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Wealth Management

Rising Importance of Retail Investors

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Gediminas Rickevičius, VP of Global Partnerships at Oxylabs.io

 

Retail investors play an interesting role in the markets at large. For one, most academic researchers and hedge fund managers significantly downplay the importance of their everyday counterparts due to underperformance.

On the other hand, there has been a surge in the amount of retail investors since 2020. Investing has been made much more accessible and available to everyday folk. Combined with the global pandemic, these factors led to retail investors’ share of total equities trading volume now being close to 25%. Finally, there seems to be a push towards opening up private markets to more participants, as evidenced by EY research.

If such a trend continues, a massive influx of retail investors might increase the influence of their actions on the market. It might seem like a headache to seasoned veterans, but in many cases it might be a boon.

 

Gediminas Rickevičius

Retail investors provide cushion

As is often the case with many things in life, retail investors are seen through somewhat of a mythical lens. If one were to ask what event would define them, that answer would probably be the GameStop debacle.

It was certainly a visible and emotionally charged event that seemed to have everything you’d expect from a retail investor. Most people sought huge speculative gains through short-term trading without having access to tools that would enable such high frequency endeavors.

Additionally, some invested obscene amounts of capital, “leveraging” what they could. Often those were personal or spending loans. Some liquidated other investments to gain additional funds for the speculative play.

In the end, the event had all the hallmarks of everyone’s preconceived notions of retail investors. They were highly speculative, emotional, and chased significant gains. So, it would seem that would transfer over to other areas of investing.

Yet, some research would state otherwise, making retail investors highly useful to the market. As mentioned previously, they have begun to play a more significant role due to the increasing availability of investing.

A recent study has indicated that retail investors might be providing stability in times of market swings and crashes. COVID’s exogenous shock to the markets caused prices to tumble, but it was offset, by some margin, through the funds of retail investors.

Additionally, stabilization happens through providing additional liquidity to certain stocks. Finally, while they may seem contrarian as they pick stocks of which institutional investors think less, even if the contrarianism were true, it would still provide liquidity to stocks, which have less of it. In the end, retail investors play an important role in markets, especially during times of turmoil.

 

Retail investors talk (a lot)

Convincing someone to give up their investment strategy with all the data and potential software might be a little difficult. It’s a business that entirely revolves around knowledge intended to beat everyone else. Data and strategy sit at the core of investing.

As a result, outside of pure academical theory, any investment strategy is a closely guarded secret for institutional investors. Retail investors, on the other hand, are not quite the same. Many of them participate in various internet forums as a way of talking about strategy.

You can often find anything, ranging from simple investment advice (usually, ironically preceded by the saying “not financial advice”) to long posts discussing why some companies might be undervalued or overvalued.

Additionally, they are often posted in public forums where, while anonymous, posts are rated according to popularity. It would hold to reason then that such posts would have more sway over other retail investors. As a result, tracking large masses of small investments becomes an easier task.

Collecting such data, however, can be quite challenging. For one, there are places where retail investors congregate, but even then, there are a ton of posts going through them every day, making manual collection inefficient.

Couple that with the fact that sentiments expressed and overall influence can differ, and collecting such data for investment purposes nears to zero ROI or below. Fortunately, automated data collection methods have been developed.

Web scraping can be utilized whenever public data from the internet needs to be gathered at a large enough scale. There are plenty of solution providers online that can build complete out-of-the-box solutions that would make the collection of such semantic data easy.

 

Calculating talk

An important caveat is that even with automated public data collection, everything gathered would be semantic. There would be sentences and paragraphs expressing some sort of sentiment, which might not be immediately obvious, and have an effect that is also shrouded in mystery.

One way to calculate influence is to look for raw ticker mention volume. Quiver Quantitative has done exactly that for a certain piece of Reddit. There’s value to be found, however, pure volume likely only weakly correlates with investments.

It is entirely possible that a majority of such mentions are hidden deep in posts and comments no one ever sees. Only the crawler bot captures them, because it goes through absolutely everything. As a result, it can produce signals that miss the mark.

As scraping can collect any aspect of the data stored within the page, extracting popularity indicators and adding them to the ticker calculations would produce more accurate estimations of how impactful the mention would be.

Finally, sentiment is an important piece of the puzzle. Luckily, we don’t have to build customized machine learning models to extract sentiment. Google’s Natural Language AI and many other tools have already been developed that can serve our purposes just fine.

Combining these three factors with the general talkativeness of the retail investor can give us fairly accurate insight into the inner movements of capital from them. Whether these can serve as a separate investment strategy or enhance current ones, it is something for those who track such data to decide.

Wealth Management

Keeping Cyber Insurance Premiums Down with Deep Observability

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By Mark Coates, VP EMEA, Gigamon

There is no doubt that the cyber insurance industry has experienced something of an evolution in the last five years. As the threat landscape has changed beyond recognition, so have the risk management strategies aimed at staying ahead of cybercriminals. The result is an exponential rise in premiums: 85% of cybersecurity business decision makers saw an increase in their cyber insurance premiums over the past 12 months, and 82% of insurers are expecting these rises to continue. Given that cyber insurance makes up a key component of many cybersecurity and business continuity plans, what can organisations do to keep premiums down while maximising coverage?

The key is to improve proactive protection and to embrace deep observability – employing real-time, network-level intelligence to track activity across a network. Deep observability provides IT and security teams with the ability to amplify the power of their current log and trace-based monitoring tools, rapidly detect suspicious activity and act accordingly. Achieving this ‘single source of truth’ also helps to reduce complexity and cost – a crucial benefit as premiums continue to rise and we enter a tougher economic climate.

Where it began

Against the backdrop of increasing cybercrime, the ‘NotPetya’ attack was a landmark cyber-threat for various reason. Perhaps most significantly it signalled the beginning of cyber insurance premium rises. Launched in 2017, NotPetya was a malware launched as part of a Russian state-sponsored cyberattack campaign targeting Ukrainian IT infrastructure. Beyond financial setbacks for global organisations, NotPetya’s proliferation caused the drastic rise of premiums and lowering of coverage limits, as insurers adjusted their policies to reflect the changing cyberthreat landscape.

Since then, a global pandemic and the subsequent shift to home or hybrid working created a perfect storm for the rise of ransomware. This form of cybercrime can cause such large-scale and financially destructive consequences that insurers have had no option other than hike up prices for more vulnerable businesses in order to stay profitable.

Zero Trust is an essential

With challenges comes opportunity. This upending of the cyberthreat landscape serves as a potential catalyst for organisations across verticals to optimise their cybersecurity.

According to the recent Gigamon State of Ransomware report, phishing and malware were the top routes for ransomware attacks in 2022. Cloud applications were also cited as a common ransomware attack vector, particularly by those in the UK. Protecting against a misconfigured cloud or human error isn’t the job of cyber insurance – this should be reserved to cushion the financial blowback in the event of a breach. Instead, enterprises must proactively take steps to bolster their security posture.

This includes ensuring all access across digital infrastructure is authenticated. Trust is earned, not freely given in this threat landscape. A Zero Trust architecture – which requires authentication of all users regardless of their position in an organisation – helps prevent unauthorised access and works to restrict suspicious lateral movement across a network. Fortunately, it’s now a topic regularly discussed in Boardrooms. Across EMEA in particular there is growing confidence that organisations will be able to implement this architecture in the next few years (51% agreed in 2020, compared to 83% in 2022). To get there, however, deep observability is a critical foundation; you simply cannot manage and grant access to what you cannot see.

A single source of truth

Threat actors can bypass SIEMs and endpoint detection and response tools, yet they will always leave a metadata trail. This is why deep observability is so crucial to cybersecurity. It grants security operations (SecOps) teams the ability to analyse this metadata, spot suspicious behaviour and take the appropriate steps to mitigate an intrusion before it escalates. Such enhanced visibility and control are crucial for maximising the efficacy of Zero Trust architecture and fostering a security-first approach within an enterprise.

With premiums so high, organisations also undoubtedly want to turn to solutions that provide ROI as well as better security. As more tools come into play, cost and complexity rises. Many enterprises will not have the budget to keep adding more solutions to their technology stack in hope they will improve their cybersecurity and reduce their insurance prices. Instead, they need a single source of truth and a complete view across the entire IT infrastructure – cloud included. From here, teams can identify network bottlenecks and eliminate irrelevant, duplicate or low risk traffic. Deep observability is therefore not only a must for security, but also for making budgets go further.

Organisations need to brace themselves for a challenging economic down-turn and continued rises in cyber insurance premiums by implementing a strategy based on Zero Trust, deep observability and network-to-cloud visibility. In turn, security teams can be far more confident in their security posture, business leaders are satisfied by a lower spend and insurers become more confident when taking on their customer’s risk.

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Banking

How banks can increase customer acquisition and user engagement with sustainability

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By Karolina Szweda, Head of Growth Marketing at Connect Earth

Young people are demanding more innovation from traditional financial institutions, and are primarily in favour of lower costs and more flexible digital customer experience promised by challenger banks and other FinTech providers. The future of banking is digital, and traditional financial institutions are well aware that they need to embrace innovation to remain competitive in the digitalised market.

In order to win over the younger generations, especially Millennials and Gen Z, banks need to invest in their digital transformation and deliver more customer-centric solutions. One of the affordable low-hanging fruits is sustainability.

As the public’s attention to the climate crisis grows, consumers and businesses are increasingly interested in reducing their negative impact on the planet. BCG reports that as much as 73% of consumers are altering spending habits because of climate change, and, according to PwC, 88% of consumers want brands to help them live more sustainably. As far as businesses are concerned, they are increasingly aware of the mandatory disclosure regulations set to take effect within the next years in major economies, and the need for carbon emissions reporting.

The problem is that the vast majority of consumers and businesses do not have access to actionable data on their carbon emissions. We believe that this is where banks can step in.

Increasing customer acquisition and retention

According to Deloitte, 71% of customers are more likely to choose a bank with a positive environmental impact. In addition, Global Risk Regulator reports that 93% of people expect sustainable financial services to become the norm, and according to Tink, 62% of consumers want their bank to show them an overview of their carbon footprint.

Banks are in a unique position to respond to this increasing demand by embedding climate data in their financial services offerings, which can help attract new customers and improve brand loyalty on a large scale.

With a carbon tracking API solution integrated into a digital banking app, financial institutions can be a catalyst for change and enable their customers to understand how they can reduce their emissions. By providing carbon emissions data for each financial transaction, banks can support and encourage their retail banking clients, corporate clients and/or retail investors to act more sustainably, while also increasing customer acquisition and digital engagement.

Most importantly, banks can also measure how their customers’ spending behaviours are changing as a result of being exposed to climate-related information, which they can use to segment and understand their customers better.

Increasing digital engagement

According to EY, 61% of consumers want to access more information that can help them make better sustainable choices. Banks are in a position to empower customers to do exactly that, whilst increasing user engagement with their digital banking apps.

Educating consumers on how to make more sustainable choices can be achieved through gamification, personalised recommendations and rewards to encourage behavioural change. The analysis of spending data along with tailored educational content can enable consumers to analyse, learn and improve their consumption habits and empower them to act on this knowledge.

Before accessing their carbon emissions insights, users can enter their custom information about their lifestyle habits, such as diet (meat-based vs. plant-based), daily means of transportation (car vs. bus) and more. Machine learning models improve as users input data over time, making carbon emissions estimates more granular. The model is trained to support thousands of different user types based on their profile and enables the bank to customise the experience and gamify the emissions reduction process for users.

How banks’ customers can benefit from accessing carbon emissions data

As far as climate action is concerned, having a real-life overview of one’s carbon footprint can be a true game changer for millions of consumers worldwide. Access to carbon data increases climate change awareness and empowers people to make a real difference.

Earlier this year, our team at Connect Earth confirmed the partnership with KBC Bank in Bulgaria to help them drive customer engagement and provide their retail banking clients with climate insights into their spending. We aimed to bolster KBC Bank’s corporate sustainability strategy, whilst meeting increasing demand from climate-conscious clients.

The financial sector has historically lacked the infrastructure to support sustainable finance in a tangible way. We are happy to report that the green transition has begun.

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