video clip. The big difference in this approach is that it’s proactive, not reactive. For the first time, fleets and insurers can identify adverse driving and distracted driving in real-time for the first time.

This includes the ability to alert drivers of any momentary slip-ups or distracted behaviours. Using the same technology, drivers will receive an audio or visual alert to help keep them on track and to lessen the likelihood of a moment’s distraction becoming anything more.

When insurers have access to these insights, they can also start to see patterns from the data over time. For example, a fleet manager might start to see that there’s a peak in risky driving behaviours on a Friday afternoon when lots of drivers are rushing to finish for the weekend. As a result, they may decide to spread the shifts differently so as to avoid that pattern of behaviour.

When insurers are only looking at FNOL, it’s already too late. A driver could be unthinkingly driving whilst smoking, on their phone, and nobody would never know. Whereas with FNOR, both managers and insurers are provided with insights that remove the guesswork, and underwriters have the information they need to assess risk with far greater precision.

There’s still a long way to go in making the move towards FNOR. With so many different companies selling cameras and telematics systems and producing information in hundreds of different formats, claims data will have to be standardised before the sector can really transform. However, by starting to embrace ideas like FNOR, the industry can move towards a solution that saves them time, money and lives.

To find out more, visit  www.lytx.com/FNOR

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THE DIGITAL WEALTH, ASSET MANAGER AND FINANCIAL BROKER OF THE FUTURE: TRANSFORMING CLIENT COMMUNICATIONS

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By Christina Di Nolfo, Head of Solutions at Delta Capita

 

More than in any other profession in financial services, wealth managers and financial brokers are heavily dependent on personal interaction with their clients. While digital transformation has been on the agenda of many individual advisors for years, the pandemic revealed the painful inefficiencies of legacy communication models.

Studies from YChart mirrored the communication gap just a year prior to the lockdown. 75% of clients want proactive communication from their wealth manager or advisor. But nearly half of clients with over $500,000 or more in AUM said they received infrequent communications, with those with less than $500,000 invested, receiving even less of their advisor’s time.

Consequently, finance professionals have been quick to try out any communication software from Zoom to Slack to WhatsApp. However, these programs were not made for financial advisors, making adhering to compliance standards more complicated than ever and raising security concerns.

Christina Di Nolfo

Let’s take Zoom as a quick example. Whilst Zoom is a great communication tool and one which many of us are all too familiar with, it is only meant for video calls and is not a comprehensive communication platform. The Federal Trade Commission discovered that Zoom’s end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) wasn’t what it appeared to be. Instead of calls being E2EE between participants, the data was only encrypted between each meeting participant and Zoom’s servers – meaning it was not truly end-to-end encrypted.

But it’s not just Zoom. Any application not built with compliance in mind is a risk for your business and your customer.

A customisable, compliant, and fully interactive client portal for the digital wealth advisor or financial broker is essential to streamline communications and maintain compliance. But what does that look like?

 

The Wealth Manager of the Future

Customer experience is everything, and the wealth manager of the future can already benefit from an end to end digital customer journey platform. Imagine if you could:

  1. Onboard new clients in minutes
  2. Push secure content to your client on their chosen device
  3. Record every minute of your meeting, even as you switch between video, chat, screen shares, and more
  4. Collect signatures and obtain consent instantaneously
  5. Accept PCI compliant payments directly from your portal
  6. Provide disclosures and other vital documentation for clients
  7. Collect customer documentation in real time such as ID and proof of address

All of this is possible through Klarion, our end-to-end engagement portal. Completely customisable, Klarion offers an entirely digital process designed for the optimal user experience. Clients are not required to download complex software. Instead, they only need to click on a secure link that you send to them via email or SMS.

Klarion enables you to verify identities in real-time, manage essential sensitive data, accept payments, engage in a video call and more. And you don’t need to worry about compliance. Not only does our solution log every interaction and timestamp it within an end-to-end encrypted environment, but you can also benefit from PCI-DSS Level 1 and KYC/AML compliance features.

You no longer need to go back and forth with your clients over email or other communication channels, as you attempt to resolve issues or complete tasks. And you also do not need to invest time and resources in tracking down every slip of paper. Instead, you can focus on what matters: Keeping your client informed about their assets and providing value.

Financial managers using Klarion have shifted their self-service offering from 13% to 30%, and reduced call volumes by 2.2x without sacrificing customer experience or compliance regulations.

 

The Future Won’t Wait

Through the proliferation of technology, more and more customers will demand a comprehensive and cohesive user experience. To create a sustainable, client-focused financial management practice today, integrating technology with human sensibilities is critical.

But waiting to reinvent your customer interaction process means that instead of focusing on growth, you may well end up running after the competition.

Klarion makes it easy to get up and running. There is no need to worry about costly, complicated, or time-consuming system consolidations, as Klarion integrates seamlessly with current infrastructure as a white label front-end solution, while ensuring your brand is front and centre. Klarion sends information directly to your CRM (or other systems), saving you from data entry duplication and is customisable to whatever workflow is required.

 

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