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Wealth Management

DEMANDING EFFECTIVE WEALTH MANAGEMENT DURING THE PANDEMIC

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By Christophe Lapaire, Senior Project Manager at the Swiss Stock Exchange

 

2020 has so far presented the world with near unprecedented change. For investors, this change has mostly manifested in asset price volatility, ultra-low interest rates and tumbling financial markets.

Despite markets appearing to somewhat stabilise, revenues cannot currently be guaranteed, and return opportunities for investors are likely to be hard to come by over the next twelve to eighteen months. Private banks and wealth managers around the world have been left wondering what more can be done to safeguard performance in investment portfolios.

While there are several ways to identify efficiencies – with many simply just looking to negotiate a fee discount – to maximise performance, only forward-thinking private banks and wealth managers are exploring the option of utilising tax optimisation for their portfolios. A solution that looks to safeguard the performance of portfolios and achieve this aim of maximising the performance.

 

Easier said than done

Utilising tax optimisation to increase portfolio performance has clear benefits. However, the mere fact that it will benefit all private banks or wealth managers does not mean that all of them are capable of doing it.

When it comes to providing tax optimisation services to end investor clients, private banks and wealth managers have a decidedly mixed record. Many do not have the correct solutions – both in terms of software and processes – and they rely on antiquated technology and manual processing. This may set them up fine to conduct general business, but when it comes to delivering tax optimisation services, it just won’t cut it.

Given the benefits it provides to the client and the necessary infrastructure to support it, those who do offer tax optimisation services often see it as an integral part of the overall investment offering provided. Highlighting the offering to clients and explaining how it can help to reclaim any foreign withholding taxes.

 

What it means for clients

On the face of it, tax optimisation may not always seem so integral, given that many countries (including the UK) provide capital gains exemptions so that foreign investment trading is not impacted. Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said for all countries. With these countries having a detrimental impact on the after-tax performance of any portfolio not optimising effectively.

Even when you do avoid paying tax twice on any dividends pay-out, getting the money back is not always as simple as it is sounds. When you couple this with the fact that many countries often have contradictory taxation rules or requirements, it becomes very clear that lacking the right expertise may mean you incur tax you may have avoided or mitigated.

As such, effective tax optimisation and knowledge is vital if you wish to be protected from the worst of any tax leakage at the investment level. This successful tax optimisation allowing investment managers to manage and subsequently reinvest funds easily.

Most notably, those who do not recognise the opportunities that tax optimisation presents risk losing clients to private banks and wealth managers that do.

 

Making use of tax optimisation

While tax optimisation is a no-brainer in theory, it is not always the right fit for every private bank or wealth manager. As previously mentioned, without the right setup – innovative technologies and automation – tax reporting to fiscal authorities can be incredibly labour intensive when done manually.

With that in mind, it is truly critical that providers who intend to offer the service are enabled with the right software and data processing capabilities to report tax information on behalf of clients, to ensure it is as efficient as possible. Doing so in a way that is sustainable and creates savings without detrimentally increasing labour efforts.

Those who do not have the requisite infrastructure in house should fear not however, as there are solutions available – such as the Swiss Stock Exchange’s Advanced Tax Reclaim – that allow them to offer a reclaim service at a reasonable cost, and therefore deliver value to clients.

These straightforward end-to-end tax reclaim services offer a huge number of advantages to private banks and wealth manages, but arguably most importantly, it allows them to provide a new service to end clients that strengthens existing commercial relationships and even attracts more business.

As investors seek to eke out returns amid the downturn, the demand for innovative solutions that blunt the impact of COVID-19 will only increase. The private banks and wealth managers that are suitably equipped to provide these innovative solutions will be the ones that reap the rewards. Again, in the end, those who do not equip themselves effectively will run the risk of losing current and new clients to someone who will.

 

Wealth Management

WHAT WILL TRADING FLOORS OF A POST-COVID WORLD LOOK LIKE?

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By

Ganesh Iyer, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, IPC

 

The last year brought around a monumental change to the way most people work due to the impact of the pandemic, and the financial services industry was no exception. The last few months, though, have provided hope that life could very soon return to ‘normal’ with the strong vaccination efforts around the world.

This time provides the perfect opportunity for all of us to consider the best aspects of remote working in a bid to create a new concept of what a healthy work-life balance should look like. One way financial firms could achieve this is through developing distributed hub-and-spoke offices or putting in place the infrastructure so people can work on a longer-term basis from remote locations. But for this to happen, the financial services community needs to overcome the challenges of ensuring security, reliability, resilience, compliance, all while adhering to strict regulatory requirements.

 

Importance of flexibility

As we look towards the future, banks such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have recently informed their employees that they should be prepared to return to offices again in the coming weeks. News like this may seem like the financial services sector is keen to return to pre-pandemic ways of working, but this is not necessarily an outlook supported by the whole industry.

For example, the Financial Times reported that there are differences between North America and Europe over the speed at which bankers should return to their desks, with some US executives calling for a swift return to pre-pandemic normality while many European banks – such as London-based HSBC and France’s Société Générale – are taking a different approach. These variations demonstrate a need for banks to remain flexible to the ever-changing circumstances and differing views, especially as the sector has been quite effective in working productively away from the trading floor.

However, even for larger institutions, the balance between flexibility, security, reliability, and scalability is a challenging task. There are many firms that are still experiencing significant pressure on costs and resources, and there is still uncertainty around what the future will bring. It is important that firms consider whether there needs to be an even split between homes and offices, or if some employees will prefer to permanently work remotely, as well as prepare for any future scenarios that may require remote working at scale again. The list of questions goes on and they may be difficult to answer, but they are fundamental to the choices that financial firms will make regarding the vendors they work with and the technologies they implement.

Fortunately, many of the elements that address these concerns already exist – it is just a matter of implementing them in a way that is right for firm-specific needs. In the last 10 years, there has been a growing trend towards firms utilising the cloud and taking advantage of the subscription model, which has enabled technology vendors to create solutions that combine flexibility with reliability, and scalability with certainty. The subscription model benefits firms of all sizes and ensures everyone has access to the same state-of-the-art technology as their competitors.

There are also several well-proven benefits of leveraging technology solutions through a subscription, or software-as-a-service (SaaS). As most businesses adopting a cloud-native environment will know, subscriptions mean companies only pay for the solutions they need, while also having the choice to expand and consume more as the business grows. A subscription model also means firms will not be implementing aging technologies, as SaaS is evergreen given it can be seamlessly updated and upgraded in the background, with new delivery channels, access mechanisms and markets added and made available on-demand.

 

Adaptable trading environment

Being able to trade at any time, from anywhere and from any device in a way that is secure and compliant is a huge competitive advantage during this uncertain climate.

For example, a newly established firm requires a solutions provider that can offer the latest, most efficient, and affordable technology that is scalable. Additionally, all businesses are now very much aware of the importance of resilience – both now and for the future – and require a solution that offers an element of futureproofing, enabling them to adapt and maintain their competitive edge for any unforeseen events or challenges that may come their way. This means technology and infrastructure providers need to provide a higher standard of service and constantly evolve, update, and upgrade their tech so that it operates seamlessly and transparently for clients.

 

Supporting the post-COVID trading world

There are many unknowns and uncertainties about what our post-COVID world will look like, but one thing that is certain is that there will be change. Regardless of whether firms choose to revert to pre-pandemic ways of working or not, almost every industry has learned valuable lessons based on the experiences of the last year of the vital need to be flexible and adaptive in order to be able to pivot in whatever direction the business needs to take to thrive and maintain resilience. By leveraging the right technologies, adopting a cloud-native environment, and using the subscription model, financial firms can ensure they are ready to embrace the working environment of the post-COVID world in whatever form it takes.

 

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Finance

A BRIEF GUIDE TO TRADING IN CRYPTOCURRENCY SECURELY

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Trading in cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly popular in the financial world. Crypto’s huge rises in value over recent months has encouraged many to consider it a valid and important way to invest their money. However, it can be tricky for someone new to the world of crypto to know how to start. The process of setting up can take a few days, but once you’re ready to go, it can be fairly simple to start trading.

 

Find A Crypto Wallet

To store crypto, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet. There are many wallets out there to choose from, in both software and hardware forms. You could choose a free to use software wallet, to begin with, and then invest in a more secure hardware wallet if you plan to hold amounts of crypto for the medium to long term. Hardware wallets typically cost anywhere from £50 to £150, so it is worth doing your homework and finding the right wallet for your needs.

 

Sign Up With A Brokerage

You will need an account with a brokerage service to begin trading. It would be best if you looked for brokerages that offer good security, an easy-to-use interface and plenty of cryptocurrencies to choose from.

You will need to provide some identification to open an account with a reputable brokerage, and it may take a few days to get your account verified. Therefore, it is vital to do your research and ensure that the brokerage you choose is legit before providing any personal information.

 

Get Help From Experts

Once you have your account up and running don’t rush to buy your first Bitcoin. As a beginner to the world of crypto trading, there are plenty of potential pitfalls, and talking to experts can go a long way to reducing the risks.

Check out Traders Of Crypto, a cryptocurrency community that provides expert, collective knowledge to those starting out with crypto trading. There you can find plenty of free guides to help you on your trading journey.

 

Choose Your Crypto

The next step is to decide on the crypto you want to trade in. There are thousands out there to choose from, with the most well-known being Bitcoin. The more popular the crypto, the more likely it is to remain stable, so it may help to start with Bitcoin for your first transactions.

Once you have some experience, you could branch out to smaller altcoins, though it is often wisest to keep most of your trades to the bigger coins.

 

Make Sure You Have The Capital

You will need sufficient capital to buy and trade cryptocurrency. You can add this to your brokerage account, typically by bank transfer or debit card payment. It is crucial to keep in mind that the value of crypto frequently changes, so ensure that you are spending only what you can afford.

 

Start Trading

You can start by either trading cash for crypto or crypto for crypto. However, keep in mind that there may be brokerage costs for each trade, so you should choose your trades wisely.

 

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