Invest in your passion, with Dalya Islam

Dalya Islam, Head of Collections at Lymited talks to us about what would be in her dream collection. Dalya Islam is Head of Collections at Lymited, the new digital destination to buy, sell and share exclusive pieces. Dalya has lent her expert opinion to BBC World, The Economist, The Financial Times, Contemporary Practices and Monocle, to name a few. She has participated in global educational programmes, panel discussions and has lectured on a range of topics, from the art market to the history of collecting; plus nominated artists for the Sovereign European Art Prize.

Hi Dalya, We love the concept of Lymited, tell us about yourself and how you came to work with the company.

Hi HB, thank you. We love you too, you’ve been a supporter of Lymited since the start.

For many years I have operated within the art world, starting my career at Sotheby’s as a specialist, then set up my own consultancy through which I worked with galleries, art fairs, private collectors and artists. One of Lymited’s two founders, Ryan Howsam, is an old client of mine. When he and Romane approached me to run the Collections side I was intrigued by the scope of their vision, especially when it came to Tokenisation.

Whilst I am an art lover, I have always valued a broad expression of culture and creativity. To me, the marriage of form and function is the ultimate expression of human passion because it is both practical and beautiful. The balance of a fine wine, the engineering of a watch, the outline of a ceramic, the tailoring of a beautiful suit, these are all expressions of human ingenuity. Lymited gave me the opportunity to explore all this through the eyes and expertise of our specialist team, which is second to none.

Can you tell us more about how Lymited works for the user?

At Lymited we marry the ease of technology with a private advisory service. Our experts carefully select everything we carry, from the ultra-rare, like our military Rolex watch from the 1950s, to the most feted up-and-coming young designers like Miss Sohee who will be part of our exciting new Ready To Wear offering launching soon.

Everything has been chosen with care by an industry insider. The platform carries rich imagery and what we call the “Why We Love It,” a short and informative essay by one of our specialists. As well our experts are on hand to answer any questions. You can always “Talk To An Expert” whether you have a question on investability, provenance or choice paralysis!

How would you recommend starting to invest in collectibles and rare luxury items?

From a practical perspective I would say… make some money!! Joking aside, the rarest items are by their nature extremely valuable, but collectibles are broad ranging. Knowing what makes something “collectible’ is the key. That is why we offer our advisory service. We know how crucial context and provenance are. The value of a collectible lies more in its rich history, its craftsmanship and in the demands of its market, than in the raw material. That is specialist knowledge and requires the expertise of someone who has immersed themselves in their industry for years. It is also why we are offering Tokens, which is so exciting for me. Making something inaccessible, that is incredibly expensive, valuable and rare, accessible to the best custodians: passionate collectors and investors.

What do you invest in Dayla?

I invest in art. But for pleasure, I buy jewellery, design, fashion and wine. Those are my poisons. Our Head of Watches, James Gurney, said it brilliantly when he advised our Instagram followers to “go for what you love.” It’s absolutely true. When I have bought something purely for investment, I have always regretted it. Collecting is a sensual experience, it should stimulate more than your mind.

What would be in your dream collection?

My collection would be all over the place. I would have an Egon Schiele for sure, Gandharan sculpture, Northern Renaissance painting, ideally Cranach the Elder, Ottoman ceramics, I would have an Aztec relief panel, I would definitely have a Dan Flavin light sculpture, a Han dynasty jade burial suit, a medieval Book of Hours, preferably the Duc de Berry’s, a Mamluk mosque lamp, a Korean moon jar, something by Takashi Murakami and a Rothko. Plus other things. I am not a cheap date. Alas.

Thanks Dalya, we’re looking forward to the next collections!


Follow Lymited on Instagram here.

Read more about Lymited founder Romane Howsom here.

Hedge Fund Service Providers: Why, who and how.

We hear from George Ralph, Managing Director of RFA, on the important elements of an effective hedge fund service provider suite. RFA is a tech firm specialising in providing market-leading IT solutions to the alternative investment community.

Why do hedge funds need service providers?

There are so many different elements that are necessary for today’s market to run a successful hedge fund, so that dictates that nearly all funds will be outsourcing to a degree. From RFA’s perspective that could mean a fully outsourced IT solution or it could be we are fulfilling a particular role within the fund, like CTO or CISO.

There is an appetite in the market at the moment to buy in expertise; most funds really aren’t big enough to need a full-time CTO or CISO for example, but they do still need a the person in that role on their exec team to help manage risk, strategy, and of course experience.

Which hedge fund service providers are most important?

We would obviously say a technology partner! The key is to find a partner who values the entrepreneurial spirit of a launch and wants to be part of the story, thus giving a good level of support above and beyond – I sit as a non-exec director for some of our launches exactly for that reason.

I think each fund is different. Each partner will have come with a different skill set. The trick is to package the fund up it to a well-oiled machine, and actually having a great partner who builds the right business IT architecture for a firm is what to look out for from a technology perspective.

RFA are system agnostic; we will always create the best solution for our client and this will evolve, it’s very rare for a client to be on the same systems stack they were on two years ago.

‘Digital transformation’ is a real buzz phrase right now but for a good reason. We need to look at our core business models, the way we are doing business and put the right measures in place to support the way we now work. Service providers can be a real asset to a firm to support them in making these changes.

What do investors want from service providers when doing due diligence on a fund?

I think oversight here is absolutely key. Just because you outsource services to a third party, you don’t outsource the responsibility. We usually recommend that funds have direct contracts in place for each IT service and we then work with the fund to manage them through due diligence, vendor management, and core renewals – specifically as directed by the FCA under FP16/5. Funds need to have clear controls and practices in place to support 3 rd party oversight.

Firms should look at strategic and reputational risk as well as an operational risk when establishing governance over a 3rd party service provider. Building regular stress tests in oversight planning is probably the best way to manage this.

How has the hedge fund service provider offering and management changed in the pandemic?

I think for us, 80% of our clients were already in a position where the 100% remote working model was possible from day one. We are a forward-thinking business, we only employ IT management professionals and part of the beauty of this is they are an enthusiastic bunch who take learning seriously. This means we keep ourselves ahead of the curve in terms of innovation.

There has been a huge take-up in the use of collaboration tools during recent months, and we now all have almost too many ways to communicate with each other: WhatsApp, Teams, email. I personally never know where the next message is going to pop up! But seriously, collaboration is key to successful working practices in 2021.

We have talked about it a lot in recent months, but cyber decentralisation and data centralisation have been the main drivers in terms of IT change over the course of the pandemic so far. This trend will continue as data centralisation is key to continuing the story around collaboration too.

We have also done a huge amount of work with our clients and our teams internally on mental health initiatives – many clients come to me for advice as we of course are looking after 300+ staff in multiple regions. We built a track and trace app of our own to protect our staff and clients early on back in March and this has now expanded to booked lunch slots, bike racks, etc.

We have also taken on larger office space (in our Mayfair residence) and this has been to provide startup clients with temporary office space. Saving on firewalls, switches, etc, and also taking away an initial burden to find a space on top of everything else.

How can hedge fund service providers work together for a shared client?

There are some exciting developments coming in terms of data particularly when we think about hedge fund service providers working together. With most firms now using data warehouses, or lakes if you prefer, to store their data it has become more malleable if you like. We are able to manipulate a firm’s data and present it in different ways not possible before. For example, a firm might have multiple systems or investor portals that it requires access to. Via the public cloud, be that AWS, Azure, or whatever, we can now build a central data dashboard where all the information from each service provider is delivered in one manageable and secure format.

One of the key takeaways from the change of working environment over the last 12 months has been the focus on tackling cybersecurity. The idea of service providers working together strategically also reduces the number of entry points to a firm’s tech setup and therefore can help reduce cyber risk.

These are definitely the next steps in terms of collaboration and we are talking to other service providers to help expedite digital transformation for our clients.

 

Want to feature on HedgeBrunch? Click here.

 

Want to become an AYU Service Provider and connect with AYU members from the alternative investment industry? Click here.

 

Check George Ralph’s recent AYU Member Spotlight on AYU Tube.

Hedge Funds Renaissance

By Cédric Kohler- Head of Advisory at Fundana, an alternative boutique specialising in Hedge Funds.

What do Winston Churchill, Niki Lauda, the Internet and Hedge Funds have in common? Nothing, right? An odd group. However, after thinking about it, it’s obvious that Churchill, Lauda and the Internet have each changed the world, in their own special ways. What’s more, while they are now regarded either as visionaries or for having started a new era, each of them had to fail before becoming truly recognised. Indeed, before becoming the second world-war historical figure that we know so well, Winston Churchill suffered a major setback in 1915 when he sent more than 20,000 soldiers to their demise in the Dardanelles. Niki Lauda endured a near-fatal race accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring before winning his next two world championships and improving car safety forever. The internet bubble first collapsed in 2002, before the web changed the way we live permanently.

Hedge Funds Renaissance

Hedge Funds are going through a similar phase. More than a decade after the 2008 crisis, worldwide Hedge Fund Assets Under Management are near their all-time high with more than $3 trillion (source Hedge Fund Research) and alternatives have changed the way we invest forever! Why? Because investors, especially family offices must find alternatives to traditional portfolios to generate best in class risk adjusted returns. And while the stock market comes as a first solution, the dramatic volatility of this market has frightened more than one CIO. Indeed, stocks have halved not just once but twice since the early 2000s! As a result, investors are looking for alternatives and Hedge Funds version 2.0 are becoming a must in portfolios, either because they improve the return risk profile of bonds or equities, or because they provide an uncorrelated return stream. After a major setback in 2008, the Hedge Fund industry has learned from its mistakes and has come out of the crisis much stronger.

What is foreign does not necessarily have to be strange!

However, for many family offices who decide to venture into the alternatives space, it is not easy to decide which strategies to choose. How should they pick between Private Equity, Infrastructure, Insurance Linked Securities, Hedge Funds, and Commodities? Not to mention more esoteric strategies such as Timber, Microfinance, Crowdfunding, and Movie Financing! For more than one investor, these strategies appear complex and akin to black boxes: in short,  these strategies can appear strange to investors because they do not understand them.

A safe and common-sense approach is to start with strategies that investors can understand “easily” and that are liquid in case they want to change their allocation. The Equity Long / Short strategy in Hedge Funds can be a good start. Indeed, typically most investors understand fundamental stock investing given their allocation to long-only equity strategies. The extension on the short side is intuitive: trying to benefit from a stock correction which could be the result of a company, for example, missing its earnings consensus forecast, being too aggressive in its strategy or worst, a fraud. Hence, it does not take much for investors to grasp the essence of this strategy.

What’s more, most professionals invested in Equity Long / Short think of their investments, not as investments in Hedge Funds, but as a complement to their overall equity allocation. Equity Long / Short is thought of as a management technique providing asymmetric returns: capture as much as the market upside as possible, while limiting losses during market corrections. Over the long run, this provides equity returns with just half of the volatility and drawdowns of a simple equity allocation. In addition, since equity markets are one of the most liquid markets in the world, this strategy is by nature very liquid. And as we know, liquidity is important since it gives us the option to be wrong!

Building Trust

Finally, it is probably not a bad idea to start small when going into new investments. By small, we mean literally just a couple of percent. Yes, this will not make a big difference to the portfolio’s bottom-line performance. However, this will enable a family office to learn how a strategy and a portfolio manager react during different market cycles and drawdowns like we had earlier this year. This common-sense approach is used in many other fields. For example, it is well known in medicine under the term hormesis and is in fact the basis for vaccines. A small toxin dose enables the body to build its immune response while a bigger dose could be fatal. Many wise investors recommend investing only in what you understand and in small amounts to begin with. Gradually increasing an allocation to an alternative strategy enables two crucial things that each family office is looking for: understanding its investment while avoiding the risk of ruin and building trust!

 

Cédric is a partner at Fundana, an alternative boutique specializing in Hedge Funds since 1993. He is a member of the investment committee and in charge of the Advisory Group and of Business Development. Fundana manages circa $1Bn for Family Offices, Pension Funds and Banks. Fundana is a boutique and wants to remain one, focusing on performance rather than products. Read his AYU Member Spotlight here.

Cédric’s insight on manager selection is available here: Drawdown Analysis – Show me your drawdown, I’ll tell you who you are

Now read: Family Offices: Investing in a post pandemic world

Want to feature on Hedgebrunch? Click here.

Mind your Asset Class, by Capital Rise

Uma Rajah, Co-Founder and CEO of CapitalRise sees fintech as an enabler, but it’s the asset class that counts.

Since the start of COVID-19, the big question for investors has been: Where do we put our money? This period is an important turning point for the relatively new fintech investment market, and this point in history will be seen as a test of its agility and resilience. As a fintech platform, CapitalRise is a technology-driven, fast growing business disrupting the prime property finance market. The fintech investment sector was largely born in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Real estate finance companies like ourselves aim to provide investors access to prime real estate debt as a key part of their alternative investments portfolio – by filling the funding gap triggered by the retreat of traditional lenders. CapitalRise is solely focused on the attractive UK prime property market which despite its proven resilience as an asset class, is not the focus of most lenders.

Prime property is in the blood of CapitalRise. Behind the platform are experts in their respective fields who are apt at navigating through changeable times. With a team who have experienced years in the prime property finance industry, we have a strong expertise advantage. This is bolstered by our relationship with Finchatton, the luxury interior design company founded by two of the three CapitalRise founders. Finchatton has delivered over 120 projects in prime central London and worldwide, with a value in excess of £2 billion.

 

CapitalRise is solely focused on the attractive UK prime property market which despite its proven resilience as an asset class, is not the focus of most lenders.

 

For investors, COVID has accentuated their appetite. The impact of global economic uncertainty and zero to negative interest rates now mean that sitting on cash is expensive. It has been both a global phenomenon and a great leveler, altering attitudes towards risk appetite and portfolio allocation strategies.

Investment managers are under increased pressure to deploy funds into lower risk asset classes such as private debt, real estate and real assets. Large volumes of institutional investment have been widely publicised over this period, particularly in private debt funding, as investors rebalance their portfolios.

Much of our loan book is in prime central London (PCL), fondly known as the ‘golden postcode’ areas including Mayfair, Chelsea and Belgravia. PCL is totally unique and can’t be compared to the mainstream UK property market, or indeed the rest of the world. Despite the impact of the pandemic on the wider property market, there is a silver lining. Prime property is robust and as a result, prime assets are still in demand from both domestic and global investors. Private secured debt is not correlated to wider market volatility and offers downside protection, especially when asset backed. It’s being increasingly chosen as an attractive investment because it is more liquid than regular real estate and other luxury asset classes.

 

PCL is totally unique and can’t be compared to the mainstream UK property market, or indeed the rest of the world.

 

There is also a larger market audience taking advantage of prime real estate debt that travels beyond domestic investors. Its global attraction sees participants taking advantage of transaction ease, currency differences and strong value proposition when compared to other international property markets.

Ultimately, prime real estate is an appealing investment choice providing attractive risk adjusted returns. At CapitalRise we have seen that despite the pandemic, institutional investor appetite for secured debt has remained strong during this period. Property Funds World recently reported that Non-listed real estate debt products continue to attract attention from institutional investors and investment managers, with a record high of EUR32 billion raised globally in 2019, according to the INREV Debt Vehicles Universe 2020 study.

Now with the ability to carry out investments digitally, It’s the time for fintech investment platforms to shine.

 

Now read: Family Offices: Investing in a post-pandemic world, AYU – The app for the hedge fund world

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AYU Member Spotlight: John King of Montreux Capital Management

John King is Head of Investor Relations at Montreux Capital Management (UK). He has been with the company for 4 years. John has spent over 7 years in the Alternative Investment industry, raising money for a diverse group of investment funds and strategies. His current role focusses on consolidating the UK healthcare industry.

 

Hi John, what are you working on today? 

Today, and for most of the next two weeks, my team at Montreux Capital Management will focus on a key investor update piece which will be sent globally in the middle of December. As ever, this focus is interspersed with calls both with our underlying operating businesses, with colleagues, and investors. Of course, the pandemic has made this communication piece far more time consuming and inefficient but we have adapted well. 

How did you get to where you are now? 

I started my career as a Political Science grad at The Institute of Economic Affairs, my time there gave me the opportunity to think about how the world works and how my skill set fell within it. I liked ideas, I was good at communicating them. Thereafter, I joined Murano Connect a boutique cap-intro firm which was very tough but where I learnt an awful lot from my colleagues. I then went on as Associate Director of Apex Fund Service’s Cap Intro arm where I was hired by my client, Montreux Capital Management (UK). I have been with Montreux since January 2017 and in that time we have seen the AuM quintuple. 

What attracted you to this business? 

I liked ideas but unfortunately, Think Tanks don’t pay the best and I knew a key motivation for me was money. Seems a crude thing to say but it’s what motivates me, and how I gauge success in the workplace. My thinking was around how I could get paid for what I like doing, meeting new people and communicating ideas. I thought the best place for this was finance and I was fortunate enough to get a job in the industry after a short while.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

Doubtless making the transition from politics to finance. So many of my friends ask me about how to break into the industry, as we all know, it remains very hard. From then on, working hard to achieve a track record you can stand behind is comparatively easy.    

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

I have a deeply engrained idea of the industry based on the films I would watch in my teens. It’s hard to admit it publicly but the Porsche driving, red brace wearing yuppy was an aspiration. Going from meeting to meeting in New York with a (albeit smaller) mobile strapped to my ear seemed everything I wanted to be. It’s hard work but my goodness, I can’t think of a better career. 

What would you change?

As someone with some experience in this industry, most certainly the inefficiency of how investors find funds. It’s shocking we haven’t found an efficient solution. I have a product, an investor has a need for a product, it should all be very straight forward. 

I temper that thought with the knowledge I wouldn’t have been given a break in the industry had asset raising been an efficient process, though. 

What do you invest in personally? 

Of course, a diverse pool of assets with only a 10% allocation to Alternatives… I’m afraid that isn’t true. My work in funds has spoiled my return expectations so I like things that are different. I always ask our investors what they are invested in and make modest investments in the most interesting of those funds where I can. My largest position is obviously in our Healthcare Fund, I always want that to be the case. If you are offering an investment you should have complete faith in it. 

Investing for pleasure, that is investing in the joy something brings you rather than for financial gain, for me means watches. Latest is an IWC Portugieser ‘Zurich’, my favourite is the Rolex Zenith Daytona white face stainless steel. If I had more space, I am sure I would buy more cars. The E-Type has been coveted from childhood but recently had my head turned by the Ferrari Roma which is for my money the prettiest car since the DB9 and drives really well. 

 Where do you celebrate? 

Long gone are the years I would celebrate with magnums of Veuve at the Mayfair Exchange, that underground pub on Brook St. So we don’t really celebrate other than to find a good place to drink Old Fashions and eat good food. Certainly the coolest place I have been is a speakeasy in a hidden room at the Marriot on Orchard Road in Singapore. When I first visited, the concierge at my hotel told me the secret knock and the door swung open to a bar that could only accommodate around 20 at max. They age their bourbons and whiskeys further in-house, bringing out flavours in the whiskey that are either under tasted or pushing forward a prominent note. I have a bottle of Maker’s Mark from there which has had extra time in virgin oak so tastes much more of vanilla and hence, is the perfect sipping bourbon. Of course, the place is now well known, you have to book and there is usually an obvious queue outside, takes away from the experience a bit. 

Other than that, celebrations usually take place up high. Montreux Capital Management celebrated a very large deal in the nightclub at the top of Marina Bay Sands once, it was a great night. I’ll be the first to admit it is a cliché. 

What is at the top of your bucket list right now? 

Just going anywhere to a hotel away from the world would be such a break at the moment. 

I have always wanted to do a road trip around The States. I’m a big fan of Californian red wine so a road trip around the vineyards there, especially Dry Creek Valley, would be top of the list. 

Having watched Michael Palin’s Around the World in 80 Days several times since lock down, I find myself dreaming of replicating that. Perhaps the lockdown is taking its toll. 

What does success mean to you?

I suppose success now is really viewed in the micro, its going from one deal to another and another, focusing all efforts on getting that across the line. 

In life, at the moment it looks like completing the Prudential RideLondon Surrey 100 in less than 5 hours. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Here’s how you sell a CTA fund in 30 seconds to secure the first meeting”

“Treat people well and be sincere, we are not selling double glazing, we are investing life savings or pensions or school funds”. 

 

John King of Montreux Capital has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with John by applying for membership here. 

Now read: HedgeBrunch Partner Spotlight: Robert Moore of Jersey Finance, AYU Member Spotlight: Cedric Kohler of Fundana

 

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Boss & Co’s New ‘1812 Edition’ Gun

Boss & Co, London’s oldest gunmaker, has announced its new ‘1812 Edition’, introducing an innovation that has never been seen in gunmaking before. The result of four-plus years and the development of a purpose-built action, it’s Boss & Co’s first ever side-lever over-and-under gun, and the world’s first to include two side-levers in the presentation case. Uniquely, this allows the gun to be changed and adapted for a left or a right-handed shooter.

The new bespoke gun takes Boss & Co’s iconic O/U shape, arguably the most copied in the world – and regularly praised for its elegance – and introduces a new purpose-built action, incorporating a side lever rather than a top lever. Uniquely, another side lever for the opposite side of the gun is handmade and engraved at the same time to be included in the presentation case. This eliminates the challenge of a left-handed shooter inheriting his right-handed grandparent’s or parent’s guns and having to request a new lever be made and engraved. This also eliminates the possibility of the gun’s original engraver having since retired or passed on.

What’s more, all top lever guns traditionally open one way (with very few exceptions made years ago specifically for left-handed shooters) and all previous side lever guns have had the lever mounted on the right side of the gun, again with a very rare exception. That means there has never truly been a gun that works for both ‘lefties’ and for ’righties’. The ‘1812 Edition’ is finally that gun.

The company has spent the last four-plus years developing this innovative new firearm; the first that is both truly for right-handed and left-handed shooters

Inspiration for this gun came over four years ago as Boss & Co Owner Arthur DeMoulas was shooting with a pair of vintage Boss & Co side-by-side side-levers, and was struck by the ease-of-use and practicality of the layout in the field. With the knowledge that Boss & Co had, 20 years ago, created a prototype O/U side-lever gun, Arthur communicated with one of the company’s most experienced gunmakers, John Varney, along with others in the business to progress the idea of a bespoke O/U side-lever gun.

Over months, Arthur developed plans with the factory manager and the gunmakers for their insight into how this gun could possibly be created. It was a collaborative effort, guided by Arthur’s vision, that required the input and insight of every stage of the gunmaking process. A bespoke action would have to be created, which would require adapted barrels, stock, finishing, engraving and more. This wasn’t just an adapted top lever gun, it had to be all-new.

Sadly, shortly after the gun’s conception John passed away following 42 years with Boss & Co, but his enthusiasm and technical knowledge were the catalyst for this new gun, which is dedicated to his memory. Jason Craddock, who worked on the bench next to John for nearly 20 years learned from his experience and became an integral part of the project, as the whole Boss & Co team took on the challenge of taking that first prototype gun, and making it truly great. The result of their think-tank mentality – just as it has always been at Boss – was the world’s first truly ambidextrous shotgun, developed over four years with a purpose-built action and turned into a reality in nearly 2,000 man hours.

Boss & Co’s strapline for over two centuries has been ‘Builders of Best Guns Only’, and is focused on producing only the highest standard of guns and rifles by hand

The process of turning the gun from concept into reality required a look back into Boss & Co’s past, during which the company had produced hundreds of side-lever guns but only on side-by-sides (with the rare exception), with all the levers fitted on the right-hand-side. Boss & Co’s team drew inspiration from the elegant designs of these guns, replicating and modernising the side lever and shape for the ‘1812 Edition’. This delicate process of creation, with an entirely new type of gun, required the finesse and experience of all the craftsmen at Boss & Co: stocker, actioner, barrel maker, engraver and finisher.

The new side lever itself is a thing of beauty. The hand-engraved chequered thumb push at the top is angled slightly forwards so that when depressed it is parallel with the action to stop the thumb slipping off. The lever curves gracefully around the action and such is the standard of Boss craftsmanship, if the gun is held up to the daylight, no light is visible between the lever and the action. A great deal of design also went into the vacant top strap now devoid of top lever. Not a single part of it is flat, creating a traditional Boss & Co flowing shape, as it tapers into a hand-engraved beetle-back safety – again a traditional design from London’s oldest gunmaker. The top strap, and the entirety of the body, has been engraved by Boss & Co’s engraver, Christophe, with the firm’s celebrated Rose & Scroll pattern. The ‘1812 Edition’ can be further personalised to any customer’s desire, with the largest selection of shapes and styles in the gunmaking industry.

In another first for British gunmaking, Boss & Co’s innovative new ‘1812 Edition’ – the world’s first ambidextrous over and under shotgun – will be delivered in a modern carbon fibre presentation case. Clothed within a subtle fabric outer layer finished with a handstitched leather border, the carbon fibre case is both lightweight and extremely strong.

 

Just as with the gun that it holds, the case is beautiful in both form and function. The carbon fibre weave – traditionally found in top-end performance applications – is perfect in its symmetry and its design. Upon opening the case, owners are presented with a beautiful wooden oak border and traditional Boss & Co Baze Red interior, fitted with traditional tools and accessories. The new case follows the overarching premise at the heart of the ‘1812 Edition’; that it is guided by tradition, not bound by it. It has all the inherent beauty and craftsmanship of  one of the intricate wooden cases designed and built by Boss & Co’s casemakers since 1812, but making use of the very latest materials and techniques.

Arthur DeMoulas, Boss & Co Owner, said: “As this project developed, one of our gunmakers, Jason, said: ‘Boss, guided by tradition, not bound by it’ and the 1812 Edition is the perfect example of that. It’s inspired by our past but it’s very functional and practical, and its ease-of-use in the field is now available to all shooters – regardless of which side they shoot on – in a way that no other gunmaker has done before. We’ve also found that for female shooters, with slightly smaller hands, the side lever is an infinitely more practical solution. This is entirely a Boss & Co gun, marked out by its elegant shape and timeless design, and built by hand to the very highest standards by some of the most gifted craftsmen in the world.
“We see this as a pivotal moment not just in our history, but in the history of gunmaking. Just as John Robertson revolutionised the world of firearms over 100 years ago during his time with Boss & Co, we believe the company and our talented gunmakers are doing something similar here, establishing Boss & Co’s name at the very top of the gunmaking world for decades to come.”

The company has been known for its innovations, perfecting the ‘Boss Single Trigger’, the ‘Boss Hammerless Ejector’, the first round-body side-by-side, and for producing what has been widely recognised as the most beautiful O/U gun in the world

Boss & Co is famed for introducing innovations to the gunmaking world that go on to become commonplace. The Boss Single Trigger, introduced in 1893 by John Robertson, was the first truly reliable single trigger mechanism, showcased to the public and press with a special side-by-side-by-side three-barrel shotgun operated from one single trigger. In 1897, Robertson then invented the Boss Hammerless Ejector, which has been in continuous production, virtually unaltered, since that day. And in 1909, Robertson invented Boss & Co’s over-and-under – the first British O/U – creating a gun that is regularly described as the most beautiful O/U in the world, or sometimes referred to as the racehorse of Best Guns for its wonderful lines.

This dedication to beauty and craftsmanship in building ‘Best Guns Only’ has led to Boss & Co becoming known as “the gunmakers’ gunmaker”. Most gun builders, if they could have any gun in the world, would choose a Boss. The company’s ethos is summed up perfectly by a Boss & Co sales brochure from the 1920s that read:

“We would say from the outset that we make only one grade of gun and have never placed a second quality make upon the market. This policy has enabled us to retain the services of the finest workmen in London, and to give them continuous employment. The advantages attending the production of best work only are manifold. There is no opportunity for the work of inferior men to be utilised in the economy of the workshop, which is frequently the case when more than one class of weapon is produced.

“The owner of a Boss gun has the satisfaction of knowing that he has the best gun that money can buy, and that no-one has a better. The Boss gun has, therefore, always a standard value, whether new or second hand. Our output is limited strictly according to the amount of first class labour available.”

 

Now watch: AYU and HedgeBrunch Shooting Day

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AYU Member Spotlight: Anu Chhabra of RiverRock

Anu Chhabra has been working for RiverRock, an Alternative Credit manager since early 2020. She handles business development across Private credit strategies with a special emphasis on ESG and Sustainability. RiverRock’s vision is to provide capital to SMEs to support their long-term sustainable development and growth across Europe and developing parts of the world. Anu holds an Economics degree and is working towards a CFA ESG qualification.

Hi Anu, what are you working on today?

I’m currently focusing on fundraising for the Supply Chain Impact Fund, which provides capital to SMEs producing Agricultural products and commodities in the developing world, this gap has been created by banks retrenching post GFC and asset managers like RiverRock are trying to fill the trillion dollar financing gap. The fund targets multiple Sustainable development goals to provide equality of opportunity, improve infrastructure, economic growth and responsible consumption.

How did you get to where you are now?

I’ve worked in finance since I graduated with a degree in Economics and have worked for asset management across various strategies over the last decade.

The industry has evolved over time and a financial return is no longer enough to meet a client’s goals, Asset allocators demand their investments make an Impact both from an environmental and a social perspective.

What attracted you to this business?

My interest in Impact Investing and RiverRock’s commitment to providing capital to sustainable businesses was a huge reason why I chose to work for them. RiverRock thinks of ESG implementation both at a firm and a fund level and hence is fully committed to ESG, which aligns our interests.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

The most pivotal moments to date has been my involvement in helping set-up a Healthcare strategy focusing on PPE which has been hugely important given the pandemic. The fund provides capital to SMEs working to provide Personal protective equipment to state funded hospitals.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

The fact that Impact strategies are making a real-life difference to SMEs expansion and benefitting the economy, infrastructure, work conditions  and the people they employ.

What would you change?

We are certainly heading in the right direction and it seems the pandemic has sped things up quite a lot. I would not necessary change but would like the outcome of ESG initiatives to come to fruition sooner.

What do you invest in personally? 

I’m a big fan of wine investing as you can never go wrong with it. If the investment does not pay off, you can always enjoy a nice glass with friends instead.

Where do you celebrate? 

I like Blue Marlin in Ibiza to let my hair down and listen to music. We’ve all spent a lot of time indoors this year, so the thought of a beach club with a group of friends, music and cocktails sounds like a dream.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now? 

Machu Picchu in Peru and the hike along the Inca trail is certainly high up my list of places to visit.

What does success mean to you?

Raising assets for funding  SME expansion  across the globe would be success for sure.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.

Anu Chhabra has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Anu by applying for membership here. 

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The Future of Alternative Investments Technology

Contributed by George Ralph of RFA

RFA is an IT, financial cloud and cyber-security provider to the financial services and alternative investment sectors.

In the last 12 months the alternative investment sector has learnt to expect the unexpected and to embrace change to the best of our ability. In business terms more than any other, making decisions where the outcome might still need to be fluid has been challenging and we, as a community, have tried to seek out solutions that allow for flexibility and finesse. Security, resilience and governance are all questions that require an answer. A challenge indeed. It is also fair to say that while upgrading IT processes might have been on an alternative investment firm’s horizon in the short to medium term, technology decisions are now having to be made quickly and crisply in order for firms to not only thrive but also survive. 

With workforces dispersed, trade flow and process flow have changed. The way data is stored, managed, accessed and analysed is changing too. Gone are the days of multiple spreadsheets for compliance or client reporting. If data is managed correctly, the result is a more succinct and easier to use data set that benefits everyone. As public cloud providers develop their products exponentially, the alternative investments technology options available to firms have in turn increased. Adopting Office 365 and developing a tailored app-based solution is now entirely possible, creating a fully collaborative, available-anywhere business flow platform.  Using Microsoft’s ready made solutions like SharePoint and Teams make the transition to a 100% cloud based set up even easier. RFA work with clients to build a layered cloud solution, where static people and hardware have become a thing of the past. 

With remote systems comes the question of security and as the move back to fully integrated face to face working seems some way off, cybersecurity is also key to a successfully managed organisation within alternative investments technology. A satellite office set up, usually based at home, comes with it’s own issues and securing Wi-Fi and hardware can be complicated. RFA uses AI and machine learning to build client specific solutions that allows firms to identify threats, track trends and learn patterns of behaviour in a remote working environment. With the correct training, moving from a centralised to decentralised cybersecurity framework is attainable, and the days of onerous reports and cumbersome equipment are a thing of the past. 

There isn’t an expectation for funds to have the knowledge to achieve all of this in house of course. Outsourcing to subject matter experts is on the rise and reducing overheads while retaining pace with competitors using the ‘as a Service’ model works really well. That could take the form of a human resource like a CTO, or technology resource like Infrastructure or Software. 

What is equal, if not more valuable, to an investment firm using improved technology for better business and deal flow is the support that sits behind each new business model. RFA have set a new standard of enhanced service support for our clients both for now and in the future. Putting satellite working at the forefront, we have tested the user experience for our clients and already navigated potential issues, therefore assuring our clients that our 24/7/365 service measures up to the new way of working. 

In order to maintain performance in an environment where it feels like the goal posts are constantly being moved, utilising alternative investments technology is no longer a choice, it has become a necessity. Investment firms must understand this. As operating systems and data and technology architecture evolve to fit the new working model, the right individually curated solution is out there, right now.

 

Now read: Family Offices: Investing in the post pandemic world, Peregrine Communications

 

Now read: Women in Funds, Family Offices and Finance

 

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Hillside Beach Club

Turkey is most certainly on the list of Europe-based sun and fun, but it may not have ever been number one on your list. It wasn’t on ours. The likes of France, Italy and Greece beat it to the punch on most days. However, they really don’t have to. Hillside Beach Club, on the country’s South-West coast, is one of the best reasons this is so. 

Hillside Beach Club is a smooth, affable and very well conceived resort. Found in a wonderfully exclusive private cove in Fethiye, south of Bodrum, it’s just an hour from Dalaman airport. Yes, it’s an all-inclusive family offering, but don’t hold your preconceptions against it. The beach club everything-is-right-here approach works, and it’s highly likely to be the travel answer you’re looking for, especially if your kids have more energy than covid-shorted patience does. 

Yes, we know, all inclusive holidays are not for everyone, but stick with us. There are private, adults-only (phone-free) silent beaches, spas and treatments which would not be out of place in W1 and some highly conducive cooking and some enticing cocktail bars. Not to mention, you’re offered the chance to tip your kids into the water somewhere on day one, and come back for them when it’s time to leave a week later. You can be safe in the knowledge there’s a pretty reasonable chance they’ll still be there, in one piece. The Hillside bay is gloriously clean and safe, and the watersports offering is nothing short of amazing, you see. Finally, and not that it’s an indicator we’d look for, but there are enough super-yachts moored out there (those non-residents afloat come ashore to drink, dine and play), to make St Tropez blush. If it’s good enough for the eastern-med’s super-set, it’s probably getting something right. 

Heading for a long weekend in September, we landed on a Thursday evening and were swiftly gathered into a smooth and cool private transfer. We’re now fully of the opinion that this is a crucial start to any trip – a sparklingly clean Mercedes with powerful aircon, a curated playlist, chilled water, wifi and space to recline. A friction free and really quite pleasant hour’s journey. It was much needed and very welcome after a short-haul flight that, at four hours and change from Gatwick, is on the slightly longer side. We didn’t get to the resort until 11pm or so, but we were greeted with an open-air cinema (a picturesque screen floating on the flat-calm sea), an open bar and midnight bbq on the beach. All very smooth, very cool.

Next morning, waking up to swaying pines and a sparkling sea view pre breakfast and hammam treatments, we noticed a small but vital bag of contact lenses and prescription meds had been carelessly left in London. Bugger. Surely we’re screwed here. It’d take days to get those ordered, by which time we’ll be home. Amazingly, not so. Tim, our designated weekend consigliere, was on hand (via whatsapp, so simple) to help. A two minute visit to the resident doctor and both meds and lenses were ordered, zero fuss. “They’ll be waiting for you at breakfast after your massage”. Huh? What? Yup, no joke. Stress-melting, happy-making service. Full marks, and that was before the massages. 

 

Hillside Beach Club, it’s hard to overstate, has seriously good spa facilities and treatments. We made two visits over the weekend and that should be a mandated approach for anyone and everyone. First up was the Luxury Hammam treatment at the Sanda Day Spa. This was a traditional hamman treatment which was so stunningly good it was practically an out-of-body experience. Oils, ablutions and acquiescence – we positively floated out back into the sunshine and on to a late breakfast.

Next on this arduous agenda, the stunning (and child-free) Serenity beach. Sounds like bliss before you even get there, right? It didn’t disappoint. A jaunty little boat ride round the point or delightful walk through the shaded pines gets you there and a small yet uncrowded beach is waiting with open arms. Day beds, hammocks and a petite yet perfectly formed cocktail bar. No noise, no kids, no crowds. Peace and, funnily enough, serenity. A beach BBQ is on hand at lunch and there are some inviting spots tastefully settled into the cliff face, under shade, to rest and digest in. It really is a dreamy spot to while-away a day and get gently holiday-sozzled. 

 

After a tough day of bliss, a wander back to our hillside villa pre-dinner was on the cards. En route, however, we were accosted by some passing pina-coladas and then lured into stand-up paddle boarding. We had no choice in the matter. Big kids. Being very silly in the waters of the shallow bay. It felt like the first chance to forget the responsibilities of living in 2020. 

Freshened and relaxed via balcony showers and a chilled flute of champagne, we watched the sun set into the bay and ventured to our tasting diner at Pasha  – one of Hillside Beach Club’s four restaurants. A veritable cornucopia of a Turkish specialities was offered up under candlelight as we sat, bare foot, at our peaceful waterside table with fish gently rising in the shallows.  It was really very special. 

Saturday morning and why change what was a perfect start to the day before – massage and breakfast. Well breakfast then massage, to be exact. And the some of the best examples of both. Fresh Turkish bread from a wood-fired oven was a simply life-affirming lead in veritable full-team effort of a breakfast and then we got to test out Silent Beach. Serenity, obviously not being enough for some. Silent beach is a small and ultra-private cove with a spa, magically suspended in the trees above it. We opted for a couples massage and came out hazy eyed, hypnotised and 100%, completely devoid of stress whatsoever. Couldn’t even define the word for you. Brain meltingly pleasurable. We whiled away the rest of the morning in rhapsodic silence, with the sea lapping at our toes. 

A change of pace was now in order though, as we’d not fully taken advantage of the water-sports on offer – and time was running out. To sail, to water ski, to dive, to snorkel? There’s enough to keep you entertained for days. There’s the option to get qualified too, which is far more attractive here than in the chilling English Channel. We opted for wake surfing and spent an exhilarating and hilarious hour or two getting to grips with a new, rewarding and adrenalin pumping, challenge. The team of instructors were warm, friendly and helpful – they clearly loved to get people on their feet and having fun. It’s tough to see how they wouldn’t enjoy their work, they spend their days on a speedboat, in a warm Mediterranean bay surrounded by very big smiles. 

Hillside Beach Club is a package that wins. We were unsure what to expect and, as we packed up to leave, we were sure that we’d return. It is a very, very, good way to spend a long weekend with or without kids, and a whole week would be a joy. 

 

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Staycation ideas from Hedgebrunch, click here.

 

Hedgebrunch visits The Eastbury Hotel

 

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AYU Partner Spotlight: George Ralph of RFA

George Ralph is Managing Director of RFA, a tech firm specialising in providing market leading IT solutions to the alternative investment community. George is a technology and business leader with a proven track record of strategic alignment, process improvement and guidance. George has extensive delivery and technical experience in the IT sector and is an Assessor for the British Computer Society and a Certified IT professional.

Hi George, what are you working on today?

My main focus recently has been around growing a business and ensuring industry leading service during a pandemic! It has been an interesting time. Also, my priority list doesn’t just include our clients, it includes our staff at RFA. They have worked hard to keep our clients doing business this year and their wellbeing is very much at the forefront of my mind.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I started out in 1994 teaching people Netscape navigator. I then became a sys admin on CentOS and OS2 systems in the City. This led me to becoming CTO of a training firm as a Partner. I then left there choosing to become an outsourced COO/CTO to technology firms (like RFA). This provided an opportunity to become a cyber auditor for investors involved in M&A work and investments, after which I joined RFA becoming a Partner and Managing Director globally in 2014.

What attracted you to this business? 

The RFA leadership is like a family. The open, transparent idea sharing and the support we give each other is far greater than I have experienced in any other company I have worked for as a leader. It can be lonely at the top so RFA’s approach was key to me making the decision to join the business.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

Technically, a migration of an enterprise firm with 500k users on the system 24/7. This was a huge project where I implemented VMware View VDI systems and core load balancing solution. There is no question it was a challenging project, but with big challenges come big rewards

In a leadership role, having the ability to mentor people and interview IT leaders to become certified as IT accredited individuals is a real highlight for me. The people who work in IT are definitely one of my main focus areas.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

The challenging mix of the need for next generation technology without the assumed budget. I love designing systems and hand holding startups so that the technology architecture we provide can grow with them, match their regulatory needs and also be future proof.

I also enjoy meeting people with key technology challenges and resolving them, especially when it comes to service standards. Service is one of our main focuses at RFA and something I insist we maintain at all levels.

What would you change?

Our sector works hard and works long hours. I enjoy this and I definitely am in the live to work camp, but I have to constantly bring myself back in line to ensure I take a break every now and then. So no real change, other than continuing to ensure my hobbies get the time they need. I love racing –  Caterhams at the moment – and when I’m racing there is no way I can think about work or do any work so it is a real release for me and an opportunity to try and succeed in a different way!

What do you invest in personally? 

My children, property and motorsport. I am from a family of petrol heads and so spend most of my weekends racing or having fun with my children, or in fact both. I am hoping my boys will follow in my footsteps and have the same passion for motorsport that I do.

Where do you celebrate? 

As my role is global, I travel 90% of the time (not right now obviously!) and so I have favourite bars and hotels all around the world. Catch in NYC is a favourite and I look forward to a cold beer there once we are able to travel more freely again.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

Personally, I want to win a Mag 7 championship in my race class in the Caterham. Professionally, I want to continue being the desired IT firm in our sector.

What does success mean to you?

Happiness and security.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always be honest with your staff. Leadership is being transparent about both plans and challenges; if people have a goal and know how you want to get there they will focus on it. The same applies to values.

George Ralph has been an AYU member since 2020. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with George by applying for membership here

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AYU Member Spotlight: Miquel Burguet of Marlowe Capital

Miquel Burguet is Portfolio Manager at Marlowe Capital and Research Associate at the Systemic Risk Centre of the London School of Economics. Marlowe Capital is a macro global investment manager focused on a small investment niche: commercial banks equities. We try to find stable macro situations around the globe – long or short – and we invest in them through a portfolio with a limited number of commercial and investment banking equities on a “best ideas” basis. Miquel is also an award winning writer, having been given National Literature Award in his teens – 1994.

What are you working on today? 

We are designing a portfolio of commercial and investment banks equities in highly regarded jurisdictions to be implemented when the macro situation stabilizes.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I have been focused on commercial banks since my undergraduate: first with industry experience – preparing my civil service exams for the banking supervision division of a Central Bank, as a banking lawyer, as a controller of a savings bank – and after my MBA as a banks analyst in the City and investment fund advisor. I developed further my understanding of macro dynamics applied to the banking sector – our speciality at Marlowe Capital – as a research associate at the London School of Economics.  

What attracted you to this business? 

I have loved finance since I was a child. I guess it is a passion that does not have an easy explanation. 

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

The most pivotal moments of my career were when I got my first job at the City in 2007, just before the Credit Crunch, and when we were authorized as an asset manager in 2016. 

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

The challenge of trying to understand the markets and the proof that you do – making money from them in a consistent fashion. 

What would you change?

Short termism may be a problem sometimes. It may make sense for a number of strategies – high frequency trading, many in the quantitative universe, low vol, etc. – but it may be a drag for effective value generation when implementing other investment styles, for example a number of those based on fundamental analysis. Of course this can not be the excuse of the manager not to deliver over the expected time horizon. 

What do you invest in personally? 

My key investment is my shares at Marlowe Capital. I believe they might be a 100 bagger, as Peter Lynch would say. 

Where do you celebrate? 

I am a bit of a foodie and I love to travel. I like to try the new restaurant offerings in London – alongside a number of old favourites –  and to celebrate a good year travelling to some different, relatively unknown part of the world – next in my list is a trip to Mongolia and the Gobi. 

What is at the top of your bucket list right now? 

Visiting Osteria Francescana when the post-corona world allows it, perhaps combined with a quick trip to Florence, Siena, San Gimignano… some of my favourite places around.

What does success mean to you?

Fulfilling your potential with the right people around. Managing to fully develop your professional potential surrounded by the people you are attached to – partner, family, friends – sounds like a good definition of success to me. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Find your passion in life and make it your job. That is the way to ensure you are very good at what you do. The top professionals have been always passionate about their occupations – in architecture, journalism, football, the arts, etc. I think this is particularly true in finance.  

Now read: AYU Member Spotlight: Cedric Kohler of Fundana

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Working From Home Securely

10 Step Guide to Working from Home Securely: for Investment Managers, Hedge Funds and Private Equity Firms

Home working, while always on the agenda, suddenly shot to the top of everyone’s priority list in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. Some firms were be better prepared than others for working from home securely, but most had to move from a position where they were equipped to support 40-50% of the workforce remotely, to 100% of the firm’s staff working at home and for an extended period. Understandably, this has been causing a lot of issues which need unpicking. 

It’s not too late to implement some best practices retrospectively. COVID-19 has created a much longer term hybrid work environment than any of us had really expected. I can advise on the right approach and the tools to help you secure your employees working environment and protect your corporate data. Taking some of the following steps will allow your business the flexibility to keep working in an agile way, so take some time to think about these basic security health checks. 

So, what can you do to ensure that corporate data stays safe when your entire workforce is accessing services remotely for the foreseeable future?

  1. Communicate!

You will by now have now re-written your policies and communicated the changes out to all staff. Most firms needed to rework documents to suit the very specific circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and will need to look at the bigger picture on policies once we know more about the long term affects of the pandemic. Some employees might not have worked from home before and the clear guidance you are giving alongside concise policies are a good idea. Video training can be really useful here. If you’re showing one member of staff, I recommend recording it and sharing with everyone on the team. This also gives you a great training video for new team members as and when they join.

2. Tech up

Provide corporate devices for staff wherever possible and mandate that these are used by employees only, not for personal activities or by other members of the household. By providing company approved devices, you can ensure they are properly configured with appropriate AV software and endpoint protection. Separating the use of personal devices is key to keeping your data safe. The control tools put in place for corporate owned devices by the firm will keep corporate data managed, secured and backed up.

3. Password security

Encourage staff to use a password manager so they can accommodate long, complex passwords for the device itself and any web-based applications and services. It is highly likely that you have moved to SSO by now but if not, you should seriously consider this move as soon as possible.

4. Configure your services

If you haven’t made the move to already, configuring services centrally to enforce the use of multi-factor authentication is wise, as it is not often enforced on a personal basis. Many firms don’t realise that Office 365 doesn’t require users to utilise multi-factor authentication when accessing webmail as standard, for example.  As with all public cloud platforms, the out of the box configuration will not keep you secure. MFA is one of the first configurations that should be invoked in a remote working enviroment.

5. Infrastructure

Consider what infrastructure works best for your firm that can be managed and maintained centrally and accessed via a web browser, using multifactor authentication. A containerised environment will allow you to quickly deliver desktops to staff in a segregated way to their endpoints, if you haven’t already have moved to a SaaS based solution. This is also useful for staff changes; you can replicate your desktop solution quickly to any endpoint. 

6. Be alert

Employ tools to monitor your environment 24/7, inspecting devices, data connections, networks and user behaviour, alerting to anomalies. Our Managed Detection and Response services is a great solution for this. Moving from a central / office-based security solution onto an endpoint-based solution is critical as we work to understand what our new working lives will look like. 

7. Encrypt

Install email and data encryption software to protect data at rest and in transit. If defences fail and a user’s machine is successfully hacked, the data is rendered useless. It’s important that endpoints are encrypted. Files will inevitably be saved on the endpoint if a containerised solution is not used.

8. Home Wifi

Ask staff to take steps to secure their home WiFi network, setting long, strong router passwords which are changed frequently and not shared outside family and friends. Request that they change the admin credentials of the router from the factory settings, otherwise a hacker could easily gain control of the WiFi network configuration. Ask them to change the router name so that hackers can’t look up the default username and password for that brand of router, or better yet, hide the network altogether by blocking the SSID. If the router has a firewall, instruct employees to switch this on. They should find this in the console settings. All these activities make it harder for hackers to connect to employees’ home WiFi networks. Always change the password on the routers as the default passwords are published online.

9. Staff awareness

Train users to identify suspicious activity such as phishing attacks, malicious links and malware. Spoof phishing tests and online training courses are a great way to reach remote staff. Firms are at an increased risk of phishing attacks and other behaviour currently, due to the unstable environment. People still 99% to blame for breaches, so training and increased awareness are vital. The training can be fun and informative and also a good opportunity to get the whole team together for a virtual session as well as securing home working.

10. Data

Ensure you operate in a way which preserves the integrity of your data. Have a single source of  truth. Restrict users from downloading data and making local copies wherever possible. 

 

 

This guide to working from home securely was contributed by RFA, an IT, financial cloud and cyber-security provider to the financial services and alternative investment sectors, and AYU approved Service Provider.

Now read: Women In Funds, Peregrine Communications

AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with her by applying for membership here. 

Want to feature on Hedgebrunch? Click here.

 

 

AYU Member Spotlight: Thomas Pontin of Shikuma Capital

Thomas Pontin co-founded Shikuma Capital in 2020 and is responsible for all things non-investment related along with his colleague Anna McCutcheon.  

 

Hi Thomas, what are you working on today?

Hi! Today I’m finalising Shikuma’s counter-party roster, I have two calls with potential seeders, and whenever I get a spare moment I’m slowly building out our CRM.

How did you get to where you are now?

I have a slightly unconventional career path in that I went almost directly into a hedge fund sales role after university, initially for F&C Alternative Investments, where I learned from various vol and variance trading fund managers and legendary industry veteran Alex Ingham Clark, who is still something of a mentor to me. Unfortunately being a ‘short vol’ business wasn’t the best strategy for the 2008 GFC and the business imploded.

From there I went to Fulcrum Asset Management, where I got to work with some industry legends like Gavyn Davies (former global chief economist at Goldman Sachs), Suhail Shaikh and my good friend Athanasios Bolmatis; all brilliant minds and fascinating to work with. I was the product specialist for the macro and alternative risk premia strategies and also launched the Commodity Fund in UCITS, which we were early pioneers of. It was a great time and I learned a huge amount.  

After Fulcrum I went to Harmonic Capital Partners, another systematic macro house founded by Richard Conyers. Unfortunately they blew up shortly after I arrived so there wasn’t much for me to do, and I left for another systematic macro house, ADG. ADG was a great period – we grew the business from $100m to $3.4bn at peak in under 5 years. I really consolidated my experience here and got to develop deeper relationships with clients. 

What attracted you to this business?

I read economics at university so the intersection of big picture macro and geo-political events has always been interesting to me. I remember reading “Inside the house of Money” at an early age and finding the various approaches to macro investing fascinating. Once I was in the industry I really enjoyed meeting the clients – again such diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking about markets. I find it a real privilege to sit in client meetings and hear smart people riffing on what’s going in in the world.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

I hope that I will look back on the current pivot – from asset raiser to company founder of Shikuma Capital – as the most significant!

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

I think the industry has painted itself into a corner in recent years – too specialised, too inflexible. I’m hoping we can lead a reversal back to nimble, dynamic strategies that can adapt to a fast-changing environment.

What would you change?

My experience of pigeon-holed strategies has taught me that we need far more flexibility in mandate, particularly in terms of risk premia captured, volatility profiling and risk management techniques. I do not believe that hedge funds should be constrained by the same parameters that long-only and retail strategies should be. That said I also think that hedge funds should be more accessible to a broader section of the investment community as when used correctly they can provide important diversification at a time when the traditional 60:40 method of investing should be consigned to history.

What do you invest in personally?

Outside of our strategy I invest in property (I come from a family of builders), contemporary art, gold and crypto. I’m long inflation!

Where do you celebrate?

I enjoy cooking and am happiest around my own dining table with a good group of friends. My favourite local pub is The Cow (Guinness and Oysters), favourite local is “Upstairs at the Oak” and my favourite hotel bar is The Connaught, where my wife and I like to go after visiting galleries. For restaurants I like Portobello Gold and Sushi Tetsu and I always try to go to Lure Fishbar in New York whenever I’m over.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

I have always wanted to visit Japan.

What does success mean to you?

My family around a kitchen table in a house I’ve built.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always buy when there’s blood on the streets, even if that blood is your own” Baron Rothschild

 

Thomas Pontin has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Tom by applying for membership here. 

 

Now read: HedgeBrunch Partner Spotlight: Elliot Refson, AYU Member Spotlight: Niklas Torriani of Io Macro

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Creative Investment Strategy

Dan Perkins, Managing Director of Great Point Investments, talks creative investment strategy.

At the end of July, upon the launch of the UK government’s £500m film and TV production restart scheme, The UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden stated that “Our screen industries are high growth, job creating and showcase the best of British creativity and innovation”.  The quote is backed up by the stats – according to the latest available figures, the UK Creative Industries contributed over £110bn of value to the UK economy in 2018, employed 1 in 11 UK workers and was (pre-Covid) growing at a rate five times faster than the UK average across all sectors. 

“Our screen industries are high growth, job creating and showcase the best of British creativity and innovation” – UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

All of this economic and political positivity should equate to an industry awash with investment capital but oddly the sector is often overlooked by investors as “niche”, “lacking diversification” or “difficult to access”.  It is also a sector tainted by the memory amongst many in the financial community of historic, failed film (typically equity) investments made available at the turn of the century.  Thankfully, our industry has moved on and there are now a number of different investment strategies looking to reap the financial rewards of a sector where demand for its core product, and original content, continues to boom.

One such strategy is studio investment – particularly in popular filming locations (such as UK, New York) that lack sufficient high quality, available facilities to satisfy the demand.  A strategy that combines the compelling macro-economic growth story of original content with a traditional “bricks and mortar” commercial property play is one we expected to resonate with investors which was recently evidenced by Blackstone’s acquisition of three Hollywood studio lots in a deal valued at approximately $1.65 billion.  Whilst some may argue that the impact of the pandemic in driving people towards escapist entertainment may be short term, Blackstone’s investment appears to highlight a long-term view (one shared by the team here at Great Point) that even once the pandemic has been brought under control and normality restored, the big producers of content (Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Comcast, ViacomCBS, Apple) will still need studio space to satisfy the world’s seemingly insatiable appetite for high quality content.

For the studio story to be a success, high levels of filming activity are a pre-requisite.  As we begin to emerge from pandemic-driven hibernation we have started to see filming activity pick back up – from news in the UK that Coronation Street and EastEnders began filming again in June through to the completion of the first full season of a prime time scripted series filmed using Covid-19 safety protocols at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta in July.  With activity ramping up, so too is the “behind the scenes” work of financing these productions, an area which presents another interesting opportunity for those investors starved of yield in the current markets. 

Television shows, in general, do not get made unless they have been first commissioned by a lead broadcaster (such as the BBC, ITV, Netflix etc).  Often, payment for these shows will not take place until the broadcaster has taken delivery of the completed product, which gives rise to a financing opportunity which can, if managed appropriately, achieve attractive yields for investors whilst exposed to investment grade levels of counterparty credit risk.

For content to be delivered successfully, a significant number of businesses have to be involved in the production process – from producers to post-production houses, visual effects to sales & distribution – a huge amount of work takes place to deliver each and every piece of content that we view.  It is this part of the value chain that investors find hardest to access, as often the businesses involved are privately owned.  Indeed, there have been a number of recent, high profile production company acquisitions that have generated significant returns for shareholders, which highlights the need for an investment strategy that makes this part of the market more accessible to investors.  Since late 2018, Great Point have offered a venture capital strategy that focuses on supporting early stage businesses operating in the UK creative industries which also benefits from the Enterprise Investment Scheme – a government mandated support structure driving investment into the UK entrepreneurial economy that reached its 25th anniversary last year.

There have been a number of recent, high profile production company acquisitions that have generated significant returns for shareholders, highlighting the need for an investment strategy that makes this part of the market more accessible to investors.

So whilst we may be able to gain some exposure to the global creative industries by investing in the FAANGs, now might just be the time to explore how to gain direct exposure to the core product currently, in part, driving value across these tech giants – high quality, original content.

 

Dan Perkins is the Managing Director of Great Point Investments, the FCA regulated arm of the Great Point Group.  Founded in 2013, the Great Point Group has a highly experienced team, combining years of commercial and investment experience which has created a successful, diversified business that currently manages assets across content finance, venture capital and studio infrastructure as well as providing executive production and sales & distribution services to the global creative industries.

Now read: The changing face of Fund Domiciliation

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Lymited – Own Your Passion

Hedgebrunch interviews Romane Howsam, Founder and CEO of Lymited, the new way to indulge in limited-edition luxury.

Hi Romane, tell us about Lymited?

Lymited has been a long time coming, but I feel like we’re now within touching distance. You can’t rush something of this magnitude. In a nutshell, it’ll be a new platform for buying, selling and investing in rare, collectible limited-edition and luxury items. Only, where the luxury world can feel slightly intimidating – everything’s ‘exclusive’ – we want our platform to be inclusive, for people to feel welcome, and to be genuinely excited about finding so many collectible and limited-edition pieces all in one place.

We’ve split it into two parts: the Marketplace will let you buy and sell items outright, while the Token Platform will allow you to part own some of the most sought-after and collectible luxury assets. The idea is for collectors, brands and museums for example, to be able to liquidise a high-value asset, freeing up capital for themselves, but also allowing others to essentially own a share of that asset. Conceptually it would be like owning a few pages of a first-edition book, a dram of a vintage whisky, or perhaps the gearbox of an old Bugatti. But by buying tokens you also get to enjoy the asset, and this is one of the things that really separates us I guess.

That and the fact that for each category – art, books, cars, fashion, jewellery, watches, wine and spirits – we have an in-house specialist. We’ve spent months headhunting them from some of the world’s leading auction houses, brands and publications, and we couldn’t be happier with the team. The way they’ll curate the platform will be absolutely reflective of their tastes, expertise, and connections in their respective industries. But we also like to think Lymited will become more than a platform, and indeed more than a network – it will be a community for like minded people to not only buy and sell, but also learn about the very best art, cars, jewellery, or whatever their interests might be.

 

How did you come up with the concept?

Business is something I’ve always been interested in. I bought my first domain name when I was nine, so owning my own business is something that’s always been in the back of my mind. Halfway through my gap year, I started to give these ideas a bit more attention, and even ran a couple past my dad – everything from biodegradable vitamin pouches to clothing for petite women. One day I was flicking through a pile of coffee-table books and it occurred to me that there wasn’t anywhere prominent that sold limited-edition books by multiple publishers. In fact, where outside of auction houses and a few closed circles could you find the rarest pieces of fine art and vintage jewellery? Not that that’s what a student like me shops for. Rather, there seemed to be a gap in the market for a platform that sold all of the above, plus more, and democratised the whole process.

What are your goals for Lymited?

In the short term we’re building towards a successful launch; one that will make a real splash, and if everything goes to plan, becomes incredibly disruptive. It seems like the luxury world has traditionally resisted innovation, and so hopefully we’re coming in at just the right time. Again in the short term, we want to offer an accessible platform, one that people don’t feel intimidated about using. We’re hoping our customers will foster the kind of relationships they might have with their tailor but with our specialists.

Longer term, we want Lymited to become the go-to place for finding those rare and limited-edition treasures. We want to be known as trendsetters. But we also want to bring transparency to an industry that’s not particularly known for it. By using blockchain technology to ledger our token transactions, we can easily track an asset’s value and provenance, making trading tokens so much more viable. And no, it has nothing to do with Bitcoin, it’s just the safest and most secure way of making these kinds of transactions.

What are you most passionate about?

I hate to say it, but my biggest passion is my work. Especially at the moment, I’m more than happy to wake up and work all day and night. I love the creative side of business, how to market a business, how it looks, and how it sounds. Luxury isn’t often portrayed in a youthful way, and perhaps that’s understandable, but I’m enjoying trying to find ways to do that. Again, luxury and tech don’t traditionally go hand in hand so there are enormous challenges there, but ones that we’re tackling. Ultimately though, I think it’s the act of getting different minds together to create something unique. I love learning from experts in their fields, and bringing them together to create something bigger and better than the sum of their parts.

If I ever get a day off again, I’ll be straight on a plane. I love travelling and exploring new cultures, and that’s probably the thing I’ve missed the most while building the business.

Where do you like to celebrate?

I grew up in Marbella so I’m very fortunate to have spent a lot of time on the beach, swimming and exploring. I have to admit, I find a certain calm in paddle-boarding a little bit further out to sea than I probably should do. That and hiking up the famous La Concha mountain.

These days I live in Holborn, so tapas on the beach has made way for tiny saké bars in SOHO, and regular visits to Oliviocarne in Belgravia. They serve the most exquisite Sardinian food there but in a lovely laid-back environment. Otherwise, I’m slightly obsessed with Ray Dalio, Joe Rogan and podcasts in general. And I’m more than capable of getting through the whole of Game of Thrones in a month. Or at least I was when I had the time.

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Now read: The Holiday at Home – Coworth Park, AYU Partner Spotlight Ameerh Naran Vimana Private Jets 

 

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HedgeBrunch Partner Spotlight: Elliot Refson, Head of Funds at Jersey Finance

Elliot Refson is Head of Funds at Jersey Finance which is the promotional body for the Finance Industry in Jersey. He has been with the company since 2014. His role is to set the agenda for the Funds industry from the perspective of strategy, direction and execution.  Elliot also sits on the committee of the industry body, the Jersey Funds Association as well as the Channel Islands Committee of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) and established the Jersey Hedge Fund Group in 2016.

Hi Elliot, what are you working on today? 

I am working on a Jersey based ESG scheme where those supporting managers can voluntarily contribute a portion of their fees earned from ESG funds to a central pool which is potentially matched by an arm of our government and distributed through the world renowned Durrell foundation with the measure of creating employment in Africa. We are looking to pilot this in the funds industry and if successful expand it across the entire finance industry and perhaps more widely.  It is a practical way for our industry to make a difference.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I developed an analysis technique based on the time cycles of markets and sold research to institutions. One of my clients, Cresvale, asked me work with them and we established my first fund in Hong Kong in 1993. Sadly, the parent company went into liquidation a couple of years later and I walked away from trading and moved to Bloomberg in London and New York as a market expert to develop the charting package and ended up running their development communication and a project to enhance the User Interface. Looking to get back into the markets I moved to Jersey to work with a colleague from my Cresvale days in 2006 where I allocated to the CTA / Macro strategy on behalf of the Ermitage which was a Fund of Funds and launched my second fund under their umbrella in 2007 which I ran till the sale of the company in 2014.  I fell into my current role as it was an objective of the government of Jersey to attract Hedge Funds to the island. It hasn’t really been an obvious career path but there hasn’t been a single day that I did not love what I was doing!

What attracted you to this business?

The challenge of predicting markets. I have always been passionate about it. Given the high conviction and undiversified nature of my own style of trading a macro strategy Hedge Funds is  the perfect vehicle to express that unrestrained. The P&L was the best barometer of accuracy.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

I think that has to be moving to Jersey. At that time walking to work along the beach to work while competing with the rest of the market on an even basis without the need to be in a big city was eye opening. It was the first time I had understood what a work / life balance was.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

It is a business where you buy and sell like any other except that it is in fast forward – there is always a buyer and a seller and the measure, the P&L, is live.

What would you change?

Investing in Hedge Funds became a tick box exercise. There was a time when as an allocator you could look a manager in the eye and make a decision. I think that the check box scenario took away a lot of opportunity from both investors and managers. But it is changing with the likes of investable indices where the investors make the investments themselves which takes away a lot of the need for due diligence, and risk, moving us back to a scenario where emerging managers can flourish.

What do you invest in personally? 

My style of trading is highly concentrated and high conviction – not having a position is as much a trading decision as having one. Which is to say that if there is no compelling reason to take a position with a stop loss and profit objective then don’t take the position, my funds were exclusively Futures based. Personally, now I execute through CFD’s.

Where do you celebrate?

In Jersey it’s the Atlantic Hotel. The food is excellent and the views outstanding. In London it’s the Royal Automobile Club but my absolute favourite restaurant is in New York, it’s a small local restaurant called Amaranth on E62nd Street because it is everything a restaurant should be. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been there.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now? 

Given I’m used to travelling most weeks and today is day 180 of not going anywhere that is a pretty low bar! But I am looking to going back to South Africa and staying around Camps Bay.

What does success mean to you?

I am very lucky that in the role that I am in there are few limits. Success means coming up with new ideas, new ways of doing things and implementing them. Success means making a positive difference to our industry and to Jersey. On a personal level it means freedom.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

In a personal capacity it was “in any difficult situation, if there is something that you can do about it then do it. If there isn’t, don’t worry about it”.

In a professional capacity it was from an allocator we pitched to who said “come back when you have had a drawdown”.

 

Now read AYU Member Spotlights: Niklas Torriani, Sam CopleyElise BernalCedric Kohler,

 

 

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Stress Test Your Mental Health with Life Coach Dave Knight

Hedgebrunch talks to Life Coach Dave Knight of The Sunday Settler about how bulletproofing your mental health can aid your success.

Hi Dave, tell us about your podcast?

The main arm of our business is our Sunday Settler Life Coaching products – to transform people’s lives through conversations, which are steered towards overcoming many of our life’s challenges.

We help people manage themselves against mental health related challenges such as stress, anxiety and depression; addictive behaviours; goal setting strategies; dealing with imposters or difficulties in our relationships – amongst many other challenges that we experience in life.

We do this through our podcasts – the weekly 9pm Sunday Settler, collaborations with highly esteemed guests, our 1-2-1 and group/team coaching programmes, as well as our coach-in-your-pocket wellbeing packages. We work with individuals and alongside businesses, with our corporate packages too.

How has your entrepreneurial journey brought you to this point in your career?

My background and education is in the mental health and addictions field and I worked across many settings across the UK, New Zealand and Australia. In my role I supervised, mentored and trained many staff.

I’ve always had a strong entrepreneurial streak in me and I left my job to start my first business a decade ago, which was a training agency. Despite the competitive market that we operated in, we grew the business year-on-year. I sold the business after six years and it continues to be a success today.

Since then I have merged my professional background in mental health, addictions, business and also my sporting background – as a semi-professional footballer, to dedicate my time in serving individuals and businesses to overcome their respective challenges. This is my real passion.

I’ve always had a huge personal interest in our human psychology and there are lots of misunderstandings about how we experience our life challenges and, with my professional and sporting background to back it all up, Life Coaching is how I have chosen to have my impact in the world.

How can a life coach help cope with the demands of working in a high pressure industry?

A trusted and reliable Life Coach will help in many ways to cope with high pressures. There are many demands that might include – and are not exclusive, to setting goals, our self esteem, self-doubt, being more effective, being accountable to ourselves and others, juggling work demands and relationships or dealing with stress and anxiety.

A life coach will help you to find a balance in your life and to better manage yourself in relation to the pressure that you may be feeling. There may be times when we feel at full capacity due to the pressure and a life coach helps you to identify where we can find capacity and then, how we can use it.

Your work with a life coach is centred on you – you are important. It will very much be focused on what you can do now to help you get to where you want to be – it may involve actions of course, however, much of this is about understanding our emotional states – how we think and feel, and how that can impact on our productivity.

A life coach is also your personalised sounding board; someone to lean on for both the short and the long term until you feel able to manage your wellbeing in many key areas of your life.

How important is looking after mental health and wellbeing for success?

Our wellbeing is number one. It is the foundation for everything and it can’t be overstated as to its importance.

Our mental health and wellbeing determines the way we interact, how we engage with everything around us, our level of productivity, our desires, what we accept and will not stand for, how we aspire and then what we’re prepared to do to get to where we want to be.

If we have good mental health, it will also help us to see that our happiness does not depend on whether we achieve what we’ve set out to achieve. This means we can work with intent – but with less pressure, towards those success markers that we have either set, or have been set for us.
If we look after our mental health and wellbeing, we are better placed to make sound; rational and logical decisions based on the considerations that we have given.

With good mental health and wellbeing as our priority, it helps us to feel more resourceful; we’re more able to think about and serve others; to be present when we need to be and have the capacity to go that extra mile whenever we need to.

All of these areas are key factors to success and maintaining our mental health and wellbeing will promote the opportunity of having a longevity of success over a sustained period of time.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about helping people to self manage their wellbeing; to find the direction that they want to move in and then to help them move towards that direction.

There are many examples of what this can look like, such as wanting to manage stress better; to be less fearful of the future; to be present when we are with our partners, children or other loved ones; to realise why we want to achieve something; to be rid of unnecessary burdens and insecurities; to uncover those blindspots or self limiting beliefs that could be holding us back.

We have more control over managing our mental health and wellbeing than we give ourselves credit for and my time is dedicated to helping people do this, so they can keep moving forward without unnecessary pressure, overwhelm and innocent misunderstandings.

 

The Sunday Settler is currently offering 20% off one-to-one sessions and 50% off their Bulletproof Your Mental Health and Wellbeing Package exclusively to AYU members, for more access to incredible offers join AYU here.

Now read: Secret Me – James Bond School

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The Holiday at Home – Coworth Park, England

This blasted pandemic has, very obviously, forced us to cancel many travel plans over the last 6 months and to of course adapt any planned trips, often looking a little closer to where we live. Combine this with the wider, and hopefully more permanent, trend of more considered and selective air travel, and the holiday-at-home is now more of a real thing than ever.

For many a Brit, a “staycation” means a quaint cottage on the coast or a country house with friends. Rarely does it mean the heady levels of service and luxury we’d normally associate with a long-haul, high-spend, ultra-holiday. However, now we’re looking here rather than there, we are discovering the joys of great British luxury that we may have, rather guiltily, been ignoring for some time. It’s not like the leading lights of the UK are all new, more that they weren’t necessarily the first option for that big trip we daydream about.

We turn our intention in this case to Coworth Park. A destination many a Londoner will know but fewer will have visited for a hotel stay. Just an hour from the capital, this centuries old yet incisively modern estate and mansion house has to be one of the most majestic destinations we have in reach. A venue to not only daydream on, but to truly, finally, actually experience. It has, after all, been a long year so far.

Coworth Park is primed for the truly luxurious holiday-at-home. Renovated to a hotel estate and spa in 2010, its infinitely welcoming mansion house sits in a sweeping 240 acres of grounds at the foot of Windsor Park, between the twin peaks of Wentworth Golf Club and Ascot. 70 rooms are spread across the main house and the well considered external additions and conversions (the cottages and the stables) but there is so much space here it feels more like an uber 30.

The grounds are simply huge, with a big sky that is rare in this country, especially so close to London. Two polo fields (along with extensive liveries) host the Guards Polo Academy and, in normal times, regular matches throughout the season. Horses are central to the estate and have been for decades. The clop of a hoof is perennial across the estate’s meandering lanes which makes the life of a hippophile (yeah, we had to look that one up) really quite appealing. Equestrian experience is not a pre-requisite to enjoyment though. Riding lessons are available and the academy has polo lessons by the hour too. Combined with the hotel’s spa and eateries, to sooth those post-chukka aches, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend an active staycation day.

There is quite the adventure waiting for itinerant foodie too. Under the culinary guidance of award-winning chef Adam Smith, there is a wide choice of exceptional dining options across the estate. Thanks to our good friend corona, there are some restrictions on what’s open and possible, but these are mitigated with finesse from an attentive team and the soupçon of patience we must all carry right now. Al fresco evening dining was a delight in the balmy flame-lit courtyards of The Barn. A highly conducive wine list was a joy and a healthy slug of it was available by the carafe, always a great sign. Brasserie salads, steaks and appealing summer ensembles are perfectly constructed here (we’re looking at you English Feta and Pickled Strawberries) and the accompanying bread-basket is of significant note.

In fact, check that, the baking is more than simply of note. It’s spectacular. Even the most ardent anti-glutenist will be slain by the bread and patisserie on offer, in every dining spot. Its so worth it. Our breakfast the following morning, helmed by truly superb croissants, sourdough and French toast, justified our visit alone. Honestly, we’d drive out of London on a morning’s return just for this. Sadly we weren’t able to extend our love for their bakers to experience the “quintessential afternoon tea” served in the drawing room but, oh dear, there’s another reason to come back.

On to drink. Given the welcoming in-suite bottle of Veuve-Cliquot was rather quickly dispatched (it was one of the hottest days of the year after all), The Bar was also a welcome distraction. A finely crafted and diverse cocktail list, with a solid whisky selection, is on offer. There are few things that can instil the pride of this green and pleasant land better than a clinking a chilled drink down to the croquet lawn. Coworth Park is bursting at the seems with attractive garden spots like this at which to while and sip away the hours, in fact. Tree lined avenues with delightful shade, a lake side hand-carved bench under and ancient oak tree, an oh so very English bandstand gazebo. Take your pick.

The highlight of many stays in the past, and we pray the future would most certainly be The Spa and its varied treatments. It’s really quite a special not-so-little gem, folded neatly into the landscape of the estate. With an indoor pool and outdoor terrace, protected from most intrusions save swathes of sunlight, it’s wonderfully peaceful. We would have loved to have experienced some of the extra facilities such as the steam and sauna but these are understandably not-just-yet Covid omissions from service. A capacity restricted (and therefore beautifully quiet) allotted hour at the pool with a glorious bathe in the sun was enriching and enlivening, nonetheless.

The spa was in fact the only place where Covid measures had a noticeable impact on what’s possible. And not so detrimentally either. Yes it was a shame not to get the 100% experience, but it was not all a disappointment given the combination that Coworth Park still has to offer, our well managed expectations and the dearth of any experience remotely like this since early 2020. Premium is still very much alive, well and coping with Covid.

Throughout, there was an obvious yet unobtrusive effort and acknowledgement of the safety measures that hosts and guests alike must adhere to. It is though, a long way from spoiling the experience of a luxury stay in a majestic English hotel. Our room, an upgraded-to Junior Suite, was a haven with a view and there was no hint of pandemic impingement or infringement whatsoever. A sprawling four-post bed and a roll-top copper bath, solidly ensconced in a spacious bathroom suite, was exactly the escape from perpetual zoom-call purgatory we needed. What’s more, there was no need to spend a day of miserable travel to get there. Maybe things are looking up for the discerning hotelista. Stay here. Go to Coworth Park.

 

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Hedgebrunch visits The Eastbury Hotel

 

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AYU Member Spotlight: Dan Page of KPMG

Dan Page, KPMG

Dan Page is Head of Asset Management Advisory with KPMG Ireland (London). Dan is a senior advisory professional with more than 21 years of capital markets experience and has provided services to a wide range of clients including international banks, asset managers, single and multi-family offices and a broad variety of funds. Dan has worked on both sides of the investor coin; as such, he is well placed to understand the pressures that both new and existing managers and investors face throughout the full lifecycle of their enterprise risk management.

Dan’s remit at KPMG focuses on the development of the advisory practice which serves those who manage and invest in alternative funds or service that eco system. In addition, Dan works in a transactional capacity with corporate finance where he is a deal maker for financial services.

Hi Dan, what are you working on today?

Staying safe, sane and solvent during lockdown! Otherwise I am focused upon the three core pillars of the KPMG C-Suite advisory business; those who manage money, those who invest in those that manage money and those who service our sector. My focus is to form long term partnerships where we can deliver high value, unbiased boardroom advice to help our clients navigate the various challenges they will meet in every aspect of running their business bar alpha generation. Our clients here at KPMG, which range from Emerging Hedge Fund Managers through Single Family Offices to Sovereign Wealth Funds represent a delightful spread of strategy, geography and culture which is something I am very proud of.

How did you get to where you are now?

My work ethic and drive can be traced back to my time as a boxer in my younger years. The physical and emotional challenges the sport brings have certainly stood me in good stead for my career in finance and there are more similarities than you would first think. I spent my 20’s at Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs where I developed a rather different skill set but one that will similarly stay with me for life and this time firmly cemented my passion for our industry and its actors. The buy side leg of my career culminated in becoming Managing Director of Swiss-based Bedrock RealTime, part of the Swiss Asset Management Group, Bedrock. I was very fortunate to work with some exceptional people throughout this time and that I still do is what gets me up in the morning; it is a great privilege to work with such a broad church of cultures, nationalities and personalities every day at KPMG.

What attracted you to this business?

Oh that’s easy….the bright jackets of LIFFE and that is seemed a far easier way to pay my rent than getting punched in the face! What’s kept me in it though is the people and the impact we have as a relatively small industry by headcount on the world at large. Every day I feel privileged to interact with those I do and sit in the seat I am in.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

My first day at Deutsche Bank, my life set itself in a different direction at that moment and I haven’t looked back since.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

The constant change and the pace at which our industry evolves. Our industry still attracts some of the greatest thinkers on earth and that in part fuels the pace at which we evolve as a business compared to some other sectors. I love that and it matches my personality well as I’m most comfortable in the chaos of it all.

Where do you celebrate?

Time is precious-waste it wisely.

I have a young daughter and I hold this mantra close to my heart. I celebrate every day I get to spend with her at such a formative age; travelling so much and the pace of our business brings this time into sharp focus and I value it more than anything else.

Otherwise I will gravitate to my natural church in the gym and teach at a variety of boxing clubs in the south east when I can, most notably Northgate which is still very much a proper spit and saw dust community gym which I love. It has been known for me to enjoy a vodka or two on occasion as well but the company in those moments is everything for me not the tipple or the environment.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Driving Le Mans. I am notoriously a car enthusiast/uber geek, for as long as I can remember, and a regular at the Le Mans track. It is my dream to be able to drive in the Le Mans Classic following in the path of some of the greatest drivers and cars in history and I still hold a romantic vision of the “Gentleman Racers” of old which I dream of emulating in part.

What does success mean to you?

I’ve been more successful in many ways than I ever expected and I am grateful for those that have helped me along the way to here. In the next half of my life I hope to do two things from where I am today. Firstly and above all to ensure my daughter has security, opportunity and happiness. Secondly, to try and leverage the privilege I now have to have some tangible impact on the lives of others and primarily in the field of social capital for under privileged kids who are today like I was 20 or so years ago. I am a champion for a charity called Leadership Through Sport and Business for this reason; take a look and please do get involved folks, everyone that reads this can in some way!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

The immortal words of Mike Tyson really have helped me along in more than one situation. In order to be a steady, trusted hand in a boardroom you first must be comfortable that planning will only get you so far. We live and work in an organic environment and are after all human, so being able to smoothly adapt and stay calm in the face of change or shock is a valuable asset in every facet of life. C-19 has done a good job of proving that point for me here!

 

Dan has been an AYU member since 2020. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Dan by applying for membership here. 

 

Now read: Partner Spotlight: Robert Moore of Jersey Finance or AYU Member Spotlight: Cedric Kohler of Fundana 

 

 

 

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HedgeBrunch Partner Spotlight: Robert Moore of Jersey Finance

Robert Moore is a director within Jersey Finance’s London Office. He has been with the firm for 2 years and his primary focus revolves around private wealth, family office and international banking. Jersey Finance is proud to work with key partners to represent and promote Jersey as the clear leader in international finance. Jersey Finance champion the competitive position of Jersey’s finance industry, both locally and internationally.

 

Hi Rob, what are you working on today? 

I am currently working on, amongst the usual daily duties, our Global Jersey event. The concept of Global Jersey was crystallised in October last year following the opening of our New York office. Jersey Finance now has representation in the major financial centres across the globe, covering Jersey, London, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The pandemic has had such a global impact that we have all had to rethink/adjust our strategy and our Global Jersey webinar forms part of that thinking. It is vital that we remain positive and continue to represent and promote our industry, amplifying Jersey’s global proposition through our international offices and activity. As a world-leading international finance centre, Jersey’s political and economic stability, supported by its solid infrastructure, reputation and expertise, have provided certainty to individuals, families, corporates and funds for almost six decades. This certainty has never been more relevant than it is now during these difficult times.

 

How did you get to where you are now? 

Besides sweat and hard work, I took my first role in financial services quite late in life (in financial services terms!). I started as a junior in my mid-twenties, making my way up the corporate ladder before becoming a director of a regulated trust and fund services business provider.

I built extensive experience over the years within the private wealth, real estate and private equity sectors, holding executive director roles on a number of complex portfolios with varied administrative and regulatory requirements.

I subsequently left Jersey in 2018, and took a well-earned break over the summer before accepting my current role with Jersey Finance. Given my financial services background and knowledge of the jurisdiction, it was a perfect fit!

 

What attracted you to this business? 

Jersey Finance is quite unique in its offering. I’m part of a team of six directors – all based in different locations – and our role is to promote Jersey’s international finance centre within our respective jurisdictions. We help individuals, families and corporates, through tailored professional introductions to service providers who can help them with their business needs.

We do not get paid commission for recommending particular firms and we do not have a preferred list of service providers either. Instead, it’s all about matching the expertise of a selection of service providers to the specific needs and requirements of the end user.

What attracted me to the role was the opportunity to meet with an eclectic mix of people and promote a place I have both a professional and personal relationship with. Given my 17 years in Jersey, I know the financial services industry very well and have a genuine respect for the work undertaken by the Industry. Jersey’s recognised reputation allows me to confidently promote the Island as a genuine international finance centre of excellence.

 

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

The most pivotal moment of my career would be my move to Jersey. The exposure to an industry which is so well regarded and respected provided me with the tools and infrastructure to work with, and learn from, the best individuals, innovative entrepreneurs and families.

 

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

I would say the aspect which excites me most is the innovative nature of the people who work in the industry, those who value it and make use of it.

Sustainable finance is a really interesting sector at present. At Jersey Finance we’re proud to support global clients with their sustainable objectives. From a private wealth perspective, inter-generational wealth transfers are a real driver behind this growth in the sustainable finance sector.

Jersey is well positioned to accommodate this ongoing expansion and we are certain that we have the solid foundations with which to support businesses and investors with their sustainable finance goals.

 

What would you change?

We live in a time of change, whether that is the change in people’s investment outlook or focus towards green/impact investments.

I believe we have a responsibility to help our industry evolve to meet these changes, to continue learning and help educate with greater transparency, the role of international finance centres.

Jersey finance embraces change and as a diverse and inclusive organisation, has recently been awarded Good Business Charter status in recognition of our commitment to good corporate citizenship and responsible business practices. We have also signed the Institute of Directors diversity and inclusion vision statement demonstrating our support for such change.

 

What do you invest in personally? 

Personally, with two young children, my preference is to focus upon investments that meet sustainability criteria, bring about social change and achieve a lasting positive impact. The return is not measured by the RoI but the difference or impact we can help make.

 

Where do you celebrate? 

Nowadays, given the restrictions in place, I celebrate at home with my family but when we see a return to normal, it would be nice to enjoy a meal with friends and family. Jersey has some of the best seafood in the world which I am very much missing at present!

 

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

To swim with the Great White Sharks of Gansbaai, South Africa. It would be such a fantastic experience to witness these amazing creatures in their natural environment.

 

What does success mean to you?

I don’t see success in monetary terms. Success, to me, is being recognised by your peers for the work you do. Essentially, it’s the positive difference you can make and your ability to help others.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I have a few and given they are short and snappy, I’ll share all three! Don’t ever stop learning and growing as a person. Do what is right, not what is easy. And very importantly, respect – give it to get it!

 

 

Now read AYU Member Spotlights: Niklas Torriani, Sam CopleyElise BernalCedric Kohler,

 

 

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AYU Member Spotlight: Niklas Torriani of Io Macro

Niklas Torriani is the head of business development at Io Macro Fund. He’s been with the business since March 2020, focusing on the investor relations and marketing aspects of the fund.

Prior to working at Io Macro, Nik worked as an investment analyst at Aurum Research, a hedge fund research office based in London, mostly covering macro strategies.

Nik was born in Geneva but raised in Monaco having grown up with a Swedish mother, a Canadian father and two siblings. Outside of work, Nik is an avid sports fan, especially of football, golf and motor racing.

Hi Nik, what are you and Io Macro working on today?

I made the move to Io Macro in March, and I am currently focused on ramping up our investor relations and marketing efforts. The strategy is discretionary global macro with an emphasis on identifying inflection points in markets. The strategy is very trading orientated, and trades all major liquid instruments, with a focus on single stock equities and equity options.

How did you get to where you are now?

Once I figured out (very quickly) that I wouldn’t become a professional football player, it was evident to me that I would end up in finance. My father is in the industry and used to teach me about butterflies when I was about 12 years old, this meant I always had a fascination for markets. In order to make this career path viable, I looked for ways to intern at financial firms quite early on. I was very lucky to be exposed to a variety of strategies and fascinating people at firms such as Clive Capital, Churchill Capital and Monaco Asset Management. Once I had completed my finance degree in Canada, I was lucky enough to intern at Aurum, before joining on a permanent basis as an investment analyst. This is where I really started to learn about the hedge fund industry, and the entire team, including CIO Adam Sweidan, took me under their collective wing. After close to three very happy years at Aurum, once again, I was fortunate enough to join my current boss, IO Macro CIO, Ben Giesmann, one of the portfolio managers I admire most due to his drive to succeed, relentless work ethic and talent. I guess to sum up my career path, it was made up of very fortunate moments where I was able to work for great people, and doing my best to maximize those opportunities.

What attracted you to this business?

There are many aspects of the financial industry that were attractive to me. I would say one of the main ones, however, is that I have always been a very competitive person and this is inherently a competitive industry. The markets, and many of the jobs surrounding markets, provide a continuous “scoreboard” to gauge one’s performance against. Whilst that can be challenging at times, it’s also one of the principal motivational drivers for me.

Another aspect of the business that I truly appreciate is the human aspect. I’ve often had this discussion with colleagues and friends, where my view is that in spite of the industry benefitting massively from advances in technology, it remains a people business. It’s become even more evident in recent times when we’ve lacked that social aspect of our jobs, and it’s something that I personally miss dearly. Thankfully, given the social nature of our industry, I have met some of my closest friends throughout my (short) career and I continue to meet new people that give me a fresh perspective on things.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

It is difficult to pinpoint one pivotal moment, however my recent move to Io Macro and working under Ben would probably take the cake.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

Without a doubt, it is the unexpected nature of it. Whether it be the unpredictable nature of markets, challenges that present themselves in my day to day life at work or even something as simple as meeting a new person you’d never expect to meet, these are the sort of things that excite me most.

What would you change?

In an ideal world, perhaps some of the misconceptions people have on the hedge fund industry.

What do you invest in personally?

For return, my only investment in financial markets is my investment in the fund. Going forward, I’d want to keep adding to my Io Macro position as well as diversify my investments away from markets, perhaps in real estate or other opportunistic situations.

Something I have always invested in heavily are my relationships with people, whether that be in the industry or outside of it. I like to pick up the phone and speak to friends, peers, investors etc… This helps on both the personal and business sides of my life.

For pleasure, I invest in time with my family, which is easier now that I live in the same city as them. The odd investment in a golf club may or may not (it does, all too often) happen too.

Where do you celebrate?

It would have to be a dinner at Satay Brothers restaurant in Montreal followed by a drink or two at Flyjin in the old port. I love how the food at Satay Brothers is so delicious, yet so simple and affordable in a very welcoming setting. I will caveat this by saying that my favourite place in the world is the small fishing town Träslövsläge, in Sweden, where my family vacations every summer.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now? 

I don’t think this will happen anytime soon given the COVID situation, but I would love to attend the big sporting events all around the world that I haven’t had the chance to see yet (big football derbies, the Masters, NBA playoff game). I’d also love to play a round at Augusta and drive a Formula 1 car.

What does success mean to you?

Waking up every day and doing something you love with your life.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You are going to get both unlucky and lucky in life. To fulfil your potential, make sure to take risks and maximize your luck when it comes and to not get beat down by any unlucky spells when they inevitably come too.

Niklas has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Niklas by applying for membership here. 

 

Read more AYU Member Spotlights here: Sam Copley, Elise Bernal, Cedric Kohler

 

 

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Fintech Boaz Yaari Sharegain

HedgeBrunch Partner Spotlight: Boaz Yaari of Sharegain

Boaz Yaari is the CEO and Founder of Sharegain, a capital markets Fintech that is democratising securities lending. Sharegain’s solutions empower asset managers, wealth managers and custodian banks to unlock the additional revenue that securities lending can offer them and their clients. Boaz leads a fast-growing team of 38 who are split between the UK and Israel.

Hi Boaz, what are you working on today?

COVID-19 has been a real catalyst for us – it has vindicated our business model and our solution. So we’re currently moving into scale-up mode. That means my role is evolving quickly and requires a very different skill set. I now spend a lot of time helping the team and exercising those scale-up muscles that we’ll need over the next few years.

How did you get to where you are now?

There’s a George Bernard Shaw quote that I think best sums it up: “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” I’ve been a paratrooper, a lawyer, an FX derivatives trader, a hedge fund portfolio manager and now a Fintech founder and CEO. They’re very different roles, but they all call for tenacity, strategic thinking coupled with tactical flexibility, and good risk-reward management.

What attracted you to this business?

I was drawn to securities lending because it was a relatively unknown space where I could see a lot of blue ocean opportunities. Every stock, bond or ETF owner has a right to lend their securities, but only big institutions have been able to actually benefit from it in the past. No one else seemed to care that most investors were locked out of a new source of income which derives from a basic ownership right. That was how we knew there was an opportunity to go big and do things differently. There’s a great saying that I love: “the most scalable ideas are not the ones that are solving dramatic problems, but the ones that are solving neglected problems”.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

That would have to be leaving the hedge fund world to found a start-up. When you’re a portfolio manager, you’re somewhat pampered because you have a team behind you for support and your role is very focused on generating returns. When you found a start-up, you do EVERYTHING. You’re a CEO, project manager, marketer, bookkeeper, QA analyst, plumber, electrician, whatever the business needs. You have to be jack-of-all-trades and you have to master every single skill. That builds character and requires a lot of humility. It really makes you understand the value of your team and what makes a good company. I also stepped into a tech world which was new to me and had to put my money where my mouth is for many months, so it was a huge pivot on every front.

What aspect of the fintech industry excites you the most?

As a portfolio manager, I always loved how instantaneous the feedback loop was in capital markets. You can make a decision and within a short period of time (hours, days, weeks) you’ll see whether your decision was the right one or not. At Sharegain, the horizon was naturally much longer – it took years to build a valid proposition and a brand. At the same time, the pace is fast, so that feedback loop still keeps us hungry and aware.

What would you change?

We talk a lot about “democratising” at Sharegain and I think that’s much bigger than just securities lending. There’s an information asymmetry in capital markets – if you’re a big institutional player, you’ve got a lot of data. But if you’re a small retail investor, you have very little, even though you may find yourself buying and selling the same stock in the same place and at the same price. We’re on a mission to level that playing field.

What do you invest in personally?

Well I’m invested 120% in Sharegain – I’ve become a cliché of myself! So I hardly invest elsewhere, either for return or for pleasure. My approach to investments is that when the risk or reward is compelling, that’s when you have to invest. It’s about being patient, finding the right time to act and then putting a sizeable position (risk-adjusted) to work. I don’t believe in diversification and I don’t believe in being invested all the time. That might work for some investors, but not for me.

Where do you celebrate?

Well we’re still in lock-down so I’m not doing a lot of celebrating at the moment. But what I miss is a Vesper Martini from the best martini bar in the world, the DUKES Bar at the DUKES Hotel in Mayfair.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

I’d like to do a course in free-diving (preferably somewhere nice and exotic like The Maldives), that’s got to be top of the list.

What does success mean to you?

For me, success isn’t a destination. It’s about going on a journey and being able to enjoy that journey (most of the time), wherever it takes you.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A quote from Rory Vaden: “It’s ok to be scared, just do it scared.”

 

 

 

Want to learn more about Boaz and Sharegain? Join AYU to connect here.

 

 

Now read Wirecard: Not Just a Classic Hollywood Story.

 

 

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AYU Partner Spotlight: Ameerh Naran of Vimana Private Jets

Hedgebrunch interviews the mastermind behind Vimana Private Jets, AYU’s latest perk partner, Ameerh Naran. He talks entrepreneurial ambitions, uber-luxury travel and automotive aspirations becoming reality…

Describe your entrepreneurial journey, how have you got here?

I was schooled in business from a young age. Born in Zimbabwe, I am the fourth generation Zimbabwean of Indian decent. My Grandfather, Prag Naran, was a businessman and philanthropist recognised as a Nationalist for the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence, and a leading member of the (Zimbabwe) Asian Community. He was an astute businessman investing in land, property and iron and steel, but was also passionate about equality, community and bolstering jobs and prospects for the less fortunate.

My father built the largest independent shoe company in Southern Africa, Conte Shoes, from a small factory inherited from my grandfather. My mother, also a successful business woman, started and built successful businesses in retail, manufacturing, trading and farming. I flourished under my parent’s guidance and was involved in assisting them in their businesses in my teens. I successfully pitched for the exclusive representation rights for the Africa and Asia region for Blue Star Jets, breaking into the plane-brokerage business in 2009. I was Managing Director of Blue Star Jets for 6 years, the world’s largest private jet brokerage at the time. Spotting a niche to provide a more unique, personalised service, I ended my relationship with Blue Star Jets and became CEO of Vimana Private Jets. In addition to private aviation, I am an investor across many sectors including fintech, health, energy and agriculture and I mentor many young entrepreneurs in how to succeed.

Vimana Private Jets Ameerh Naran

What sets Vimana apart?

Vimana Private Jet’s exceptional service delivered with value, A-Z travel solutions for clients and our offering of state of the art VIP airliners is unparalleled. Clients include Heads of State, governments, corporations and captains of industry, with highly challenging roles and commitments. Most clients  have their own complex travel requirements; they often need to travel without notice, with the best security, exceptional service, and value on offer. Vimana is uniquely positioned to meet every request and our clients trust us to provide the most comprehensive solutions on offer.

“Vimana’s commitment to its clients is unprecedented.”

In the first 3 years I worked 7 days a week,24/7 to personally oversee every client’s trip. The goal was to build client’s trust based on an offering of unparalleled service and my challenge was to meet any requests and get the most extraordinary requirements met, whether getting an airport specially opened for a client, to providing a jet in the fastest time possible to meet very last minute urgent requests. Clients recognised this unique service offering and have remained very loyal. Now, Vimana has highly trained charter operation teams who operate globally 24/7 365 days a year.
Vimana Private Jets is one of a few companies who specialise in the charter of VIP airliners which are large commercial airliners that have been reconfigured to flying apartments with en-suite  staterooms, lounges and dining rooms – regularly used by our current clients. VIP airliners are the most luxurious category of aircraft in existence.

 

Vimana Private Jets Ameerh Naran

The core principles of the company are built on exceptional client service, maintaining the highest
standards of professionalism, confidentiality, and value – charters are very competitively priced – the unique aircraft offering and availability, and high-quality recruitment. Vimana strives to get the best fit to join their specialist charter teams. I invest in the intensive training of every employee and the best technology to ensure standards are kept high. Vimana also limits the number of clients it works with, so it can guarantee the Vimana level of service is maintained.

What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about being the best I can be in any business or life endeavour. I am passionate about family, community, inspiring people to succeed. My parents emboldened me with self-belief, that dreams can become reality if you aim high and work hard. So, my life goals have been set from an early age and so far, I am confident I will attain them. I am of course passionate about business – I love working on ideas that I can hone and build into a successful reality. I particularly enjoy sharing ideas and concepts with young entrepreneurs and working on their mindset is most important to me; confidence, a can-do attitude, and the will to succeed is just as important as skill sets.

I have always loved the idea of the opulence whether it be travel, fashion, collectibles, and unique
experiences. I am passionate about things that change your day, make you smile, bring you joy, that you can aspire to. I like the deep history and incredible craftsmanship behind magnificent goods, and I want to offer exceptional products and services of substance to customers who share my ideals and my vision. I am a keen collector of objet d’art, art, and cars; the latter is a particular passion since childhood and I still race when I can, and I attend many specialist car rallies and events.

I also love to travel. I try and set aside some time each year to explore isolated islands offering the best spa services and exceptional cuisine, to customised specialist travel experiences such as Jaguar spotting in Argentina. Travel is enriching and good for the soul.

How has COVID 19 affected your business?

The spread of COVID-19 and response by the aviation industry has resulted in an unprecedented decline in global air traffic. Commercial airline and Airport revenues have disappeared leading some governments to step in with support packages, but this cannot be sustainable long-term. The impact on employment is deeply worrying. IATA ’s latest analysis shows that near 28 million jobs are at risk of disappearing with plummeting demand for air travel amid the COVID-19 crisis. The future of many commercial airlines is in the balance and many cannot survive the crisis. Many are adapting their services to switch to freight to build revenue, others may limp through depending on government support.

“The private aviation industry has experienced a peak in demand due to the near-total shutdown of commercial.”

However, the private aviation industry has experienced a peak in demand due to the near-total shutdown of commercial aviation. At the beginning of the crisis there was an upsurge in demand of circa 25% as commercial routes literally fell away and private jets largely bypassed many of the travel restrictions in place. Since the start of this epidemic Vimana has been experiencing very high  demand for private charters especially from new clients and we are accommodating all, given the situation. As a socially conscience company, we are mindful of the need to meet this exceptional demand and so we are not turning away any new request as we are often now the only hope in clients seeing their loved ones for what could be the last time. This means our operations teams are flat out 24/7 and we are taking on far more clients that we would normally want to.

We are especially proud to be part of a collective solution with embassies in the repatriation of citizens worldwide, to return people stranded overseas safely home. Due to a chronic shortage of commercial cargo aircraft, Vimana Private Jets has also been meeting daily demand for medical cargo transporting medical equipment and supplies to many developing countries. Our long-standing relationships with Civil Aviation Authorities and airports have been especially useful in getting things moving quickly, and successfully delivered to countries desperate for these supplies. With our highly trained teams working across 4 continents, we can respond very quickly and efficiently to every urgent request.

We have also continued to work hard with our loyal clients to find the best solution to their travel  needs in this climate. UHNWIs and corporations are supporting thousands of employees and they need to continue ‘business as usual’ which usually involves many hours in the air. We have found solutions wherever possible but ultimately their ability to travel to offices or even remote regions to oversee their assets has been impaired as containment measures continue. As restrictions ease over time, our priority will be to get our loyal clients back in the air with the same exceptional flying experience they have come to expect from Vimana Private Jets.

What’s next for you Ameerh? 

I am very excited to be close to unveiling what I know will be the world’s next most iconic Hypercar, the ‘Naran’. This hypercar has been my driving ambition since I was a child. My intention is not simply to create the most beautiful and thrilling cars in existence, but to inspire future generations to pursue their wildest dreams and demonstrate that with vision and passion, anything is achievable. Now, aged 34, my success in business has enabled me to begin the next chapter in my life: the creation of the ‘Naran’- a hypercar that embodies truly exceptional characteristics of being both ‘brutal yet beautiful’.

Ameerh Naran Automotive Vimana

My passion for all things automotive was ever-present during my early years growing up in Zimbabwe. At the age of 14 I wrote to Ian Callum, the Director of Design at Jaguar and Adrian van Hooydonk, who was Head of Design at BMW, asking for advice on what path I should take to realise my dream of building a car. They both replied, planting the seed that I would one day turn my dream into a reality.

“The Naran will have a top speed in excess of 230mph and a 0-60mph sprint time of just over 2 seconds.”

In keeping with my desire to be the best I can in every endeavor, the Naran will have a top speed in excess of 230mph and a 0-60mph sprint time of just over 2 seconds. My first automotive venture is set to deliver the sort of performance that marks it out as a true hypercar. Handcrafted in Germany, the Naran has been designed and engineered by a team built from the world’s leading automotive and motorsport talent.

 

It is now in the advanced stage of prototype development and the development team, led by former Jaguar Land Rover engineer Steve Pegg, has been instructed to deliver a potent driving experience, with a front-engine 5-litre twin-turbo V8 delivering 1000+ bhp through an all-wheel drive system housed within the coupe´s 2+2 configuration.

Just 49 vehicles will be created in the first iteration of strictly limited run of the 108 cars to be built in this series, and all will feature design elements that are tailored to the driver as well as being unique to the brand, ensuring that the owner’s exact specifications tell their own story on the road.

 

Vimana are currently offering 10% off exclusively to AYU members, for more access to incredible offers join AYU here.

 

Now read: Secret Me – The James Bond School, Murano Connect, How to become a racing driver.

 

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AYU Member Spotlight: Elise Bernal, Bernal Family Office

Elise Bernal, Bernal Family Office

Elise Bernal is an investment manager at the Bernal Family Office. For the last five years, she has been focusing  on impact initiatives within health care and environmental sustainability on behalf of her family, as well as in collaboration with foundations and other impact-minded family offices.  Elise Bernal has also held executive-level positions at several sustainable food companies and holds an MBA in Health Care Management from Wharton.

Hi Elise, what are you working on today?

I’m currently focusing on increasing the Bernal allocation to impact investments, especially in sustainable/plant-based foods, and to investments that address global systemic shifts to more sustainable food systems in general. In addition to food tech innovation in the US and Europe, Asia is a huge area of focus.  On the fund side, I’ve been looking at adding early-stage funds in impact, such as those focused on decarbonization, as well as impact ETFs.

How did you get to where you are now?

My first life was in biotech and stem cell innovation.  I worked in Los Angeles, Paris and Germany, and then returned to the US for business school.  It was there that I started learning more about sustainable food and began supporting initiatives personally while also working in alternative investments, helping family offices allocate to private equity and hedge funds. Over the last few years, I’ve had incredible opportunities to combine my passion for sustainability and food tech with my work in asset allocation as initiatives become more institutionally investable. The Beyond Meat IPO last year was such an exciting example of this, and this space has only just begun to heat up.

What attracted you to this business?

My interest in health care was driven by the fast pace of innovation in the field that could help improve outcomes and democratize its accessibility, such as with novel cancer treatments and the growth of telemedicine. On the investment and impact end, I was drawn to the opportunity to work with incredibly smart people that also care about making a difference for the planet and improving the lives of those around us.  Plus, I get to sample a lot of really delicious plant-based food.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

One of the most important moments in my career was also a very personal one.  Early on in my work in health care, when I was 22, a new stem cell therapy had been developed for cancer and I scrubbed into one of the first surgeries ever performed for this to collect the cells from my own father, who had developed advanced renal carcinoma, which we were told was untreatable.  His waking up at all from this risky surgery was a huge relief, but then his making a full recovery thanks to that treatment is the absolute highlight of my career.  They are now using a similar stem cell technology to successfully treat Covid19 and other conditions in Asia, which I hope will become more widely available soon.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

The fact that private capital can be allocated to initiatives that may not only generate significant returns but can also address existential threats like climate change and food security is incredibly exciting to me. It’s also amazing to see investors use their positions as stakeholders to influence policy and social justice issues through divestment, for example, or activist investing.

What would you change?

I would love to see more diversity, especially women and people of color, in asset allocation and leadership roles within family offices and institutional investors.  I’d also like to see more support for diverse entrepreneurs by way of mentorship, access to networks of influence, and, of course, funding.

What do you invest in personally?

I invested personally most recently in the B round of a protein alternative company called Gathered Foods, and for fun in a rural sustainable farming operation in the Philippines.  In a world where supply chains will continue to experience disruptions and access to nutritious food is increasingly challenging in parts of the world, there are some groups working on ways to make organic farming sexy to the next generation in these rural communities.

Where do you celebrate?

Ski resorts have some of my favorite celebration spots because you mix nature, sports and dancing, but with lockdown that might not happen next season. Fingers crossed, though. This is incredibly cheesy but I find the Folie Douce-type slope side parties pretty fun with buddies around.  Otherwise, a much more civilized venue that has been in a friend’s family for years is where I celebrated my birthday recently – Ashby St. Ledgers.  It is a gorgeous manor just an hour outside of London, where the Gunpowder Plot was hatched.  We played beer pong in the living room, so that weekend was perhaps not as civilized as it has been throughout history.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

The Galapagos.  I’m a wildlife nerd and would love to see the Blue Footed Booby one day! Who knows how long these incredible places and creatures will be around.  I’ve also been wanting to see Japan during Sakura, the cherry blossom festival.  It seems absolutely magical.

What does success mean to you?

If I’ve done my small part in making the world a better place and perhaps helped the next generations in some way along their path to do the same, that’s success to me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and don’t be afraid to fail.  Vulnerability is what makes us human, and sharing that is what can create some of the best human connections.  I think this is true of snowboarding too- if you don’t fall every now and again, maybe you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.  Also- adopt a dog. It’s a total game-changer.

Elise Bernal has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with her by applying for membership here. 

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Family Offices: Investing in the Post-Pandemic World

July 8th 2020

Sam Copley, TruVenturo Family Office

As the country tentatively re-opens this week, the investment community is scrambling to find its bearings. The most profound health crisis in generations has ravaged the global markets, and the buy-side is bleeding profusely from every asset class. Fears of a second peak are mounting and even optimistic forecasts do not see the UK’s economy fully recover until 2023.

While institutional investors are grappling with rapidly falling fund values and low annuity rates, family offices face a different array of challenges – from the management of lean and concentrated teams to pandemic-induced legacy planning. In the City and Mayfair alike however, the hunt for yield is drawing investors out of fixed income and long-only equities into the alternatives. For family offices, being supple and opportunistic are the keys to survival, regardless of the underlying investment thesis.

Reshaping the Model

The majority of sophisticated family offices have diversified portfolios with investments spread across directs and funds, through a range of private and public strategies. This model works during periods of stability, particularly for conservative FOs prioritising wealth preservation. However, amid the turmoil of this year, even in our private network we have seen hundreds of millions lost through stubborn implementation of traditional strategies. The chaos of the pandemic is ushering in a new age, and – at our family office – we believe fortune favours the brave. Those who identify openings brought on by Covid – and deploy quickly into these sectors – will flourish, while the dinosaurs of the old order will collapse as we enter global recession.

While the private wealth space is notoriously opaque from the outside, as many of us in the community co-invest together and share deals, family offices are often willing to share war-stories between each other. So where have some been going wrong?

The mid April oil price plunge was devastating – one family in our network that held large private oil-related assets in their portfolio has been forced to cease operations. The pain is also felt on the listed side – TechnipFMC, for instance, is down 68 percent in 2020. Families with assets in the tourism and travel sectors have also been suffering. Norwegian Cruise Line, United Airlines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises are some of the worst performing stocks of the year, and many privately owned assets in hospitality have – for obvious reasons – been yielding almost nothing.

Emerging Sectors

For the creative and the courageous however, these strange times could prove fruitful. Private wealth can be deployed quickly, and volatility presents as many opportunities as challenges.

Biotech is an obvious place to start; while the race for a vaccine has consumed the headlines, there are also interesting deals emerging in the development of secondary therapies and diagnostics. In the public markets, biotech has seen some of the best performing stocks this year – notably Dexcom and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Our family office has long seen the investment potential in healthcare innovation – we have, over the last five years, incubated a number of companies focusing on longevity. For the first time in human history, diseases linked to aging – cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke – outweigh infectious diseases as the largest killers. As Covid is most deadly among the elderly, tackling aging itself could prove instrumental in controlling damage from future similar infections. While roughly a quarter of our private family office network currently has some exposure to healthcare, we anticipate a surge of popularity in this space in the coming five years, as the importance of resilient healthcare has never been more evident.


The supply-and-demand shock has unlocked some compelling opportunities in the manufacturing and delivery space. Unsurprisingly, e-commerce – particularly online grocery and food – has performed well during this pandemic. Amazon.com, for instance, showed an increase in traffic of 17.1% from the start of March to the end of April according to SimilarWeb Inc., and panic-buying has helped boost conversion rates. Innovation here is inevitable; I have spoken to investors looking into bespoke shopping companies, drone tech for delivery and 3D printing – which is already playing a role in producing PPE for healthcare workers. There have however been some losers in the retail sector – department store Kohl and beauty company Coty both saw potentially catastrophic losses this year. Unpredictable demand fluctuations and supply-chain disruptions curse the sector somewhat, and careful stock-picking will be key to success here.

Renewable energy has also emerged as a winner this year. Repeated supply-driven shocks in oil are driving progressive investors towards more resilient, greener energy sources. While many families implement ESG strategies – historically trading high returns for ethical and reputational gains – the pandemic may prove a game changer here. The principal of an Irish family office recently told me, “We’ve been investing in solar and wind power for decades, but now the shift in demand brought on by Covid is finally proving the legitimacy of deploying capital into cleantech as a money-making strategy.” Renewable energy consumption in both the developed and emerging markets has risen dramatically in 2020, with a flatter peak time curve brought on by the new work-from-home norms diminishing the need for non-renewables in storage.

Agility is a strategy

In uncharted waters, strict investment theses should be replaced with cautious but opportunistic mandates.

Compared to our institutional cousins, family offices are famously heterogenous – we will see a range of other strategies being employed in the second half of this year, with a mix of results. Many in the community are holding onto cash as credit spreads get tighter – particularly those with real estate, yachts, art and other illiquid investments. Others are shifting focus towards information technology, as working from home will remain the norm for the foreseeable future. Related fields like AI, cybersecurity and ed-tech are also seeing traction. Real estate – a staple of most family offices’ portfolios – is also showing promise in certain areas, with low human density assets (warehouses, industrial facilities etc.) outperforming shopping centres, lodging and healthcare centres for obvious reasons. Understandably, others are turning to ‘safe-haven’ asset classes – though these include everything from gold to Bitcoin depending on the macro-outlook.

More than anything, agility will be the defining character trait of the next-gen winners.

As traumatic as Covid has been for the world, the crisis will eventually pass. So too will the opportunity to invest at current valuations; the key for savvy investors is to remain nimble and alert. As the world starts to recover, a handful of innovative and dynamic family offices will be instrumental in building the technology and infrastructure of the new order.

 

 

Now read: The changing face of Fund Domiciliation

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Fund domiciliation Jersey Finance hedge fund news

The Changing Face of Fund Domiciliation

Elliot Refson, Director of Funds at Jersey Finance
June 2020

Fund Domiciliation: New Research Findings

The introduction of key global regulatory initiatives is challenging traditional models and making the fund domiciliation picture much more complex, with investor buy-in becoming absolutely vital. That was the key finding from a new piece of research, undertaken by IFI Global on behalf of Jersey Finance.

To download the full report click here

Based on the views of alternative managers, law firms, advisors and some of the world’s largest investors in alternatives from across the UK and the US, the research found that key drivers including Brexit, BEPS, substance and transparency have shot up the agenda when it comes to domiciliation – and they are themes that are likely to influence decision making for some years to come.

Whilst the fieldwork for the study was undertaken prior to the coronavirus crisis, its findings look set to be even more pertinent now as alternative fund professionals grapple with the fallout of the pandemic. In a world that was already defined by uncertainty and volatility and is even more so now, the indications are that stability and certainty will be vital both in the short term, and the long-term too.

It’s clear that, with the fund domiciliation landscape becoming more competitive and more complicated than ever, international finance centres (IFCs) need to be alive to the significance of these key themes, and have a thorough understanding of what is driving the long-term future of fund structuring, so they can be equipped to continue to support the alternative fund management community.

The picture is a complex one, as geopolitical, market and economic forces continue to exert themselves, and it will be the IFCs that are prepared to take a deep dive and look under the bonnet of what is happening that will be successful.

Investor Recognition and Respect

It is perhaps no surprise that the singular most important determinant in selection of fund domiciliation, according to the research, comes down to investors familiarity with the fund domicile and compliance with international standards expertise. If a jurisdiction is respected by investors, then this gives managers confidence. In a world of uncertainty and volatility, both managers and investors are drawn towards stability and certainty.

Critically, investors want a stable jurisdiction with no regulatory, legal or economic surprises – and Jersey ticks those boxes.

Being able to provide this stability and certainty requires a high-quality infrastructure, a tried-and-tested legal and regulatory environment, and a clear commitment to specialist expertise and high-quality service. From a Jersey perspective, it’s why we have seen such strong year-on-year growth in private equity and real estate fund activity – Jersey is a well-trodden path for these asset classes and success breeds success.

In particular, Jersey has a long-standing assumption towards substance, which has provided managers and investors with certainty. This was heightened further by Jersey being a first mover on economic substance legislation last year, being lauded as such by the EU. In March 2019, Jersey was assessed as a cooperative jurisdiction by EU finance ministers regarding the business taxation initiative from the EU Code of Conduct Group (COCG). The EU’s positive assessment came as a result of the Island’s collaborative dialogue with the COCG, which was tasked by the EU Council with assessing jurisdictions in tax transparency, fair taxation and compliance with anti-base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) measures. In response, Jersey introduced new legislation, which was subsequently assessed by EU finance ministers as meeting the requirements for demonstrating economic substance.

In this new era of fund domiciliation, however, IFCs will have to be clearer than ever about their unique selling point, be able to demonstrate their expertise and evidence their quality of service if they are to continue to attract that business.

Substance, Cost and Agility

Nurturing a stable domestic environment underpinned by expertise is one thing, but being able to manage the constantly evolving global regulatory landscape, as well as market shocks like COVID-19, is another – managers clearly value those IFCs that are underpinned by substance and are reactive, according to this survey.

The implementation of BEPS and the introduction of new substance rules are examples of areas where managers are looking to IFCs for reassurance and expert support. A significant number of managers believed, for example, that BEPS and the EU’s substance requirements could have an effect on fund domiciliation decisions in the future, in a number of ways.

 

 

While it was widely felt that BEPS will impact all alternative fund domiciles, there was a clear feeling that jurisdictions in the EU, such as Luxembourg, whose funds rely heavily on tax treaties, would be impacted the most. With the tax treatment of funds in EU domiciles likely to be reviewed this year in order to ensure compliance with BEPS, there are certainly questions for tax treaty-reliant domiciles.

In addition, IFCs are having to manage significant change programs to meet the requirements of BEPS and new substance laws, as well as improved regulation and reporting. Managers, according to this survey, are nervous about the rising costs jurisdictions, particularly in the EU and Caribbean, are levying in order to undertake these programs – programs which are not felt to offer any perceived benefit by investors or fund managers.

At the same time, managers clearly felt that the ability of IFCs to react nimbly to market trends, which has long been a key attraction, is gradually being restricted by global regulatory and policy moves. Enforcing jurisdictions to bring in new legislation such as substance rules is considered to be undermining established models, especially in those jurisdictions where substance is limited and where a low regulatory barrier was seen as attractive.

 Fees Vs Functionality

Against this backdrop, IFCs will have to be increasingly sensitive to their cost and fee structures balanced against their functionality, ability to meet international standards, and agility in responding to international requirements. To a certain extent, this question mark over costs and agility will be played out in European jurisdictions as the Brexit transition period unfolds. Much depends on how passporting for third countries, delegation rules, and market integration evolve – all of which were major concerns for managers.

It’s worth noting, for instance, that according to the EU’s own figures, only 3% of managers market into more than three EU countries – something that should underline the appeal of private placement through a jurisdiction like Jersey, that can offer significantly better cost-effectiveness, flexibility and speed to market compared to potentially unnecessary blanket passporting.

What is clear from the research is that allocations to alternatives look set to continue to rise in the long term (notwithstanding the major market impact of the coronavirus in the short to medium term), as institutional investors seek to diversify their portfolios and seek returns.

Certainly in Jersey we’ve seen a sustained rise in the value of total fund assets serviced in the jurisdiction, the latest figures show an all-time high of over £345bn – a figure that does not include the additional £43bn (as at June 2019) held in Jersey Private Funds. This has gone hand in hand with a growing proportion of our funds business being in the alternatives space – around 85% of funds business conducted through Jersey now is alternatives, including private equity, real estate and hedge, while there is also a steadily growing pool of fund managers (currently 172) bulking out their presence in the jurisdiction.

 The Future of the IFC

Looking to the future, all IFCs will need to be smart, pragmatic, nimble and sensitive as they respond to the key drivers shaping the industry if they are to continue to be successful. Currently the Channel Islands combined have a 12% share of European alternatives business – that’s on a par with Luxembourg (12%) with Ireland slightly behind (11%). But the coming years could provide an interesting shake-up of the alternatives landscape in Europe as fund domiciliation decisions come of age.

The landscape is a complicated one – made even more so by COVID-19 – and it will be those IFCs that can be forward-looking with regards to specialist skills and expertise, developing innovative solutions to keep costs down, while respecting global regulatory requirements and reacting quickly to market trends, that will succeed.

For its part, Jersey’s key strengths of stability, its ability to offer a familiar, future-proof and complementary solution for cross-border alternatives, and its forward-thinking stance that have put it ahead of the game in embracing regulatory change, would all point to a positive future as a fund domicile and the potential to increase its market share as other jurisdictions play catch up.

To learn more about Jersey as a financial centre, click here

 

Related articles:

Jersey’s Funds Industry

Wirecard: Not just a classic Hollywood story

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L'escargot French dining Soho

London Reopening: Our Favourite London Restaurants

Now we pride ourselves on knowing our way round the drinks trolley, but not even our skillful mixology has been able to drown our lock down sorrows…we NEED to get out of the house. And Hurrah! The time has come, all hail…the grand reopening of London. Oh how we have longed to be in a London restaurant, sorry bike delivery people – we love you and you’ve done us proud but right now we are longing for a waiter and a tablecloth. Read on for our whistle stop tour of the capital’s delights, where we will be frolicking around and revelling in freedom this weekend (socially distanced frolicking and revelling that is).

Gymkhana, Mayfair
Gymkhana finally reopens on Tuesday 28th July, providing another chance for those who previously missed out on getting a table back in February after their grand relaunch following a fire and then total refurbishment bathing the townhouse in all the colonial elegance of its former glory.
Gymkhana hosted one of our private dining family office events earlier this year and hand on heart we have never experienced a better Indian Restaurant to date. The menu takes you on an opulent journey of flavours through its contemporary Indian cuisine with a G+T that’ll knock your socks off to boot…so to speak.

family office event private dining gymkhana

On the menu will be all the Gymkhana classic dishes, such as Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops and Goat Keema Pao, but do not leave without trying the Wild Muntjac Biryani with Pomegranate & Mint Raita, it’s genuinely life changing.

Kings Arms, Hampton Court
Kings Arms are reopening from 4th of July for BBQs on the terrace and full restaurant service from Thursday – Sunday for lunch and dinner and we are delighted about it. Overlooking Hampton Court Palace Gardens and a stones throw from the Thames, all menus have been created by Michelin starred Executive Chef Mark Kempson. So whether it be a burger on the terrace or a full fine dining restaurant experience, post lock down will never have tasted so good.

Kings arms london restaurant hampton court

TEASE South Kensington
A newly opened escape in the heart of South Kensington, TEASE is a modern day tea bar focused on creating fresh blends and health boosting flavour combinations. Putting a fresh spin on the iconic British classic, TEASE’s menu boasts a selection of iced teas, milk teas, adaptogenic milks, health shots. The perfect antidote to the funk of lockdown and a welcome health kick before the celebration of freedom begins?

Tease South kensington london restaurant

Conceptualising the menu is former mixologist of The Ned, Soho Farmhouse and Annabel’s, Cosmo Lewis. Cool refreshing iced teas will be our summer social call – freshly brewed tea combined with a variety of freeze-dried fruits for maximum nutrition packed into each cup, they’re the perfect refreshment for the season.

The house special “Cosmosis” section of the menu takes centre stage – rich dark chocolate, their take on a classic hot chocolate freshly made from raw cacao and cacao butter eliminating the use of any refined sugars, sits alongside the creamy vanilla cold coffee and a traditional spiced masala chai, which provides a great energy boost.

TEASE london restaurant south kensington

L’escargot, Soho
L’escargot has been a firm favourite London restuarant of Hedgebrunch’s for years and what better way to regain some normality than frequent old haunts. As Jay Rayner said ‘This isn’t just a French restaurant, it’s a Soho institution’ and boy was he right. Rarely does a month go by without us popping in for a Tournedous Rossini, Creme Brulee and a generous dose on convivial cheer so we are well over due a visit.

L’escargot are currently offering 30% off lunch time dining and £500 off private dining to AYU, members. Join AYU here.

 

Bar 45 and CUT at 45 Park Lane
On the fringes of Hyde Park our next destination nestles. Bar 45 and its co-inhabiter CUT at 45 offer one of London restaurant’s best steaks, curated by the genius that is Wolfgang Puck, and a legendary Negroni to boot. Remember the expertly mixed cocktails we’ve been missing? This is the concoction we’ve been dreaming of. The only dilemma at CUT is choosing your view. Will it be Damien Hirst’s Diamond Dust Psalms series adorning the walls, or leafy Hyde Park beyond the windows? Why not hit two birds with one stone and satisfy our cultural thirst as well.

The Dorchester Collection are currently offering private dining and complimentary dish perks exclusive to AYU members, join AYU here.

CUT 45 Park Lane london restaurant

Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond
Bingham Riverhouse announced their exclusive partnership with award–winning chef Steven Edwards in March this year, brutal timing for a London restaurant and we were gutted not to manage a visit before lockdown. Never fear we will make up for it now! This is Steven’s first venture in London and by all accounts he is transforming the menu with his contemporary take on seasonal British food whilst also continuing his work at his critically acclaimed restaurant etch. in Hove for those of you who fancy a jaunt to the seaside.

Bingham Riverhouse Richmond hotel london restaurant

Following a full refurbishment by award-winning interior designer Nicola Harding, Bingham Riverhouse has become a harmonious mix between easy living and private members house;
a concept yet to be seen in Richmond. A short stroll from the glory that is Richmond Park, this is where we’ll be enjoying a river view soon.

Bingham Riverhouse are currently offering 15% off stays and their sister Spa bhuti 10% off membership exclusively to AYU members, join AYU here.

Brace yourself London, we’re coming for you and we can’t wait to see you in all your masked and sanitised glory.

 

 

For access to exclusive offers for these venues and more join AYU – the digital private members club for the alternative investment community, click here to see if you qualify.

 

Now read: Great British Bucket List 

 

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Northern Ireland County Antrim hotel spa break Belfast

Top 3 Luxury Hotels in Northern Ireland

It’s safe to say that, as lockdown drags on, our next breaks are very much taking up some brain space. Been fantasising about that trip much? Yeah, us too. For those in the UK, the first opportunities to get away will probably be staycations, or, at very best, short haul trips. With that in mind we have taken a look at the very best in luxury that our Northern Irish neighbours have to offer.

London to Belfast is a little over an hour by plane, and it’s rare such a short hop from the capital will take you to crystal clear waters and stunning beaches. With breath-taking scenery and glorious atmosphere in the bag, let’s take a look at our top 3 luxury hotels in the region.

 

1. The Culloden Estate & Spa

Luxury Hotel Spa Northern Ireland holiday Belfast

 

The Culloden Estate & Spa in Belfast stands on the forested slopes of the Holywood hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the glorious County Antrim coastline, offering idyllic surrounds for a cosy weekend break. The Culloden is a grand estate originally built as a Palace for the Bishops of Down, Known as ‘The Ritz of Northern Ireland,’

With nature on the doorstep, guests can explore the stunning colours of Northern Ireland, admiring the maples at Mount Stewart, located just minutes from the Culloden Estate & Spa. With luxurious treatment suites, relaxation rooms, swimming pool, a range of heat experiences and an extensive selection of therapies on offer, the Spa at Culloden offers the perfect haven to enjoy some time out and pampering. As far as luxury hotels in Northern Ireland go, The Culloden is up there.

Culloden Estate and Sap Northern Ireland

As a cosy country hotel, Culloden Estate & Spa immerses guests within a warm atmosphere that is the ideal complement to a refreshing country walk, the perfect antidote to lockdown lethargy. Enjoy fine dining in front of a roaring fire, or spend a beautiful day in the tranquil spa, followed by indulgent afternoon tea. Culloden Estate & Spa offers something for everyone, allowing guests to enjoy the stunning Northern Irish landscape and provide themselves with a well-earned break.

 

2. The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

Slieve Donard Resort and Spa

 

The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa is situated on the idyllic seashores of the Irish sea on Newcastle Bay.  The luxury hotel looks out to the Mountains of Mourne with spectacular views across the Royal County Down Golf Course. Set in six acres of beautifully kept private grounds, the property is famous for its expansive and luxurious spa.


The four star Slieve Donard Resort and Spa offers 181 comfortable and stylish bedrooms, including Classic, Superior, Executive and Resort rooms as well as 6 luxury suites. The inside of your hotel room is traditionally tasteful, comfortable and inviting. The recently refurbished and luxurious rooms are the ultimate haven to relax in. Their King Koil “cloud beds” have an extra thick mattress and the plumpest pillows and duvets available to help ensure you drift away and enjoy a perfect night’s sleep.

Spa Slieve Donard Hotel Newcastle County Down luxury

Overlooking a windswept Irish Beach, the Spa at Slieve Donard is an exquisite haven of escapism. Here you will find the contrasts of light and dark mingle to create inspiring and comforting spaces to relax, restore and revitalise. And, all the while, the majestic Mountains of Mourne and the rolling sand dunes of County Down provide the perfect backdrop for a spa of refined relaxation.

Guests can escape to a cocoon of calm and melt away their stresses with over two floors of tranquillity, including a magnificent 20 metre swimming pool and Vitality Pool, amethyst steam room and high tech fitness studio.

 

3. Ballygally Castle

Ballygally Castle Hotel Northern Ireland

Ballygally Castle is beautifully located on the scenic Antrim coast facing the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay and only 26 miles from Belfast. The hotel offers 18 “5 star coastal view” rooms including 6 family rooms making it one of the largest hotels on the Causeway Coastal route with 54 bedrooms. The castle dates back to 1625 and is unique in that it is the only 17th Century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. The hotel is reputedly haunted by a friendly ghost and brave guests can visit the “ghost room” in one of the towers to see for themselves.

This beautiful Castle is perfectly located for top tourist attractions and has a wealth of recreational activities within easy reach making it the perfect base for exploring the stunning Causeway Coastal Route, Bushmills Distillery, Carrickfergus Castle, Royal Portrush Golf Course, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the popular Game of Thrones Tour. For those wishing to explore on foot will enjoy the beautiful walks to be found in Carnfunnock Country Park, which is within walking distance, or simply relax and enjoy a leisurely stroll on the beach opposite the hotel.

Ballygally Castle Afternoon Tea

Ballygally Castle’s Garden Restaurant enjoys beautiful views over the grounds and serves a delicious traditional Irish Breakfast. The restaurant offers an excellent table d’hôte dinner menu, as well as a range of daily specials, where chefs use only the best of local produce to provide a wide range of culinary delights.

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Hedgebrunch visits Limewood Hotel and Spa

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Phil Hanson Endurance racing WEC unoted autosports

How to become a racing driver

Phil Hanson is the young endurance racing driver to watch. During his short career he has already smashed records and competed in prestigious races such as Rolex 24 Hours, at Daytona, alongside two-time F1 champion, Fernando Alonso. He is also the youngest top 10 finisher in the history of the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours.

HedgeBrunch caught up with Phil to talk career dreams and required qualities for endurance racing.

HB At what age did you first show an interest in endurance racing and when should young drivers racing to ensure they’re experienced enough to compete?

PH I probably started later than I should have, originally I wanted to be a football player or rugby star like most school boys, it wasn’t until I was 11 or 12 I really started to take an interest in kart racing and 13 or 14 when I got my karting license. I was fortunate to start winning championships early and started to get noticed by serious teams. I would recommend getting involved as early as possible, you can start kart racing from 4 years old! Karting is also great at any age, as its not just for children, there are serious adult championships as well with full time professional drivers.

HB Are there any milestones or certain trophies a budding driver should be aiming for?

PH I would say just race as much as you possibly can, weekends, evenings, foreign championships etc. I would also say have something to fall back on though, job wise. Everything in racing can change very quickly and you should always have another career idea to fall back on.

HB When did you realise you could become a racing driver for a living and do you need to have made it a certain age?

PH I was probably 17 when I realised it was probably a university or racing decision and I think most young athletes have to make the choice around that age. However we are all living so long on average these days you could make the decision to be become a racing driver in some form later in life, you just need the passion and time to dedicate to it.

HB What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make for your racing?

PH Bar university and a normal social life (I can’t really drink and have a strict diet and training regime) it would be skiing! Before I got into racing for a brief period I considered being competitive skier. However, sadly I now can’t ski due to the risk injury. Its something I’ll definitely pick up again once I stop racing.

HB What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a budding driver?

PH Make sure it’s something you really want! It’s such a competitive industry and you really have to be willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve. I’ve seen a lot of people get into it for the lifestyle and the parties but at the end of the day its a 7 day a week job with a lot of pressure and commitment. You can still get into racing at an older age and be a ‘gentlemen driver’ as they are known. That’s not in the endurance category necessarily but there are lots of racing category’s where they are regular fixtures.

HB What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?

PH Either racing at Le Mans when I was just 17 or the World Endurance Championship win in Bahrain. Le Mans was crazy because in France you have to be 18 to get a driving licence and there I was at 17 driving round one of the most famous tracks in the world.

HB Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

PH Ideally in a manufactured drive with a long contract for career security. I would also love to get a Le Mans win under my belt, but then what racing driver wouldn’t?

HB What’s the one natural ability a young endurance racing driver should possess?

PH Very good hand eye coordination is a basic one but it’s something known in the industry as ‘the feeling’ – it’s almost making sure all 5 senses are connected to the car. It means you understand the car better and can push the car, making for better quality racing and lap times. You can only know you have it once you tried racing – so best way is to hit a track day and have some fun finding out.

HB What are you looking forward to most this year post lockdown?

PH Apart from seeing friends and family like everyone else, I can’t wait to go out for dinner, because I follow a strict diet I choose my cheat meals very carefully. My favourite restaurant in London is Daphne’s on Draycott Avenue, it’s round the corner from our place in town and the staff are so friendly. They have a menu that never fails; their Ragu is always excellent.

 

Phil Hanson is part of race team United Auto Sports who are current the World Endurance Championship champions. 

 

 

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Wirecard: Not Just A Classic Hollywood Story

Boaz Yaari, Sharegain

Are short sellers really the evil value destroyers?

In capital markets, we’re hungry for drama. Every story has a hero and a villain, a clash of egos and a rollercoaster story line. It’s more engrossing than any episode of Game of Thrones.

That hunger comes at a cost. When we see the world as a clash of good vs evil, we lose nuance. Active investors are sometimes perceived as opportunistic scavengers, passive ones are tagged as ‘dumb money’. Long-term investors become the chivalrous, ESG-compliant knights. Short sellers are cast as evil ‘value destroyers’ – to borrow a phrase from Elon Musk. It’s ridiculous, of course and can lead to unintended consequences. We’re seeing that right now with a one-time darling of the European tech scene: Wirecard AG.

 

 

Long-term investors become the chivalrous, ESG-compliant knights. Short sellers are cast as evil ‘value destroyers’ – to borrow a phrase from Elon Musk

 

 

A little over a year ago, a series of articles in the FT raised concerns about this famous German payments firm. The company’s Singapore offices were raided by the local authorities. Noise grew in the German media that the company was the victim of a conspiracy theory, orchestrated by short-sellers.

As a result, shorting the stock was temporarily banned, between February 18 and April 18, 2019. The share price stabilised, the villains were defeated and we all lived happily ever after.

Only we didn’t. Today, Wirecard is the subject of numerous investigations as the firm is missing €1.9bn in cash and has allegedly inflated its financial results, deceived its auditors and possibly hired groups of hackers to target investors and hedge funds who shorted their stock. The CEO has resigned and since been arrested. Today, they filed for insolvency. The chain of events has been more dramatic than a Hollywood thriller as we watch yet another chapter unfold in this twisting saga.

 

 

Wirecard CEO resigns, gets arrested and the company files for insolvency

 

 

In reality, it is an extreme case of poor governance, to say the least, one that saw 85% of Wirecard’s share price evaporate in four days. Now, the company’s approach to governance is facing a long-overdue reckoning: sunlight is the best disinfectant.

History has taught us time and again that in cases of colossal governance issues, short sellers aren’t the issue.

We’ve seen it with Enron, with Sino-Forest and now with Wirecard. In capital markets, we try to promote the ability for investors to find issues with weak corporate governance or to detect fraud, by enabling them to make money by short-selling the shares of the suspected company.

Short sellers also get it wrong. For every Wirecard, there’s an Ocado or a Tesla, where short sellers didn’t believe in the economic viability of the company and were proven wrong by a great management team that created tremendous value. The beauty is that everyone can have an opinion and can put their money where their mouth is.

 

 

Long story short, if we want strong, efficient markets, we need short selling

 

 

If we’re serious about ESG (let’s not forget what the ‘G’ stands for), we need short sellers. We need sticks as well as carrots.

But more than anything, we need to acknowledge that the creative narration of investment strategies, long vs short, good vs evil is just noise. We may laugh. We may cry. But at the end of the day, it shouldn’t dictate our investment decisions.

 

 

Boaz Yaari is Founder and CEO of Sharegain, a fintech that is democratising securities lending, enabling every institutional and retail investor to unlock the additional returns that securities lending can offer.

 

 

Now read Drawdown Analysis: Show me your drawdown and I’ll tell you who you are

 

 

 

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Cédric Kohler Fundada Hedge Fund Allocation family office ESG

AYU Member Spotlight: Cédric Kohler of Fundana

June 17th 2020

Cédric Kohler
Fundana

Cédric is a partner at Fundana, an alternative boutique specializing in Hedge Funds since 1993. He is a member of the investment committee and in charge of the Advisory Group and of Business Development. Fundana manages circa $1Bn for Family Offices, Pension Funds and Banks. Fundana is a boutique and wants to remain one, focusing on performance rather than products.

Hi Cédric, what are you working on today? 

During a crisis, what is paramount is to service your clients. That’s when they need us the most to understand where they stand with their investments. This is how we have built solid relationships over the last 27 years with our clients.

On the project side, we are looking into how ESG can be implemented within Hedge Funds. This is a complex problem because there is not a single definition of what ESG means and Hedge Funds are late with this important new investment paradigm.

How did you get to where you are now? 

Before joining Fundana, I worked for Lombard Odier, heading their fund-of-hedge-funds team. From 2004 until 2007, I was Global Head of Firm-wide Risk at Citadel Investment Group in Chicago. Prior to this, I worked at Merrill Lynch in New York heading the risk management group within Prime Brokerage. I started my career with UBS in New York, London and Zurich.

What attracted you to this business?

Back in the ’90s, a Swiss citizen had three options to choose from: watches, chocolate or banking! Since I never much enjoyed watches, it was down to chocolate and banking. In the end, I decided to just eat chocolate while pursuing a career in finance, given the large range of challenges to take on. While initially the technical aspects were my main motivation, I later payed more and more attention to qualitative issues. For example, in risk management most firms expend 90% of their resources on risk measurement, but how you handle risk is much more important than how you measure it.

Even today, I see that most failures are not due to measurement but to dealing with the tough questions of how to actively manage risk. The bigger the organisation, the harder it is to effectively manage risk. Look at the list of the largest trading losses. Typically, the biggest losses arise from a combination of a large organisation or unit, derivatives and huge trades. It happens over and over again, and in that sense, history does repeat itself, but we should be able to learn from it.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

Clearly, leaving for the US! Not only was I exposed to many trading and investing strategies, but also to some of the largest markets and financial institutions in the world. I also enjoyed their work environment a lot: the focus was on getting the job done. Your background didn’t matter much as long as you could get it done. It’s not for nothing that Nike has “Just Do It” as its tagline.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

I believe that it’s impossible to get really bored in Finance. This is especially true when working in alternative investments as the number of dimensions is quite high versus other asset classes. Whether you look into different strategies, markets, investing styles or human behavior while investing, there is always something fascinating to explore. In addition, there is not much in Finance that’s persistent. So, whatever you may know at some point, may not be true at a later stage.

And what would you change?

The Finance sector would gain in credibility if minimum performance reporting standards became mandatory. While the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) established in ‘87 are doing a fantastic job, these requirements are not yet compulsory. As a result, you still have too many asset managers displaying investment returns which are not true (pro-forma, carveouts, etc.). This is a big problem not just for non-sophisticated investors but for all investors.

What do you invest in personally? 

Most of my liquid savings are in our flagship fund, the Prima Capital Fund. This is a $700M Fund-of-Hedge-Funds which we have been managing for 27 years. It focuses on a simple, transparent, liquid and performing strategy: Long/Short Equity. I strongly believe that all asset managers should have skin in the game. This is certainly a requirement we have from our underlying Hedge Funds managers.

Where do you celebrate? 

I am very fond of a restaurant in Geneva called Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. Not only do I have many childhood memories there, but it’s also a restaurant I like because of its business model. They do only one dish: entrecôte with French fries and a wonderful sauce. This brasserie style restaurant does not take any reservations and you have to queue outside, even in the winter. Imagine someone presenting you with that business model: one dish, French service and queuing outside. You would clearly turn it down, yet they have been in business for about 40 years now.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

I am planning a running holiday at the end of August with a few friends. 90km in 3 days with 2,000 meters of uphill every day. We will run mostly in the Swiss Alps and arrive at the Geneva Lake for a nice swim!

Next, I would also love to do some horse-back riding in Iceland or surfing in California.

What does success mean to you?

At 51, it’s about accepting who you are versus who you wanted to be. For me, it’s about enjoying as many aspects of your life as you can. Balance between work, family, friends and passions is a constant goal but hard to achieve. It takes years of practice. In fact, all of them are never in balance and in sync. But you always have one or two which are doing well and you should feed on them until the others start to do well again.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

For Finance, when I was in New York working on the FX option’s desk, one of the traders insisted that I read “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis, an exceptional book to help you understand that finance is first and foremost about incentives, human ignorance, greed and fear.

In life, in general to enjoy whatever you decide to do. Passion makes life so much richer!

Cédric has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Cédric by applying for membership here. 

Cédric’s insight on manager selection is available here: Drawdown Analysis – Show me your drawdown, I’ll tell you who you are

 

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drawdown analysis cedric kohler Fundana

Drawdown Analysis

Show me your drawdown, I’ll tell you who you are.

June 20th 2020

Cédric Kohler, Head of Advisory at Fundana, talks us through the importance of understanding drawdowns in manager selection.

For many investors, experiencing drawdowns can be an emotional roller coaster. At first, a 5% correction can be exciting as it can be seen as a buying opportunity. At -10%, however, anxiety kicks in quickly and now the question becomes: is it still a buying opportunity or rather time to reduce risk? At -15%, all the plans for a good year are now gone and after a few percent more, capitulation typically leads to a massive risk reduction as stress is at a maximum.

Unfortunately, this is typically when the market makes a bottom and starts to rise again. Indeed, for our generation, markets have always rebounded. And those rallies are the most hated by investors as they watch markets rise without being fully invested, leaving them lagging the market at the end of the year. With investors going through so many emotions, it is easy to make serious mistakes and to ruin a track record.

However, as painful as these drawdowns might be, they also represent excellent opportunities to analyse your managers and refine your manager selection. At Fundana, we like to say that monitoring our managers is at least as important as the initial manager assessment. The COVID-19 crisis is certainly providing another opportunity to separate the good managers from the bad and more importantly from the ugly.

After decades of manager selection and monitoring, we have developed a simple yet robust tool that enables us to assess the quality of managers during a drawdown. We call it the V-Shape analysis and a stylized version is shown in the graph below.

 

V-Shape Analysis

drawdown analysis Fundana Cedric Kohler v-shape

The idea is to compare a manager’s drawdown versus the market. Here we will use fundamental Long/Short Equity managers to explain the concept. While these managers are primarily stock pickers, we want to make sure that they are also good risk managers. Over the long run, and with enough market corrections, it becomes as important to be a good risk manager as it is to be a good stock picker.

Scenario 1 – Too much downside

The first check is to see if a manager does worse than the market on the way down. From the chart above, we can see that Fund C loses more than the market. This is already a bad sign as Long/Short Equity managers are supposed to protect the downside and hence reduce an investor’s portfolio volatility. In addition, the fund will now need to take more risk if he wants to recover the high watermark. That situation is quite dangerous because if the market has another leg down, the fund will now lose a lot more than the market, putting itself in a position where recovering those loses will be next to impossible. Not surprisingly, Fund C types are to be avoided, even if they have recovered during previous crises. It may work a few times until it doesn’t, and you end up with an accident in your portfolio.

Scenario 2 – Too little upside

Another common outcome is a fund that protects the downside but that does not participate during the market rebound, like Fund B. This is usually because managers cut risk massively at the worst time or because the Short book is not constructed properly. While the initial protection is welcome, these funds end up the year behind the markets and make for poor investments. Being able to participate in rebounds is as important as protecting the downside!

Scenario 3 – Getting it just right

What we should always be looking for are funds like Fund A. The manager limits the downside with a sound portfolio construction and good risk management and yet manages to capture the upside. Because he lost less than the market on the way down, all he needs to do is to capture the rebound to finish ahead of the market at the end of the drawdown.

Over the years, we have observed that the very best managers tend to reduce Net and Gross exposures as the market corrects while increasing certain position sizes on a stock-by-stock basis. In doing so, the manager reduces the directionality risk and the balance sheet risk in case the market gets even worse, but keeps sufficient upside potential thanks to a higher concentration level in certain stocks. Basically, they are transferring the market risk to a stock specific risk which is the risk these managers know best. Indeed, a good risk manager is not only someone who can reduce risk but also someone who knows when to put the risk back on.

In addition, a fund like Fund A is in a fantastic position. He is up on the year, while markets might still be down, and that puts the manager in a position of strength as this provides him plenty of investment choices going forward.  The manager has buying power to profit from current market opportunities and can chose how and when he wants to take risk. If the market continues to stabilize, we can expect strong results from the fund. If the market goes through another correction, this manager will also have an advantage as his YTD cushion would provide him additional buying power later on.

One quickly understands that correctly analyzing a manager’s drawdown cannot be done simply by looking at his returns. One needs to understand in detail how their portfolio changes during such a period. Simply looking at returns, one could conclude erroneously that the manager did the right thing while in reality they may have increased risk unduly in one stock or sector. Hence having resources dedicated to these analyses is paramount.

The track record does still matter

Whilst the V-Shape analysis looks just at a crisis period, the size of the drawdown also has to be put in perspective with the manager’s prior performance. Indeed, it might be acceptable to keep a manager who loses 8% during a drawdown if they generated a 30% return over the previous cycle. However, you may want to reduce a manager who only lost 5% but had only returned 10% prior to the drawdown. It is also important to put in context these loses versus the manager’s expected future performance given the new environment and portfolio.

Conclusions

Drawdowns are always nerve wracking for investors. However, they do provide unique opportunities to better understand your managers and how good they are at risk management. Ultimately, these periods should be used to refine your manager selection and make your portfolios more resilient for the future.

 

Cédric is a partner at Fundana, an alternative boutique specializing in Hedge Funds since 1993. He is a member of the investment committee and in charge of the Advisory Group and of Business Development. Fundana manages circa $1Bn for Family Offices, Pension Funds and Banks. Fundana is a boutique and wants to remain one focusing on performance rather than products.

Cédric Kohler, Head of Advisory: cedric.kohler@fundana.ch
Fundana SA, Rue Ami-Lullin 12, CH – 1211 Genève 3, +41 22 312 50 50

 

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London Serviced apartments

How to travel to London now

June 8th 2020

BUSINESS TRAVEL

With Zoom shares up more than 200%, it’s fair to say video conferencing is having its day. But some business travel is simply unavoidable. For those planning business trips to London, the question is how to make it as safe and comfortable as possible. We asked Pippa Mitchell, Co-founder of Pippa & Benoit  Luxury London Apartments, to give the top line on the situation as it stands. 

 

WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL RULES FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL?

To ensure people travel to the UK safely, from 8 June 2020 all visitors will be required to:

  • Provide journey and contact details when travelling to the UK
  • Complete a 14 day quarantine in the place you’re staying. This means not leaving the property except in very limited situations (e.g. for urgent medical treatment or essential supplies that cannot be delivered to you)

Those who refuse to give details could be fined £100, and anyone found to have not self-isolated could be fined £1,000. However, the government is under pressure to change the rules, widely branded as unenforceable – with only 20% of visitors expected to ever receive a spot check, and others pointing out that £100 is a small price to pay for anonymity.

 

WHAT’S THE SITUATION WITH FLYING? 

There are also rules to be followed at the airport and in the air. Airlines will of course have their own specific policies, but generally speaking:

  • You’ll need to arrive 4 hours before departure for a health screening
  • Only travelling customers may enter the terminal 
  • You must wear gloves and a facemask throughout your journey
  • You must observe social distancing rules 

Naturally, this extra layer of procedure has made for longer waits, which is why private jet companies enjoyed a bumper month in May – a trend we expect to intensify in the summer months. If possible, we’d recommend flying private.

WHERE CAN YOU STAY? 

With hotels out of the question – serviced apartments in London are definitely your best bet for Mayfair accommodation. Whether that’s single apartments for solo business travel or renting an entire building of apartments to house your whole team.

The bulk of our luxury accommodation in London is located plum in the middle of the West End – right by Mayfair, St. James’s, and the City of London. But beautiful private apartments in great locations aren’t the only benefits of staying with us.

From Covid testing kits to fresh pastries and coffee upon your arrival, we’ll make sure you have everything you need throughout your stay to make you as comfortable as possible.

Is it safe? 

Absolutely. As part of our Covid-19 Protection Policy, every serviced apartment we manage is deep cleaned and left vacant for 72 hours between stays to give our guests complete peace of mind.

Is anything even open though?

While business travel may be the primary reason for your trip, more and more businesses are opening by the day so you won’t be short of food, drink or shopping. Everyone from Deliveroo to The Dorchester have offsite offerings available now, before they open up again properly from the 4th of July. The likes of Selfridges and Harrods opened to limited shoppers this week, but caveat empor – there are serious queues!

What’s next?

It’s a developing situation, with things changing day by day, but Pippa & Benoit are always on hand to help guests enjoy their stay to the full.

The PA of a mutli-billion NYC fund manager recently booked a stay for her CEO with us. Despite making the reservation less than 48hrs prior to arrival, within an hour of booking all details for the self-check-in were provided and any special guest requests confirmed. Priding themselves on five-star service Pippa & Benoit were delighted to receive this feedback:

“Pippa & Benoit, thank you so much –loved the place, and you made the whole process so easy. I just heard from my CEO and he has said the apartment is brilliant. Thank you for everything!”

 

AYU members receive 15% off when booking with Pippa & Benoit. To become a member of AYU click here.

 

About Pippa & Benoit

Pippa & Benoit is a luxury serviced apartment firm that specialises in Prime Central London. It was co-founded in 2017 by Benoit Gallaga, formerly of Harrods Estates, and Pippa Mitchell, an investor and consultant involved in super-prime property development. Today, Pippa & Benoit welcome guests from all over the world – offering the comfort and privacy only a home from home can provide, but with the five-star service usually reserved for London’s finest hotels.

 

The Mayfair Mews Suites by Pippa & Benoit

 

View details and enquire here.

Click here to see their full range of properties.

 

 

 

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AYU Member Spotlight: Sam Copley of TruVenturo

Sam Copley
TruVenturo Family Office

Sam Copley is Investment Manager at TruVenturo. He has been with the company for two years and focuses on early stage investments into tech and biotech. TruVenturo employs a venture creation strategy, building high impact companies in significant markets. Recently the team has focused on longevity – age-related disease prevention – and neurotechnology. TruVenturo is a single family office headquartered in Hamburg, but Sam works out of the London office.

Hi Sam, what are you working on today? 

I’m currently splitting my time three ways; over the last couple of years we incubated three companies in the longevity space, each tackling a different ‘hallmark of aging’. We have teamed up with the leading scientists and entrepreneurs in this space, and we will continue to allocate to longevity in the coming years. We are also exploring neurotech, specifically data analytics for therapeutics. I am also helping one of our portfolio companies – a software development company – with operations and business development.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I spent most of my 20s abroad – in Japan, France, Papua New Guinea – and a handful of other places. During this time I was working as a journalist and later in risk for various intelligence entities. I came back to London at the age of 27 and worked for a bank in Mayfair for a year, before moving to the newly incorporated fintech wing of a financial conferences business. It was during this time I met a large number of family offices, including the firm I now work for.

What attracted you to this business?

I was keen to work in venture capital since my move back to London, as I have long had an interest in supporting budding entrepreneurs. TruVenturo had the additional qualities of a) being one of Europe’s leading company builders and b) seeding companies in highly disruptive sectors. We are a first generation family office – the principal made his money through vision, extremely hard work and building world-class teams. I was keen to be part of this group.

What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far?

Moving out of intelligence into investment. This transition marked the end of a long and thrilling period of soul-searching. I had innumerable adventures throughout my 20s – with no regrets – but the lifestyle was ultimately unsustainable for me. When I started to work in investment, I discovered an eclectic community of highly driven individuals with wildly diverse interests; consequently, despite my unorthodox past, I fitted right in.

What aspect of our industry excites you the most?

Supporting scientific innovation is the most exciting aspect of VC. Whether we’re talking curing age-related diseases, uploading consciousness into a machine or mining on asteroids, looking at early stage investment into disruptive technology is like glimpsing into the future.

What would you change?

Venture capital – by its nature – is mostly accessible only to angels, family offices and some institutional investors. Retail investors rarely get the opportunity to participate in supporting next-gen technology. This is understandable due to the high risk entailed, but I am sure in the coming years there will be a partial democratisation of niche asset classes like VC, private equity and hedge funds.

What do you invest in personally?

Personally, I write small tickets into early stage companies where I see strong teams, high equity-multiple potential and – more than anything else – interesting ideas; companies that look both ethically sound and move the dial scientifically.

Where do you celebrate?

These days – with lockdown in place – I celebrate the end of the week with a Timothy Taylor’s Landlord pale ale on my roof terrace overlooking Smithfield. I marked the end of my intrepid travels of my 20s in Le Var on the south coast of France. We would take a small boat out towards Porquerolles island with a couple of bottles of Château d’Esclans and swim in the Mediterranean. Not bad.

What is at the top of your bucket list right now?

BASE jumping intrigues me. I have enjoyed a large range of high adrenaline activities, but I can only imagine the rush from jumping off a cliff or a building with a parachute. I’m almost certainly too old to give it a go now, but never say never.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me means leaving an enduring legacy of having changed the world – even slightly. I will consider myself successful if the technologies I am currently supporting ultimately help solve even some of the world’s big problems.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If you’ve never made a mistake, you’ve never made anything. Setbacks arise to teach us something – stumbling blocks can often be stepping stones with the right perspective. Mindset is all.

 

 

Sam has been an AYU member since 2019. AYU is the digital private members club for alternative investment professionals. Join AYU today and connect with Sam by applying for membership here. 

Linkedin Hedgebrunch engage HNWI

How to use Linkedin to engage with HNW Individuals

Graham Aikin provides some practical advice on how firms can use LinkedIn to engage with HNW individuals, as a marketing, business development and client acquisition tool.

HNW sectors are embracing digital channels

Given recent global developments, luxury brands and asset managers catering to the HNW and ultra-HNW sectors are embracing digital channels to connect with and build relationships with prospects and clients. Firms are utilising social media more than ever before and LinkedIn in particular has seen a 55% increase in the number of monthly active users* since mid-March.

Investment managers, family offices and luxury brands are keen to find new ways to find ‘the human touch’ given that our new ways of working are likely to continue post-lockdown. LinkedIn now has over 690 million members in 200 countries so it has phenomenal reach. Here are a number of ways in which firms can develop their LinkedIn presence to both retain existing relationships and find new clients:

Your starting point for success is your existing brand

When someone Google’s your firm name or the name of an employee, what do they find? LinkedIn is a fantastic (and free) way to improve both your corporate and personal brand. All members of staff that are client-facing should have an optimised LinkedIn profile that includes, at a minimum:

  •  A background image and professional headshot
  •  An About section that explains who you are, what you do, and who you do it for
  • The new ‘Featured’ section where you can upload brochures, videos and other documents that will be of interest to your target market(s)

Your LinkedIn profile is no longer simply an online CV – it is an extremely powerful touchpoint for clients and prospects to find out more about you, and to engage with you on a one-2-one  basis if they wish. Similarly, if you have a LinkedIn Company Page, make sure it is fully optimised and aim to post relevant content 2-3 times per week.

Finding New Clients

There are a number of extremely powerful search features on the free version of LinkedIn that allow you to find your ideal demographic or target market(s). Whether you are looking to build relationships with C-suite executives, entrepreneurs, family offices, private aviation and superyacht firms, to name but a few, you can find them using the free search filters on LinkedIn. Once you have identified and found your target market(s), it is best practice to engage with them on a one-2-one basis as opposed to mass messaging. Do not try to sell to them at this point – try to offer them something of value (e.g. an event invitation, an interesting article or report) to build rapport first.

Informing & educating via the LinkedIn news feed

Whilst many LinkedIn users criticise some of the content on the news feed as being more at home on Facebook, but the news feed is a fantastic way use LinkedIn to engage with HNW individuals, inform and educate your clients and prospects, drive traffic to your website, position you and your brand as centres of excellence in your areas of expertise, and add the ‘human touch’ to your relationships, given our limited ability to interact face-to-face at the moment. Here are some practical tips for utilising the news feed functionality:

  • Target yourself to post 2-3 times per week and don’t just post your own firms content; it is wise to combine this with other content that your network may find of interest, otherwise it can come across as too ‘corporate’
  • Add 3 hashtags to your posts e.g. #luxury #investments #familyoffices – hashtags are a way for LinkedIn to categorise your post which other users can then search for, and so adding hashtags will increase the reach of your posts
  • Engage with other users content as well – comment, like and/or share it. The more you engage with other users content, the more your own content will be promoted by the news feed algorithm, again increasing your visibility on LinkedIn

I still meet many people whose mindset is ‘LinkedIn is a place to find a job’. That is still true, but more than ever before those working in the HNW/UHNW space are using it to network and grow their business, and by taking consistent, practical actions on a regular basis, I challenge anyone to not be able to achieve tangible results with LinkedIn.

Read more: Linkedin Engagement Trends

Graham Aikin has worked in the wealth management industry for over 17 years (primarily as a senior private banker with Coutts & Co in London) and for the last 8 years has been running his own consultancy that provides LinkedIn and business development advice to wealth & asset managers. He has trained over 5,000 advisers to date and his clients include 8 out of the top 10 largest wealth managers in the UK, as well as number of Wall Street firms. He is currently working with the likes of UBS, Schroders, Rathbones and Natixis.

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Luxury staycation UK travel

Great British Bucket List – Where to staycation in the UK once lockdown lifts

With lockdown in full swing, for many of us wanderlust is hitting an all-time high. Although we don’t know when we will be able to head off on our next adventure, it seems likely that the first trips we will be safely allowed to do will be right here in the UK. Whenever it happens, that first trip post lockdown is going to be extra special, therefore we are delighted to share a great British bucket list of places to consider for your first staycation once lockdown lifts. From the most exclusive luxury private estates big enough for all the family to dreamy spa breaks, city explorations, country boltholes, gourmet getaways or even just relishing the freedom to enjoy a picnic with loved ones in the park, here are just a few staycation ideas to inspire…

Voyager Club

Voyager Club – a hidden gem and luxury travel concierge, is able to curate your dream staycation in ultra private, exclusive estates and villas around the UK. They can even organise your private travel, and a Staycation Wardrobe to be waiting for you on arrival.  Everything Voyager Club does is bespoke, with itineraries curated for individual clients’ needs.  

One example of an off grid property available from Voyager Club and throughout this summer is this stunning English country estate in Hampshire

Voyager Club Luxury Travel UK Hampshire

Exceptionally private, down a tree-lined avenue, shielded from onlookers and set against a backdrop of 4,000 acres of Hampshire Estate. This private home is located between Basingstoke and Winchester and only a 25 minute drive from Farnborough Airport for private planes – it also has a helicopter landing on the property.  A classic English country house, its interior has been recently redesigned, refurbished and fitted with state-of-the-art amenities, whilst preserving its inherent heritage, valuable collection of family books, paintings and furniture. There are 8 reception rooms including a grand dining room, 10 double bedrooms and 1 single – each room with unique views over the Estate. 

Included in the rate are all meals planned with and prepared by the in-house chef and including wines from the cellar, premium spirits, mixers and soft drinks. Highest standards are overseen by the House Manager, Housekeeper and their teams. Exceptional onsite facilities include a heated outdoor pool, tennis courts, croquet lawn, cricket field and pavilion, electric bikes, boating and paddle boarding lake, cinema room and billiards room to keep entertained.

Rates on request. From £8,000 + VAT a night. High season from £12,000 a night

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Bingham Riverhouse- luxury in London

Following a full refurbishment by award-winning interior designer Nicola Harding, Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond has become a harmonious mix between easy living and private members house.

Bingham Riverhouse Richmond hotel hedgebrunch staycation

Fifteen bedrooms, combine calm, comfort and modern craftsmanship for a home-from-home stay. Their River rooms have inspiring or elevated views of the Thames, each named after a work of Michael Field, a pseudonym for Edith Cooper and Katherine Bradley who lived here in 1899 -1910. And to top it all off the restaurant is led by Masterchef: The Professionals winner Stephen Edwards, offering an evolving tasting menu showcasing local and British produce.

Stephen Edwards Bingham Riverhouse Richmond

Guests can also indulge at bhuti – Bingham’s sister eco-wellbeing escape, 5 minutes walk away. bhuti has a yoga/fitness studio, holistic treatments, complementary therapies, a vegan tea room, members’ space and transformative events. Riverhouse bedroom guests can book classes, relax in the members space and receive enticements on some bhuti’s treatments.

www.binghamriverhouse.com

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A Gourmet & Wellness Getaway with The Gainsborough Bath Spa 

Those looking for true rest and relaxation post lockdown need look no further than YTL Hotels’ The Gainsborough Bath Spa. The only hotel in the UK to offer its visitors the opportunity to access and experience Bath’s famed natural thermal waters.

Bath Spa luxury Uk travel Gainsborough Hotel

The hotel’s private water reserve bubbles to the surface at 47 degrees centigrade, packed full of rich natural minerals. Combined with award-winning design and world-class gourmet experiences at Dan Moon at The Gainsborough, the 99-bedroom hotel gives guests a majestic spa and gourmet journey in the heart of Bath that keeps them coming back again and again.

Dan Moon Gainsborough Bath Spa Luxury Hotel

Head Chef Dan Moon is delighted to introduce new summer menus boasting special signature dishes and plant-based options ready for guests to enjoy after lockdown- the ideal antidote to all that home cooking! Nightly rates at The Gainsborough Bath Spa start from £290 on a room-only basis. www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

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The Academy, Bloomsbury – For those who have developed a love for literature during lockdown 

For many, lockdown has been a chance to catch up on reading and fully immerse ourselves in the world of books. Those who have a newfound love for literature, or for those who have seen their passion for reading grow even more need not let this go once lockdown lifts. YTL Hotels’ elegant Gower Street property, The Academy, is thrilled to offer guests a series of literary experiences to enjoy in celebration of the hotel’s location, in London’s literary, cultural and intellectual heart. 

From literary walks to intimate book club gatherings and a bespoke literary collection cocktail menu, The Academy is a literary hub with its very own story to tell. Book-loving guests looking to follow in the footsteps of Bloomsbury greats who once lived and worked in the neighbourhood need look no further for the ultimate bookish escape.

The Academy YTL Hotel London Literature Literary walk

Rooms at The Academy start from £300. www.theacademyhotel.co.uk 

 

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Sunny Reunions with Conrad London St. James’ Picnics in the Park

Conrad London St James Hotel Luxury picnic hamper Michael Riordan

While staying home and staying safe many of us are starting to dream of brighter days ahead when we will finally be able to meet friends and family in the park as the sun shines over London. After being stuck indoors for so long, there will be no better way to enjoy good company and the fresh outdoors than Conrad London St. James’ luxury picnic hamper. Prepared by Executive Chef Michael Riordan, guests can pick up their portable feast packed with homemade treats before finding the perfect picnic spot in St. James’s Park, just a two-minute walk from the hotel. Conrad London St. James’s ready-made picnic hamper offers a contemporary British menu, using fresh, tasty, regional ingredients, so when soggy sandwiches don’t quite cut the mustard you know where to go! 

Prices for the picnic hamper start from £26 per person. Nightly rates at Conrad London St. James start from £317 on a room only basis. For reservations and more information please visit www.conradhotels.com/london or call 020 3301 8080.

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Ruby Lucy, London

Ruby Hotels, the Munich-based hotel brand and pioneer of the ‘Lean Luxury’ philosophy, has launched its first UK property in London’s Southbank. The new 76-room hotel, Ruby Lucy, forms part of an ambitious expansion plan for Ruby Hotels to unveil a total of eleven new hotels – including a second London property – by 2022.

Ruby Lucy London Southbank Lower Marsh Luxury Hotel Theatre hotel

Enjoying a prime position on the Southbank’s Lower Marsh, Ruby Lucy’s interior design is inspired by the area’s bustling fairs and markets, entertainment and theatre scene, with a carnival theme running throughout the hotel. Rich, dark tones meet bright brass accents and subtle stripes, accented with playful props including circus drums and juggling pins. Nightly rates at Ruby Lucy start from £119 per night. For more information please visit www.ruby-hotels.com

Images here

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Dedicated Benefits for a British Break with Little Emperors

Little Emperors, the private members luxury hotel club has announced its best British breaks, all of which offer incredible dedicated benefits. Start by experiencing undeniably enticing luxury rooms at Clivedon House in Berkshire which is nestled within almost 400acres of National Trust parkland. Then explore the tranquil water garden, fitness trail through the grounds or find your way out of the Clivedon Maze. Next the Four Seasons Hampshire offers perfect luxury in which to reconnect in a family-friendly environment. This restored 18th Century Manor House with rolling hills to ride along on horse-back also has beautiful lush gardens to explore on foot. And lastly, for cider drinkers, head to The Newt in Somerset where you can stay in a beautiful Georgian Country Estate and learn about the advanced cold-press processes used to make their cider.

Little Emperors luxury British break clivedon house berkshire luxury hotel club

Little Emperors promises to deliver value in luxury like never seen before offering unparalleled benefits and a lowest price guarantee. The company works with 35,000 members and over 4,000 of the very best luxury hotels around the world. With an impressive portfolio of properties from 5-star luxury hotels to design city boutiques, Little Emperors really is best-kept secret in travel – so good, you don’t want to miss it! Little Emperors most popular British hotels include:

Clivedon House, Four Seasons Hampshire, The Newt, The Langley, Thyme, Heckfield Place, Beaverbrook. Little Emperors annual membership fees starts from £250. Tel + 44 203 178 4984 or email info@littleemperors.com. 

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Stay in a Renovated Factory in the Heart of the New Forest with Oliver’s Travels

Nestled within the New Forest National Park, The Brick House is a beautifully renovated factory situated on the edge of the privately owned Beaulieu River. Beautiful brickwork and modern amenities bring together a perfect mix of old and new while the welcome addition of a yurt in the warmer months allows space to invite a few more guests or use as a magical outdoor hideaway for younger guests.

New forest holiday home the brick house Beaulieu river oliverstravels

The New Forest is brimming with fun family activities including kayaking, canoeing and archery. Guests can brave some wild-swimming in the nearby pontoon or take the boat taxi from the house downstream to a local pub for a spot of dinner. The Brick House comfortably sleeps up to eight guests across five well-appointed bedrooms. Rates from £1,350 for a three-night stay or from £2,448 for a seven-night stay. To book, visit www.oliverstravels.com or call 0800 133 7999.  

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For The Big Reunion! The Copse, Oxfordshire – THIRDHOME Rentals

This seven-bedroom country house near Henley-on-Thames is ideal for a friends and family get-together. The property offers a cinema room and hot tub, in addition its location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty makes it a great option for those wanting to enjoy some outdoor pursuits. Available through THIRDHOME Rentals. Nightly rates from £1,350.  For more information, please visit www.thirdhome.com.

luxury holiday house oxfordshire thirdhome rentals Henly on Thames hot tub

 

Want to feature on Hedgebrunch? Click here.

 

For exclusive access to offers and luxury brands join AYU, see if you qualify here.

Coronavirus

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak all HedgeBrunch events are currently postponed.

We encourage all HedgeBrunch members still looking to connect with others to sign up to AYU. AYU is HedgeBrunch’s sister brand which delivers the ability to connect digitally with other trusted members around the world on a private platform. For more information head to www.thisisayu.com

 

Ted's grooming room barber london mayfair luxury

Ted’s Grooming Room: VIP Barbering Experience

Introducing London’s most luxurious male grooming experience; Ted’s much anticipated VIP treatments in the heart of Mayfair are the ultimate in men’s barbering. Hidden in the exclusive lower ground floor beneath Ted’s Grooming Room in Mayfair; the VIP Seat is reserved for London’s most discerning gentlemen who wish to have a top-shelf whiskey in hand while their expert barber exceeds their grooming expectations.

Nestled within luxury retailers on New Bond Street and the likes of the world-famous Claridge’s hotel, Ted’s Grooming Room Mayfair resides among London’s most prestigious establishments. Ted’s Grooming Room has spearheaded London’s grooming scene since 2008, with their expert team having grown from strength to strength.

With sixteen stores now to their name and plans to expand to twenty stores by 2020’s end, Ted’s Grooming Room is dominating the capital’s world of barbering and now with the launch of Ted’s VIP Treatments aims to add another string to his bow. Whether it be Ted’s Shaving Grace or The Cut Above, no man will leave Ted’s Mayfair VIP Seat without feeling trim and proper.

For the man who knows what he wants, The Cut-Smith is a thorough consultation with one of Ted’s expert barbers followed by a haircut tailored to the client’s exact specifications. Followed by eyebrow trimming, traditional Turkish ear-flaming, an exfoliating face wash and scrub, as well as a hot towel treatment with an arm and shoulder massage. Finished with a wash, blow-dry and styling, no man will ever want to return to his old ways of having a trim.

Ted’s Ultimate VIP treatment is reserved for those seeking the epitome of Turkish barbering. Starting with a sharp and stylish haircut from one of Ted’s expert barbers, and followed by an expert shaving with steamer, shape-up or beard trimming service, eyebrow trimming and traditional Turkish earflaming. What treatment would be worthy of the ‘Ultimate VIP’ title if it didn’t include an exfoliating scrub, hot wax or threading, and of course their staple Argan oil and clay face mask to fully refresh and smoothen the skin to its best. To ensure gentlemen step foot into Mayfair feeling their most dapper self, they’ll receive a hot towel treatment as well as a scalp, face, arm and shoulder massage before they leave.

All VIP treatments available at Ted’s Grooming Room in Mayfair include complimentary top-shelf spirits, soft beverages or Ted’s signature Turkish coffee. With the exclusive launch of Ted’s VIP services, Ted’s tip top services just got a little better.

Find Teds at tedsgroomingroom.com or at  4 Avery Row, Mayfair, London W1K 4AL

Eastbury hotel sherborne dorset luxury accomodation

The Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne

To the English countryside once again for a delightful weekend in Dorset. The Eastbury Hotel Sherborne was our destination this time, and what a pleasure it was.

The Eastbury, like it’s sister destination The Carey Arms and Spa, is part of the burgeoning de Savary group of hotels headed by Peter and Lana de Savary. These guys have been slowly transforming a range of more-than-slightly-out-of-date hotels, pubs and lodgings across the South of England for the past few years now and they are doing a grand job. The portfolio is great and it can be seen that they are clearly transforming each new spot with care, time and attention.

Eastbury hotel sherborne dorset luxury accomodation

The Eastbury Hotel is nestled in the quiet streets of Sherborne. Just 2 hours journey from London by train, Sherborne is a historic market town with a storied past and quite the multicultural present. There’s a wonderful juxtaposition about the town; the ancient, majestic Abbey at its centre, the castles fringing its borders and the rotary clubs and raffles sit amidst a young and international population of school kids attending one its five notable schools. A picture of, and testament to, the much-alive legacy of the English establishment. Indeed, the schools date back over a thousand years in some cases; King Alfred the Great is said to have attended what is now King Edward’s Grammar school in the town. The schoolkids are not the obtrusive kind, we might add, just polite and smiling faces from around the globe ambling about the town on their Saturday afternoon free-time.

As hoteliers go, the de Savarys have figured out the welcome, that’s for sure. Not only were we greeted at the Eastbury Hotel with their signature Sloe Gin (a true hit when we visited The Carey Arms and Spa and likewise, here) but the warden of the property picked us up in a 1964 vintage London taxi cab. As we chugged through the honeyed, ochre-stoned and meandering lanes of the town to the hotel there was a wonderful sense of nostalgic deceleration imbued upon us.

Eastbury hotel sherborne dorset luxury accomodation

A crackling fire was set for our arrival and the nicely renovated garden room was home for the weekend. A centuries-old and impressive, yet oh-so-comfortable, four-poster bed bedecked with the weightiest of drapes, was the highlight. Another nod to the past meeting the present with glad tidings. The mattress and bed sheets were of most luxurious modern comfort but the antique frame that of lords and kings of yesteryear.

Eastbury hotel sherborne dorset luxury rooms spa

The Eastbury Hotel is clearly a labour of love and still work in progress, with new additions coming throughout 2019 and 2020; more extensive garden accommodation for guests and events alike and updated dining spaces. The already renovated elements which, to be fair, make up most of the hotel, have been changed with style and a light touch, so when these last additions are finished it’s sure to be a very well rounded weekend-away. It is already, but it’s only going to get better, so we’d recommend a visit soon.

restaurant sherborne dorset luxury accomodation spa private dining

A highlight of the hotel and our stay was the private dining room, where we were treated to a well thought through tasting menu, each course with a paired wine. The Eastbury, much like the Cary Arms, is largely staffed by the young and enthusiastic and we must give a tip of the hat to the young chap who looked after us for dinner and during our stay. He was charmingly anxious to do justice to the hotel as well each dish and each pairing he brought us through dinner, every one of which was a delight. We visited in the colder months, so a hearty range of fare was on offer; comforting winter veg, life-affirming rump of lamb and a truly cosmopolitan selection of cheeses. A real blow-out treat of a meal served with warmth from the team and the open fire in the homely dining room. Most certainly a spot for the family celebration lunch and sure to be booked solid by parents from around the world in town to celebrate their offspring’s latest school prize.

 

sherborne dorset luxury accomodation spa private dining

Of a morning, hearty breakfast is on offer to all but healthy options are there too and you’d be well advised to go light and take a good walk around the historic sights of Sherborne. Most notably the ruins of a the 12th-century fortified palace, the 16th-century mansion known as Sherborne Castle (built by Sir Walter Raleigh) and the abbey; truly special.

There are a handful of cafes, restaurants and pubs scattered around the town centre, which is lovely for a light amble, especially with the abbey as the focal point. Some are a little more dog-on-string type places and others have updated their offering and ambience to suit the fussier visiting urbanite. There is joy in exploration though, so wander with an open mind and see what the winding streets and cobbled passageways offer up.

Whilst in a weekend we of course didn’t sample everywhere, we did certainly leave feeling that the Eastbury was the enclave’s number-one spot to eat and drink. Don’t be afraid to “miss-out” on anything else when dining or drinking. The Eastbury is the highlight of Sherborne and you’d be forgiven for wanting to do nothing else but rest there when you visit.

Editors note: Opening Late Summer 2019 will be a magical Woodland Spa tucked into a leafy corner of the garden here at The Eastbury Hotel as well as five new Potting Shed Garden Suites.  The quirky and enchanting Spa building – built from local stone and complete with sedum and moss roof and a circular doorway – will house a boutique Spa, consisting of two treatment rooms (including a couples room), a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, exercise area and private relaxation space. The Potting Shed Garden Suites have been imagined to offer guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the glorious Eastbury hotel gardens. The stylish new dog-friendly suites will take inspiration from traditional English Victorian Potting Sheds and will be located discreetly within the landscaping of the garden whilst preserving the integrity of the historical brick garden wall.  Private terraces, fire pits, sedum roofs and tasteful and creative de Savary interiors will complete a bucolic experience rarely available within a hotel. 

Click here for more information and to book The Eastbury.

AYU members get special access and offers at The Eastbury Hotel. Check in the AYU app or apply for membership here.

Jottnar – All Terrain Mountain Wear

From Arctic Norway to the mountains of Afghanistan, the two founders of British brand Jöttnar have covered some challenging terrain. Their experiences led them to set out on a new challenge; to design and build technical mountain clothing for the most demanding of mountain adventurers..

It’s no secret that HedgeBrunch and its members are big fans of the snow and (and adventure in general if we’re honest) so, on a recent HB Ski trip to Lech in Austria we put the Jöttnar Ragnarök jacket through it paces.

Jöttnar was conceived during a brutal winter training exercise in Norway when founders Tommy Kelly and Steve Howarth, former marine commandos, lifelong climbers and skiers, realised that the growing appetite for unique and challenging experience in today’s market would need the kit to match it.

Whilst the days of donning a onesie ski-suit or jacket that would lovingly soak up every flake of snow the skier encountered throughout their day on the piste are long gone, there is still a proliferation of sub-par discounted kit available on the market. Buyer beware, cheap does not mean efficient. In parallel with the significant advances in ski and snowboard technology in recent years, Jöttnar have built a range of kit to match it. In the world of mountain jackets the Ragnarök is a far superior being.

Described by Jöttnar as a waterproof, goose down insulated jacket for resort orientated big mountain riding and skiing when the temperature plummets,’ the Ragnarök does exactly what it says on the label: it’s warm, windproof, lightweight and has some serious storage. The detail that has gone in to the jacket is evident and over 3 days, during which we encountered every type of resort weather, we were not only warm and dry but ever-comfortable and delighted to find small features that make big differences. A hood big enough to fit over a helmet (safety first kids) and elasticised in-built wrist covers to keep the wet out and the warm in, even with the best gloves, were key. The jacket has a thick but light 900 fill goose down wrapped inside a waterproof, breathable, fully taped shell called SKJOLDR™ and then further insulated with THERMOLITE®, a synthetic insulation in potential wet-out areas. If your skiing is nothing to boast about, your kit certainly will be.

Priced at £845 for both the mens and women’s model, the Ragnarök doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny. Jöttnar is a brand partner of HedgeBrunch and AYU. AYU members get 20% off Jottnar all terrain mountain wear. To apply to join AYU head to thisisayu.com.

Enquiries: www.jottnar.com Ragnarök women’s and men’s waterproof down ski jacket £845

The Cary Arms and Spa

In the winter months our collective weekend attention turns to the one thing us Brits really go crazy for at this time of year – the cosy country pub. A warm welcome, a glass or two of something special and a roaring log fire, ideally over a long weekend out of town. Combine this timeless classic with a New England style sensibility, a fresh hotel and spa offering with a young and dynamic team, as the Cary Arms in Devon have done, and you have a winning formula.

The Cary Arms on the UK’s south-west coast is a storied and highly popular spot, visited for centuries by stay-cationing Brits (Queen Victoria was a regular) and international quaint hunters alike. It’s been hovering over Babbacombe bay since 1662 so it’s not like it’s a new spot on the scene, but, as place to rest one’s head and heart, it has recently been transformed into something worthy of both its history and its future.

De Savary Hotels, a boutique yet burgeoning collection of re-invigorated country-side bolt holes by husband and wife team, Peter and Lana De Savary, has breathed new life into this a delightful cove. They’ve added modern yet oh-so-tasteful sea front cabins and lux beach huts to the ancient bones of the wild promontory, a spa which could rival any up-scale brand-name hotel, food and drink to please on repeat and a young, helpful and affable team of locals to run the show.

Arriving on a windswept night via the 7pm from London (circa 3 hours’ journey time) we were greeted with a welcome sloe gin, a De Savary signature we’ve since learnt, and settled in to decompression mode. Our beach-front suite, a tastefully Hamptons-contemporary style cabin at the foot of the cliffs below the main house, was situated on an enormous deck perched over the tumultuous winter waves. The three-room cabin, hugely well-appointed with all the trappings of a five star stay (acres of fluffy towels, White Company products, a full decanter of the gin) was the definition of chrysalism as the great British weather thundered outside.

Waking the next morning we truly appreciated how sea-front our home for the weekend was. French windows adorn the breadth of each cabin and it was a true joy to lay in the cosy confines of bed, sipping a morning coffee, with these wide open to the elements. One can imagine that in the heady days of summer this feature and the acres of private deck outside it would be similarly glorious.

A rather epic breakfast followed. Whilst in room dining is of course an option, the main pub-come-dining-room has an ever-crackling log fire which is a rare treat at breakfast not to be missed. The Breakfast offering was of an unquestionable level. A crisp newspaper and barista-worthy coffee appeared in a flash (always a great sign) and compendious offering of authentic Full English style options was presented to us, accompanied by selection of cheeses, hams, breads, fruits, cereals and juices which the term “breakfast buffet” is just not good enough for. It was all we could ask for. Smoked Kippers, oft awol on today’s menus, were truly welcome; highly recommended and a perfect refrain to the cracking fire and salty sea air.

Babbacombe and its surrounds is really defined by its spectacular coastline. Towering cliffs which frame epic seascapes mean that the simple pleasure of a bracing walk should be the first thing on any visitor’s to do list. However, there’s more than plenty to do nearby too – the team at the hotel can arrange deep sea fishing, horse trekking on nearby Dartmoor national park, golf, sailing, diving…the list goes on. There’s more than enough there to keep any weekender happy and the pay-off in returning to the cocoon of the hotel, windswept and rosy-cheeked, is a delight.

During the wilds of winter weather though, guests would be foolish to miss the Cary Arms Spa. Serious investment has clearly been lavished here and it’s disarmingly easy to lose hours lounging in the giant and sparkling hydrotherapy pool and solarium. Steam, Sauna and tropical rainforest showers further complement and treatment rooms offer anything the modern spa-lover could want. We opted for a one hour therapeutic deep tissue massage which was transformative; the investment in the space is certainly matched by the spa team itself. A small but well-formed fitness space adjoins the spa and a high sun-deck outside would be incredible in the warmer months, if not just for the view alone.

In addition to breakfast, we ate twice more during our stay; an ambitious but delightful evening dinner in the hotel’s slightly more formal dining space. It was a solid menu from a solid chef who is delivering exactly as needed. This is most notable when you stick with the pescatarian options, which, given you can see the fisherman line-catching from the dock below, you’d be stupid not too. The wine list could have done with just a little more oomph, but that’s really the only the fault we could find and, following the recent upgrades elsewhere in the hotel, we’re sure the cellar will follow soon.

Sunday was rounded out by yet another breakfast for the ages, a windy walk and a ride on the bay’s iron-behemoth of a funicular railway (the kids and big kids will love this this) and a totally unnecessary but hugely appreciated classic British roast. Rested, repleat and really quite content it was a total wrench to leave, even with one last Sloe Gin for the road.

 

For more information and to book visit www.caryarms.co.uk

 

 

 

 

HedgeBrunch Skiing – 72 hours in Lech

Lech is often overshadowed by its noisier, larger and infamous neighbour – St Anton (those who know Krazy Kanguruh, wink wink) but as HedgeBrunch discovered in just 72 hours, Lech, just up the valley, is a haven with excessively spectacular chalets, expansive spas and unpretentious glamour; a little less boom-boom, yet still plenty of pow.  A very easy journey from London to Innsbruck, followed by a remarkably short 1.5 hour pre-arranged chauffeur transfer, thanks to our hsots (in a Bentley Bentayga no-less), Lech was a the perfect long-weekend ski destination the for HB team.

For 10 years, Hotel Aurelio,our home for the stay, has perfected the art of five-star service, outstanding cuisine and a spa that managed to tear us away from the slopes, even on the most perfect of bluebird days. It’s ultra exclusive and intimate, with just 10 rooms, getting a room in this hotel is a golden ticket of the Austrian Alps.

The hotel also has an adjoining Club Chalet that sleeps 16 guests– reached via an underground walkway that links to the hotel. It comes with 24-hour butler service and twice-daily maid service, alongside the traditional style chalet features; a spa – steam room, sauna, hot tub and treatment room, not to mention an 18 metre indoor pool and a cinema.

Thanks to a sharp yet sympathetic design aesthetic, the exterior chocolate box architecture of Hotel Aurelio and this adjoining Chalet perfectly blends with Lech’s picture-postcard vista, whilst the Veuve Cliquot van on the hotel’s terrace acts as a beacon, calling skiers as they fly past the hotel piste, just feet from the front door.

The service of the hotel is such, that we had barely stepped across the threshold before a cold stemmed glass was in-hand and we were directed through to the cosy sitting room complete with roaring open fire, wood clad walls and obligatory antlers – all very ‘chalet chic,’ whilst the concierge organised our ski hire.

For those who don’t fancy hauling their skis and boots to each mountain destination, ski hire is the unavoidable chore of any ski trip but in Lech the stunning three storey hire shop of Strolz was an Aladdin’s cave housing the latest fibreglass technology. Like everything in Lech, this was ski hire on overdrive, providing an almost unnecessary level of ease and luxury as you stomped around finding the perfect boot, which, thanks to their Inter-sport defying organisation, took less than 5 minutes.

The hotel suites are enormous for an alpine property and should you choose to be a repeat customer, why haul your stuff back home? Instead leave it at the hotel where they will look after it until your next trip, even if it’s not till next season.

That night at the hotel, the tasting menu which was dreamt up by the head chefs Christian Rescher and Markus Niederwanger who have been awarded by Gault Millau with 3 Hauben – the Austrian equivalent of the Michelin star, featured peaches filled with chicken-liver parfait, puddings sculpted into mushrooms and delectable mouthfuls of salty sweetness. The digestif was suitably Austrian and came in the form of a a drinks-car filled with an eye-wateringly wide variation of Schnapps.

Lech is a pretty snow sure resort and with fresh powder and blue skies overhead, the days spent on the mountains exploring more than 305 km of runs were pure heaven. Next stop on the agenda was Chalet Mimi in Oberlech – from the outside a quaint-looking, traditional style chalet, but step into the lift, plunge down and emerge into an underground walkway that is definitely more Bond than Country Life. The chalet which sleeps 14 guests, features a spa complete with indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi and breath-taking views from its terrace. Fire pits outside, floor to ceiling glass inside and a cosy cinema make Chalet Mimi a fantastic addition to Oberlech.

We’d heard whispers about ‘Arula Chalets in Oberlech:’ its size (2,600 square metres), its design and its exterior making it the newest and most impressive chalets in Lech – perhaps even in Austria. Walking past the chalet’s ice rink, and the first of its outdoor hot tubs into an entertainment room that combines the essence of  a NYC cocktail bar, a cosy London bar and a Las Vegas casino in perfect harmony, we couldn’t help but me immensely impressed by the scale of this property.

Split in to two chalets, Arula 1 sleeps up to 21 guests, whilst Arula 2 sleeps up to 8 guests. Of course, the best option is to rent the two properties together which are fully interconnected and make the most of the ultimate chalet for après. As one phenomenal house, Arula chalets offers two party rooms, two wine cellars, two hot tubs and two indoor pools.

No matter how loudly the mountain calls, we could see why guests may choose to simply embrace the cabin fever. The outside terrace wraps around the property and provides the perfect ‘La Folie Douce’ style location, whilst down below, the chalets garage can be transformed in to a nightclub. Each chalet comes with a private chef, maid service, chauffeur, massage therapist and yoga instructor – basically don’t lift a finger.

 

As the Lech snow shows no sign of abating this season, HedgeBrunch are already planning a return to a resort which truly embraces the very best of Alpine luxury.

To enquire about the hotels for this season and next contact: Claudia Epp claudia@pepper.at

 

 

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur – A Revolution in Sports Entertainment

A world class destination.
 
Tottenham Hotspur’s groundbreaking new world-class Stadium, with its dramatic design and iconic appearance, is set to become London’s most exciting premier sports and entertainment destination. Designed for utmost effect and atmosphere, the Stadium has a capacity of 62,062 and will be hosting a variety of unmissable Premier League and NFL games, as well as music events. Its stunning sculpted architecture creates a graceful and elegant setting for the pioneering facilities within, including the unique premium options available at the Stadium’s unrivalled flagship experience, On Four.
 
First class.
 
On Four is Spurs’ collection of impeccable experiences located on Level Four of the West Stand. Enjoy match viewing from the finest seats in the Stadium, mouth-watering Michelin-star calibre dining, concierge care and attentive service in stunning surroundings. Whether you choose The H Club, a Super Suite or a Super Loge to entertain clients or spend quality time with friends and family, a breath-taking experience in luxury awaits.
 
Unique.
 
In an exciting collaboration with the celebrated Roux family — Michel Jr, Albert and Emily — plus the remarkable Chris Galvin leading a prestigious line-up of world-renowned chef partners, mouth-watering Michelin-star calibre dining for all guests is assured. Personally, designing and preparing the On Four menu, each lauded chef’s uniquely specialist background will provide a delicious range of cuisine to tempt all palates.
 
“We’re excited to embark on this new venture with Tottenham Hotspur and look forward to delivering our fine dining to guests On Four. This is the first time we have partnered with a sports stadium and it is marvellous that we will be involved in such an iconic new venue.” Michele Roux Jnr
 
“Having seen the Stadium for real, it has completely blown me away and exceeded my expectations. Any chef will tell you, cooking is about a great space to cook in and there’s going to be no finer stage to do that than here in The H Club.” Chris Galvin
 
Pioneering hero chefs.
 
Providing world-leading premium experiences includes pushing boundaries with exciting developments in the field. As notable chefs appear on the scene, emerging and creative young talents from competitions such as the Craft Guild of Chefs ‘National Chef of the Year’ will be hand-picked for Spur’s ‘Hero Chefs’ concept. This programme will provide a platform for aspiring and local chefs to showcase their talents on a truly prestigious stage. In conjunction with Spur’s celebrated chef partners, On Four’s overall culinary ethos is designed to not simply perfect the standard for guests, but to deliver an unsurpassed industry-leading experience.
 
Exclusive.
 
On Four’s flagship concept, The H Club, is the most anticipated Members Club in London. With dedicated concierge care, the highest calibre of individual service and personal attention, combined with the very finest seats, dining and surroundings, The H Club provides an experience par excellence. Whether you are dining at the Chef’s Table with food being prepared on view, or socialising with former Tottenham Hotspur players at The Players’ Table, there are options to enchant and suit everyone.
 
Bespoke.
 
An exceptional and fully customised private facility, Super Suites offer a truly bespoke and extraordinary experience for you and your guests. Accommodating up to 21 guests, with full customisation options to reflect your company’s brand or individual style, via Spur’s managed interior design service; personalised Michelin-star calibre menus; plus spectacular views and seats situated on the halfway line, Super Suites offer a thoroughly first-class experience, tailored to meet your every need.
 
Premier.
 
An innovative concept and the first of its kind in UK stadia, a Super Loge offers the perfect combination of the privacy and dining experience of an exclusive suite, with the atmosphere and ambience of a private restaurant and bar. With inclusive Michelin-star calibre dining and a considered drinks list, stunning views and seats directly accessed from your Super Loge, there are many superb benefits to appeal to everyone whether enjoying time with your key clients, family, friends or simply networking.
 
Explore.
 
Encounter the exclusive luxury options available, by taking a walk-through in virtual reality. Personal appointments are available at the Stadium Project Virtual Reality Suite (SPVRS), next to the New Stadium site or Tottenham Hotspur can bring the experience to you.
 
For more information click here or contact the team on:
 
0344 216 2018
onfour@tottenhamhotspur.com
 
Published in partnership with Tottenham Hotspur
Uma Rajah CapitalRise Property investment

CapitalRise

Uma Rajah is Co-founder and CEO of CapitalRise and is leading the team as it rapidly expands. She is one of the pioneers in the FinTech sector, having spent the last decade building and launching digital lending platforms across the Consumer, SME and P2P lending space. She has a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University and an MBA from INSEAD.

HB: Tell us a bit about yourself and CapitalRise.

UR: When Alex Michelin and Andrew Dunn (Co-founders of CapitalRise) approached me to spearhead the launch and growth of the business, I jumped at the chance. Having worked in the FinTech sector, I knew instinctively that there would be strong appetite for the CapitalRise product offering.

Michelin and Dunn had a firm grasp on the prime property finance and investment markets having developed and sold over £1bn of prime real estate with a further £1bn currently under construction. They understood first-hand how complex and onerous it was to raise money for these high spec developments, hence the requirement for CapitalRise. What they were missing in terms of experience was someone who understood how to launch these types of FinTech businesses.

Prime property is such an attractive asset class that hasn’t previously been accessible to investors, especially with returns of 8-12% per annum. I came on board to help them shape and grow the business – we knew the appetite for a product with such great returns, secured on properties with typically 66% LTV and a tax-free wrapper to boot would be hugely popular, and we were right.

HB: How does the CapitalRise platform work?

UR: CapitalRise is an online property finance marketplace that connects individuals and institutions to the finest real estate investment opportunities, delivering market-leading returns of typically 10% p.a.

Our expert team have over 100 years’ and £4billion of transaction experience and only select the finest investment opportunities for members. We have a strenuous due diligence process, which ensures that every investment opportunity has to pass stringent selection criteria to be considered for the CapitalRise platform. There are over 50 parameters considered and only 2% of lending opportunities presented to us make the grade and therefore become available to invest in.

We offer a range of different products to suit investors with differing risk appetites, from: senior, stretch senior and mezzanine debt to preferred equity. And we can provide funds for bridging, development and exit finance on prime property assets.

As mentioned average returns are 10% p.a. and to date we have paid over £2.2m to investors. Our investments are secured with a first or second legal charge over the property typically at 66% LTV, offering a highly attractive risk adjusted return. Typically, you can only achieve double digit returns when taking on investments with much higher levels of volatility. Investing in direct real estate debt, as an emerging asset class is proving a popular way for HNW and institutions to diversify their existing portfolios.

HB: Who is investing on the platform and how do you think that will develop?

UR: We have a varied investor pool and highly-engaged members, ranging from individuals investing their £20,000 ISA allowance right through to ultra-high net worth individuals and institutions investing millions. Institutional funding partners include family offices, banks and funds.

CapitalRise is attractive to these sophisticated investors as the risks are clearly much lower than more volatile markets. The average gearing on our loans is 66%, meaning property prices in prime London locations would have to drop by a further 34% for any investors capital and accrued returns to be at risk. What’s more, the founders of the business also invest in every deal, emphasising our belief in the quality of our underwriting processes.

HB: You’ve recently received equity funding from the family office of Rana Kapoor. Is the platform a place for FO investment too?

We are backed by the family office of Rana Kapoor, who is the Founder and CEO of YesBank – India’s 4th largest private bank. Family Offices are typically great partners for us, as many of them have keen interest and experience of real estate investing, especially in prime property. With CapitalRise, they can access more deal flow and avoid the hassle of growing their in-house origination team by utilising our origination and underwriting expertise instead.

HB: Given it’s now 10 years since the sub-prime crash, what is CapitalRise’s outlook for UK property market – both in London and in the rest of the UK?

UR: We naturally focus a lot on prime central London which has softened since 2014. Our view is that we are either at the bottom or near the bottom of the cycle now which makes it the best time to invest. This correlates with Savills’ research forecasts and that of other industry experts, where compound growth of around 20% in Prime Central London is predicted in the next 5 years.

Typically, you see the trends start in Prime Central London, and then ripple out to the rest of the country. So, that’s what we are expecting. Historically prime Central London is the most resilient sector and has recovered faster and stronger than other property asset classes when looking at all economic downturns over the last 50 years.

HB: What’s next for you and your team? Where will CapitalRise be in a year’s time?

UR: Our database of members has doubled in the last 12 months and this trend looks set to continue. The calibre of investment opportunities, strong risk adjusted returns and access to the tax efficient IFISA has made the CapitalRise platform very popular with investors. Each deal seems to fund faster than the previous and every deal this year has funded in under two business days by members alone. To meet this demand our average transaction size is growing exponentially, initially we were completing loans worth £1-3million and we are now finalising loans of £10million plus per deal.

To match demand and growth potential, we are looking to double the size of our team in the coming months. We’ve just added two more experts to our lending team, including a new Lending Director. This means we can boost our capabilities for larger deals for prime institutional grade property. In parallel we also plan to grow our marketing, investor relations and product team over the next 12 months.

Along with a healthy pipeline of future opportunities that we plan to launch over the next 12 months, we are very excited to be launching our next investment opportunity to our members in just a few days.

To learn more about Capital Rise visit www.capitalrise.com

 

HedgeBrunch does not offer any investment guidance or advice whatsoever. Professional advice should always be sought before making any investment decisions.

 

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The Nimb Hotel, Copenhagen travel luxury

The Nimb Hotel Copenhagen

One of the great joys of living in Europe is the cornucopia of choice, of historic adventure, of culture and content, right on the doorstep. The Old World, in western parlance, is sitting there, waiting for you – just a few hours at most from where you may be, easily reached and explored in a weekend. No longer, though, is 48 hours in Europe just for the Europeans, no, no. Us Londoners are being told that a long weekend in New York is but a hop, skip and short flight away so, by virtu of logic, ever falling costs and ever quicker flights, Europe is for our cousins in the US too. Well, those on that East coast at least.

As you may well know, whilst HedgeBrunch is built to build business, we are also more than a little concerned with a healthy balance of work and play. So, having not seen a new part of the world for at least a month, we thought, hell, it’s time we went somewhere as yet unexplored and, therefore, we found our pin landing on Copenhagen for our latest European weekend adventure.

We arrived on a Friday lunch, fresh from London and ready for a good time away from The City. Copenhagen, on the western flank of the Danish archipelago, has a similar ratio of good-to-bad weather days as the UK (albeit with far more brutal winter days, we’ll grant them that) but we got so very lucky with the first real summer days of 2018. A perfect 26 degrees Centigrade greeted us and the Danes were noticeably in a damn good mood because of it. We’re told they’re always welcoming but this put an extra shine on our arrival. Like the Brits, the weather is worthy of conversation here.

Copenhagen airport to town centre is, as you would expect from the ever-organised Scandinavians, a breeze. 20 minutes on a swift and clean train had us feet from our home-from-home; The Nimb Hotel. It really couldn’t have been a better setup for a weekend away – challenge one; get away and explore somewhere new whilst avoiding the hassle and rigmarole normally associated with international travel. Challenge two; find the right hotel, of course.

Since our trips to Morocco and Gstaad last year we’ve come to realise that Small Luxury Hotels of the World know how to pick the spots we like. Yes, they do know what they a are doing. Oh so very well. Wherever you are going and whether it’s for a quick weekend away like this, a bespoke business trip or a proper ends-of-the-earth vacation they are on-point. Each of their 500 partner hotels is carefully hand selected and has to maintain it’s high standards year in year out, The Nimb, overlooking Copenhagen’s world famous Tivoli Gardens, proves this in abundance.

Greeted with the warmth we had already come to know (the Danes somehow manage to be achingly smooth yet maintain an almost child-like sense of wonder and welcome at the same time), we checked in to our junior suite. Impeccable Danish design, clean black mahogany lines, a giant four-poster draped in luxury linens, every trimming you could want – we realised just how sleek and unique this hotel was. However, adult and alluring as it is, there is big-kidness about the place too though, which was really quite special.

Opening the door onto our balcony, expecting the customary 3 by 8 rectangle jutting out over the floors below, we were greeted by not only a space big enough to entertain a small Viking hoard but one bathed in glorious sun, bedecked with an unnecessarily welcoming sofa and dining space with a brass band heralding a full on celebration –  as if we just returned victorious from the world cup. (Watch our Instagram video of this here). Now, we’ll grant that the brass band was part of a music festival in the Willy Wonka-esque Tivoli gardens below but still, you know, it was a pretty cool entrance. We’ll be insisting on this same treatment wherever and whenever possible from now on, that’s for sure. Quite a start.

Quickly onto lunch, because a weekend break is nothing if not continuous consumption of the food and drink of your host city punctuated, briefly, by a wander here and a museum there. Is it not? Nimb is home to five separate dining options, each as appealing as the next, so you’d be forgiven for just rolling, horizontally, from one to the next, but there is of course a pretty great city out there to explore too, don’t forget.

Our exploration was still to follow, so we opted for Fru Nimb, the hotel’s Scandi-classic open-faced sandwich restaurant. A deliciously light homemade Rullepølsen coupled with a crisp Sancerre and some good company, not to mention an ebullient welcome from the lovely team, set us on the path for a fantastic weekend.

Heading out into the the city and over the next 48 hours we made the ambling easy and the consumption regular, exploring the sites of the city at a delightful snail’s pace. We’ve long ago learnt that packing in too much sight-seeing into a weekend break is a recipe for disaster. Pick a few things, leave some time for getting a little lost stumbling-upon the unknown (often the most enjoyable approach) and focus on eating and drinking well. Everything else will fall into place.

We recommend swinging by the iconic Nyhavn canal side, visiting one the many the vibrant and enticing food markets, strolling round The Copenhagen Lakes (with time to laze on the banks if you can) and heading to The Danish National Gallery or Museum too. More than enough to keep you going. Oh, and above all. Get thee a bike. They are ubiquitous in and around the city and a brilliant way to soak up the atmosphere and blend in with the locals. They are available to hire from the hotel and a must for a good weekend.

The Nimb Hotel is at the centre of Copenhagen which makes it very easy to nip out for a few hours exploring and return to freshen up, eat and recharge. We made perhaps unadvisedly frequent visits to their superb cocktail bar on regular breaks. It has some of the most innovative offerings we’ve had this side of New York City and it served as embarrassingly focal, focal point for our weekend. It’s also very much worth spending some extended time in the Tivoli Gardens ambling around, enjoying a some coffee and cake or taking in a show on one of the three stages (everything from full rock concerts to the aforementioned brass-bands). Whilst in Tivoli, we’d also highly recommend the greenest of Nimb’s eateries, Gemyse. A garden restaurant with greenhouse-style dining rooms, fire pits and incredible organic vegetarian menu. Try the grilled avocado and Kimchi. You’ll thanks us.

If you’re planning a trip to Copenhagen any time soon we whole-heatedly recommend The Nimb. Wonderful design and facilities throughout with a warm welcome and delightful service from a well informed team. Luxury with style, taste and a healthy sense of fun.

To learn more and book head to The Nimb – Small Luxury Hotels of The World.

 

 

 

 

 

Risk: Is This The Big One? Part III

Risk: Is This The Big One? Part III

This article was published on 3rd April 2018, following preceding pieces on 26th March 2018 and February 6th 2018

Breaking Unconventional Monetary Policy (B.U.M.P.) and its impact on liquidity is beginning to be felt. The current stock market correction has deeper roots than the market is crediting and it is time to consider hedging positions.

Readers will know that CheckRisk has been reporting on the recent stock and bond market unease since the beginning of January. Market risk in our Early Warning Risk System (EWRS) has been rising since January 15th and is at the highest level in over a year, with relatively high rates of change. Our overall system indication is still showing reasonable levels of economic growth and therefore risk is not at a level that is indicative of a potential crisis, as of yet. That being said we are beginning to see that some significant indicators are combining and therefore the risk of this correction developing into the “Big one” has increased over the past few days.

Source: CheckRisk

As a reminder B.U.M.P is the driver; a graphic representation of the risks associated with the unwinding of QE and other liquidity measures. Some $72tn of new debt has been created since 2008. The management of the withdrawal of that liquidity is encapsulated by B.U.M.P,  Central Bank Policy Error risk. The Fed has been cutting its balance sheet by $20bn a month, a drop in the ocean compared to the debt levels concerned, however, even these small levels of liquidity flattening are creating tremors. The Fed is planning to lift this to $50bn in withdrawal by September of this year.

Source: CheckRisk HedgeBrunch talk – Is this the big one

CheckRisk believes that a recession is due in the USA in 2019, broad money supply indicators are indicating that this is the most likely period. In the US M3 has recently dropped to a six-year low, while the Fed is continuing to tighten the interest rate reins. It is clear why this contradictory path is being followed. The Fed needs 350bps of interest rate margin to offset a typical business cycle recession.

CheckRisk has recognized that Central Bank Policy Error is a significant B.U.M.P. risk and the Fed is tightening too quickly. So the question is how much of an impact will the Fed tightening have and at what stage will the Fed reverse its position and either lower interest rates and, more damaging for the long run, recommence QE?

Similar slowdowns of money supply in Europe and China are mirror images of the slow down in the USA; the same is the case in the UK. All of them are a result of the rise in the Fed funds rate to 1.75% (as reported in our last note) So far all Central Banks appear to be making the same policy errors by tightening too fast.

It is, of course, a Hobson’s choice. Central Banks have to raise rates or face the consequences of a recession without any ammo. The problem is so many central banks are at the limit of what they can do. The Telegraph quotes Prof. Congdon of the Institute of Monetary Research saying “The ECB has already pushed its balance sheet to 42% of GDP and is near the technical and political limits of QE.”

Central Bank overleverage is something CheckRisk has already discussed at length. Getting off the cross of QE is going to be a very tricky manoeuvre.

What most economic observers have failed to recognize, however, is the linkages of B.U.M.P. across the system. Geopolitical Risks, Currency Wars and Trade Wars, Synchronisation risks and Global GDP are ALL directly affected by the flattening of liquidity. They are, in many cases, the human behavioural response to the discomfort of leverage that exists across the system. All of these risks are inextricably linked because global debt has soared.

Early Warning Risk System

CheckRisk ran our EWRS financial risk model this morning. We see the following anomalies:

US Leverage:

1)    High Rate of Change in the Ratio of Interbank Lending Assets / Commercial Bank Assets

2) A significant rate of change in open interest for 3month Eurodollar, 2yr notes and ten-year bond

European Market:

1) A high rate of change in Money Market Fund assets vs. Total asset

2) Spikes in the spread between French and German covered bonds

China Credit:

1) Spike to PBOC in Survey of Banker’s Confidence

2) Spike in the spread between China sovereign and quasi-gov index

Japan Credit:

1) The flow of funds to household asset loans has declined since mid-Feb.

2) Japan Risk – spread between 3 month – 1-month repo rate is increasing since mid-March.

 

//

 

US Market risk, as stated earlier, has been rising with rates of change that are making us notice. All are linked back to the tightening or liquidity flattening that has been occurring.

 

CheckRisk has been clear for over five years that the risk of a major financial market correction is focused on the period 2017-2020. Our belief remains that the period 2019 is one of highest risk. So how will Central Bankers and Politicians react when they realize that they are caught in a trap? The most likely response will be the line of least resistance, and a return to monetary policy largesse. This may, and we emphasise “may,” offset a crisis in the short term but it only increases the long term risk. What it would do to CheckRisk’s forecast of risk would be to prolong the period beyond our 2019-2020 timeframe. It may also, however, already be too late as the risks we have previously highlighted are combining and building.

The bottom line for investors is now is NOT the time to be taking a risk. For those that have not reduced exposure we recommend either doing so now or at least hedging positions. To be clear the situation is not yet critical, we feel the current correction is just that, but it can become something much more significant now if the Trade War between the USA and China picks up or if a whole host of Geopolitical Risks takeoff.

Our base case remains that markets will try to discount a late 2019 recession six months to nine months ahead of time. In other words, the underlying economic activity we see at present is sufficient to stop the current malaise for the moment. We recognize that risks are rising across our models and while below the levels seen in 2008 they are highly indicative of a change in underlying risk and the start of risk clustering.

For more information do not hesitate to contact the Team at CheckRisk.

 

 

Previous articles: Part I  and  Part II

 

 

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Risk: Is This The Big One? Part II

Risk: Is This The Big One? Part II

This article was published on 26th March 2018 as a follow up to the preceding piece published in February 2018

The recent market instability is an echo of the February correction but may have further to go. CheckRisk believes this is another tremor, not the major earthquake we are looking to forecast in the period 2018-2020. This update explains why and what to look for in terms of a broader market collapse.

We note that, as in February, there is a risk that the current correction becomes something much bigger, as the triggers of both are on our list of major risks that are contained within our B.U.M.P (Breaking of Unconventional Monetary Policy) risk model. Namely, Currency & Trade Wars.

In February we wrote:

Followers of CheckRisk will know that we have been forecasting a severe risk event during the period 2017-2020 that implies a bear market in equities and end to the bull market in bonds and a recognition of the $72tn ($72,000,000,000,000) of new debt created since 2008 taking global debt to over 327% of GDP. So the question must be is this the event or a correction in an overbought equity and bond market.

Our base case is that this is just a correction that could be quite steep, but it does not yet appear to be the big one. However, we do recognize the possibility of things to unwind from here, and we highlight the issues to watch in the coming days for guidance.

Background to this correction:

The tech stocks in March were already looking wobbly. FaceBook and its connection to Cambridge Analytica may turn into a broader rejection of Facebook, which we have viewed as a sell for quite some time. Indeed both FaceBook and Google are under threat while Amazon is likely to get stronger in comparison as a better brand that has multiple sales avenues and unlike the former companies does not rely on advertising revenue. Amazon is, quite simply, a better business model.

But the current correction lies more in the effects of the liquidity drain that has commenced as a result of B.U.M.P. As the US Fed begins to raise interest rates it has the trickiest of tasks. The US Federal Reserve will have to avoid triggering multiple risks, which include global synchronization risks, Central Bank Policy error as well as managing inflation and GDP. The main catalyst for the current sell-off lies in another B.U.M.P. risk Currency and Trade Wars.

Market Reactions

The markets have taken fright at Trumps Tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium products. CheckRisk believes this is just a Trump tactic not the start of a global trade war, although much depends on how measured the Chinese reaction to it is.
However, nobody should be surprised at the market’s reaction to these emerging risks. They are caused by the draining of the $72tn of new debt created since 2008. The worlds financial markets have been awash with cash and easy credit so much so that any tightening of credit creates a knee-jerk reaction.

CheckRisk believes that a more serious trade war is required to trigger the collapse of bond and equity markets. It is not impossible that the status quo morphs into a larger scale battle but for the moment it appears unlikely. Trump is playing a very weak poker hand with China. The Chinese, in contrast, know precisely what cards he is holding. It is literally “threat” politics, and it has to be said, a format that Trump understands intimately. He is trying to move to the trade goalposts in favour of the USA. This is something no President in recent memory has had the courage or foolhardiness to do. It is Trump’s complete unpredictability that will keep the Chinese and others on their toes. Trade Wars are not an economic policy that can lead to success, and that Trump believes “Trade Wars are easy to win…” is deeply worrying, because trade wars are anything but that. In the meantime though if it is a strategy to improve the bargaining position of the USA, and that alone, then it might well be a really smart thing to have done, despite the risks.

Are there bigger risks?

The greater risks appear in 2019, although we are aware that there will be some challenges this year too. In 2019, the USA will enter into a natural economic, credit and inventory cycle downturn, it is long overdue. As we have said before the average recession requires at least 350bps of interest rate declines to offset the effect of the economic downturn. The current Fed Base Rate is 1.75% and so rates have to double from here to provide a margin of safety. The path to higher interest rates is set but this, of course, fires up another risk in B.U.M.P. which is Central Bank Policy Error.

As readers will know there has been a 45% increase in global indebtedness since 2008. Some $75tn (75,000,000,000,000) of new debt created. Some economic observers believe that this debt can be spirited away by a cross-matching of debt forgiveness. We do not believe this mechanism to be practical in terms of execution. The stakes are too high and the incentives of the various players are not aligned and therefore it would require lenders to be more altruistic than we believe possible. But it is NOT the overall level of debt that really concerns CheckRisk, albeit an astronomical amount. It is the mispricing of credit risk that concerns us, and the consequential knock-on effect that this risk has when it is discovered. The liquidity in bond markets is not sufficient to support that kind of price discovery. Examples of credit mispricing may be seen in the UK, Canadian and Chinese housing markets, and more importantly in the Government Bond market.

Remember that in 2008, in order to “save” the global economy, government after government took on the debts of the financial sector thus transferring risk from the private sector to the public sector, and you and me via taxes. This transfer of risk will be seen as the most serious error of the last decade when it finally unwinds. You simply cannot cure a debt crisis by creating more debt.

What is our Risk system telling us?

On a quantitative basis, CheckRisk’s Early Warning Risk System (EWRS) is picking up, especially in the USA. Currently, the risk spike is more centred on the LIBOR-OIS which may be indicating that banks are becoming more risk averse, this will have an impact on our Network Risk Matrix too.

Other short-term risk indicators are an increase in US Treasury issuance, a decline in Bank Credit and the cost of $ hedging is rising, all early-stage warning indicators. The message is that market risk is rising but NOT to levels of major concern BUT we are starting to see the impact of so-called liquidity flattening or the removal of dollar liquidity.

Please refer to the B.U.M.P schematic for an overall view of how risks are evolving. For those wanting to see our Early Warning Risk System outputs please call us and we will arrange a demo.

This article was researched, written and published by CheckRisk

 

 

Now Read: Part III

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Risk: Is This The Big One? By CheckRisk

Risk: Is this the Big One?

Published 6th February 2018. A follow-up article was published on March 26th 2018.

As financial markets begin to crumble, it appears, somewhat surprisingly, to have taken investors off guard. Somewhat surprisingly because it has been obvious to even the casual observer that both bond and equity markets had become very overstretched.

Followers of CheckRisk will know that we have been forecasting a severe risk event during the period 2017-2020 that implies a bear market in equities and end to the bull market in bonds and a recognition of the $72tn ($72,000,000,000,000) of new debt created since 2008 taking global debt to over 327% of GDP. So the question must be is this the event or a correction in an overbought equity and bond market?

Our base case is that this is just a correction that could be quite steep, but it does not yet appear to be the big one. However, we do recognize the possibility of things to unwind from here, and we highlight the issues to watch in the coming days for guidance. Note that the bounce in markets today does not really change anything.

Background

In January equity markets globally had become extremely overbought, both on a valuation basis and also from a technical perspective with relative strength indicators (RSI) of greater than 90 recorded. These are at the absolute upper bounds of what we have seen.

The rise in the stock market was partially due to Trump’s tax stimulus, and in no small manner due to the differential between the Fed’s and ECB’s monetary policy. Investors have also been allocating away from bonds to equity markets, and given all the above the markets were ripe for a correction.

Where are we now

With the markets in full correction mode, it is important to consider what some of the non-financial market issues are that my influence markets going forward.

I. Investors are, for the first time in years, becoming concerned about inflation. The most recent US data point for inflation was Wage Growth which came in at 2.9%, this is up on previous reports but appears primarily due to the Trump tax credit. This combined with a new Fed Chairman has worried markets into thinking that interest rates may rise much faster than expected.

This consensus, we believe, is likely to be in the wrong. The level of household and corporate debt in the USA is going to be a natural brake for a long time to come unless some other inflation stimulus appears. This is because as inflation rises, interest rates will increase to putting pressure on anyone who is over-leveraged forcing sales of assets such as houses, equipment, etc. which will generate a downward bias in inflation. There are other risks associated with a rise inflation, and we will cover these below.

II. The US Treasury market appears to have already fully priced in the end of QE, and this is not the case in Europe. Policy differences are likely to continue and create synchronisation risks.

III. Our most recent CheckRisk GDPCasts which build a GDP outlook between reporting periods remain strong. The global economy is performing pretty well. It would be unusual to have more than a stock market correction given the underlying strength of the global economy. There is plenty of institutional liquidity available to pick up better bond yields and cheaper equity markets.

IV. VIX and other volatility indicators appear to be peaking, and if this is the case, then the risk event is passed just as people begin to react which is a very typical behavioural response. The key, therefore, is to monitor the movement of volatility closely.

What could possibly go wrong?

Assuming that this is just a steep correction from a very overvalued situation, it is important to consider what could possibly go wrong and cause other scenarios to emerge. We are very conscious of this because our base case has been very firm in stating that the period 2017-2020 is one of elevated risk, and could lead to a second financial crisis.

I. Some $3bn of Exchange Traded Fund Volatility short funds have been blown out of the water, some of them are down over 80%, and the issuers now have the right to close the funds if they so choose. Holders of these positions will have taken a walloping.
II. The risk is that while this short-term money has been wiped out longer term less speculative funds may be forced to sell too. So-called Volatility Control and Risk Parity funds target a specific level of volatility. According to Bloomberg, this could unleash some $225bn of equity market sales. Also, some $500bn of global funds are attached to such strategies and in many cases are driven by algorithms. Such a wave of sell-offs will keep market volatility high at best and could cause a crash if volatility continues to rise. This would feed into sentiment, and last week’s bulls would become this week’s bears.
III. Another issue to consider is that financial market corrections do not tend to be very logical affairs. Just as the recent overpricing of markets was an excess so too are corrections. CheckRisk recognizes that if you get a three standard deviation day the possibility of getting a four standard deviation day increases and so on. There are chains of risk that are unleashed by risk discovery.

Things to ponder for the future

The Breaking of Unconventional Monetary Policy, or B.U.M.P as we call it, is the key to understanding where the financial markets may go to next.

To see the sort of financial market correction we are anticipating it will be necessary for global GDP to peak and fall, we do not see that happening until 2019. There will also have to be some real recognition of the problems associated with the massive accumulations of global debt. Also, there needs to be a catalyst. Catalysts might be, for example, a central bank policy error, discovery that low-interest rates have damaged the ability of insurance companies and pension funds to meet their obligations, and a host of others.

B.U.M.P and Linked Risks

The most likely risk that we see though is Central Bank policy error. Central bankers are already behind the curve concerning interest rate rises. The next 24 months will be much harder to manage as inflation and interest rates rise. It will be perilously easy for the ECB and others to try to stamp out inflation too quickly. Remember that the Fed, ECB, BOE, and BOJ as well as the Central Bank of China, really have not had to deal with much other than boosting liquidity in the past seven years. The reverse of that trend threatens to expose some severe and fundamental weaknesses.

Another risk that could break the cycle is Brexit. We have become convinced in recent days, following a visit to the European Parliament, that Europe is prepared to go for the Hard Brexit option and accept the risks of a recession to maintain control and stability in the Euro Zone. They view a recession as an acceptable price to pay in the face of the existential risk of Britain negotiating a good enough deal to attempt other EU members away.

We do not know if Prime Minister May’s government will last, it is looking very unstable at present, but what we do know is that what the UK government’s negotiating team is asking for is virtually impossible for the EU to deliver. It does not make the British position unreasonable just undeliverable. Couple with the trade and services demands we remain of the view that it is nigh on impossible to find a solution to the Irish border issues. The DUP will not be negotiated around, and unless the island of Ireland is treated differently to the rest of the UK, there is no possible satisfactory solution for the moment.

In conclusion

This is a time to observe markets carefully and in particular flows of equity and bonds. We do not think this will turn into more than a 7%-10% correction in total, but there is a risk that it turns into a much more significant event which should not be ignored. As such it is essential to think about your investment strategy now. Will you be a buyer if markets go into a full correction or more? (Historically that is the best time to buy the markets, but very few people do it because of a lack of positional awareness.) Do you need to readjust your portfolio recognizing that markets have done spectacularly well and a more balanced approach for the period to 2020 is more sensible given that this is a risk warning?

CheckRisk still believes the period from now until the end of 2020 remains one of elevated risks where a significant financial market risk event may occur. However, unless sentiment and or non-fundamental issues takeover, then we think that the big event is not now.

What should investors do?

For those that have followed our asset allocation and tactical strategies there is nothing to do at present the portfolios have been set for this kind of a pullback, and so the issue will be to wait and see if a buying opportunity presents itself. This will depend on whether the correction develops into a full-blown sell-off. Valuations are still pretty excessive at present even given the sell-off.

For those that have been running equity-heavy portfolios, we believe this sell-off should act as a warning. There will be better opportunities to participate down the line.

Finally, for bondholders, the market sell of in bond prices has pushed yields up to a level where they should now garner support. Longer term there are still major issues for bonds, however, now may be an excellent tactical opportunity to pick up extra yield.

Things not to do

If you have been caught out by the current market fall, it is not advisable to switch to full-scale selling. The worst damage to portfolios is created by selling in a crisis, and market order will restore itself eventually. Just because your or others volatility target was not met may well mean that the volatility target itself was wrong. A position we have been advocating for years. Volatility is a mediocre measure of risk.

On a more humorous note do not be tempted to buy BitCoin. The collapse in BitCoin is only beginning and like the Nikkei in the 1990’s will take years to recover. BlockChain is exciting, but there are better ways to invest in BlockChain than BitCoin. The only way to invest in anything is to understand the risk. Are you being paid to take the risk or not? In BitCoin, it is impossible to understand the risk, and therefore it is not an investment but a speculation and maybe even a Ponzie Scheme.

This article was researched, written and published by CheckRisk

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Winter Sun in Marrakech at La Sultana Hotel

Marrakech, the city of endless enchantment. It’s a short hop for a weekend break if you’re based in Europe and it’s the perfect spot for completely changing your environment and your mindset alike. It’s also sunny pretty much year round and is replete with endless fascination; from the bountiful riads to the crush of the colourful souks, open markets and alleyways. It’s an incredible weekend getaway and we have to say, we recommend it earnestly.

The one piece of advice we have all else though? Get your accommodation right. It’s such an intense and crazy place, you need a retreat. After some considered research we opted for La Sultana, and we got it so, so very right.

Marrakech has an ancient history and an equally ancient people in the form of the world’s longest surviving civilisation, the Berbers. Civilisations are, of course, prone to quite significant failure as the centuries and millennia pass. Not many Carthaginians around now are there? It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change (to coin a phrase). It’s those civilisations that are most welcoming to outside influence that survive the longest and the Berber culture endures exactly because they are open to other traditions, welcoming in new people, ideas and practices. La Sultana is such a wonderfully perfect example of this – traditional riad architecture and features coupled with world leading hospitality from a myriad of references at every turn.

28 rooms would be a small hotel in most cities but for Marrakech, it’s positively huge. After an extensive and painstaking three year refurbishment though, this high-luxe hide away manages to squeeze this accommodation into the most intriguing of mazes where every single blink of the eye brings a new intrigue. There are very few hotels in the world with such artistic and mesmeric attention to detail jostling for your attention. Every single space – private or communal (although the whole place feels like your own private palace thanks to the privacy the structure affords) is truly special.

Arriving on a hot and sweaty afternoon we were welcomed with the ubiquitously delicious traditional mint tea and invited into the cool of the hotel. From here La Sultana managed to achieve an instant feeling of at-homeness with intense privilege which ran throughout our stay. Quite remarkable. There are 5 riads, combined to make up the hotel, each with their own “theme” – but Disneyland this is not – it’s all executed with pure authenticity, just with a very sympathetic and highly considered upgrade.

Our room, the Crocodile Suite, was positively royal, deeply comfortable and welcoming, with the sense of ancient liaison. The bathroom alone, small but oh-so-perfectly formed, was a heavenly retreat and the bed was a haven within a haven within a haven – a Russian doll of a hideaway. We ventured to the roof as the afternoon call to prayer rang out across the city and were met by delightful staff (as we were throughout the hotel) in a wide open yet solacefully inviting space and the smallest but most perfect of dipping pools to cool off in. Over our 3 day/2 night stay this was to be our base as we balanced short ventures out into the Red City with much-needed respite, peace and relaxation – a way of tackling Marrakech we highly recommend. It’s intense out there!

You can head out into the city to get lost in the souks, for the Jardin Majorelle (including the small yet fascinating Berber museum), the achingly cool Yves Saint Laurent Museum (next door to the Majorelle), dubious snake charming and delicious street food – amongst much more. However, there’s a certain magic in staying at La Sultana – because you actually feel like you’re exploring whilst staying in your hotel.

Breakfast the next morning is quite honestly world-beating, once again a perfect combination of the local and international, taking the oft-over-repeated flavours you’ll find in the celebrated tagines et al and twisting them anew into a perfect start to your day.  A singular meak that you will not forget, pretty impressive stuff for a breakfast. Lunches are light snacks (albeit pricey for what there size) by one of three pools and evening drinks as the sun sets are spectacular.  There’s little better than a chilled glass of something special after a day where your sense of adventure has been thoroughly quenched already.

La Sultana could arguably be celebrated for one thing over all else though. Their spa. After 2 days drinking, eating and exploring we had an impending flight to catch – but we had saved our spa session to the closing hours of our stay and what heaven it was. Morroco is celebrated for it’s Hammans and if you do one thing during your stay it should be to sample the delights that La Sultana has to offer. Its own Hamman experience is truly special. We took a three-hour treatment combining body scrubs, aromatherapy and a full body massage interspersed with dips in their cooling sub-terranean pool and sips of mint tea. The perfect end to a perfect weekend break a million miles away from the busy week at home.

To book you stay at La Sultana click here

 

 

48 Hours in New York City – The Moxy Hotel and More

If you live in New York City – this is not really for you. You know every nook, every corner, every speakeasy and every power breakfast spot, don’t you? Well, you should. If you don’t live in New York City though, and you have 48 hours in town into which you’re packing in both business and pleasure, read on.

As regular HB members will know, whilst we’re based in London, we are regularly state-side with our US family – a large slug of whom are in Manhattan. Over the years we’ve developed a great knowledge of how to do the big apple on the fly so here is a potted guide of what to hit up. Disclaimer – past performance is no indication of future returns. Bars move, restaurants close down and we’ll be damned if we can remember how to get into that speakeasy we found post-HedgeBrunch December 2016 – we’re still looking!

Stay

You’re not short of options with hotels in NYC, of course, but we recently stayed at The Moxy “Times Square” and had a blast. Thankfully it’s not actually in or overlooking Times Square, that would be a bit much, it’s just a short hop down to West 36th and 7th Avenue but very much still in the beating heart of central Manhattan. The Moxy is a new breed of hotel – squarley aimed at the young and young at heart. You don’t come here to kick back and relax in peace, you don’t come for the spa and you don’t come here for your honeymoon. You come here for one reason – to be engrossed in the glorious, enlivening, exhilarating and electrifying epicentre of New-York-Goddam-City. Check it out –  rooms are small but comfy and oh-so-very-cool and the hotel is packed with so much it feels the island has been condensed into one spot just for you. There’s 24/7 fun to be had here for sure, but, equally, it’s a very convenient spot if you’re bouncing around Midtown for meetings all day – the fun will be there when you’re done!

Magic Hour

Drink

When you’ve rung every ounce of fun out at The Moxy’s Magic Hour bar (above). There are three HedgeBrunch Favourites that never fail. We often hit up The Campbell Apartment for a late afternoon meeting with a family office or fund. It’s an open-secret spot, “hidden” away in the corner of Grand Central. It’s one of the original “I know a little place” type bars. Head on up the practically vertical carpeted staircase and settle in for a Manhattan (the classic cocktail).

From there, as you’re evening rolls on you’re heading to the rooftops again at The Peninsula and The Viceroy hotels. The Peninsula’s rooftop bar Salon de Ning (pictured below) has been the go-to post HedgeBrunch spot since our very first US event in 2014, and it remains a firm favourite. Incredible on a summer’s eve and especially exciting on a snowy winter’s eve, you simply cannot go wrong alone or in company with a Whiskey Sour and this view.

To finish off your night, make the short hop across the rooftops to The Roof at The Viceroy hotel, overlooking Central Park. Hippier than both The Campbell and The Peninsula, The Roof is for the only the sharpest minds and sharpest dressers. It could not be any cooler and you won’t regret it, trust us.

Bonus spot. You’ll be in Midtown for our current favourite three bars above but if you find yourself downtown or around Wall St during your stay you have to hit up the new Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. A hotel bar again (they are often the best in NYC) this is a sharp-as-it-comes spot for perfect counter-drinking cocktails. Lean into Cut – the bar at Wolfgang Puck’s Four Seasons DT installation – and try and resists one of his world-famous steaks for your second course.

pensula rooftop bar

 

Eat

Breakfast. New York does breakfast at a different level and to be honest it’s good everywhere but we have never had better avocado on toast than at 11 Howard. Order a side of bacon. It will make you cry with pleasure.

A long lunch. The Waverly. We’re reticent to even tell you about this place. No photography is allowed and we’re not even going to tell you where it, it’s so precious. Look for it. Find it. Enjoy it and guard the secret. Restaurants like this are a dying breed. Your one clue – it’s South of 15th.

Dinner. Manhattan no longer holds the leading spot when it comes to food and it’s definitely behind Brooklyn when it comes to the hip. Head to Williamsburg to feel like you’ve reached the birthplace of the modern hipster movement and spend a very long evening at Loosie Rouge with friends. If you’re alone, make some friends and go. Hell, invite some friends over for the night, pay their airfares and get them around the table. It’s worth it. This place is for the foodies, the night owls, the game changers and raconteurs at the centre of the universe. Try the ceviche and the sea bass.

Loosie rouge

Lunch. Waking on up the next day (stay in Brooklyn for the night at the Wythe – amazing views back over Manhattan) you’re going to want to head to Dumbo (the district down under manhattan bridge overpass, geddit) and kill your justifiable hangover at Grimaldi’s Pizza. It’s an institution and so very, very good. Be prepared to queue though.

bunsmith

48 hours in New York. Throw in some meetings, a trip around The Met or a game at Madison Square Gardens and you have only a few of your allotted hours left if you’ve followed the advice above. Time for home. But wait, last up – if you’re flying out of JFK – make a quick stop at BunSmith on Franklyn Avenue in Brooklyn. The Bao here are some of the best we’ve tasted anywhere in the world and it’s the perfect spot to say goodbye to the five boroughs. You’ll be back soon.

 

 

How to choose your new Portfolio Management System

By Christophe de la Celle, Head of UK Office & Global Business Development – HedgeGuard

Scaling up. Unlocking “operational alpha”. Building an institutional investor and regulator proof infrastructure. These are all key considerations at the forefront of fund managers’ agendas. New technology has allowed funds to achieve increased operational efficiencies which have fed into front office performance. The Portfolio Management System (“PMS”) has been at the heart of this evolution with managers benefiting from streamlined processes and enhanced analytics.

However, searching for a new Portfolio Management System can be a daunting and overwhelming endeavour. There are a multitude of offerings available in what is a broad and competitive market. Each system has their own set of functionalities and features and it can prove difficult to narrow down your search.

So how does one identify the best Portfolio Management Software for their fund? At HedgeGuard we work with a wide range of different clients, from Hedge Funds, Asset Managers and Family Offices. Although each client has specific requirements it is possible to build a more general summary of the starting points to focus on. As you begin your research of your new financial software and enter the world of fintech, we highlight some of these key focus points below.

ASK AROUND

Where to start? You can kick off your due diligence process with some of your own research as there is a plethora of information available on the net. Online Portfolio Management System directories such as Bob’s Guide or Capterra will list some of the main PMS providers. In addition to independent buyside consultants that will provide valuable industry insight, some of the best feedback will come from your own network, speaking to those who use PMS software daily such as fund Portfolio Managers and Operational staff members. Of course, once you’ve narrowed down your search, don’t hesitate to ask your service provider for existing client references.

LOOK FOR FLEXIBILITY

There is always a learning curve involved with using a new software. But how far can you tailor your new system to suit you? During your search, you will come across various new interfaces. Take a step further and explore the customizable options they offer. Can you tailor, save and share your own portfolio views? How easy is it to add new criteria, or create your own bespoke ones? Can you build and run bespoke analysis that quickly allows you to view your portfolio from multiple angles? These are all key questions to ensure you can build an environment within your Portfolio Management System that is catered to your own approach.

UNDERSTAND THE WORKFLOW

Diving into the PMS’ architecture, it is key to understand how the workflow has been conceived. Has it been designed with, ideally, a front to back mindset? From portfolio construction, analysis, order and risk management, to cash management and compliance, how do the different modules interact with each other? Aim to identify workflows that will be seamless.

IDENTIFY THE BEST FIT

As any professional racer would tell you, there is no point in having the best engine if it doesn’t fit with the chassis. The same goes for Portfolio Management Software. During your due diligence process, it is key to understand how the PMS will sit within your current set-up. What are its connectivity capabilities to your existing counterparts (Prime Brokers, Custodians, Administrators)? Is it possible to tailor the system’s user rights depending on the profile of the user (E.g. a risk manager can ultimately approve blocked trades, intern with read-only rights etc.)? Can the PMS connect with some of my existing dealing interfaces? You will want to avoid technical barriers and time consuming tasks by ensuring that your PMS can easily adapt to your existing environment and not the other way around.

OPTIMISE OPERATIONS

A frequent point underlined in our conversations with fund managers is how to enable their operational staff to focus on high value tasks rather than time consuming ones. At HedgeGuard we have built an outsourced middle office service for our clients that works as our internal “test-lab”, identifying and resolving the operational pain fund managers feel daily. We are the first clients of our own PMS as the team are all trained to be experts on the software. This has allowed us to build operational modules in the PMS that cover the full operational cycle. These points tie into the workflow question mentioned above as it is important that your PMS tool covers operational features such as NAV, cash reconciliation as well as cash management, subscription and redemptions.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TEAM

Services providers should be viewed as an extension of your team, and not an entity simply selling you a product. It is important to quantify the level of support and training received once you have selected a Portfolio Management System. What are the team’s backgrounds? How knowledgeable are they on both the product and the strategies and products you trade? What type of turnaround time can you expect from requests. Can support be provided online, over the phone or in person?

SCALE WITH CONTROL

There will be the absolute level of cost, but it is essential to consider how this will evolve with your growth. What is the pricing structure, is it a flat fee or AUM dependent? What are the terms, am I locked in for X years or is the contract flexible? Are there any hidden costs? What modules/number of users are included in the base offering? Is there a cost involved for additional modules or bespoke development requests?

There are many points to consider during your search for a new PMS, hopefully the above will provide you with some helpful guidelines.

This post is a sponsored post from HedgeGuard

BXR – Train With The Champ

Celebrity endorsements are a dime a dozen these days and one could often assume that the influencer in question has no real interest in the product they are backing. Not so with BXR; a fresh new temple of training in London’s Marylebone quarter. Much fanfare has been made that the recently crowned heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua, is a partner in the business – but he’s more than that. BXR an elite gym centred around boxing and boxing training so this makes for a match made it heaven, but we sure didn’t expect to be training next to the champ on our first visit here – he was there, as we walked in, ducking and weaving right next to us.

Following our recent Angels and Alternative event at The Chilterns, a luxury development which occupies the building above BXR, we not only gave away a membership to one lucky family office guest but took one our ourselves. It’s beach season after all. We’ve been checking it out for 3 weeks now and, damn, it’s cool. Apart from the fact that AJ was sparring just feet from as we struggled to bench his warm up set, this place sets a new standard in London.

Open since January, BXR is a state of the art, members-only fitness facility, offering the highest level of professional boxing training. The site has a 6-metre-high triple glass frontage and spans 12,000 sq ft across ground & lower ground floors. It’s far more night club come billionaire’s basement than you standard Fitness First setup. Exposed concrete paired with state-of-the-art equipment and a killer soundtrack to boot. Think Rocky training in Batman’s basement. At its core, there is a full-size boxing ring with regular and highly professional sparring, which adds to the rawness and authenticity of this training venue.

Investing partner Anthony Joshua (putting his money as well as his name to it) and the BXR founders have curated a team of elite trainers consisting of London’s most reputable boxing coaches, ex-champion boxers, MMA fighters and some of the top sports therapists and osteopaths. The BXR line-up includes Jamie Reynolds – AJ’s head strength & conditioning coach and Dr Mike Loosemore of CHHP (Centre for Health & Human Performance). BXR is aiming to offer its members the same level of advice and consultation that a professional athlete would expect- so if you’re serious about your goals then you can’t go wrong. Not only is the hands-on team on point too, but joining Anthony Joshua on the BXR founding committee are champions from a range of industries including DJ and music producer Mark Ronson, English boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, businessman Andre Balazs and Victoria Secret models Sara Sampaio and Maryna Linchuk.

Anthony Joshua commented: “BXR is a passion project for me. I want people to train like I train. We have pulled together the best coaches, medical teams and equipment in the business and brought the ring to Chiltern Street. Offering state of the art training facilities for anyone who wants to join.”

Berglund of Bergman-Interiors are the brains behind the slick and industrial design of BXR’s flagship site and the extras are pretty hot too. To offer the ultimate workout experience, the facilities include luxury changing rooms with saunas, (mixed) steam rooms and an exclusive brand collaboration with renowned Danish Juicery – Joe & The Juice. Their expert team have developed a bespoke fitness menu for the Ringside Lounge, which includes pre-workout shots, post-workout protein shakes and healthy salads. The café space is also so well set that the urban nomad could easily lap-top away a day’s work here in comfort too. To boot, a big screen for the big game or AJ’s next bout finishes off an exciting and offering.

BXR memberships start at £180 a month and the offering, with all included, is truly and exciting one. To book a tour or consultation contact Charlotte@BXRLondon.com

 

 

HedgeFintech – Adopt or Die?

HedgeFintech – Adopt or Die?

By Cyrus Fazel, Founder of Swissborg.

Back in 1940, Alfred Winslow Jones, the father of all Hedge Funds, disrupted the entire fund management industry with his harder, better, faster, stronger investment methodology. A few decades later, inspired by this spirit, hedge funds emerged as the elite leader of the investment industry.

Without exception to the recurring rule of leaders, Warren Buffet once said “Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they become too heavy to be broken”. Hedge funds are being disrupted by technology, namely transparent investment solutions and AI, as well as a new regulatory framework.

Representing an advanced indicator of that new trend, Goldman Sachs has shifted from a one-stop-shop to a knowledge-based solution, employing over 9,000 programmers, data analysts, and scientists—the employees compose more than 25% of their workforce, rivalling the size of Facebook.

Transparency & Regulation

Pension funds, endowments and wealth managers, who are the main source of assets for hedge funds, are now being challenged by their clients. Historically, wealth advisors have been the rock that keeps clients steady through market turbulence, and they have also been the only gateway to investment products. Now, however, some clients are questioning the value of this role and relationship.

Technological advances and regulatory changes have brought transparency to the next level. Wealth managers need to offer effective client reporting and interaction, as well as live portfolio analysis, i.e. live reporting of positions, information and activity about a portfolio’s or individual investment’s performance. No longer is it acceptable for financial professionals to hold clients at arm’s length and to build trust solely on the notion that the wealth manager is an expert.

Consequently, hedge funds have to deliver a higher level of transparency to their clients in order to match end-client expectations and comply with the new regulatory framework.

Alternative intelligence

Harder, better, faster, stronger, leaner, cheaper and tailored: that’s how startups are taking over the hedge fund industry. Have you ever consider investing in:

– An equity long & short strategy? There is a startup called SwissBorg.

– The famous currency carry trade strategy? There is a startup for that: WeltSparen.

– A selection of the most experienced hedge fund traders that can analyze technical market patterns? There is a startup for that: Eidosearch.

– DIY? There is a startup which helps you to become a successful hedge fund manager: Quantopian

And guess what? The risk-adjusted performance of these solutions is as robust as hedge funds but at a cheaper price.

Spreading knowledge, skills and technology to the world is nothing new; that’s the purpose of the evolution: to challenge the “status quo.” The question that remains is, what options does this leave for hedge funds?

Solution

If technology plays against them, hedge funds will have to focus their operations on what they do best: investment intelligence. By partnering with innovative FinTech, they can leverage the distribution power of the internet, data science to optimise risk management and new disruptive technology like blockchain to offer more transparency and efficiency to the reporting system. The best hedge funds have already realised that it’s time to change the battlefield. Numerai (Renaissance Capital) for example, externalises its strategy by building a network of data scientists to drive the investment policy of the fund.

Technology, as well as a shift in investors’ behaviour, will definitely pose significant challenges to the hedge fund world. But, equally, it will present great opportunities, distinguishing winners from losers.

Hedge funds that reshape their operating models around making smart partnerships, embracing technological disruption, will have a clear competitive advantage. At SwissBorg, we believe that the customization, automation, decentralisation, digitisation and optimisation (CADDO) philosophy will take over. Whilst technological uptake in the hedge fund community is in its earlier stages, we will one day very soon reach an adopt or die tipping point. Time to take action.

Cyrus Fazel is the founder of Swissborg

 

 

Is RegTech the finance sector’s silver bullet?

Managing Director of RFA, Consultant, Investor and Independent Auditor

The global financial crisis and subsequent recession happened almost a decade ago, but their legacy goes on and on, with more stringent regulations and bigger fines every year. The financial services sector has to comply, whilst also trying to build IT systems that are capable of gathering, organizing and interrogating massive amounts of data, to create reports for the regulators and the investors. It doesn’t stop there. Cloud services can add complexity and house data all over the world, and the increasing use of social and other communication tools means that data that should be tracked and analysed is coming in fast from all angles.

RegTech is not new, but the increasing need for technology to meet huge challenges has created the right conditions for it to be currently seen as the finance sector’s silver bullet. RegTech covers a wide range of technology solutions which help firms meet regulatory requirements with functions including reporting, risk management, identity management and control, compliance and transaction monitoring.

A number of vendors have sprung up around the globe, using different technologies to answer questions and help firms meet their regulatory requirements. Scorechain and Skry for example provide blockchain analytics and intelligence – combining two of the most popular concepts in FinTech right now. Alacra and KYC 360 focus on the automation of anti-money laundering and new client due diligence, which Deloitte believe to be at the forefront of the RegTech revolution. Taking a different angle altogether, Behavox turns the lens on employees, analysing their behaviour and scoring risks accordingly. Yet more offerings are grounded more in the traditional risk management camp, with stress testing solutions and big data analytics to calculate risk scores for the possibility of a disruptive global occurrence or the possible weight of a fine for non-compliance. Finally, automated reporting solutions are available to take some of the massive reporting burden away.

With such a complex compliance landscape, it’s no surprise that the supplier landscape is also so complex. It is crucial that firms can turn to scalable and efficient platforms and services which can reduce costs and span the myriad of data sources out there.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, coupled with the power of big data analytics and the flexibility and scalability of cloud platforms, it feels as though RegTech will only go from strength to strength. My concerns would, as always, lie in securing the systems and platforms themselves, and protecting the data that is housed within those RegTech systems. I’d love to see suppliers from the RegTech and cybersecurity worlds working closely and collaboratively for the greater good.

Adventure Travel – new frontiers to conquer in 2017

Surfing Morocco

Surfing in Morocco

Those seeking more active holidays have started heading to Morocco for some of the best breaks in the world. Taghazout, once a quiet fishing village, has been transformed into a surfing hotspot for both pros and beginners. With Agadir airport, just 30 minutes inland and with EasyJet flying directly from London Gatwick, it could not be easier. Surf Maroc, one of the first companies to offer laid-back surfing trips to Morocco, has recently opened the luxurious boutique hotel Amouage. Packages include sunrise yoga sessions followed by daily surfing lessons with ex-pros.

Horse Trekking India

Horse Riding in India

Discover rural India on horseback for a unique and thoroughly rewarding experience. Wild Frontiers, an award-winning travel company, offers a 13-day trip starting by exploring Udaipur and its white palace, before collecting your Marwari horse in Novi and embarking on an adventure across the flat plains of India. In between rides, there are visits to Jain temples, as well as jeep safaris to spot leopards. The trip comes to a close in the beautiful “blue city” of Jodhpur, where you can witness its buzzing bazaars.

Galapagos Islands

Hiking in the Galapagos Islands

Famous for Darwin’s startling discovery, the Galapagos Islands are still today one of the last places on the planet where human footprint is kept to a minimum. An active holiday, where trips include hiking to the Volcán Sierra Negra, the highest point on the Islands, as well as multiple scuba diving sites to swim with manta rays and hammerhead sharks amongst others. This is a unique opportunity to see such a wide range of biodiverse creatures, that for some live exclusively on these beautiful but isolated group of volcanic islands.

Gorilla Tour Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Eastern Africa

There are fewer quite as spectacular up-close and personal wildlife experiences as encountering gorillas in their natural habitat. Bwindi Forest in Uganda and the UNESCO Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo both offer the opportunity to see the these critically endangered primates. Bookings from authorised companies must be organised in advance as permits are strictly limited and access restricted to a single hour once you discover these beautiful creatures. This is a chance of a lifetime.

Freediver and Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

Freediving in Mexico

Freediving in the Sea of Cortez, the body of water that was once coined by Jacques Cousteau as “the world’s aquarium”, has to be on everyone’s bucket list. Learn from experts the art of breath control in preparation for a series of liberating and meditative open water sessions. These crystalline waters are famously known for their incredible diversity of marine species, and freediving highlights include discovering shipwrecks, playing underwater with sea lions and most spectacularly, swimming with the endangered whale sharks.

gstaad hedgebrunch bellvue hotel

Le Grand Bellevue Hotel Gstaad

The HedgeBrunch and Family Office Brunch Ski Trip

The HedgeBrunch and Family Office Brunch ski trip in Switzerland was a delight and, boy, we can’t wait to return next season. We headed to the Le Grand Bellevue Hotel, for this year’s instalment and found a haven of stylish tranquillity and world class hospitality in the chocolate-box town of Gstaad.

After a dream-like train journey from Geneva to Montreux and up through the meandering foothills (honestly worth the trip alone) we arrived at the stunning Grand Bellevue Hotel, our home for the next few days. Gstaad is a noted favourite of the rich and famous and the Bellevue is its oldest hotel.

It’s not a stuffy and old-world experience though, as you might expect with such lineage and location. Le Grand Bellevue manages to combine the glamour of its past (our concierge arrived in Roger Moore’s Bentley no less) with razor sharp future-now style and service.

 

LGB firework 3

Spirit of Gstaad

We were welcomed by owner and operator Daniel Koetser who has masterminded a recent redesign, bringing the entire 57 room hotel up-to-date. “My wife and I have a great affinity with Gstaad” says Daniel. “We love it for its traditions and age-old institutions but feel there’s room for innovation and a dash of sassiness. Our dream is to create a buzzing destination in the heart of the village that captures the spirit of Gstaad but looks to its bright future too. We want the hotel to feel understated and effortless yet imaginative and spoiling”.

Without doubt, they are fulfilling their aspirations and are achieving what they set out to. Our stay was pure Swiss luxury and relaxation from start to finish. On arrival, once shown up to our penthouse suite where there was a bottle of Ruinart waiting on ice for us, we were delighted to find a bright, modern space which managed to retain that mountain feel whilst succeeding in being both vibrant and youthful. The little touches count for a great deal; the concierge left us in excited peace and as she closed the weighty door behind her,  a soft tinkling of after-dark jazz grew from the impressive in-room sound system. We popped open our champagne and felt instantly at home.

 

Suite Panorama 1

 

Transformative Style

After freshening up in a fully loaded Bamford bath suite it was onto LEONARD’s, the hotel’s signature restaurant. A classic Negroni (replete with a full history of the drink from one the best-informed bartenders we have ever met) preceded the fabled sautéed veal aux champignons et rosti. A dish so fine, so well executed and so perfectly placed in its environment we were tempted to have it for dessert too. Collectively the past two hours experiences, especially after six hours travel from London, had been transformative. To bed, perchance to dream of fresh snow in the morning.

 

Dining1

 

A Day on the Piste

As the day broke and our guests assembled to hit the slopes, we breakfasted in notable style and lay ourselves at the hands of the concierge for a little ski prep. On a shorter trip like this, a good concierge, one who can remove all the stress of time-consuming organisation is so very crucial. For ski prep, they did not disappoint. The Grand Bellevue will not only sort all your passes and transfers out they have a friction and stress-free ski solution in-house as well. Skis, poles, boots, helmets and a boutique for any extra kit one needs is on hand, consummately.  It took us just 10 minutes to go from no-kit to full-kit and we were ready to hit the slopes. Once again, the little things make a big difference.

 

 

Now, Gstaad is not the highest of resorts and its season is one of the shortest in the region but it’s oh-so pretty and quite diverse. Its “Super Ski Region,” which comprises some six sectors, over 70 lifts and 150 miles of trails, offers both tree-lined and open cruising throughout, which is a joy. There aren’t many options for the most advanced of snow bunnies but for a social trip like HedgeBrunch and Family Office Brunch Ski it was perfect. We spent the day bouncing between late season moguls, igloo bars and cosy beer-halls in the spring sun, it could not have been better.

A world Class Wellness Experience

Once home, we hit the quite astonishing 3,000 sqm Le Grand Spa, a world-class sanctuary for wellness. Working in partnership with organic English brand Bamford, and revolutionary Swiss facial brand Cellcosmet, the spa invited us to indulge in a fully comprehensive range of treatments, remedies and retreats. The deeply impressive facilities include eleven spacious treatment rooms; seven heat therapy rooms (including a Turkish hammam, Himalayan salt inhalation grotto and outdoor Finnish sauna), a fully equipped gym; yoga & Pilates studio and beautiful relaxation areas with water beds overlooking the mountains. A swimming pool opening up onto a lavender-clad terrace during summer months tops off what must be one of the continent’s greatest wellness retreats.

 

Le Grand Spa Entrance 1

 

This was truly a magical spa experience and would be worth the visit alone. The Swiss are famed for their wellbeing resorts and Le Grand Spa would not be out of place on any top ten list. The truly special design of the spa meant decompression was instantaneous and it’s safe to say it was hard to not be relaxed and happy at every turn on our short stay.

 

Mountain Fare

That evening we finished our day with a rustic, intimate experience at Le Petit Chalet, a traditional chalet restaurant nestled in the hotel’s grounds which caters for just 18 guests with a menu of hearty Swiss dishes. Fondu and raclette lovers eat-your-heart-out, this is epic mountain food. Whilst the modernity of Le Grand Bellevue is wonderful, no trip to the alps is complete without a little bit of this fare and the fact that Daniel et al have maintained this homage to their history is a testament to their understanding of how to bring skiing in luxury up-to-date.

 

We’ll Be Back!

Pained to leave but with marked resolve to come back, our short trip had to come to an end next morning. Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad is a true gem, combining formal and timeless Swiss elegance with a modern spin that will satiate appetites from the old and the new school alike. We left impressed, refreshed and excited and eager to return.

For more information and to book the Grand Bellevue Hotel Gstaad please click here

 

HedgeBrunch and Family Office Brunch Ski Week takes place every year with prices starting from just £3000. To register your interest in attending events please contact us on headbruncher@hedgebrunch.com. 

 

For up to date news, industry events and luxury perks join AYU, see if you qualify here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Private Getaway Islands

Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island Hotel Koh Rang islands, Cambodia

Song Saa Private Hotel combines total luxury with a conservationist philosophy, and without pretentious undertones. Thatch and stone villas have been placed sporadically across the two isles in either the jungle canopy or just above sea level, all with ocean views, four-poster beds and private plunge pools. The area is now an established coastal marine NGO, with a team of marine biologists on hand to take you on morning snorkels around the beautiful coral reefs or afternoons spent kayaking through shady mangroves; this is truly a unique opportunity.

Cooper Island Beach Club

Cooper Beach Island Beach Club Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club is delightfully secluded, a private boat organised in advance from Tortola remains the only way to reach the hotel. This is the place to relax completely, with no televisions, shops or cars on the island, the main tasks of the day involve reading on the beach, swimming in the sea and watching the sunset. If activities become necessary, there is an on-site dive shop, as well as options to snorkel and kayak around the bay. The rum bar is well stocked with over 100 rums and very knowledgeable bartenders who will happily discuss their origins.

Tavanipupu Island

Tavanipupu Private Island Resort Tavanipupu Island, Solomon Islands

One of a thousand isles that make up the Solomon Islands, this dot of an island, which was once a coconut plantation, has been transformed into a dreamy paradise. This resort has still managed to retain the island’s natural charm by providing visitors with pristine white beaches, clear turquoise waters and food from the hotel’s organic garden to eat with freshly-caught seafood. Fishing trips can be arranged, as well as expeditions to explore inhabited islands and dive in the island’s beautiful clear waters, on the reef that has formed a natural blue lagoon.

Isleta El Espino

Isleta El Espino Granada, Nicaragua

This is off-grid at its finest. This hotel is located on a tiny islet on Lake Nicaragua, South America’s largest freshwater lake. Isleta El Espino is bohemian, but with an industrial edge that keeps this eco-lodge relevant. Electricity comes from solar panels and water is filtered straight from the lake, not to mention the food is completely homemade (and delicious). Days start with morning yoga sessions to the sound of monkey chatter and sundowners commence with a local craft beer overlooking the dormant Mombacho volcano in the distance.

Greek Island Retreat

Greek Island Retreat Cycladic Islands, Greece

Although feeling fantastically far-flung, this privately-owned islet is just 45 minutes from Athens by speedboat, making it an easily accessible luxury. Its 300 hectares are awash with old olive trees and scented wild thyme, and there are no other buildings on the island except for a chapel near the jetty. The house itself is a Grecian beauty, built in a neo-classical style with large windows looking out onto the Aegean. Swimming in the calm bay is a must, before feasting for hours on the shady terraces.

 

The Maserati Levante

On a cold and windy day as 2016 came to a close HedgeBrunch was invited by Maserati to put the new Levante through its paces. In the misty and muddy English countryside – an apt setting to test out Maserati’s first ever SUV – we took to both tarmac and turf to see what all the fuss is about.

We’re told the name Levante was inspired by the warm, Mediterranean wind that can change from mild to gale force in an instant, mirroring the character of the first Maserati on-road off-roader. Grace then power. And grace AND power is surely what this car is about more than anything. It’s a lovely combination of classic Maserati looks and all-terrain guts.

The Levante is based on the evolution of the saloon platform but with a chassis that has been specifically developed to offer unique on-road drivability and competitive off-road capability, with day-to-day comfort and practicality. This new offering was conceived around three main pillars: design, exclusivity and performance – aiming it directly at the largest segment in the automotive luxury space, as yet unserved by Maserati.

The Levante’s design is certainly eye-catching. Distinctive and attractive, it embraces the aesthetic elements of the Tridents Italian style and is unmistakeably on brand. If you’re already a Maserati fan, we can’t see how you’d miss the appeal. It combines the spaciousness and comfort that you’d look for in a luxury SUV with coupé lines that purportedly achieve the best aerodynamic efficiency in its class.

The thoroughbred on-road handling typical of all Maserati cars and the solid off-road capabilities, as demanded in the SUV segment, describe the car’s overall ethos well. The Levante is here to excite any sports car driver counting on performance-oriented features, such as the extensive use of lightweight materials, ideal 50-50% weight distribution and its lowest in class centre of gravity. The Levante is designed to deliver comfort on rough roads and handling in the dirt, snow and ice. It does so with aplomb. We took it deep into a frosty, wet and muddy mire in the heart of the Cotswoldian woodlands and it barely broke a sweat, cruising through any trouble without a care in the world.

If you’re an avid traveller and adventure at the weekend but, more-often-than-not your drive is the school run, the office or the supermarket, this will suit you down to the ground. On road, it’s smooth and comfortable, if a little inoffensive, but when pushed you can squeeze some fun out it. It’s not immediate – as you’d find the Gran Cabrio or Gran Turismo, which is understandable, but it doesn’t aim to be. This all-purpose and all-purpose with panache.

Engine-wise, the Levante is equipped with the latest evolution of the Maserati 3-litre V6 engines. The petrol Maserati V6 engine with latest GDI and twin-turbo is available in two versions: the top of the range 430 bhp and the exciting 350 bhp. The most powerful Levante makes it to 100 km/h in 5.2” and has a top speed of 264 km/h, while the figures for the 350 bhp version are 6.0” and 251 km/h respectively. It comes in diesel too but the bhp drops to 275 and 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. The fuel efficiency ramps up pretty well though, if you do opt for this, 7.2 litres will see you a good 100km out of Dodge.

Both petrol and diesel versions of the Maserati Levante use the eight-speed automatic ZF gearbox that provides seamless comfort and fast gear shifting, depending on the selected drive mode. The Levante driver can choose between four drive modes, “Normal”, I.C.E., “Sport” and “Off-road”. Each one constitutes distinct characteristics intelligently altering engine, transmission, suspension and electronics features.

The Levante introduces several innovations to the current Maserati line-up; from safety to convenience options and through to the brand new Human Machine Interface and the dedicated cargo solutions. The range of equipment options is wider and more complete than ever so, if that’s your thing, your well set. Its got the bells and whistled you want: adaptive cruise control, stop & go function, forward collision and lane departure warnings, surround view cameras, not to mention a generous 8.4″ touch screen display which syncs simply with your in-pocket tech. Granted, you’d expect these from a luxury SUV offering, but they’ve done a strong job and will be competing with gusto in an already bustling market.

One thing we didn’t expect though, is the price. It comes in at a not-too-eye-watering £54,000 start, which we were surprised at after enjoying it immensely for 24 hours of up hill and down dale. That’s pretty standard for the bracket its aiming but felt good value regardless.

The luxury SUV party has been going for quite some time and most of the big names are there already. The earliest arrivals even looking a little tired now.  Maserati are fashionably late but they’ve dressed very well and will turn some heads for sure.

For more info on the Maserati Levante head to their site here

 

The Arctic Lodge

The mountain experience has been reimagined – and damn does it look good. Piers Ritchie, enterprising alpine aficionado and close friend of HedgeBrunch recently launched the Arctic Lodge and Co in Val d’Isere, France and after a recent visit, we are hooked. It’s a new concept and new approach to skiing in luxury which is aiming itself at a far more considered approach to the chalet and wider mountain experience than we’ve ever seen.

The group is taking a private members club mind-set with multiple locations in and near L’espace Killy. Currently they have: Artic Lodge, Townhouse, Refuge and Spa, plus a handful of Arctic Cafes, and there’s more planned season on season. The idea is holistic service across the spectrum and across your holiday, where membership gives you the benefits that a well connected concierge-style relationship can bring year on year. “Its about maximising your time in the mountains, enjoying the best of everything: lodge, service, travel, guides, and constant support” say Ritchie. “Whether its a  car at the airport to collect you whenever you want, a discounted helicopter, or your favourite skis already waiting for you at the lodge when you arrive, we have it all covered to simply make it better, easier and more fun!” 

They are clearly doing things with conscious and active mind-set too. As well being focused of developing a community amongst their members through-out the year (not just for the mountain weeks) with significant benefits they have turned the traditional chalet catering on its head. Arrive from the airport and you’re greeted not only by a welcoming glass of bio-dynamic wine but by the vintner who works with the group to tell you more about it. Returning from a day on the slopes there’s a cold beer and a slice of cake waiting for you- but the beer is gluten free and the cake is nutrioitously and deliciously guilt free, actually good for you. Clean eating has arrived in the alps.

Now we like a fondue as much as the next person, but cheese 7 days in a row is too much for anyone. Yet most trips are based on this excess. More champagne, more cheese, more bread… ski, eat, drink, eat, drink, repeat. How many times have you got the the 4th day of you trip and craved something healthy? The Lodge and its siblings are bringing conscious consumption to the mountainside, and by all appearances its really working.

On the earliest sunny days of the season the Artic Cafe in central Val D’isere is packed with locals, tourists and seasonnaires alike – all feasting on avocado toast, cold press juice and a myriad a delicious but “clean” mountain fuels. No guilt here and you can ski all day without flagging too – begging the question: why’s no-one done this before?

ge_finals-16-of-27s ge_finals-25-of-27s ge_finals-14-of-27s

The accommodations are not without obvious consideration either. After being delivered to the door by Tom, the team driver (on call throughout your stay) you’re welcomed into a warm cocoon that’s tough to leave. There’s no surface not clad in rustic wood or draped in sheepskin and an outsized roaring fire welcomes you morning, noon and night for the full hygge effect. Quite heavenly. A balcony hot tub with a view of the Le Face and the World Cup Downhill polishes it off – the only final touch is the staff. Experienced (often rare even in the most luxurious of chalets) friendly and always there on hand they were a great addition to the week.

We’re returning to Arctic Lodge and Townhouse (their two primary residential offerings) at the end of January for a mini HedgeBrunch Ski week. After a January detox this seems like to best plans to ease ourselves into 2017 fun! We recommend you check them out.

For more information and to book head to arcticlodgevaldisere.com

If you’re interested in joining HedgeBrunch Ski events please email us as headbruncher@hedgebrunch.com!

 

 

 

 

The Ferrari California T

Ferraris and hedge fund managers, a cliché? There’s no point ignoring the stigmatism that the world’s most desired car brings with it. Add a significant income and general misunderstanding about the hedge fund world into the equation and a tabloid-healine-ready result is what you have. Will this image ever change? Maybe, maybe not, but the latest in Ferrari’s California series manages to combine its trademark mainline excitement with calm and noble humility you wouldn’t expect – despite being a classic prancing horse.

We’re lucky enough to test-drive some of the most incredible automotives from across the globe here at HedgeBrunch (we do like to mix work and play after all) but of all the cars we have taken out for a weekend’s spin, the Ferraris produce a unique trepidation: “Who’s that flash bastard?”. Right? Don’t lie to yourself, if you’re not the one behind the wheel you’ve thought that, haven’t you! This is especially pertinent when the car in question is bright yellow with the number plate F1 CAL. Who is not going to notice that? Surely you’re in for some abuse driving this thing around town. Rolling off the lot we steeled ourselves for of some this presumed judgement, mixed of course with the boyish excitement of being in command of such a machine.

It turns out any concern towards stigma just melts away because, as well as making you feel unreasonably good, it makes other people feel it too. The smiles you get in this car are only half yours, the rest belong to the world around you. Quite a feat from quite a work of art. As I’m sure is the intention, it makes hearts sing.

The California T is a powerful personality, bringing sportiness and elegance together wonderfully. Wider and more spacious inside than you can possibly realise from out, it does not have the cramped cockpit of its more bullet-like cousins from the Ferrari paddock and paddocks of other breeds. The interior is sumptuously well-crafted and wonderfully ergonomic, offering both great luxury and utility for everyday cruising and longer continent crossing journeys for which it is intended. With two (relatively) comfortable rear seats for smaller passengers and space for everyday items such as sunglasses, phones and tablets, this a car for the practical, as well as the romantic. Couple this with a multi-functional tech-infused steering wheel, a beautifully intuitive touch-screen display which syncs with your phone seamlessly (surprisingly rare for a car in this price range) and there are few things to complain about inside.

Fun behind the wheel is a priority for all Ferraris and this doesn’t disappoint on the road either. Whilst the comfort of the interior is extended to the drive, with sweeping corners remaining silky in power at all but the top speeds, the V8 turbo-charged hunk of craft below the bonnet can still induce fear and respect in equal measure. 560 cv di Potenza and 755 Nm of torque make for a fun ride!

The T sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds and from 0 to 200 km/h in 11.2 seconds. It’s also just nearly 15% more fuel efficient that the previous California despite punching out an extra 70 cv and 49% more torque in 7th gear. Range is increased whilst fuel consumption and emissions have been cut thanks to turbo technology advantages in this model. So you can feel just that little bit better about driving it, right? Jokes aside, it’s a genuinely unprecedented achievement that sets a new benchmark for the industry, and it’s noticeable too.

We took the T out for four days of fun – testing its city cruising in North and Central London as well as its longer distance ability for a weekend in the country. Smiles everywhere, luxurious and exciting – everything a Ferrari should be.

Find out more at Ferrari

 

 

If You Use Social Media To Promote Financial Products, You Must Read This.

By Paul Das – ProfundCom

Ask a group of finance professionals the following question: What is the FCA’s rules on using social media for financial marketing? You’re likely to see lots of blank looks and shrugged shoulders (I should know, I ask this question regularly). Not surprising, as the FCA’s views on social media marketing are numerous and complicated. The result is that many firms simply avoid a strong and varied approach to social media, as they fear the prospect of a hefty fine if they are found to have breached FCA rules. But I’m here to help! Firstly, this is largely what the FCA defines as social media:

  • Blogs
  • Microblogs (eg Twitter)
  • Social and professional networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc)
  • Forums
  • Image and video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest etc)

The fact that forums and blogs are included here is worth noting, as most people would not see these as social media. But, as far as FCA-compliance is concerned, it’s best to classify any form of online communication as social media. This is with the exception of email, which has its own rules.

Another thing to recognise is that the FCA is not against the use of social media. In fact, it encourages it, stating that: “We recognise that social media are particularly powerful channels of communication and therefore of significant value to firms. We do not want to prevent their use.’ What the FCA seeks to regulate is any social media message that constitutes a financial promotion. But what – for the FCA – constitutes a financial promotion?

Let me give you an example: If you tweeted something as short and simple as this…‘We invest in our trading technology, to help get you the best returns’…it is a financial promotion in FCA eyes, because it is an inducement to invest. But there is an important distinction as, for a financial promotion to fall within the FCA’s remit, it must be made ‘in the course of business’.

This means the there is a commercial interest on the part of the communicator, so it excludes genuine non-business communications. So, if – for example – you’re discussing your new trading technology with a friend or group of colleagues on social media, but the conversation is not in the course of business, then you’re exempt from regulations. However, the FCA states that, when personal accounts are used, firms should: ‘take care to distinguish clearly personal communications from those that are, or are likely to be understood to be, made in the course of that business.’ To put all this more simply, if your message has any intention of raising assets for your firm, you’d better follow the rules.

The FCA does, however, offer leniency to anyone looking to raise funds at the pre-formation stage, stating that: ‘…individuals who are proposing to run the company may approach friends and relatives to see if they are willing to provide start-up capital.’ This is unless forming companies is your business, in which case you must tow the line with everyone else.

So, we’ve now established what a financial promotion is. Next, we must address the thorny problem of the rules the FCA has in place to govern financial promotions via social media.

Risk warning are the next crucial element. This concerns your obligation to warn potential investors of the risks involved with investing, thus ensuring that all promotions are clear, fair and not misleading. So, any message you put on social media must ensure that, according to the FCA:       ‘…consumers have an appreciation not only of the potential benefits but also of any relevant risks.’

Risk warnings cannot be in small print, and must not be hidden and/or less obvious than benefits. You also must have a risk warning within each message, so you can’t link to another page or post that contains all the necessary – it must be in the body of the text. This also applies to Twitter – brevity is no excuse – but the FCA recognises that character limitations cause difficulties. So, it suggests using an image in a tweet to allow for more information, while stressing that the image itself must be compliant. But – as images can be switched off on Twitter, you can’t have a promotion in the tweet. You can merely say something like ‘See our latest promotion below:’ You can also tweet a link to a financial promotion, which can include an element of description, such as ‘To see our current UK equity fund range, go to xxxx’. This type of language is compliant as it is not promotional, it merely invites further investigation.

You must avoid any promotional language, such as ‘top performing funds’, or even examples of interest rates.Image is everything The FCA is also keen to stress that ‘image advertising’ is exempt from the rules and is a good way to use social media. This means an advert that uses a firm’s logo, or an image associated with the company, together with contact details and a description of what the firm does. But, again, there can be no inducement – even something as simple as ‘invest with us’. When retweeting or sharing a post the responsibility for compliance lies with the originator, not the sharer. So, if you’ve written it, it’s your responsibility – no matter who shares it.

However, that raises the thorny problem of what happens when sharing creates non-compliance. This could happen if a private tweet intended for a colleague was retweeted by a member of the public. The FCA is vague on this point, just stating that ‘firms should take steps in their labelling and targeting of communications to mitigate the risk of this happening.’ Not terribly helpful. Yet, if your firm shares a customer’s post that is non-compliant – eg one that extols the benefits of a particular fund – then you are breaking FCA rules. However, sharing posts that are simply general praise – such as a thank you for great customer service – is acceptable.

All pieces of social media content must be signed off by someone in your firm who – in the FCA’s words – is of ‘appropriate competence and seniority’. You must keep records of all social media posts, no matter how old. These must demonstrate when a post was first written, who reviewed and approved it and how it was commented on or changed.Your records must be securely stored off-line – not just on social media sites – and be presented for inspection on request. Beware the Advertising Standards Authority too. In its literature, the FCA reminds firms they must also abide by the rules laid out by the ASA in its Advertising Practice Code. After the FCA released guidance on social media use in the summer of 2014, it asked for feedback from industry bodies and financial firms. The feedback received – and the response – makes for interesting reading, as it sheds more light on the FCA’s attitude and rules.

Here are the key points:

Can promotional posts that link to a webpage be viewed as an initial part of a communication, thus be exempt from regulations?

No. The FCA is firm on this, saying that posts and websites must be seen as separate financial promotions. It states that: ‘…each (post) must comply separately with any specific requirements in our rules, as well as being clear, fair and not misleading.’

Can an #ad hashtag be added to posts to identify them as promotional?

This was actually the FCA’s own suggestion, but caused confusion, with respondents saying it was a misuse of the hashtag function, so was rejected. Another reason was that most social media sites clearly identify adverts as such themselves, so there’s no need for further clarification.

Can hashtags be used as risk warnings, e.g. #capitalatrisk, #pastperf, etc?

Another no from the FCA. It believes that hashtags used in this way would be confusing to customers. It also worries about creating compliance issues, as clicking on the hashtag would link to a series of other messages that are not linked to the original post.

Can liking a post be deemed a financial promotion?

In a word, yes. That is – of course – if the post that’s been liked is promotional. So, if you like a customer’s tweet that talks about your firms ‘amazing deals’ – without any risk warnings – then you fall foul of the rules, as it is promotional language. If you like a tweet that praises your customer service, no problem – as the original message is not promoting a product.

In summary:

  • The FCA supports the use of social media, but has regulations that govern its use
  • The FCA classifies all online communication – including blogs and forums but excluding email, which has separate rules – as social media
  • Any social media communication classified as a financial promotion must adhere to FCA regulations
  • For a post to be classified as a financial promotion by the FCA, there must be a commercial interest on the part of the communicator.
  • This means personal communications are excluded from FCA rules
  • You are also exempt if you are approaching friends and relatives for funds at the pre-formation stage unless forming companies is your business
  • Clear and legible risk warnings must be included on all social media posts
  • On Twitter, it is acceptable to link to, or use an image for, a promotion as long as the introductory tweet is not promotional
  • Image advertising – using a logo or relevant image together with contact details – is exempt from the rules, as long as no promotional language is used
  • When sharing posts, the responsibility for compliance rests with the original communicator, not the sharer
  • You must take steps to prevent non-compliance through sharing – eg by a customer retweeting a private tweet
  • You are breaking FCA rules if you share a customer’s post that is non-compliant
  • All posts must be approved by a senior member of staff
  • Records must be kept detailing times, approvals and changes made. These must be stored off-line
  • The FCA recommends following Advertising Standards Agency rules
  • The FCA has reiterated that any social media post must obey all promotional rules, even if it links to a separate page
  • An #ad hashtag should not be used to identify promotions
  • Hashtags cannot be used to give risk warnings
  • Liking a post that promotes your own products is in contravention of FCA

Paul Das is Managing Director and Founder of ProfundCom

The Single Malt Hedge Fund

Combining a great strategy with a strong brand – with Meyler Capital

There’s a high concentration of Scotch distilleries in Scotland: over 100 fully-licensed operations on an island with a population of < 5.5M people. To put it in perspective, there are more Scotch whisky distilleries than there are McDonald’s outlets in Scotland. On top of that, there are plenty more start-up distilleries entering the fray each year.

Scotch whisky has been around for a long time, with the majority of big-names having existed since the 1800s. It’s not easy for new entrants to penetrate the market.

It’s gone through its fair share of ups and downs (Prohibition, two world wars, economic recessions, sharp declines in sales, etc.).

And, it happens to live in a heavily-regulated industry.

 SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING CLOSE TO HOME?

 In spite of all of the above, and increased competition from whisky makers in India, Japan, and the USA, Scotch has retained its supremacy as the exceptional form of whisky, and sells three times its nearest rival.

38 bottles of Scotch are shipped overseas each second, and some 20 million casks lie maturing in warehouses in Scotland. (Laid end-to-end that’s longer the distance between Edinburgh and New York.)

Rare bottles that might have previously cost less than $100 10-20 years ago are now fetching several thousand dollars per bottle.

 How has the popularity of Scotch increased in the last decade?

  1. Consistent Branding

Scotch whisky brands have been expertly marketed and deeply rooted in consumer minds for well over a century, even among people who at that stage didn’t drink it. As one expert put it, “Its aspirational presence, linked to its reputation for consistent high quality, formed a solid launch pad for expansion”.

  1. Staying Relevant To Consumers’ Needs

In other words: Re-branding when necessary.

Sales declined in the 1980s as whisky’s image became outdated, fit only for middle-aged or older males.

Scotch brand experts kicked in to high gear and altered the way it shaped its perception. Age and artisanship were no longer of interest to people, and so the attention was shifted to taste and aspiration. This helped create a “but Scotch is for everyone too!”attitude.

“There are now whisky-shows and festivals going on all over the world – probably one somewhere every weekend, attracting a notably different demographic from the stereotyped middle-aged male consumer.”

Discussion boards, blogs, twitter-tasting, and the like have popped up touting the fact that it is cool to drink Scotch again.

An increased number of young adults now drink whiskey, with 18 to 24-year olds now occupying 28 % of consumption. Women are also more easily attracted to whisky now, with famous role models like Kate Moss playing their part.

The renaissance

Brand building has been key to Scotch whisky’s long reign at the top. Adjusting, adapting, and repositioning has helped it to force its way back to the front of the line when others were beginning to nudge forward. All this, in spite of being in an oversaturated industry with heavy regulation and fierce competition.

Take a look at some websites belonging to Scotch whisky companies i.e. The Glenlivet (www.theglenlivet.com), Glenfiddich (www.glenfiddich.com), and Aberlour (www.aberlour.com). These websites take you tell a great story, have video, are very user-friendly, and most importantly: articulate the brand behind each company.

By Alan Chu of Meyler Capital 

CheckRisk – Is Financial Market Risk Predictable?

Behavioural Finance, Black Swans, and Risk Warning Systems

Nick Bullman – Managing Partner CheckRisk

Richard Fairchild, School of Management, University of Bath

Introduction

In standard textbook finance, academics make the assumption that financial market actors (managers, investors, institutions) are fully rational, unbiased, non-psychological, unemotional, all-calculating perfect maximisers of expected utility or expected profits (homo economicus). Financial Market Risk is seen as a knowable variable, following a well-defined distribution (usually assumed as a well-behaved, bell-shaped, normal distribution). For example, these assumptions are the bedrock of Modern Portfolio theory (MPT: Markowitz 1952) in which fully rational risk-averse investors hold well-diversified portfolios of shares (all investors holding the same market portfolio) in which every company’s specific risks have been eliminated, and only macro-economic (market) risk remains.

MPT decision-making requires all investors to coldly and unemotionally calculate the amounts of each share to hold in the market portfolio, according to the Markowitz mathematical calculus of each share’s expected returns, variances, and, furthermore, co-variances and correlations between each share in the investing universe. In addition to requiring rational investors to possess supreme mathematical ability and deep market knowledge, MPT assumes that stock returns follow a well-defined and fully-knowable normal distribution.

Another major model arising from standard finance is that of the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH: Fama 1970), in which the actions of fully rational market participants result in stock market prices instantaneously and fully reflecting all available information. That is, according to EMH, market prices are always very close to companies’ true fundamental values. In the EMH, prices follow a random walk (and are hence unpredictable), and, due to prices following a random walk, EMH does not allow for market trends, such as momentum and reversals, or bubbles and crashes.

The Real World: Behavioural and Emotional Finance

In the real world, financial market actors (as imperfect human beings) are not fully rational. Furthermore, they are emotional, and subject to psychological biases. This has led to an emerging area of research, Behavioural Finance (BF), that incorporates investor (and manager) psychology and emotions into the standard finance models to understand the effects. More recently, an exciting emerging area of study, emotional finance (EF), incorporates investors’ unconscious biases, child-like attachment, and feelings of love and hate for their investments, in a Freudian psycho-analytical framework.

In the context of (the predictability) of financial market risk, what behavioural and emotional finance bring is an understanding that investor psychology, herding behaviour, emotions (both conscious and unconscious) can result in patterns in the markets, and can explain bubbles and crashes, as investor sentiment and herding behaviour, psychology and emotions can turn at crucial tipping-point moments. For example, in a BF framework, Barberis et al (1998) demonstrate theoretically how an investor’s bounded rationality and psychological biases can result in momentum and reversal in financial markets. Similarly, Daniel et al (1998) provide a theoretical model in which investors’ overconfidence and self-attribution bias can result in market under-reaction to good news and over-reaction to bad news.

In the emotional finance framework, Tuckett and Taffler (2008) conceptualise, in a Freudian psychoanalytical framework, how investors’ unconscious emotions (of love and hate) towards their investments can shift over time, creating herding behaviour, and bubbles and crashes. Fairchild (2009; 2014) provides the first rigorous theoretical modelling attempt.

Although behavioural finance, and particularly emotional finance, suggests that there may be patterns of behaviour in the stock market, does this mean that these patterns are predictable? Shelia Dow (2009) argues that the emotional finance framework provides an ex-post justification of historic bubbles and crashes (e.g. tulip mania, South-Sea Bubble, 1990’s Internet Bubble, the 2008 Financial Crisis), but cannot provide ex-ante predictability of the timing and time-frame of future bubbles.

Recall that, in standard finance, risk is knowable, and it is generally assumed that stock returns follow a well-behaved, bell-shaped, normal distribution. Note that, in this view of risk, investors know, ex-ante, all of the possible future states, or events, of the world (e.g. good economy, medium economy, bad economy etc…), all of the outcomes associated with those states, and the well-defined probabilities associated with those events. Hence, risk becomes predictable, using the normal distribution: e.g. we can analyse the probability of share prices falling by x%, using the normal distribution: this provides a basis for such risk-tools as Value-at-Risk (VaR): more on the shortcomings with VaR later.

In contrast, BF and EF recognise that in the real-world, stock returns do not follow a normal distribution. There is considerable evidence of skewness, fat-tails, kurtosis etc. Furthermore, BF and EF academics argue that investors may in fact be subject to (Knightian) uncertainty, rather than risk, in the financial markets. In Knightian Uncertainty, investors do not even know the distribution of returns, or the related outcomes. In this view, investors are making their decisions rather blindly, with little predictable information to work with.

Risk, Uncertainty and Black Swans

The BF/EF real-world view that financial market returns follow non-normal, skewed distributions, with fat-tails, and that risk may even be unpredictable, with investors instead facing Knightian Uncertainty, naturally leads us to consider the very nature of risk and uncertainty. A useful framework for us to consider is Black Swan Theory (Taleb, 2001; 2007; 2010), and Black Swan Events.

Black Swans

Most risk analysis, and risk appraisal tools such as value-at-risk, is based on the convenient but misguided assumption that event-probabilities follow a normal distribution: thus, for example, it is assumed that stock returns in the financial markets are randomly drawn from such a distribution. This distribution does not allow for prediction of ‘black swan’ events. These are dramatic extreme and sudden events, outside the prediction of the normal bell-curve. According to Wikipedia “The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:

  1. The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
  2. The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
  3. psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs.”

Taleb recommends not attempting to predict future black swan events, but to build robustness against their occurrence and provides “Ten Principles for a Black-Swan-Robust Society”, He also recommends the use of other types of distribution, such as fractal, power law, and scalable distributions in tempering expectations. He also recommends “the use of counterfactual reasoning when considering risk.” (This paragraph draws heavily from Wikipedia’s summary of Taleb’s book).

Black Swans: Predictions in Practice

Black Swan events are by definition, unpredictable. However, there is increasing evidence that indicates that the likelihood of a Black Swan occurring can be forecast. In other words, the nature of the event may remain unpredictable, but the probability of such an event happening is within our reach.

The problem with legacy risk systems such as Value at Risk (VaR) are well known and lies in the fact that they project the past forward to anticipate what will happen next. This results in a beautifully symmetrical bell curve that bears no reality to the real world. The tails of this bell curve severely underestimate risk and therefore so-called “fat tail risks” make the risk system virtually unusable as a forward-looking risk tool. Essentially the tail risks occur more frequently and with a larger scale than the model predicts.

Most importantly VaR fails to address the issue of Risk Clusters. It is counterintuitive, but it turns out that sometimes a risk event generates more risk. Usually when a risk is known it may be dealt with, but sometimes a risk exposes weaknesses in whatever system is being considered, and unzips the system as a whole.

This unzipping effect CheckRisk has called “bridging” and bridging of risk most approximates Black Swan events. The charts below show how risk clusters. The study ran from January 2008 until October 2010. Using Table 2. it can be seen that VaR underestimated daily stock market returns over an 80 year period significantly.

Table 1: Daily S&P Returns January 1928 to October 2010

Average: 0.026%

Sample number: 20,788

Standard Deviation (σ): 1.195%

Kurtosis: 17.515

Skewness: -0.095

Max Daily Return: 16.61%

Min Daily Return: -20.47%

Source: CheckRisk LLP

The number of days recorded was 20,788 and the maximum daily return was 16.61% and the worst -20.47%.

Table 2: Standard Deviation of Returns VaR versus Actual

unnamed-3

Source: CheckRisk LLP

As can be viewed in the table, traditional Risk systems (VaR) only predicted one day where the market would fall -4.78% to -5.97% in fact that event occurred 43 times. The model predicted zero 5 standard deviation (SD) and 6SD days, whereas reality saw 18 and 22 of those events occurring over the period.

Compare Table 3 with Table 4. Table 3 uses VaR to predict what should happen over the measured period. Table 4 shows what happened. It is clear that risk clusters. There are benign low-risk periods, and there are high-risk cluster periods. This single fact has led CheckRisk on a quest to place risk at the centre of investment as opposed to a postscript. The central issue with investment risk is simply this; are you being paid to take the risk or not? CheckRisk believes it is possible to identify the risk regimes that answer that question.
 
Table 3: VaR prediction on Risk

unnamed-4

Source: CheckRisk LLP
 
Table 4: What actually happened

unnamed-5

Source: CheckRisk LLP
 
Given that VaR remains the mainstay of Central Bank, Commercial Banking, and Insurance Company modelling perhaps it is not surprising that the world remains so exposed to Black Swans. Using VaR alone we are doomed to be perpetually surprised by events that could otherwise be forecast.

To take a more realistic approach, it is necessary to cast the risk net far wider. Using modelling like Network Risk Analysis, Early Warning Risk Systems, Cascade modelling and Nowcasts it is possible to build a much more complex picture of the way risk spreads and to pick up changes in the risk environment with sufficient warning. Also advances in Behavioural Finance theory, particularly in the field of Emotional Finance, shows us that risk is not equal for everyone. Thus our perception of risk matters, and may well lead to some of the vagaries of how deep a correction or long a bull market run is, for example.

There will always be risk events that cannot be predicted. Real Black Swans, however, are rarer than the financial market currently believes. Most Black Swans are not true Black Swans; they can be predicted and the mechanisms and models to do so are already available.

For example, CheckRisk’s proprietary early warning risk system (CREWS) indicates that the period 2017-2020 as being a period of intensified financial market risk, with 2018 and 2019 of particular concern. Of course, Central Bankers can decide once again to extend and pretend, whether it be via helicopter money, more QE or direct investment, however, eventually the debt level consuming the world like a creeper will suffocate the very system it feeds off.

To prepare oneself for the imminent risks it is required to have a change of mind set. Regarding investment risk CheckRisk calls it “Investing for Risk” as opposed to investing for return. Putting the risk horse in front of the return cart has always made more sense to us. Secondly, throwing your risk net wider is an essential step in preparation. Thirdly, be prepared to use outside risk advisors or third parties, their perception of risk may be very different to your own. Fourthly, give freedom to a proper risk culture in your organization. Too often CheckRisk sees lip service but no real ownership of risk, as a consequence group risky shift leads to much greater risk being taken at a corporate level than would be taken as an individual.

Black Swan events are rare, and must have a true element of surprise to fit the standard definition.  An undetected meteor strike that changes the world’s weather patterns would be a good example. Events like 9/11 would be another example, however, there is even debate as to whether such an event was predictable given the warning signs that could have been captured by big data.

Events like another global financial crisis, the break-up of the EU, an expansionary Russian policy toward the Ukraine and elsewhere, a Trump Presidency in the USA, China’s economy becoming unstable, a cyber attack or an extreme weather pattern are all examples of risk’s that financial commentators call Black Swans but in fact are not. Indeed, the risks above form part of the risk forecasting CheckRisk conducts on a daily basis.

For example, CheckRisk believes another global financial crisis is increasingly likely in the period 2017-2020. This can only be delayed or muted, but not avoided. Global debt has increased by over $60 trillion since 2008.
 
Unless the EU takes Brexit as a cause for radical reform of its mandate, the collapse of the EU and the Euro in its current form is also quite probable and predictable. The EU may survive but it will be radically different. At present, the reaction to Brexit has been ever closer union the opposite of what the people of Europe desire.

Russia under Putin will continue to be expansionary on a geopolitical scale. This is a risk but not a Black Swan event as Putin’s behaviour patterns are relatively predictable.

Trump may well be elected President. The US and other equity and bond markets around the world are underestimating this risk. However, CheckRisk believes there is a good possibility, near a 50/50 chance that Trump will win, particularly following Clinton’s recent health scares. Irrespective of what one might think about Donald Trump in the White House, markets have underestimated the probability in the same way that the Remain camp did for Brexit.

China’s economy is so indebted that there are serious risks of a correction in financial markets. China would recover over time but the impact to the world economy would be serious. The end of a massive credit cycle is no Black Swan.

Cyber attack or solar electromagnetic events are less predictable but again entirely possible. A solar electromagnetic event would cause chaos in systems such as supermarket ordering systems. Governments believe that humanity in the Western World is just three meals from anarchy. Current resupply systems for the supermarkets operate on an 18-hour time scale. If those systems fail, it will not take long for basic law and order to fail too. It is, however, very difficult to plan for such events.

Extreme weather events: rather than a storm or hurricane or earthquake CheckRisk is concerned about global water supplies which can lead to geopolitical shifts of significant proportion. China currently has very little clean potable water sources, and may eventually have to divert water currently used by their neighbour’s to satisfy their own people. Such action will unleash civil unrest in countries bordering southern China in particular.

The point of all of these risk events is that they are predictable and so are the tools to model the outcomes. Investors need to place risk in front of return, and begin “Investing for Risk” in doing so they will not only avoid the predictable risks but be better equipped for true Black Swans when they occur.

References:
Barberis, N., A. Shleifer, and R. Vishny (1998). “A Model of Investor Sentiment.” Journal of Financial Economics 49: 307-343.
Daniel, K., D. Hirshleifer, and A. Subrahmanyam. (1998) “Investor Psychology and Security Market Under- and Overreactions.” Journal of Finance, vol 53, no 6. 1839-1884.
Dow, S. (2009). “The Psychology of Financial Markets: Keynes, Minsky, and Emotional Finance.” Book Chapter in “The Elgar Companion to Hyman Minsky.”
Fairchild, R. (2009). “From Behavioural to Emotional Corporate Finance: a New Research Direction.”  SSRN Working Papers.
Fairchild, R. (2014). “Emotions in the Financial Market.” Book Chapter in “Investor Behavior: The Psychology of Financial Planning and Investing.” H. Kent Baker and Victor Ricciardi, editors, 347-364, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014
Taffler, R., and D. Tuckett (2008): “Phantastic objects and the financial market’s sense of reality: A psychoanalytic contribution to the understanding of stock market instability”.  International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Taleb, N.N. (2001). “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.” New York: Random House.
Taleb, N.N. (2007; 2010): “The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable.” Penguin books.

Charity of the month: Supporting Wounded Veterans

Supporting Wounded Veterans is a UK based charity that helps medically discharged veterans with life-changing injuries, including those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, get back into work through a specially designed “skihabilitation”, mentoring, pain management clinic and employment programme. Since the first ski week in Klosters in 2013, the charity has been able to increase the number of veterans supported each year. It has also recently opened a Pain Management Clinic, specifically for wounded veterans, in conjunction with King Edward VII Hospital in London.

Each March the charity takes wounded veterans, whether suffering from severe physical injuries, combat stress (PTSD), or a combination of both, and introduces them to skiing. Following on from this week, and vital to the successful end result of meaningful civilian life and employment, the charity provides on-going one-to-one mentoring as well as help from the Pain Management Clinic.

About the Business Challenge

The Business Challenge was conceived as a way to raise awareness and engage the business community with wounded veterans, creating strong links with potential employers whilst providing an opportunity for teamwork and personal development for those entering teams. Moreover its goal is to raise much needed funds and the 2016 Business Challenge teams raised almost £180,000, after expenses, for the charity.

The Business Challenge is a great opportunity for entrants to spend time with the wounded veterans and support the work of the Charity.  The first two events in January 2015 and 2016 were a huge success, where veterans and the business world forged friendships and new business connections, sharing a love of skiing and the mountains, while raising funds for Supporting Wounded Veterans. Teams of four are invited to take part in the 2017 Challenge in Klosters. They will be tested against other corporate teams during a ski marathon (where teams ski as many km as possible in the day on the open pistes) and a giant slalom. They will also race against teams consisting of former veterans from the Charity’s ski weeks, as well as those who have progressed to Paralympic glory! It’s a demanding, adrenaline fuelled and competitive event and ensures able bodied and disabled skiers compete on equal terms. You do not have to be of Olympic standard to take part!

Each team is expected to raise at least £10,000 to take part (or £2,500 for individual participants), and Half Board accommodation, ski pass and equipment hire are all included, as well as entry to all the races and dinners, but flights and lunches etc. are excluded. For more information on how to take part please contact James Palmer-Tomkinson at PT Ski on 02077365557 or email here.

All HedgeBrunchers are invited to drinks and a presentation about The Business Challenge, which is taking place at Rathbone Investment Management – 1 Curzon Street, London W1J 5FB – on Wednesday 5th October, 6.30-8.00pm. RSVP here.

Aston Martin DB11 First Drive

There’s not a lot of point introducing Aston Martin is there? It’s a brand so iconic and embedded in British culture, just a mention or a glimpse brings a smile to those with even the most passing interest. Like many, I’ve always found the DB5 to be the pinnacle of  the brand. Whilst enjoying the first night’s screening of 007’s Skyfall, I can recall the cheer of joy and excitement that went through the crowd as our man slid back the door to his private lock up and his silver DB5. What other car can do that? It’s a brand that sparks joy and the DB5 is still the model that most will identify as the true Aston.

However, the DB5 was Aston Martin from 1963 to 1965. A long time ago. The DB6 and DBS saw them roaring through to the early seventies (they both evoke that same frisson as the DB5) and then something odd happened. The AMV8 landed in 1972 and was the first in a line of models pandering to the American/international market as they went all muscle; bringing out a range of V8s that were distinctly not British. Just not cricket. All testosterone and no finesse – simply not living up to the DB5’s legacy. They of course were fun, I’m sure flying down Route 66 in the mid nineties in a V8 Vantage felt great, but it was well off course for the brand. These changes were of course driven by various movements in the brands ownership and direction. A few more V8 Coupes and Volantes followed and by the late nineties one could have been forgiven for feeling like all hope was lost. 

However, as 2001 arrived the V12 Vanquish landed and was quickly followed by a DB7 Zagato. These actually looked like an Aston again and now signify a bit of a renaissance as, over the next ten years, the brand found itself once more.  The DBS Coupe and Volante, the Rapide, the Vanquish and the Vantage filled the first decade of the new millennium and this new wave was topped off by the spectacular limited edition One-77 and the V12 Zagato.  Quite a return to form. 

So, if 2001 was a renaissance and the following years an adolescence (complete with some very questionable choices – we’re looking at you Cygnet) then, where are we now? We’re in the third generation and there’s a new captain at the helm. Grandad built the family business from the ground up with grit, style and panache then his son, seemingly with little sense of perspective, sold out to America. He saw the big bucks and forgot the brand’s roots and values. Not an uncommon occurrence for those familiar with multi-generation family businesses. Thankfully we’re now into G3 and the grandson has grown up aware of his illustrious bloodline and most importantly, his responsibility. Vision and talent often skips a generation after all. Aston Martin’s “Second Century” is here. And boy are they back in their prime. 

The Art of Living is a collection of extraordinary experiences from Aston Martin, kicking off their second century and the seven models they are rolling out in the next seven years. They’re not only setting their sights high for their models but also curating a new form of relationship with their brand. The Art of Living offers unparalleled Aston Martin access, expert insights and luxury travel – truly unique and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was through this new offering that we got to experience the DB11, some of the first people in the world to drive the new model. A serious privilege and a fantastic opportunity. 

Our trip was to span two days, taking in transfers from London to the Aston Martin Headquarters and a VIP factory tour and then on to electrifying drives through the Cotswolds. Our first stop was at Cowley Manor Hotel for an informal lunch and then onto The Painswick Hotel for a night of countryside luxury. As with all Art of Living trips, we were part of an eclectic group of guests enjoying the trip alongside us. In similar style to our Hedgebrunch events, it mixed a unique experience with networking, so we felt very at home.

The DB11 is pure excitement way before ignition. It’s a thrill, a joy and it has soul – you feel this even before climbing into the cockpit. Just standing next to it quickens the pulse.  They’ve streamlined deeply, smoothing the lines from the tips of the new one-piece clam-shell bonnet all the way to the tips of the spoiler, or at least, where the spoiler should be. That’s been stripped off and replaced with some very sexy innovation. A thin but ultra-powerful wall of compressed air, funnelled from the side vents, is fired out and above the car’s hind quarters creating an invisible spoiler. Very 007. 

As our pride of DB11s rolled out into the sunny English countryside there was a huge sense of excitement. Aston Martin headquarters is surrounded by endless winding and sweeping roads, perfect for getting to know the car in its natural environment, and so we took off. The DB11 purrs, from a standing start it can feel ever so slightly delayed, but give it just half a second and the V12 engine roars to life. Slip it into sport mode and the dials glow an aggressive red – letting you know it’s ready for a fight. Thankfully though, it’s on your side. 

Driving on public roads you’ll feel other traffic is prey and you are on the hunt, a predator with certainty. Glancing in your rear view and seeing a DB11 is clearly an intimidating experience. The deference the car produces offers a worrying sense of immunity that you have to keep in check at national speed limits. We carved on through the summer heat, pulses racing. 

The Art of Living experience takes a test drive to the next level and pulling into Cowley Manor a few hours later, alongside our cohorts, we were now part of a team. Sharing our morning’s adventures with high spirits and a pitch-perfect lunch brought us together even further. The Aston Martin team were with us throughout and getting to know the people behind the brand brought us ever closer to the story, rather than merely observing. Modern luxury has truly realised it’s about how a product makes you feel deep down and Aston Martin have this well figured – we felt part of an inner circle, welcomed with a knowing nod. 

Sated and extremely happy we moved onto our afternoon drive, heading to our next destination and dinner. This slice of the trip was a little more open, with some stretches of dual carriage way to play with. At one point we pulled up alongside an emergency first responder, both of us on the speed limit exactly. I looked over tentatively to get a read on him and he beamed back, laughing out loud at my clear desire to let it loose. The DB11 inspires joy in others as well as those driving it, as it truly should. Mr Bond will surely be sliding back the doors on it again soon. 

Arriving for our evening we were welcomed warmly with a glass of champagne and given some time to enjoy the elegant and playful surroundings of The Painswick Hotel. Dinner followed and we were joined by design director Miles Nurnberger who took us through the creative processes and inspiration for the DB11 and its coming siblings. Getting an insider’s view like this with new friends, great food and importantly, time to relax, was sublime. 

Morning broke on the next day and we climbed once more into our cockpit. As the steering wheel automatically lowered into place (very nice touch) we started our return to headquarters. A more leisurely drive allowed the car to cruise well, showing the comfort that it can offer on a longer journey. The plush yet refined interior of the DB11, held back only slightly by some mildly confusing tablet-esque control panels, is somewhere you can spend a lot of time. Touring in this would be a pleasure and that’s not something you can say of most cars in its price and power bracket. 

As our experience came to an end back at headquarters, we took one last look inside the world of Aston Martin; inside the detail, beauty and thought that goes into sculpting each model. Aston are one of the few manufacturers who build from a clay scale base – a painstaking process that brings the artistry as close as possible to the finished article. Art, science and know-how working in harmony and an incredible process to experience first-hand.  

The Art of Living is an experience designed to turn that spark of joy that Aston Martins fire, into a burning flame and it does it with aplomb. Over the next year they have trips including unmissable drives around the Scottish Highlands and in Northern Italy on epic roads snaking through the UNESCO-listed Dolomites. There’s even the chance to head to New Zealand and drive on ice. We simply cannot recommend them highly enough. In a world where experience is now as valued as the tangible, Aston Martin’s Art of Living is a perfect marriage of the two. 

By Gus Morison

Brexit Update – two months on

In the two months that have passed since the Brexit vote, many questions have been asked but as yet we’ve not had too many answers. It will be some time before the full implications of Brexit are known and we see exactly what a post-Brexit UK will look like but the days since the referendum have provided a glimpse of what is in store while that picture takes shape. While the new Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet in Westminster decide on a Brexit strategy and then implement it the UK faces a protracted period of uncertainty that presents businesses with both opportunities and challenges.

One of the most immediate and obvious effects of the decision to leave the EU was seen in currency markets. At time of writing since June 23rd GBPEUR has fallen 12% and GBPUSD some 14%. Commercial property prices have fallen around 10% with the result that some property funds have closed their doors to withdrawals for a time. Furthermore the latest (July) Purchasing Managers Index data showed a sharp fall to 48.2 from 52.4 in June, indicating a contracting economy and reflecting a dramatic weakening in sentiment. However, to date we have been very short of hard economic data releases. This has meant the Pound has slipped in the face of negative sentiment and uncertainty over the UK’s immediate next steps. There was some relief for the markets when a new Government was installed quickly but since then the only proclamation from the new Chancellor on the future direction of economic policy has been a line that he may use the autumn statement to “reset” UK fiscal policy. The autumn statement is due in either late November or early December.

The Bank of England has filled this vacuum by reacting with calm and decisiveness to try and head off a recession for the UK economy. On 4th August the MPC cut interest rates by 25bps taking the base rate to 0.25%, started a QE programme for £70 billion and set up a new Term Funding Scheme making £100 billion of liquidity available enabling businesses to borrow at the new lower rates. BoE Governor Carney stressed that if the UK economy continued on the path that it expected then they would cut interest rates again and would consider increasing and extending QE if the economy needed it. In acting this way, the BoE is buying the Government time and trying to build confidence in the UK economy.

The market is now looking for three things in the immediate future:

  1. Hard economic data that shows how UK economy has fared since June 23rd
  2. Clear direction from the Government on what steps it will take post the Brexit vote
  3. When Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty will be triggered. 

Hard economic data will allow the market to correctly price sterling. If it shows a softening in the UK economy and a widening of the current account deficit QoQ (due out on September 27th) the pound is probably due for another leg lower.

The Government’s approach to renegotiating its relationship with the EU will also be closely watched by the markets. Will it be able to retain passporting services while putting the UK back in charge of migration? It’s not completely without precedent. In 2004 Germany and France negotiated 7 year moratoriums on migration from Eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004. The UK, which was short of labour at the time allowed such workers in straight away. Does this open the door to an agreement that gives the UK a seven-year emergency brake on immigration while keeping close trading ties? Is there a possibility that the negotiations can take place without even triggering article 50? If the EU is good at anything, its compromise and a settlement may not be as far off as is widely expected. The UK Government’s strategy and opening salvos could be key.

As to when article 50 is triggered the Mayor of London has already suggested that the UK won’t trigger Article 50 until next autumn. This makes a total of 36 months from the vote to the first possible date for Brexit. Three years of uncertainty and a possible reduction in foreign direct investment is unlikely to please the capital markets which are notoriously short term and do not like uncertainty. If the picture remains unclear for the UK economy for a prolonged period the chance of much lower levels in Sterling becomes more probable.

The only precedent for a country leaving the EU is Greenland in the 1980’s. It took them three years to agree departure terms and they mainly discussed fishing. For the UK to agree terms with 27 member states may take from here to eternity, in which case there is a high probability that Sterling will continue to weaken and remain volatile.

Forecasts:

  • GBPUSD H2 1.2000
  • GBPEUR H2 1.123

Smart deals in a tough private equity market

Private equity firms are increasingly keen to avoid major risks related to deal closing and transactional cost challenges.

Currently, two effective solutions have become increasingly popular, though they exist at different ends of the purchase life-cycle.

Ahead of a purchase, warranty and indemnity insurance can help protect buyers from potential problems, while freeing sellers from having to escrow vast cash sums in case of a claim. Once terms are settled, sophisticated hedging strategies help mitigate drawdown risk during the execution.

Warranty and indemnity insurance

As the world continues to digest the implications of the U.K. referendum result, it becomes particularly pertinent to stress that by no means is private equity an exception to the intensely risk-averse attitudes that pervade the financial markets.

Indeed, during a time when individual investors and regulators seek to limit risk, buyers are increasingly searching for greater protection from the threat of unexpected issues following a purchase.

Those on the sell-side are also acutely aware of the difficulties involved in packaging a safe sale for those buyers, and are looking to avoid the costs of providing warranties and to limit their own claim exposure.

The effects of warranty and indemnity insurance are reverberating throughout this market. While purchases still require proper due diligence, these forms of insurance are sold directly to buyers, and work through genuine claims being paid by insurers instead of sellers.

Effectively, buyers are much more assured of their purchase, with “full protection from an A-rated insurer,” explains Richard French, Director of M&A Insurance at Howden Insurance Brokers. “While a decade ago some companies might have seen insurance as another process to get through in a deal, today many simply will not buy without the protection of warranties and therefore W&I insurance.”

Such a strategy can help make conducting a deal a much safer process. “If you transact and subsequently find out that there’s a problem, such as the purchased company facing litigation or an environmental issue, you might have previously sued the seller, but now you can turn straight to the insurer,” French explains.

“Claiming from an A-rated insurer is far preferable to claiming from an individual manager who might have very limited assets, and who is also running your business.”

Insurance is also supporting PE transactions in real estate. Given the massive financial liabilities buyers may face when trading across continents, insurers can help them to ring-fence these issues when exiting, making for a much more effective investment.

Mitigating drawdown risk and cash drag

Beyond insurance, buyers need to execute transactions with a view towards what will ultimately be best for the balance sheet in the long term—which can present its own set of challenges.

Complex private equity deals can take weeks or even months to draw to a close. During this lengthy period, especially when a transaction happens across currencies, participants risk a major negative shift in the financial exchange.

Often, companies will pull down the cash for a transaction, but the eventual cost of that purchase may change after currency swings. Such drawdown is “the most unknown of the risks,” according to Ashley Hall, EMEA Head of Institutional Sales at AFEX, who urges firms to improve their understanding in this area.

“For a transaction worth $30 million, for example, funds could lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a cable swing quite easily over a four-week period,” he says. “They have an obligation to do something to proactively mitigate this risk for their underlying investors.”

Currency markets have been unsettled for some time. This means that the potential cost fluctuation is immense for businesses conducting cross-national purchases. Serious questions around monetary policies, the Chinese economy, Britain’s relationship with the European Union, and commodity price fluctuations mean that forex rates may shift quickly.

This has led to businesses looking more closely at ways to protect themselves, making sophisticated hedging strategies involving FX forwards or options that cover a deal’s expected completion timeframe even more attractive.

Hall says expert counsel is vital here, particularly for newer PE funds. “With very young funds, often they are well-versed in their asset classes, but less so in FX strategy and that can be a real problem. It is extremely important to have a specialist who has seen the volatility and understands the repercussions alongside them.”

In spite of the cost involved in hedging this way, mitigating this volatility offers far greater gains while also satisfying investors—and regulators—about the risks involved.

“New investors are holding back from young funds unless they have a really robust policy on risk management. It’s not enough for those funds to still say that an asset level increase alone will be the hedge.”

Sophisticated protection measures

There is no doubt that awareness of deal and currency risk has increased among private equity businesses and their clients.

Buyers are increasingly interested in—and able to afford—the means necessary to protect themselves ahead of purchases by turning to well-structured warranty and indemnity insurance. And during transactions, drawdown risk and cash drag can be effectively tackled with clever forex hedging.

Serious operational and financial issues are at stake here, and private equity businesses will increasingly look to protect themselves in these smart ways when transacting.

For further reading, see Bloomberg’s blog, or for their Private Equity Outlook Report see here.

Post Brexit where has the risk gone?

“The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship, you don’t have to waste your time voting   Charles Bukowski

Democracy is a strange beast. Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The post-Brexit vote has shown the good and the bad side of democracy. The vote saw a huge turnout by British standards and a close but definitive result that has split the country. The bad side, a petition to re-hold the referendum has attracted millions of supporters but is unlikely to lead to any fundamental change in the decision. Those signing the petition appear to believe in democracy only on condition that it gives the “right” answer, whatever that may be, for them. That option sounds like dictatorship by the noisy. CheckRisk considers it highly unlikely that a new referendum will be held. It is, however, far more likely that the Scottish Nationalist Party, SNP, will try to block the referendum decision. Again a somewhat undemocratic approach which begs the question are governments elected to serve the people or is it legitimate for government to ignore the popular will? Whatever one’s view CheckRisk believes that there has been a substantial change in the risk environment that will be enduring, and have global consequences.

While we are not focused on the effect on Britain in this issue clearly there is a longer term risk to the Union and we will be adding a small piece on this subject to our blog shortly. However, our best guess at present is that it would be very difficult for Scotland to make arrangements to enter the EU as an independent country prior to actually leaving the UK. As such, the SNP would have to be sure of winning an independence referendum, which they are far from certain of achieving. Having left, the Scots could apply for EU membership but that would entail a consensus among all members and a prioritising of Scotland over other incumbents including Turkey. All of these issues are not insurmountable, however, they represent a very big challenge and danger to the Scots and we do not believe a breakup of the UK is imminent. The Scottish cannot really impact the legislative decision to Leave the EU, what they can do is impact the manner in which it is done with regard to policy.

While markets are concerned over the risk to the UK, CheckRisk believes that the real risk, the unknown risk, has been transferred to Europe. To be clear, the decision to leave the EU is a big one and will have consequences for the UK, but they will not all be negative. After all the UK is just reasserting its sovereignty and independence. More countries in the world are not part of an EU-style grouping than are, and so it is ridiculous to assume that the UK cannot thrive in an independent role. The UK has before and will again. The UK will also continue to be a major trade partner with Europe and others. It will take some time to resolve the divorce, but it can be done.

The most pertinent statement that can be made as to why Great Britain left the EU is as follows: the EU was created by France and Germany first and foremost as a political union. The UK joined the EU assuming it was an economic union where the British would be able to opt in and out of the more Federalist tendencies of EU technocrats. Thus a marriage of sorts was formed, but it was one that could never last with such a fundamental difference of strategic view. It was evident from the outset that a convergence towards a Federal Europe would eventually lead to a divorce.

The post-Brexit risks for the UK are definable. There is transition risk, currency risk, short-term economic risk, and geopolitical risk. The EU can decide to take punitive measures against the UK but can only do so while taking a risk themselves. Punishing Britain involves a degree of self-harm for the EU. Interestingly the EU does not appear to be averse to self-harm as Russian sanctions aptly show. The penalties are, from an economic perspective, costing the EU more than they are Russia, and thus are questionable as an effective punishment. We point to the pressure building in the Italian banking system.

It is important to note too that as far as the UK is concerned a weak GBP is a huge net benefit to the economy. The UK has entered into a real currency war with the perfect excuse. It simply is not possible for Europe or other countries to compete with the sort of devaluation the GBP has experienced. Is one of the biggest risks to Europe the fact that having left the EU Britain then prospers economically? CheckRisk believes this is the core of the risk to Europe. The risk in the UK is known, and both the BOE and the government will do what it takes to stabilise markets. The risk in the UK, despite the current volatility in UK equity and bond markets, is much smaller than elsewhere. There will be a backstop that is reliable; this cannot be said for Europe. This is not simply a contrarian view. Firstly, equity prices have begun the process of risk discounting. Falls in equity values have been broad based and indiscriminate. The indiscriminate nature of the correction is a risk opportunity. Second, as stated before the risks are broadly known. Thirdly, while both the UK’s Labour Party is tearing itself apart and the Conservatives are entering a leadership election, we do not believe there will be a vacuum in government. The UK’s system of government means that the various departments will function just fine. The perception may be a rudderless ship in the short term, but that again is an opportunity.

All of the above, however, does not mean that CheckRisk’s overall view of risk has changed; it has not. The period 2017-2020 is likely to see a peak risk period, with a likely recession commencing in the USA in 2018-2019. The turmoil that Brexit is creating will make it doubly hard for the USA to raise interest rates until later this year and that has significant unintended consequences for the USA’s ability to handle anything but a very mild recession in the future.

The bigger picture is more important than Brexit. It is very easy to lose sight of that wider vision when the media is feasting on immediate and enticing news items. While the markets are looking in the opposite direction, there will be long-term opportunities for investors in the UK.

Can the same be said for Europe?

One of the greatest ironies of Brexit is that Europe now has a golden opportunity to reform. The question is can the EU grasp the opportunity? If the EU misses it, then we will almost certainly see an existential crisis in the EU for both the EU and the euro.

The essential question EU leaders, and we are not referring to the unelected technocrats at the EU Commission, we are talking about the leaders of EU member states, must ask themselves is; what is the EU? Is is a political partnership with needs to become a Federal unity or is it an economic union with substantial shared interests at a political and cultural level. It is the very question that Great Britain asked and had failed to receive an answer to which then led to the Leave vote. Likewise for Europe, if the EU cannot create an exciting vision for its member states then as a club the EU will die. The European political elite is still talking about convergence and ever closer union, however, the people are not. There is a fundamental disconnect between government and the people that is potentially a massive risk for the cohesion of Europe.

Where has the risk gone post-Brexit?

It has moved to Europe and it is Europe that will remain the epicentre of risk for the world for the foreseeable future. There are up to six countries that could vote to leave the EU following Brexit: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and Hungary. The issue again is the choice between ever closer union or an economic union that leaves sovereignty untouched. Our bet? Is that the EU commission is so hooked on the Federalist vision that conflict between the EU Commission, member states, and the people is almost inevitable. The EU only ever seems to move at times of crisis; there is no vision that is anything but grey coming out of Europe. There is no sense of hope in the EU dream. Ask anybody on the street in France, Germany, or Italy to name three senior EU commission members and they struggle. Ask the same people if the EU has delivered on the concept they were sold on, that is to say, better economic prosperity, lower taxes, and security the answer is more often than not “no,” to the first two and “maybe,” to security.

The fear in Europe is not a financial crisis but a political crisis. The fear in the UK is a financial crisis and not a political one, and the difference is quintessential to understanding the opposing nature of risk in the two regions. The risk of a complete disintegration in Europe is on the cards. This may seem an extreme statement, and of course, we do not anticipate such a break-up in the short-term, however, we note that CheckRisk as early as 2009 was saying that both the EU and the Euro would be tested in the coming years, that examination has now commenced. CheckRisk, specifically forecast a northern Euro and a southern Euro, which would then be linked to the northern euro with a wider band for movement. The northern euro might consist of Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Finland.

How will Europe react to this existential threat?

There are only two realistic routes. Firstly, ever closer union, or secondly, a reform of Europe that recognises that EU bureaucracy has run amok and that national direction of Europe by member states is both the will of the people and probably the only way to go to avoid disintegration. CheckRisk’s view, at present, is that it is going to be very hard for Europe to move away from convergence. The likelihood is a push to a tighter union as a result of the rejection from Britain. Such a reaction will sow the seeds of the eventual breakup of the EU.

What does this all mean for investment risk?

Firstly, the European sovereign debt market is going to experience periods of elevated volatility in the coming months and years. Spreads against German and French bonds will widen. There is a strong possibility that the whole Grexit issue will re-emerge.

In the coming months, a series of votes have the potential to rock Europe. In October, Hungary will vote on immigration levels. This is a referendum that could reject EU directives. In the same month Italy goes to the polls and Renzi, a European centrist, could be dismissed if the recent mayoral election in Rome is any indicator. In March 2017 the Dutch go to the election booth where right winger and anti-European Mr. Wilders is currently leading the polls. In April 2017, France will have its elections with Marine Le Pen for the “Front Nationale” in a commanding position. While Le Pen may not win outright, she will most likely secure a strong position in government that will create a French distancing from the EU.

Again CheckRisk believes, in the short-term, that talk of European disintegration is overhyped. However, the genie is out of the bottle. It is inevitable that governments in Europe, over time, begin to negotiate with each other more directly to work around a visibly dysfunctional Europe. The EU commission will cling to power, of course. However, the tide has turned for Europe and risk is, therefore, more likely to appear here than elsewhere. Not all in one go but as a result of the tensions that the post-Brexit Europe has to deal with.

On a global basis, risk is rising, but not just because of the tensions in Europe. We are reaching the end of the credit cycle with interest rates at close to zero and debt at levels that are above those that created the 2008 credit crisis by some $58 trillion. There will be risk opportunities of course, like those created by the recent severe fall in certain FTSE 100 stocks. However, the broader picture for the moment suggests the avoidance of excess risk and a reduction in overall risk exposure to EU sovereign debt.

For more information, or if you would like to follow a risk debate on Brexit and EU zone risks register on the CheckRisk website here.

The Season – How to summer like the British

The History
The Season has historically referred to the annual period between April and August, when it is customary for members of a social elite to hold debutante balls, dinner parties and large charity events. It was appropriate at this time to be resident in the city rather than in the country in order to attend such events. Peaking in the 19th century, the British elite was at that time dominated by the landowning aristocratic, and who regarded their country house as their main home but spent the Season in the capital to socialise and engage in politics. The First World War caused a decline in social exclusivity as an increasing number of society events started taking place in public venues instead of town mansions of the leading members of the aristocracy. Thus starting the evolution of the Season that is still present today.

Although no official organisation of events still exists, the traditions and customs of this uniquely British affair still remain. With diverse events being staggered over the entire summer, it’s possible to completely immerse yourself in the Season.

RHS Chelsea Flower ShowThe RHS Chelsea Flower Show
When: Mid May
Where: Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3 4SR
Dress code: Relaxed

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, formally known as the Great Spring Show, is a garden show held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society and commences the start of the Season. Divided into small gardens and exhibitions, the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are transformed and several members of the British Royal Family attend a preview of the show. For keen horticulturalists, it has become an important venue for watching trends.

Glyndebourne Opera HouseGlyndebourne Festival Opera
When: May 21 – August 28, 2016
Where: Glyndebourne House, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 5UU
Dress code: 
Formal

Situated just outside of London in East Sussex, Glyndebourne has become one of the finest and most celebrated opera houses in the world. The show, as is traditional, begins in the early afternoon so that Londoners can leave the capital just after lunch, and finishes before the last train in the evening. With an interval lasting 90 minutes, visitors usually take the opportunity to have picnic dinners on the extensive lawns.

Royal Ascot 2016 - Day 1Royal Ascot
When:
June 14 – June 18, 2016
Where:
Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JX
Dress code:
Strict. For the Royal Enclosure: Women must wear day dress and a hat (length and style rules apply). Men must wear black or grey morning dress with a top hat.

The Royal Ascot is a major horse racing event in the Season. With the Queen attending every year, she arrives in a horse-drawn carriage as part of the Royal procession, which takes place at the start of each day. There are three enclosures attended by guests, with the Royal Enclosure being the most prestigious. Access is restricted, and first-time applicants must apply and gain membership from someone who has attended for at least four years. Dress codes (and entrance) relaxes in the Queen Anne Enclosure and the Windsor Enclosure, however formal dress is still advised.

HenleyHenley Royal Regatta
When: 
June 29 – July 3, 2016
Where: 
Henley Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 2LY
Dress code: 
Smart. Women must wear dresses/skirts to a modest length and hats are encouraged. Men must wear blazers and a collared shirt. Jeans, shorts and trainers are not acceptable.

The Regatta has long been considered as an event of the Season, despite it’s location. Held annually on the River Thame, it lasts for five days over the first weekend of July. Rowed over a course of a mile, races are knock out competitions and regularly attracts international crews. The most prestigious race is the Grand Challenge Cup for Men’s Eights, which has been held since the regatta was first staged.

Wimbledon

The Championships, Wimbledon
When: 
June 27 – July 10, 2016
Where: 
Church Road, Wimbledon, London SW19
Dress code: 
Relaxed

As the oldest tennis tournament in the world, it is widely considered the most prestigious. One of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the top 128 players of each gender in the world play knock out games that culminate in Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Final always on the last weekend days respectively. Members of the British Royal Family regularly attend over the two week period, seated always in the Royal Box.

Lord's

Lord’s Cricket Ground
When:
July 14 – June 18, 2016 – Test Match vs. Pakistan
Where: 
Lord’s Cricket Ground, St John’s Wood, London NW8 8QN
Dress code: 
Relaxed

Owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and home to Middlesex County Cricket and the England Cricket Board, Lord’s is widely referred to as the “Home of Cricket”. As each day lasts for several hours, visitors can leave and re-enter the grounds as they please and many take picnics to enjoy in their seats. The Pavilion, which houses the famous Long Room, is primarily for the MCC members to watch tests. MCC membership has a long waiting list and candidates must be proposed, seconded and sponsored by Full Members before finally being endorsed by a member of the committee.

Cowes

Cowes Week
When: 
August 6 – August 13, 2016
Where: 
Solent Waters off Cowes, Isle of Wight PO31 7XJ
Dress code: 
Relaxed

This is probably the furthest event from the capital during the Season, but an iconic British sporting event nonetheless. As one of the longest running sailing regattas in the world, up to 8,000 competitors race each day for eight days and range from amateurs to olympic champions. Onshore events including live music and cocktail parties attract over 100,000 visitors each year to enjoy the festival atmosphere. The firework display is a must-see and takes place on the harbour on the last Friday.

As is traditional, the end of the Season is around the Glorious Twelfth of August, which marks the beginning of the shooting season and where society retires back to the country until Spring.

NYCERS pulls its money: a damning indictment of the Hedge Fund industry?

Perhaps the biggest piece of Hedge Fund news in the last few months has been that of the New York City Employees Retirement System bowing out of Hedge Funds. In a move that echoed that of Calpers last year and several smaller public pensions in the US, NYCERS is certainly a blow for the likes of Brewin and D.E. Shaw who managed money for the plan but moreover, for the industry as a whole. Of course, the headlines are far more damaging than the loss of $40m or so in management fees the industry reaped from this retirement system.

The prepared statements of Letitia James, New York City’s Public Advocate seemed very politically charged. In a now famous statement, Letitia chided: “let them sell their summer homes and jets”, charging managers to return fees to investors. This is, of course, a brilliant sound bite which the wider financial press used to great effect in damming Hedge Funds’ prospects. It is difficult however to not see a deeper, more emotive under tone to James’ statements. If, as she has constantly maintains, the move away from Hedge Funds is one of rationality and logic and due to the retirement system feeling that the requisites of outperformance and downside protection were not met, one would expect a statement reflecting such reasoned opinions and not this attack on the perceived high salaries of managers. An anecdotal assessment of managers in the wider industry and analysis of the tide of change in regulation draws the very quick conclusion that costs and fees are being pushed down. Investor demand is clear in this regard, 2:20 fee models are becoming a thing of the past. Perhaps if NYCERS had sought opportunities with smaller, nimble managers that offer more competitive fee structures rather than the much larger and more cumbersome hedge fund shops with whom the overwhelming majority of hedge fund assets in were invested, her opinion and portfolio performance may be drastically different.

Indeed, 2016 seems to be a year where investors are once again assessing the opportunity that smaller managers can offer. Large players like Albourne as well as new funds of funds managers dedicated to boutique shops are catering for institutional investors’ wants to put money to work in this space, chasing the compelling returns that can be found here. The dominance of larger Hedge Fund managers have forced boutique managers to source different, often more resilient opportunities as well as offering more competitive fees. Is the NYCERS move one that reflects the wider institutional inability to assess opportunities across the Hedge Fund market? It is certainly true that less constrained endowments, Harvard and Brown to name two, have done much better with their hedge fund portfolio and this must surely be connected to their policy of casting a wider net, screening managers of all strategies and sizes.

But what if this move could be seem as indicative to wider sentiment in the Hedge Fund world? Hedge Funds accounted for 2.8% of the NYCERS portfolio in 2015 and $1.7bn of a wider $8bn in Alternative Investments. Little has been reported on the other parts of the alternatives portfolio for NYCERS but their silence could be indicative that they share a view that is gaining ground amongst investors that funds which exploit more opportunities that lie outside of liquid markets are the best way to insulate portfolios and achieve outperformance. Do the growing amount of hedge funds in the market mean that the opportunities and inefficiencies that hedge funds seek are becoming more efficiently priced? Eugene Fama famously proved that in the long run and on aggregate markets are efficient, for many years the hedge fund industry has, through existence, refuted this claim but with so many hedge fund actors in the market viewing markets through a similar prism, seeking the same trades and opportunities, logically, fewer mis-priced opportunities would exist. Certainly, this opinion is not news to some of the most astute investors who have used simple index funds in the most efficient markets for decades and whom, instead of seeking large funds in developed markets, write expense forms to places like Iran and Iraq, their investors have been much better off for it.

The hedge fund world is diverse, this article has purposely not quoted industry aggregate figures to try to make a point about industry wide performance due to this diversity. There is still strong belief that the hedge fund sector can deliver out performance and downside protection, many institutional portfolios stand as proof of this fact. What is less simple, though, is how to choose a good manager and unfortunately, an assessment of large, institutional friendly players will not suffice if you are looking for lean operations and value for money. Tish James might do better to look to her own team, investment guidance and due diligence processes before damning the whole industry.

Written by George Lane.

Things to do this month – London & New York

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LONDON
Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre
When: Thursday, May 12 – Saturday, August 13, 2016

May marks the opening of the anticipated production of Romeo & Juliet. Directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, he rejoins Richard Madden and Lily James as the lead characters, who were last together in the Disney movie Cinderella. Sir Derek Jacobi has also been selected as Mercutio, making this an exciting piece of casting and putting a refreshingly new spin on the strong male friendship theme that is throughout this play.

Sailor

NEW YORK
America’s Cup
When: Races take place 14-15:30 on Saturday, May 7 and Sunday May 8, 2016

Catch a glimpse of this historic sailing race, which is being held in the city for the first time since 1920. This is one of the preliminary events in the lead up to the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda, June 2017. The best place to watch the action will be around Battery Park City, with pop-up bars and merchandise booths open throughout the weekend. Settle down in a waterfront bar and watch six teams compete (United States, Britain, France, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden).

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NEW YORK
Fleet Week
When: Wednesday, May 25 to Thursday, May 31, 2016

Honour the members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps by celebrating with the rest of the city in this seven-day festival. Fleet Week kicks off with the Parade of Ships – visiting vessels cruising along the Hudson, then there are military demonstrations and a Memorial Day ceremony. The city quite literally parties for a week, there are a range of venues of pop-up bars and clubs including New York Harbor, Pier 92 in Manhattan and Military Island (Broadway and 7th Avenye between 43rd and 44th Streets).

Pec1

LONDON
Peckham Rye Music Festival
When: Friday, May 13 – Sunday, May 15, 2016

The festival season has begun, quite early for London in this case. Peckham Rye Music Festival celebrates the local music scene, bringing together the artists and record shops that have created the fresh and exciting vibe of the surrounding area as well as headline acts from across the globe. Radio 1 DJ Benji B is already signed up to play, plus top producer Leif and Kassem Mose is collaborating live with Mix Mup.

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NEW YORK
9th Avenue International Food Festival
When: Saturday, May 14 – Sunday, May 15, 2016

Situated along 15 blocks of 9th Avenue, this two-day event features at least 40 of the city’s culturally authentic eateries. Stated as one of the city’s longest-running food festivals, it’s no surprise that it regularly draws over a million people to the street over that weekend. Not just for foodies, there are also almost 200 vendors selling clothing and jewellery, plus live performances and competitions.

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LONDON
Museums at Night
When: Wednesday, May 11 – Saturday, May 14, 2016

Twice a year this festival, now in its eighth year, allows visitors to explore major museums and historic properties at night. More than 30 venues in London will open to the public by showcasing new exhibitions, giving talks or performances and even torch-lit tours. The Bank of England is opening its doors on Friday 13 May, allowing visitors to attempt at lifting a genuine bar of gold and discussing the new £5 bank note that is launching in September and for the first time ever, will be printed on polymer.

Data Analytics – It Will Change Your Approach To Raising Capital

Data Analytics – It Will Change Your Approach To Raising Capital.
By JD David, Meyler Capital.

More than thirty years ago, a mathematician named James Simons founded a hedge fund that employed statistical models to make predictions on financial instruments. Renaissance Technologies proved without a doubt that there is money to be made identifying non-random patterns in large amounts of data.

Today, you would be hard pressed to find a financial institution that doesn’t employ teams of “quants” and programmers to isolate trading opportunities.

Likewise, similar shifts have occurred in most other industries. Take marketing – traditionally, advertisers targeted its prospects using highly generalized data such estimates of demographics based on ZIP codes, magazine subscription information and other factors.

Today, location-based marketing pinpoints prospective customers as soon as they enter a buying zone in their store, and provides them with relevant offers delivered at precisely the right time to impact their purchase decision.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, PRACTICALLY EVERY SUB-SECTOR OF PRACTICALLY EVERY INDUSTRY IN PRACTICALLY EVERY MAJOR COUNTRY EMPLOYS TOOLS TO PROCESS “BIG DATA.”

For some reason, though, this has not been the case within the Alternative Asset space. So, the obvious question…

If marketing firms use information to predict consumer behaviors and hedge fund managers use information to make investment decisions, why don’t the marketers that represent hedge fund managers make better use of information to profile prospective investor interest?

What is particularly puzzling is that all of this can be automated. In an industry so heavily focused on ROI, why wouldn’t you do this? Particularly if all of the hard work can be done in the background. Just wind it up and let it go until some prospective investor pokes his head up.

This is not “either / or” stuff but rather, “also” stuff. Do what you would normally do to market your fund and then pick-up the phone once a prospect “self-identifies” with interest.

It’s pretty straight forward…Investors, just like everyone else, interact with lots of data and information all day every day. “Simple” Google analytics allows you to see that someone hit your website. Slightly more sophisticated software allows you to identify their IP address and hence, gather even more relevant personal information.

This enables you to see not only who interacts with say, an email but specifically how they interact. You can know where on your website they spend their time and how long they are there – you can even see what site they are coming from to know if they are comparing managers or just doing background on your fund specifically. If you use video, you can identify who watches, what parts they watch, how much they watch and when they watch. You can actually watch them watch.

All the while allowing technology to register every click.

By capturing this click activity, you can begin to glean behaviors. And of course, what do data scientists in every other subsector do when they realize that behaviors exist in piles of information? They look for patterns.

Over time, these patterns start to become predictive.

However…

There is a massive difference in identifying patterns of stock price tick data versus the click data pulled from a hedge fund’s website or email activity. Particularly if you are attempting to discern any real meaning.

The good news: achieving statistical significance doesn’t require collecting thousands of data points. But what it does require is a reason for people to interact with you digitally. Simple stuff like putting a LinkedIn button on your bio page or a “read more…” extension on a news article, writing thought leadership pieces or curating other interesting articles that reflect your philosophy all provide easy ways to start.

But you do have to start.

To be clear, none of these processes are designed to replace a conversation or anything you do day-to-day (yet). They are merely designed to aid in directing you to the highest probability conversations.

And when it comes to measuring ROI, isn’t that really what you want?

To learn more about Meyler Capital click here.

Body Lubricator Part 1

Whether you have been at your desk all day or reawakening your body after a long haul flight, your movement has been hugely limited.

This is no good for the body. Joints that are meant to exhibit mobility start to lock down smaller ranges, making us stiff and sore. As a result moving into larger ranges begins to feel uncomfortable.

Moreover this is no good for your brain. Your brain needs movement. Regions of the brain such as those responsible for learning, retaining and recalling information develop as a result of your body moving with a variety. This translates into being more effective productive and focused. Whether you’re presenting to the board or pitching to investors you need to be at your peak. Movement is the answer.

Finally, in being sedentary and inactive, your motivation may wane. When we move and exercise, the “motivation molecule”, dopamine, is released. This neurotransmitter has the residual effect of stimulating us to be more alert and focused. Indeed research has shown that those who exercise habitually enjoy higher levels of dopamine accounting for improved productivity and effectiveness.

Here are a great series of exercises designed to address all three of the factors above. These are great movements to do after a bout of inactivity, particularly if we have been sat down for prolonged periods. These will open up your body and refresh and revitalise you setting you up for further success throughout the day.

I advise my clients on the Corporate Athlete Program to do these movements every day.

1) Lunge Matrix

The lunge matrix is great for creating all movements the hip is capable of. This is a great exercise to do after a prolonged period of inactivity. It’s a particularly good drill if you suffer from low back pain.

2) Squat to Reach Matrix

This is a great full body mobiliser. It’s with the reaches that your core is mobilised as your spine is made to move in a variety of directions. Moreover, your shoulders are encouraged to move too. These are joints that can become “sticky” with activity and so the movements created have a great benefit in encouraging mobility in joints that are required to move.

Learn more about Holistic Motions here.

How many moves are left? The stepping stones and end games to 2017-2020. Global Debt, is it a zero sum game?

CheckRisk has made the assertion that the period 2017-2020 is likely to see a repeat nancial crisis, which could quite easily dwarf the 2008 credit crunch. There are, naturally, some ways the coming crisis can be avoided, however, the expected outcomes are narrowing and that is clearly supporting our confidence levels about the prediction. This week we look at the assumptions behind our forecast, the playbook the Federal Reserve has at its disposal, why they are the only game in town, and a little bit of human nature. In other words the stepping stones to the crisis, and more importantly where risk is currently paying you to place your funds. Ultimately, the most important issue is that if CheckRisk is wrong will the areas that we think will benefit from risk still work? The reason this is critical is that we rmly believe the current outlook does not require CheckRisk to be 100% right. Infact, being partially right will be more than enough.

Risk is not unlike a game of chess. There is both opportunity and cost in each decision that is made when moving a piece. The game begins with an almost in nite number of choices, however, these have been refined into a well known catalogue of classic openings or gambits. These gambits lead the players to a point where the game becomes more free form. Like two armies lined up with each other before the actual battle commences the opening advantages will be set because of the ground chosen, the relative strengths of the armies and the tactics employed.

In the melee of the middle game of chess it is the small advantages and bold moves that lead to a decisive end game. A captured pawn, may lead to an ultimate advantage, the middle game is delicate because there are still a myriad number of outcomes available dependent on each players decisions. Somewhere in that middle game things often change. A player either makes a better move than his or her opponent, or the other player makes a mistake that leads to the opponent’s advantage. At this point the game has subtly changed and is headed for the end game. Here risk and chess become very similar indeed. Once the power has been lost it is very hard to regain it, particularly against a skilled player. There is a gradual, painful unwinding. Death by a thousand cuts. In chess one can resign when things are hopeless, in life one cannot.

The so-called “End Game” is characterized by a narrowing number of moves that are possible to gain a win, or to avoid a loss and to seek a draw. Experts can solve for multiple moves in the End Game. The game, however, is not over until there is a check mate, a draw or a resignation. Wins may be thrown away, losses can happen because of overconfidence and poor execution. The point being in the End Game there is always a right and a wrong way to end things.

The current state of play in the global economy and nance is analogous to the end game in chess. Central Banks and Governments have set out their boards based on easy monetary policy and QE. What was previously unconventional has become conventional. The problem is that the goals of QE have not been achieved. In a on remains below target and the Fed has been unable to normalise interest rates. The number of possible outcomes are narrowing.

We are now just over eight months away from the period in question that CheckRisk believes is one of significant risk. As a result it is possible that markets, if they feel the same way, will begin to discount that period ahead of the event by selling ahead of me. Let us look at the assumptions CheckRisk has made and what the possible playbook is for the Fed given the assumptions.

CheckRisk End Game Assumptions are:

1) That the Federal Reserve will con nue to act as a rational agent.
2) That the increase in global debt continues to have a marginal impact on global GDP.
3) That inflation will remain below or at target until 2017
4) That the natural economic cycle will lead to a mild recession during the period 2017-2020
and most likely in 2018.
5) That the Federal Reserve is unable to raise rates above 2.5% by 2017. Any increase in interest rates to 2.5% or greater before 2017 will bring a global recession forward all things being equal.
6) That Central Banks will not be proactive in changing their approach before 2017.
7) That Central Banks will continue to be reactive to crisis as it emerges.
8) That QE remains the central tool of monetary policy until it becomes necessary to bypass the
banking system with either Helicopter Money or Infrastructure Spending Programs.
9) That no crisis such as Brexit, Grexit, the Middle East, China debt, or unknown risk accelerates the crisis time horizon to pre 2017. Clearly this would accelerate the time horizon.

Not all of the assumptions need to be 100% correct, however, numbers four and five are key regarding the period 2017 to 2020. If the assumptions are broken CheckRisk will adjust its view.

Assuming the above CheckRisk believes that the Federal Reserve has only two realistic options in their playbook; to create a draw or lose. To be clear the Fed can still do a lot of things but they still boil down to the following, “extending and pretending”, versus “ losing control” of the interest rate term structure. In effect we believe that the stepping stones to the crisis period 2017-2020 have already been laid out and that central bank policy error is such an important driver of the eventual outcomes that little else matters regarding financial market risk. The Fed is a “rational” agent in our model and so they will naturally try to avoid losing control of the interest rate mechanism. Negative interest rates are an example, in our view, of a central bank stepping out on thin ice. Negative interest rates, de facto, are an acceptance that interest rates no longer function as a risk tool.

The Fed is the only real game in town because the world is quite simply awash with US Dollars. It therefore matters to the rest of the world what the Fed does. In 2008 and 2009 economists were confidently predicting the end of USD hegemony, how wrong a prediction that has turned out to be. The US decided the best way to regain control was to flood the world with USD credit. As a result all that matters for the moment, at least, is how that excess money supply is handled.

The US Federal Reserve knows that it is extremely late in the cycle to be tightening interest rates. The very function of rates is to slow an expanding economy. If an economy is barely growing interest rate increases can only serve to threaten that flame. Consequently the Fed is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Not only are they late but they know that trying to get where they ought to be ahead of the next cyclical downturn risks precipitating the very recession they are seeking to avoid. There is a bent to try to raise interest rates, which is going to mean that equity and bond markets will trade around a volatility of expectations linked to the interest rate cycle.

The next recession should be a mild cyclical downturn, however, it is important to recognize that there is a real risk that it is coinciding with a credit cycle top as well. Global debt has been growing faster than world gdp for almost 50 years. That is, quite simply, unsustainable. Either inflation must grow, GDP must grow or another debt crisis will occur under the sheer weight of obligations facing governments, banks, business and consumers. If the Fed were able to get rates to 2.5%, without causing a premature recession, they would still be far short of the requisite 350bps to 500bps they would need to stop a mild recession developing into a more serious one.

Given the picture painted above it is clear that the Federal Reserve and other banks must move very gently. As a result we believe that they cannot over react before a crisis occurring. For investors that is not good news, it means that a crisis becomes more rather than less likely. The Fed’s best bet is to try to play for time.

The up side, of course, is the market outlook. Each new round of QE or easy monetary policy in Europe and elsewhere, has had less effect. The impact of QE is being gradually attenuated. The unconventional has become the conventional and so to maintain the status quo more extreme measures must be undertaken. This is why the Fed, and other central banks are beginning to float the idea of so called Helicopter Money and by passing the banks entirely. What investors can expect is that the central banks will wait and see how the markets are receiving their policy actions, and only react in a crisis.

Assuming this leads to side ways trading markets, which is our expectation, then investors should be using any market strength to reduce risk exposures to equity, and bond investments. This means raising cash amounts, buying some gold on weakness as it is clear a new bull market in precious metals has begun and more importantly thinking about where the next flow of government money is going to go. This is where the majority of available funds should be placed as it is the lowest risk option. There is a case to be made too for favouring high quality corporate debt over government debt, and avoiding everything else.

CheckRisk believes that the logical outcome of all of the above is that as the next crisis approaches central banks are incentivised, alongside governments to go for infrastructure spending. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, central banks know that they have created a swathe of zombie banks, this is what we mean by the Japanification of the West, those banks will not be resuscitated but they will not be killed off either. Secondly, political instability in Europe and elsewhere means that vested interests have every incentive to get people back to work, infrastructure is an excellent way to do that, and to recoup the investment in taxes on pay. Third, infrastructure spending increases the long term competitivity of an economy, the US has been very slow in improving its core infrastructure, the next President can make a significant impact in their first 100 days by going for infrastructure projects. Fourth, infrastructure deals do not cost a government the entire cost of a project. It is possible to use leverage by involving private investors aswell as bond based dancing.

As always when planning ones strategy for the end game it is important to recognize what could possibly go wrong. In our view the biggest issue for CheckRisk about the outline above is that a crisis occurs sooner than expected and central banks react quickly thus extending the 2017-2020 period out to 2023 for example. It is important to recognize that this is entirely possible and in the interest of central bankers. However, they must wait until a crisis occurs, for fear of creating one through their inadvertent actions. It is a Hobson’s Choice for the Fed and others.

Investors, however, are not trapped by the same decision making inertia. The right choice given the approaching environment, is to start managing aggressively for risk. If you are wrong you will lose some performance, but that is far outweighed by the benefits of being right.

Global Debt a zero sum game?

There is an idea circulating among economists that global debt is some how going to be eradicated by a grand gesture of largesse between debtors and creditors. The idea sounds brilliant. The US government, for example, is the biggest purchaser of US government debt and acts in this sense as both a creditor and debtor. This is also the case for many other central banks.

There is a case to be made that since “global debt” is a closed system, as one client said this week, “We do not borrow from Mars,” that there could be a netting of process. CheckRisk may not be thinking as inventively as others in this regard but we beg to differ. Debt is by definition on someone else’s asset, even if the US government owes money to itself. The chart below shows the breakdown of the public debt owed as a % of total government debt around the world.

World Debt

The point is, that even if the US owns 70% of its own debt there is a signi cant rump of debt held by other na ons, the same is true all around the world. Even entering discussions about debt forgiveness would lead to mayhem in government bonds. Imagine what price discovery would do if it became clear that the biggest owner of public debt were planning to write it of . Our view is that most investors would want to be first in the queue of sellers. Effectively, it would be a default event. So the concept of debt write o s via a hypothetical netting system is just that, a concept. It appears to us to be both impractical and more importantly unenforceable. The crucial issue is that since 2008 there has been a market distor on generated by QE, the resolution to that is that eventually market forces will reassert themselves. The sheer weight of global debt and the lack of acceleration in GDP growth is what troubles CheckRisk.

Learn more about CheckRisk here.

Meyler Capital Pitchdeck writing Hedgebrunch

Why People Aren’t Interested In Hearing What You Have To Say

By Kyle Dunn, Meyler Capital.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to you. When people encounter your marketing materials they are obviously going to stop everything they are doing and diligently digest the eloquent language that fills the pages of your brochure or marketing deck.

Yeah… That doesn’t happen.

People are in a hurry. They have things to do. They don’t want to have to “try.” You need to quickly establish why they should care.

Our industry is infamous for filling up marketing decks with copious amounts of information. Really! Why is your time more important than that of your core audience? You skip emails, only read the bold, and push information away. Are those you are talking to any different?

No, they aren’t any different than you are. Be respectful.

Make it easy for your audience to absorb your value proposition. 7-pt font is not easy, paragraphs are not easy, and complex graphs are not easy.

I can already feel the wave of comments coming.

“Our industry is different, people need the information we are providing, what we do is complex…”.

It goes on. Fair enough. However, that doesn’t change the fact that on first contact the person you are talking to really isn’t that invested in you or whatever you are selling.

Most marketing decks are perused minutes before a meeting or, even worse, during the meeting. That’s their shelf life, their purpose. Sure someone may circle back to that information at some point, however, that doesn’t change the fact most marketing decks are not designed for their intended use.

My advice: Build something compelling that someone can move through quickly. Hit the high points. Simplify your message. Make it look good.

In doing this your message will be much easier to absorb and your chances of advancing the dialogue will improve

To learn more about Meyler Capital click here.

 

 

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The Top spots to dine with your clients

Massimo
10 Northumberland Avenue, London

Massimo Massimo

Set within a vast and elegant room in the Corinthia Hotel, just moments from Trafalgar Square, this restaurant’s striking space is a reason to visit in itself. Massimo’s art deco style was constructed by the great late architect David Collins, who has been responsible for the design of The Wolseley, The Delauney, J Sheekay and more. The Head Chef, Andrea Cirino, who mastered his trade in Napoli produces the honest Italian classics with a modern twist. And with sommelier Adriana Valentini pouring only the finest, if you’re out to impress, then this is certainly the spot.

HB Recommendations:
Octopus Salad with Lemon-Scented Potato Purée and Artichoke
Dry Aged Rib-Eye Steak
Classic Tiramisu

Book Here

Benares
12a Berkeley Square, London

BenaresV2

Benares received it’s Michelin star back in 2007 under the helm of Atul Kochhar, a critically acclaimed Indian born chef. By combining the heritage of his native India with his love of British ingredients, Kochhar has famously produced a unique and innovative selection of dishes and continues to marry traditional Indian food with daring modernity at the highest level. The tasting menu is a fantastic plus if considering Benares for client entertainment, as it removes the decision making and allows everyone to sample all corners of the menu that may otherwise go unnoticed. Just be sure to also inspect the corners of their extensive cocktail menu.

HB Recommendations:
Pan Seared Scallops, Broccoli Couscous and Cauliflower Purée
Smoked Tandoori Lamb Cutlets, Rogan Jus, Kashmiri Chilli Turnips and Mustard Leaf
Dark Chocolate Mousse, Passion Fruit, Hot Chocolate Sauce

Book Here

8 Mount Street
8 Mount Street, London

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So confident in it’s location, 8 Mount Street hasn’t needed another name in order to draw in a regular stream of customers, it is housed in a opulent period building on one of Mayfair’s original shopping streets. The food is equal in elegance, especially the dessert menu, which includes greek style doughnuts and hazelnut cream filled profiteroles. For a complete experience, head to Bar 8 first, where you can enjoy an intimate softly lit bar with a wonderful selection of spirits, before choosing one of the restaurant’s tables that overlook the outdoor terrace and offers slightly more privacy.

HB Recommendations:
Truffle Egg 
Grilled Sea Bass
Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Book Here

UNI
18a Ebury Street, London

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Former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy is the creator of this fantastic menu at UNI, which is responsible for introducing London to Nikkei; a fusion cuisine named after the large community of Peruvians with Japanese heritage. The Asian elements of the highest quality sushi and a vast selection of grilled meats and fish (Wagyu beef or black cod are options) have Southern American influences laced throughout each dish, think ceviche or anticucho sauce with the black cod. For a restaurant with such impeccable style, it still manages to have that neighbourhood restaurant feel whilst being quietly nestled in the heart of Belgravia.

HB Recommendations:
Sweet Shrimp & Sea Urchin Ceviche
Mixed Vegetable Tempura
Maguro & Hamachi Sushi

Book Here

Spring
Somerset House, Lancaster Place, London

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Spring is the restaurant for impressing clients who are visiting London. Housed in the New Wing of Somerset House, this 19th-century restored drawing room does not disappoint. With large windows overlooking the Somerset courtyard, the seasonal theme is ever present, both in the environment and food. Skye Gyngell, previously head chef at Petersham Nurseries, has become known for her distinctly seasonal elegant cooking and continues to create a daily changing menu here at Spring by being constantly inspired by what she sees currently growing and blossoming.

HB Recommendations:
Spelt Pappardelle with Rabbit, Lovage, Artichoke and Dried Chilli. 
Native Lobster with White Beans, Tarragon and Tomatoes. 
Camembert De Normandie with Honey Walnuts, Celery Hearts and Kamut Crackers.

Book Here.

The Top 5 Secret Cities for Art Lovers

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

Art city Bogota

Recently named by Phaidon Press as one of the most exciting global cities for contemporary art, Bogotá, and Colombia as a whole, is experiencing a cultural renaissance. Recent years have seen the government invest in the art market, attracting visitors, journalists and collectors from all over the world to visit the country and in particular, ArtBo, a now influential annual arts fair. A must-see institution is the FLORA ars+natura venue, whose artistic director, José Roca, was the former Latin American Art curator at the Tate in London. Interestingly, the independent art galleries are potentially generating more hype than the institutions, as emerging artists are preferring to showcase their work there instead. Over 50 independent galleries have been opened in the last decade, which are not to be missed when visiting this vibrant city. 

DETROIT, USA

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  After the city declared bankruptcy in late 2013, Detroit’s signs of revival are rapidly emerging, particularly on the urban scene. Young professionals and artists have started snapping up foreclosed homes and showcasing their work in cool, edgy locations. Tourism is on the rise as a result, with vibrant coffee houses cropping up and a thriving culinary scene. A major attraction is Tyree Guyton’s controversial street art exhibit, the Heidelberg project, which was initially created in 1986 and uses unwanted objects found around the east side of Detroit. Guyton continues to work on his outdoor exhibit with neighbourhood residents and tourists by constantly evolving the neighbourhood-wide art installation. This once partly abandoned area of the city has now become a listed tourist destination.

ATHENS, GREECE

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Through Greece’s recent turmoil, an art scene has surfaced. The referendum in 2015 sparked hundreds of artists to take to the streets, using walls to depict their sense of confusion and helplessness in Athens. This visual grittiness gives this ancient city a unique edge, and art lovers are beginning to list it as a top destination for contemporary art in Europe. Head to the fashionably grungy quarter, Psirri, which showcases some of the more intricate murals, whilst Manolis Anastasakos and the Kretisis brothers depiction of Dürer’s praying hands on a downtown wall is a must-see. With a desire to make social change through the power of creativity, Athens is helping to slowly rejuvenate Greece’s prospects.

 

HAVANA, CUBA

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With creatives filling the government-run institutions and private galleries now legal in Cuba, the most exciting and interesting art is now being showcased in the latter. Tucked away within gritty industrial buildings, intimate studios and homes of collectors, Havana’s underground creative hub is booming. It is a regular occurrence to have an open door policy, where artists welcome you warmly with a swig of quality of rum and without the subtext of a potential sale. These up-and-coming painters, sculptors and illustrators are leading the way in artistic sophistication. Keep an eye out for the next of Havana’s biennial art fairs, in May 2017, which has achieved global recognition and transforms the city to become an expansive gallery, showcasing both Caribbean and Latin American talent.

 

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

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Due to the country’s turbulent political history, South African’s have long been using art to demonstrate their views. However, recent years have seen Johannesburg become the main city for innovative street art. There’s an annual “City of Gold” urban art festival, which aims to establish the city as a destination for global graffiti and street artists and assist in the development of the local art community. There are also regular tours throughout the year, with guides taking you around several of Johannesburg’s inner city neighbourhoods and showing exciting artworks that you may have missed when wandering yourself.

 

 

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5 Exercises that can be done anywhere

When we are short of time and travelling frequently, we feel that we do not have the time to fit in a workout. This is simply not true.

For those of us in demanding roles we must remember that our energy is derived from a physical capacity. We must exercise in order to develop a physical capacity and so it is of the utmost importance to ensure that we are active daily.

For my clients who travel frequently I provide for them a “go to work out”. it’s a workout that can be done in 8 to 20 minutes. Moreover, this can be done at home, in a park or in your hotel room.

The Exercises

The exercises chosen are great for boosting your metabolism, promoting muscle growth and getting you energised when you’re in need of a quick workout.

1) Squat
A staple exercise in any program. Stimulating the Glutes, hamstrings and quads, this exercise promotes growth of the largest muscles in the body. This has great benefits for your metabolism too. A fundamental movement, which you must all be doing.

2) Sprawl to 1-2
Get ready to stimulate your heart rate. The quick movements involved in the thrusting and punching are a great way to stimulate the largest muscle fibres. Moreover, the punching movements are a fantastic core workout.

3) Press Up 1-2
Want a powerful chest and broad shoulders? This is a fantastic exercise to do. Lowering all the way down to the floor allows you to stimulate even more muscle fibres. Not only this, pushing off the floor requires more power and force than not doing so, promoting more growth. Add in the 1-2 to generate some more varied movement through the spine, allowing your core strengthen.

4) Shoulder Taps
This will be challenging for your core and shoulders as your body weight shifts from one hand to the other. A nice variation to the plank.

5) Reverse Lunge
Lunges are a fantastic way to stimulate the glutes. They differ to the squat as they stimulate more muscle fibres in the glutes as the hips begin to rotate and tilt more. Bring the knee to the floor to promote the stimulation of more muscle fibres.

6) Plank Walks
If you found shoulder taps easy, this one should be a challenge. A great shoulder workout, not to mention the quads and core as they work hard to keep your body from collapsing

How to do it.

Do each exercise for 30 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds
That’s 1 Round
Repeat 2 to 6 times

Learn more about Holistic Motions here.

 

Is Sterling heading for a fall on June 24th?

June 23rd will see the UK hold a referendum on whether to remain a member of the EU or withdraw. This article will not focus on the viewpoints of whether to remain or leave but rather suggest possible paths for Sterling from now until the end of 2016 in the event of a “Leave” or “Brexit” and then a “Remain” vote.

Since December 2015 GBPUSD has fallen 11% and GBPEUR has fallen 13%. The Pound has been sold for 3 reasons:
Differing paths of UK and US interest rates.
A slowdown in the UK economic recovery
Most importantly, uncertainty over the EU referendum.

When the referendum was announced for June 23rd 2016 Sterling initially pushed higher until news was announced that 6 members of the Government Cabinet, nearly half of the Conservative MP’s and most importantly the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson announced that they favoured a “Brexit” vote. GBPUSD dropped 3.75 % over the next week and GBPEUR approached 1.2500, having been above 1.4200 in December 2015.

If any member state of the European Union decides to leave the EU the Lisbon Treaty states that the leaving agreement shall be negotiated and will take a maximum of 2 years to conclude unless all parties agree to an extension. The Treaty continues by stating that the “member of the European council withdrawing (UK) shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it”. This has been likened to a unilateral divorce where the partner being left decides the departure terms.

What are the motivations for the EU when deciding the “leave” terms? We sell 45% of our exports to Europe, whilst the UK is the destination for 13% of EU exports (NIESR). The EU has another motivation apart from trade when agreeing a “Brexit” agreement for the UK- It is self-serving (it points to 40 years of peace in Europe as a huge prize) and as such does not want a precedent to be made for member states to leave and bring its existence into question. Therefore, the EU will probably want to discourage other member states from following the UK’s path. So the EU has a strong motivation for making the terms as beneficial to them as possible whilst being detrimental to the UK. France has already stated that if there is “Brexit” they will not stop migrants at the French border and will actively welcome the UK’s banking industry. Remember, the EU has the final and only say on any “Brexit” agreement, this does not augur well for the UK should it vote to leave. However, there is currently a ground swell of public anti-establishment feeling not just in Europe but globally (look at the prospect of the Republican elite being defeated by Trump in the US) and this could easily culminate in a vote to leave the EU.

A member state has never left the EU before but the two closest examples of life outside the EU would be Norway and Switzerland. They both have trade agreements with the EU which also bind them to the EU’s freedom of movement rules and they have to accept laws from the EU without having a say in their formation. Financially, Norway also pays around 90% of what the UK pays to the EU per head, so analysis that says the UK will stop payments to the EU is probably wide of the mark. An example of a trade agreement being made by the EU with another state is Canada which has been trying recently to negotiate a trade treaty with the EU, it has taken them 7 years so far and it is still not done. Also, regarding trade with the EU it is salient to know that they are happy to levy trade tariffs on countries outside the EU and as a country outside of the EU the UK would be subject to them. One such example in the dairy industry if the UK voted to leave could see a price increase of 15p on a packet of butter. A counter view to this is that as we are currently a member of the EU the UK has to add levy’s to goods when they are exported outside the EU, by leaving the EU we wouldn’t have to do this and so our goods could be more appealing on a global basis.

Looking at the business implications the SME business sector often sees EU legislation as a burden, one example of this is the working time directive even though the UK has negotiated an opt out from the maximum 48 hour week, with big business able to easier cope with the same legislation. It is a matter of debate how far the UK can repeal EU law and what effect this will have on UK business but what is evident is that for the period while a “Brexit” is being agreed UK business will be in limbo and the UK economy will struggle to entice investment from business overseas until the picture is clear. UK industry is predominantly a service based industry and receives a lot of overseas investment because it is seen as the gateway to Europe. If the UK votes for a “Brexit” it would lose this status. The Chinese owner of Sun seeker, the luxury boat maker commented Feb 2016 in the Sunday Times that he would look at building a European HQ in Brussels rather than London if the UK left the EU.

In the event of a vote to leave it is likely that the UK’s departure will be strained and possibly antagonistic, certainly France will not make it easy for the UK as previously mentioned. In this case it is likely that the UK economy will get a nasty jolt as overseas investment is cut, UK credit ratings are cut and the UK finds it harder to service its current account deficit. How long this situation lasts before the economy gets back on its feet is a matter of conjecture but at the least it will last for the duration of the exit negotiations. Looking at other recent trade negotiations struck recently around the Globe, New Zealand and China took 3 years and fifteen rounds of talks to conclude trade talks, and they already had experienced trade negotiators in place so it will probably not be a stroll in the park for the UK to set up new trade agreements.

According to a recent Bloomberg modelling forecast:
If the Brexit negotiations go badly then the UK has a 40% probability of going into recession.
If EU migration shrinks the UK economy will be as much as 1% smaller by 2020.
Being a member of the EU has boosted trade between the EU and UK by as much as 10%.
If favourable trade terms are not achieved the cost could be 2% of national income.

What happens if the British public vote to remain in the EU? This is a much simpler situation and should see investment levels return to normality, a continuance of the UK’s AAA credit rating and a huge “business as usual” sign hanging outside the UK front door. Specifically regarding the Pound, the market has been selling Sterling since December 2015, especially against the USD and EURO and as such is “selling the rumour, buying the fact” In this case these short positions will buy back the majority of their risk between now and June 23rd leaving a smaller short position in case a “Brexit” vote is returned. This points to increased volatility in the Pound but not an unruly market possibly until the referendum. On June 24th if the UK has voted to leave the EU it will be a shock and Sterling will be sold aggressively possibly leading to a sharp fall of between 15% and 20%. If the UK votes “remain” the market is short but we consider that with US interest rate policy pointing to a stronger Dollar Sterling is likely to appreciate but more slowly than the depreciation on a “leave” vote.

“Brexit” Forecasts H2 2016
GBPUSD 1.2000
GBPEUR 1.2000

Remain Forecasts H2 2016
GBPUSD 1.5000
GBPEUR 1.3500

To learn more about AFEX click here.

 

Four Trillion Reasons to Re-Think What Business You’re Really In

Four Trillion Reasons to Re-think What Business You’re Really In.
By JD David.

Four point six trillion actually.. That’s how much money Blackrock oversees.

Ask most people what business Blackrock is in and they will undoubtedly just say, asset management. But that is a very myopic response.

In my eyes, it is more accurate to characterize Blackrock as a marketing and distribution company that manages assets as opposed to the other way around.

Thinking about it, calling Blackrock “just” a money manager is like calling Coke “just” a carbonated sugar water company.

Try this exercise. Next time you are talking to someone familiar with the financial services industry, point out how awesome Blackrock fund’s performance must be in order to garner that much in assets. And then sit back and watch their response.

Every time…seriously, every time, I ask the question, I get an anger-fueled response. It’s great bait actually. “What! Are you kidding?? Have you ever looked at the actual performance across their funds?”

Of course I looked. Like most people, I even own some. The performance is pedestrian at best.

But yet still, the firm is more than $1.5 trillion bigger than its next largest competitor. It is so big that it actually manage more assets than the entire hedge fund industry combined. Say what you want – its performance is clearly “good enough.”

The alternatives industry clings to all sorts of arguments on why capital raising is so tough. And most are wearing thin…

“IT’S DIFFERENT – BLACKROCK SELLS MUTUAL FUNDS TO RETAIL INVESTORS. WE FOCUS ON HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED LARGE INSTITUTIONS.”

Um…it is also one of the largest alternatives investors, too, with a huge institutional investor base. And with nearly 10 million accredited investors in the US combined with a growing appreciation for alternatives across all investor bases, it’s time to come to grips that this is an important audience for you, too.

“IT HAS A MASSIVE MARKETING BUDGET, HUGE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SALESPEOPLE EVERYWHERE.”

That’s exactly the point. The alternatives industry needs to start re-thinking where it assigns its capex. Hint – it can’t only go toward portfolio management.

 “IT’S ALL ABOUT PERFORMANCE.”

Yes, your product can’t completely suck. That’s true of any business.

But as Blackrock has proved, it doesn’t have to be so great either. Performance is clearly not the only thing that drives consumer behavior – brand matters. And that is the case irrespective of sophistication level, industry or even size.

Not convinced? Just look out your window during your commute tomorrow and you will see what I mean.

That Jeep driving alongside you wasn’t bought for quality and it wasn’t bought for performance. According to Bloomberg, as of September, despite being ranked as the second least-reliable car in the US by Consumer Reports, Jeep was headed toward a second straight year as the fastest growing major auto line in the US.

So, while Blackrock’s ability to grow assets is probably less directly correlated to the performance of its funds than yours, it’s time to start recognizing that just like Blackrock, you are also in the marketing business.

And sometimes your marketing “business” matters a lot more than your other businesses. With a tagline of “There’s only one,” Jeep doesn’t even pretend to compete on performance. Interestingly, Blackrock’s slogan, “Investing for a new world” doesn’t mention performance either.

To learn more about Meyler Capital please click here.

HeadBruncher’s Top 5 Winter Sun Destinations

SRI LANKA


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Lush terrain, tea plantations and golden beaches

TIME: 7-21 days

Sri Lanka, its name literally meaning “resplendent island” in Sanskrit, offers such a diverse holiday it’s hardly surprising that it’s become an established tourist destination, yet it still remains largely unspoiled. With two monsoon seasons, the best time to visit is from January to April, when the South and West coasts are at their most special. From the bustling markets of Colombo, to the relaxing and absorbing Tea Country, there is a lot to explore. The more adventurous can move on to climb Adam’s Peak. Standing 2,243m tall, reach the summit by sunrise to enjoy the unforgettable panoramic view. For those interested in wildlife, helicopter safaris are available over Yala National Park as well as boat excursions from Mirissa to catch glimpses of the blue whale. Meanwhile, the golden beaches of the South coast are unquestionably one of the main attractions to the island. Amanwella, a secluded luxury hotel, is located near Tangalle. Relax along their 800m private crescent beach, which sits amongst 37 acres of coconut groves. This is the place to get some well-deserved R&R.

 

TURKS + CAICOS ISLANDS

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 Spectacular diving, stunning beaches and laid-back residents

TIME: 7-10 days

World-class, the two greatest words when looking for a holiday destination. This archipelago with 41 islands of soft white sandy beaches surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters is exactly that. Turks and Caicos islands’ beaches are ranked in the top 10 throughout the world, not to mention the 200-mile long pristine coral reef that surrounds them. Diving opportunities are vast here, with rich marine flora and fauna – the humpback whale makes regular appearances. Amanyara, offers the complete diving experience. For an even more remote experience, Parrot Cay by COMO is the destination. Set on a 1,000-acre private island and only accessible by boat (30 minutes from airport), this is the definition of luxury. There is little to do here by way of activities, but that is precisely the point. Grab a book, hit the award-winning spa, and unwind.

 

COSTA RICA

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Rainforest hikes, first-rate surfing and rushing white-water rapids

TIME: 7-14 days

Over two-thirds of Costa Rica enjoys some form of environmental protection, and has since become a pioneer in nature- and eco-tourism. White-water rafting in the middle of a jungle, or hiking through rainforest to reach gushing waterfalls – exercise hasnever been so epic. For enthusiastic hikers, a must-see is the majestic Poás Volcano, which has the largest active crater in the world at nearly a mile across. Surfers of all levels can enjoy the epic waves and warm water from January to April on the Pacific coast. Head to Florbanca, a beautiful jungle retreat set along playa Santa Teresa. Modern villas or rustic surf-lodges, the ocean is on your doorstep for surfing, while other activities include yoga, horseback riding or just some well-deserved relaxing. If you can, try to catch a glimpse of the magnificent leatherbacks, the largest of the sea turtles, which hatch from September to March.

 

VIETNAM

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Captivating cities, exceptional street food and a breathtaking coastline

TIME: 7-21 days

Rich in culture and extraordinary landscapes, Vietnam boasts a never-ending coastline, with intriguing cities and fascinating food markets. Travel North in complete comfort to Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, using their majestic overnight train; the Victoria Express. From the rapidly transforming Hanoi to the rural mountainous village of Sapa, experience this unique paddy-field patchwork landscape, with trekking available around the plateau and views of Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. While in the North, head to Ha Long Bay, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with a spectacular scatter of limestone islands. Further down the coast, Hoi An has fast become a captivating city to spend a few days exploring the fascinating food markets. Unlike the larger cities, it has preserved an old town charm and traditional character. As for the South, the Can Dao islands are the ultimate off-grid destination. A short flight from the urban jungle of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Six Senses Can Dao offers a charming experience, set amongst clear waters, golden beaches and lush mangrove forests.

 

SOUTH AFRICA

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Beautiful vineyards, great nightlife and stunning landscapes

TIME: 7-14 days

From December to March, the delightfully hot summer temperatures of the Western Cape in South Africa are hard to compete with. Fly straight in to Cape Town, and experience this vibrant coastal city. Steeped in history as well as natural wonders, hike up Table Mountain or catch a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 27 years. Back on the mainland, head to Boulder’s Beach to relax with African penguins or visit Muizenberg beach, with the big swell making it a popular place to surf in South Africa. Rent a car and drive out to the famous vineyards. Holden Manz Wine Estate is a luxury guesthouse on a vineyard that sits below the Franschoek mountain range. Spend a few days exploring and tasting your way around this stunning region.

KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA KRZANA

Introducing Krzana

Krzana empowers investors in the race for business-critical information

When UK Oil & Gas Plc discovered the equivalent of over £300 billion of oil near Gatwick last year, the news broke through an unusual channel.

An hour before reporters were on the scene, the story was uncovered by geeks using an innovative platform to monitor in real-time more than a thousand social media and traditional news feeds.

For any investor watching, it was an opportunity to make a mint. UKOG’s share price quadrupled in a day.

krzana

 

Fast-forward 9 months, and the tech whizzes have combined their insights with some serious media and financial experts to bring a new tool to market: Krzana – Sanskrit for “pulse” or “containing pearls.”

Using a range of smart filters, Krzana enables users to focus their searches on everything from Twitter to YouTube and to specialist sources, such as Platts, Seeking Alpha and TechCrunch.

“We’re like a giant digital metal detector,” explains Geof Todd, one of the company’s six executives. “In the haystack of global information, we empower our users to find that needle before anyone else.”
With infinite applications for the tool – from commuter alerts to disaster relief – Krzana’s biggest take-up has been in the financial world. KrzanaFinance3.0 is being rapidly adopted by hedge funds, analysts and traders in Europe and America to get ahead of the market.

 “It gives them just those few extra minutes or even seconds to get ready before major news breaks,” says Sandip Sarda, Chief Executive Officer. “They often won’t hit the button on a trade before the news is verified on Bloomberg or Reuters, but it enables them to work out their strategy in advance and be first to the market.”

Krzana – Net or Scalpel?

The explosion in social media makes this a far more active information resource than traditional news feeds, with messages published by citizen reporters, celebrities, SMEs, blue chips, brands, experts and buffoons.

Established news services, on the other hand, provide the vital function of sourcing and verifying before they publish. While crucial, it all adds time – and the end results don’t always provide the insight of an off-the-cuff Tweet from someone in the know.

Krzana bridges these two worlds. It sorts, channels and filters this mass of data into useable information.

Stories in the mainstream media go out to the financial community at large simultaneously, making it tough to get ahead in the race to find key differentiators,” says Sarda. “But Krzana gives you that edge.”

Beyond surfacing the first trace of a story, Krzana sifts through the ‘data bloom’ that surrounds an important event to add depth of analysis – multiplying the reach, scope and scale of information. It also cancels out the noise of superfluous information.

Krzana can be either a net or a scalpel – under the direct control of the user,” says Sarda

The genius behind Krzana is the creation of smart channels that use a powerful range of filters to uncover valuable data. These filters are applied and perfected easily by the user to directly harness their expertise. They then become deployed as focused ‘Watchlists’ – running in real time, with alerts to your mobile or computer.

                  Quin Murray CPO & Toby Abel CTO                                                      Krzana in action

krzana2

“Krzana’s Watchlists are like having a full team on your side to maintain watch for what is important to you,” said Founder Quin Murray. “And they’re working for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Redefining News & Information

Michael Dell is famous for ‘disintermediating’ the PC manufacturing and supply business. The team at Krzana is doing the same in the world of news and information.

 Big data, real-time search, natural language processing (NLP) and business process re-engineering – all hot topics in the FinTech sector – come together in a new paradigm redefining the way information is gathered.

We are constantly reminded that we are ‘time poor.’ And the cause? Very often it’s simply information overload.

Aggregate that for a company, and sorting for business-critical information is likely to be costly. Most specialist information aggregators only add to the cost, and usually don’t deliver what’s really needed.

Krzana’s team of twenty-something “digital natives” have grown up with the hubbub of social media and make sense of it in the same way a resident of Mumbai might rationalize the tumult of his city.

HedgeBrunch Members Offer

Because we want you to experience the power of Krzana, we are making it available for a free

2 week trial when you register at http://krzana.com/#request and use the code HB2015.

 For more information and a demonstration contact Krzana!

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What’s Hot – Top travel destinations for 2016

Colombia

Why it’s hot… It’s not just hot, it’s sizzling

Colombia sizzles, in every sense: this is Latin America at its most vibrant and pulsating. The country has emerged from those dark days of being deemed too dangerous to visit and is flourishing as a travel destination – its popularity continues to grow. This is because it has a bit of everything. There are palm-swayed Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, where perfect beaches are frilled by jungle, and – in season – humpbacks pass offshore. There is pristine Amazon rainforest, for wildlife-filled riverboat trips serenaded by howler monkeys and birds. There are the lush highlands of the Coffee Triangle, with its increasing opportunities for trekking, horse-riding and traditional village stays. There are graceful towns, notably colonial Cartagena, with its 16th century plazas and magical air. And there is rich, ancient heritage, from UNESCO-listed San Agustín Archaeological Park, created by a mysterious civilisation over 1,200 years ago, to the Sierra Nevada’s Lost City (the Machu Picchu of Colombia), where travel advice changes have made treks possible. You can even explore the country in first-class comfort – A&K’s private jet trips make it easy to access the most exciting spots.

India

Why it’s hot… It’s so much easier to get in

India has long topped many a traveller’s bucket list, no matter what their inclinations or how many times they’ve visited the country before. The vast subcontinent just offers so much. You like mountains? How about hikes amid some of the world’s highest? You like sand? Head out on camel-back into the desert, bed down in a luxury Arabian Nights-style camp or loll on palm-backed beaches. You like people, cities, culture, food? India has all of them, in spades. However, the best news for 2016 is that all of this just got much easier to access: the Indian government has extended its e-Tourist visa to over 100 nationalities, including Brits, making the whole process easier, quicker and cheaper. Visa applications can be made online; the cost has been halved. Also, 2016 is the year that the country’s wildlife hits the silver screen: a remake of The Jungle Book, set for release in April, will be a reminder of the charismatic species – from bears and monkeys to magnificent Bengal tigers – that lurk in India’s wonderful wild places.

Kenya

Why it’s hot… Quintessential East Africa is back

The past few years have not been kind to Kenya, with a series of incidents deterring visitors. But, proving you can’t keep a good destination down, the country is looking to 2016 with travel restrictions lifted from key areas, and a renewed sense of optimism. As December 2015 marks 30 years since the release of movie classic Out of Africa, minds will turn again to those sweeping, wildlife-roamed plains and enormous skies that Kenya does so well. Indeed, the country’s national parks and private reserves – from the high-profile Maasai Mara to spectacular smaller concessions such as Laikipia – remain some of the continent’s best places to go on safari. There’s a camp or lodge to suit every budget, from basic-rustic to remote and opulent; better, there are bargains to be had as the country seeks to lure people back. Also, there are few places better than Kenya to blend safari and sand. After time spent on those Out of Africa wilds, spotting the Big Five (and more), you can easily retreat to the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean for some blissful beach R&R. The perfect combination.

Finland

Why it’s hot… It’s a super spot for the aurora (and saunas)

Simply, Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. It’s reckoned that the aurora borealis comes out to play more than 200 nights a year here, and while we’re just coming down from a peak in auroral action (which works on an 11-year cycle), sunspot activity levels are still high and dramatic light displays still likely. Get away from what little light pollution there is in this remote region, and your chances of witnessing a display are very good indeed. Also, the Finns know how to make the most of their extreme climate, something more and more Arctic travellers are cottoning on to: the snow and cold are not bemoaned but rather embraced as an opportunity for frosty fun. Winter trips here can include dog-sledding, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, sleigh-riding and more, all in Santa Claus-magical landscapes. Warming up afterwards is no problem either: it’s alleged that Finland is home to over three million saunas (not bad for a country of 5.5 million people), and simmering amid pine-infused steam, discussing the issues of the day, is perhaps the most authentically Finnish experience there is.

Australia

Why it’s hot… Attenborough is there (need we say more?)

One of the world’s greatest natural wonders plus one of the world’s greatest natural history presenters undoubtedly equals a 2016 sensation. Sir David Attenborough’s next big series, due to air early in the new year, will focus on the Great Barrier Reef, the 2,300km-long swathe of coral and marine marvellousness off Australia’s east coast. Employing new technology to take viewers closer and deeper, the BBC documentary will reveal the reef’s wonders – and get everyone itching to go. Fortunately, there is plenty of it to go round, and many ways to explore: reef-and-rainforest stays in Cairns and the tropical north; expeditions to the outer reef on liveaboard dive boats; luxurious ecolodges on islands right amid the coral; kayak excursions, snorkel forays, sailing trips, scenic flights. Also, as Australia has an extensive and competitive internal flight network, it’s easy to combine the Great Barrier Reef with Sydney, Melbourne, the Red Centre and beyond. Even better, the Australian dollar, which has been eyewateringly strong for the past few years, has decreased in value, making adventures right across the country much more affordable.

Thailand

Why it’s hot… The backpacker favourite has come of age

Thailand has long been a favoured domain of backpackers looking for paradise on a budget. And why not, when you can find beaches this good, food this tasty and culture this rich for prices so low? However, while the penny-pinchers are still catered for, Thailand is increasingly upping its game, and now the ‘land of smiles’ is brimming full of luxe options to suit a different type of traveller – while still offering incredible value for money. Bangkok these days has chic rooftop bars serving classy cocktails, while top-end hotels are ever more plush and diverse. Idyllic islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui have sumptuous accommodation options that combine five-star standards, private infinity pools and personal butlers with an authentically Thai aesthetic. The experiences on offer are imaginative too, from intimate excursions on private yachts, sailing amid cave-riddled karst islets, to market visits and cooking classes with top-notch Thai chefs and jungle expeditions on elephant-back. There’s a move towards eco-luxury too, where pampering is mixed with environmental preservation.

Nova Scotia

Why it’s hot… It’s close, it’s accessible, it’s party central

It might be the other side of the Atlantic but it takes less than six hours to fly from the UK to Nova Scotia. And more and more airlines are connecting the two – for instance, WestJet started flights from Glasgow to the province capital, Halifax, in May 2015. This makes a long weekend here perfectly doable – though short-breakers will undoubtedly wish they were staying longer. Nova Scotia oozes the irresistible mast-clanking sea-saltiness of the Canadian Maritimes. Lighthouses and fishermens’ shacks perch on pretty coves; whales blow offshore; the lobster suppers are amazing. It is also a delight to drive: roads are wide, empty and often spectacular – not least the Cabot Trail, one of the world’s best road-trips. A self-drive holiday is the best way to explore. Nova Scotia is also a province that knows how to party, with over 550 festivals cramming its social calendar each year, celebrating everything from Celtic music heritage to First Nations culture, from buskers and rock bands to scallops and stars. No matter when you visit, something will be happening somewhere.

Peru

Why it’s hot… Direct flights launch

Good news indeed: finally, direct flights will connect the UK and Peru – BA is launching a Gatwick-Lima service from May 2016, which will take just 12.5 hours. It’s an exciting time to visit the country too. Though Machu Picchu is still a must, the Peruvian government is keen to see travellers appreciating alternative sites. Key to this is encouraging visitors to explore the undiscovered north. In 2016, a new cable-car will improve access to ridge-top Kuélap – Peru’s ‘other Machu Picchu’, a fantastic fortress built by the Chachapoyas culture from the sixth century; this can form part of an exciting northern circuit that also includes the newly enhanced El Brujo Archaeological Complex, 771m Gocta Falls and Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America. Elsewhere, Amazon river cruising is being improved – the quality of boats has never been higher. And, with permits selling out months in advance to walk the classic Inca Trail, forgotten routes – offbeat Ancascocha, crowd-free Choquequirao (which visits another hill-perched ‘lost city’) – are being promoted, offering different ways to access the bucket-list site.

China

Why it’s hot… Rural tourism comes to the fore

Things change apace in China. And this breakneck development is most evident in the country’s thrusting cities – hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. It is these hubs that often dominate travel itineraries; however, 2016 is the year that rural China will rise. The country’s ever-expanding train and airport infrastructure is helping to deliver travellers to far-ranging parts of the country; meanwhile, locals in more remote areas are starting to appreciate the potential in offering authentic experiences to visitors – doing so can bring in tourist dollars and help communities maintain their traditional ways of life. Consequently, small towns and villages are creating homestay-style accommodation, where travellers can observe family life and get hands-on with the cooking, while luxurious hotels are also creeping out into the countryside; there are also opportunities for hikes and bike rides. Rural hotspots include the rice terraces of Guangxi, the karst landscapes of Guilin, the mountains and forests of Yunnan, and Tibet-feel Zhongdian and Tacheng, allegedly inspiration for the fabled Shangri-La.

Arctic

Why it’s hot… Wildlife, wilderness and the human touch combine

The Arctic is booming. As travellers increasingly seek more adventurous experiences, expedition cruises to the far north – areas such as Greenland, Svalbard and Iceland – are providing them. This pristine wilderness of reindeer-grazed tundra, icy fjords and creaking glaciers is like a cleansing antidote to our overloaded modern world, while stories of climate change somehow make the region seem more important to visit. Vessels that serve the region no longer scrimp on comfort – for instance, aboard A&K’s ship of choice, Le Boreal, all the cabins have balconies, the design is sophisticated, there’s even a spa and heated pool; activities include Zodiac trips to spot polar bears, bird watching with expert guides, kayak paddles amid ice floes, even photography instruction. Also, unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is home to small communities of people, so it’s possible to add a cultural element to an expedition: for example, meet Inuit in northern Canada or the hardy residents of lively Longyearbyen. Cruises run in summer months, but don’t discount land-based winter visits, when thrilling snowmobile rides open up the mountains of Svalbard, and you have the best chance of seeing the northern lights.

To enquire about your next holiday please email your Private Client Manager (and fellow Urbanologie member), Aurelia Van Lynden at Abercrombie & Kent – avanlynden@abercrombiekent.co.uk or call +44 (0)203 667 7006 – mentioning Urbanologie to benefit from a 5% booking discount on bookings as well as priority and VIP upgrades.

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Five reasons to be positive if you work in a hedge fund

The world felt like a much friendlier place on January 1 2015. Equity markets were riding high, China was still doing its thing, and the hedge fund industry was coming off a bumper year of investment inflows.

12 months on much has changed. According to data provider eVestment, global HF inflows fell by 40% during the 11 months to December 2015, following a collapse in allocations during the second half of the year.

With markets still jittery and oil currently trading at the price as a round of drinks at Starbucks, the global economic climate looks about as inviting as a weekend in Aleppo.

Yet, amid an increasingly challenging backdrop comes the opportunity for the industry to show what it’s good at: making money from chaos.

With this in mind, here are just some of the reasons to be cheerful as a hedge fund employee in 2016.

1 – Out with the old, in with the new

One thing seems certain: there are likely to be fewer funds in business at the end of 2016 than there were at the beginning. Goldman CEO Gary Cohn expects to see many of the old guard making for the exit and converting to family offices.

In particular, this is likely to mean a cull of the activist and event driven funds that have found themselves among the major victims of the past few months.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain, as they say, and there’s an opportunity for an emerging generation of market neutral funds to pick the bones of the firms departing the scene.

Already, we are seeing renewed interest in market neutral and multi-strategy funds, and – of course – macro funds.

2 – Institutional investors still want alts

Worryingly, only 11% of institutional investors increased their hedge fund allocations last year.

However, having gorged on US equities and bonds over the past few years, we see institutional funds increasingly ditching their 60/40 structures and looking to alternatives to diversify their portfolios.

As the waters get choppier, expect a trail of sheepish portfolio managers going cap in hand to Mayfair over the coming months. Indeed, a JP Morgan survey shows 91% of institutional investors making new allocations to hedge funds in 2016, up from 87% last year.

3 – Mac is back

2015 was pretty brutal on macro strategists, with 417 funds heading into the abyss during H2 2015 alone, to be joined by BlackRock’s Global Ascent Fund towards the end of the year.

The likelihood is that many were caught Fed-napping, either waiting for interest rates to rise or the US economy to stall – two scenarios that we’ve seen playing out too late to be of much use.

With global bond and currency markets increasingly volatile, 2016 should present the perfect storm for macro funds to thrive.

4 – A machine won’t be taking your job just yet

The move towards technology-driven funds looks set to continue, as Hong-Kong based Aidyia announced the launch of its AGI trading system in January this year.

According to founder, Ben Goertzel, the fund is fully automated and doesn’t require any human intervention to run.

Before you start reevaluating your career options, note the FT’s view that, given a longer time frame, human traders still have the edge over their AI counterparts.

According to the publication, semi-automatic trading bots are still overly prone to following consensus and struggle with seeing actual present and future value. R2-D2 is a bit of a dummy, it seems.

5 – Those hedge fund guys aren’t so bad after all

If anything was going to overhaul negative perceptions of the hedge fund community it was getting four of Hollywood’s most likeable actors to portray its creed in an Oscar nominated movie.

Can The Big Short undo three decades’ worth of Gordon-Gekko-inflicted distrust of alternative investment professionals?

Not without a bit of help; luckily Damien Lewis (aka Brody in Homeland) is on hand as philanthropic hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod in new US TV drama Billions.

He wears a hoody to work, fires insider traders and puts 9/11 orphans through college on the company’s dime – what’s not to like?

AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX AFEX

Volatility Is The Only Certainty For 2016

Volatility is the only certainty for 2016.

With the first three weeks of 2016 pushing the major indices into official “Bear market” territory (20% lower than their peaks) and Sterling Dollar falling some 5% during the same period we have started 2016 with a bang. However, it is worth noting that FX moves can be exaggerated in thin markets and certainly the first week of January did not see all traders back at their seats. But was it all down to the start of the year or are other changes afoot?

A Bank of England survey released on January 26th showed that average daily FX turnover is down 21% year on year with recent data from Thomson Reuters confirming this trend in a very competitive market. Their FX volumes were down by 4% overall in December 2015 compared to December 2014 with spot trades (settled 2 days later) down 14%.

Recent history has seen “rogue traders” sacked by their bank employers and now facing the possibility of Court prosecution after they collaborated to “Fix the Fixing” to their benefit with many banks now banning chat rooms and forums where traders exchanged views on the market. Consequently there is a real reticence amongst traders to discuss even a market view lest it is seen as some type of unlawful market cooperation and manipulation which has led to information being kept much more “in house” by market participants and traders being unable to get a complete picture of the market. This in turn leads to a lack of confidence in trades and a propensity for market participants to either trade only when they have to cover risk or just leave the market. This dislocation of thought is now driving volatility, reducing predictability and has led to a more short term approach to the market.

On top of this the FX market has lost many participants since the banking crisis. Many banks used to have proprietary risk taking desks as well as being market makers. As they have been under pressure from the authorities since the credit market collapse if they are taking proprietary positions they are taking much smaller levels of risk and often they are only trading if a client deals with them. This means that when a large FX trade needs to be executed there is a lack of liquidity to take the trade in the market and the price moves more than it would have done in previous years.

The market has become much more subjective of late with irrational sentiment overwhelming the economic facts and therefore responding to every utterance of forward guidance coming from a central banker. For example BOE Governor Carney has been warning the market of a UK interest rate raise since July 2014 and as yet it is still waiting. This has caused currency volatility, especially as he announced at that time that interest rates “will need to rise” in the months (not years) ahead.

ECB President Mario Draghi also promised to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the Euro in 2012 and managed to push the Euro Dollar rate higher by some 17% before he decided to target deflation in Europe by cutting interest rates and finally adopting quantitative easing inducing a 25% decline in Euro Dollar. With Central Banks globally fighting deflation and trying to help their economies by lowering their interest rates (to negative levels in some cases) and so devaluing their currencies the markets are hanging on every central bankers word-and dealing on them as well.

The overall result is that it is more difficult than ever to predict how the markets will react to global events be they economic or political and the markets continue to work under a liquidity “mirage” which is prone to produce exaggerated and fast moves. So probably the only certainty for 2016 is volatility.

to learn more about AFEX click here.

Ski Runs and Resorts to add to your bucket list

With most ski resorts claiming their signature run to be head and shoulders above the rest, selecting the best slopes to strut your stuff on the season can be a veritable mogul field.

Thankfully, we at HedgeBrunch have put together a list of our favourite runs and resorts for you to conquer. Whether it’s spectacular scenery, purring cruisers or monstrous moguls you’re after, these lodges and runs offer something for everyone.

Grand Couloir

Courch

Courchevel, France

Level: Advanced/ Expert.

The Run: Even getting to the Alps’ most famous on-piste couloir requires some serious nerves of steel. Once off the cable car, you’ll need to navigate a narrow, icy 200-metre ridge, which boasts steep, rocky drop-offs on either side, and this is just the beginning. After this expect a pitched chute that even pros have been known to snowplow down. Definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Après Ski: Ku De Ta 1850 is the place to go to get the party started from 4pm onwards, and with its only vodka bar it’s certainly able to do that.

Where to Stay: Portetta, Situated in prime position at the foot of the slopes of Courchevel Moriond (1650), Portetta Hotel, Portetta Lofts and the Portetta Mountain Lodges are the perfect base for the ultimate ski experience.

Pet

 

The Cut

Grouse

Vancouver, Canada

Level: Beginner.

The Run: 1,231 metres up and with breathtaking views over Vancouver, there is truly no better place to start your skiing adventure. With the run being open until 10pm you have the unique chance to see Vancouver sparkle as you tackle the slopes.

Après Ski: We advise heading back into Vancouver to enjoy the night life, but the Peak Chalet is a great place to unwind.

Where To Stay: Rosewood Hotel Georgia is only 20minutes away from Grouse Mountain and with it being located in the Downtown District it provides the opportunity to enjoy both skiing and the buzz of Vancouver.

Rosewood comp

 

La Sarenne

Alpe

Alpe D’Huez, France

Level: Advanced.

The Run: At 10 miles, this is one of the longest runs in Europe, and is rightly considered to be one of the most iconic. You’ll encounter a steep mogul field before you dive into the picturesque Sarenne gorge.  Be sure to check out our HedgeBrunch Ski Trip to Alpe D’Huez video here.

Après Ski: With La Folie Douche opening up in Alpe D’Huez it has quickly become the place to be to celebrate are hard day of skiing! Certainly a party not to be missed!

Where To Stay: Chamois d’Or is a spacious chalet right at the foot of the slopes. Open your eyes and enjoy the superb views of the majestic snow-covered Grandes Rousses mountain from your room,  on the terrace or anywhere else in the chalet. More importantly, just open the door and put on your skis!

Cham

 

Triftji

Zermatt, Switzerland

Level: Advanced.

The Run: A mogul run that is truly infamous, and with it being 3,000m you’ll be out of breath before you start! This run is renowned for being extremely long, so you’ll need consistent technique to get to the bottom without exhausting yourself. If you are up to the challenge, it’s certainly worth giving this a shot!

Après Ski: Hennu Stall is our pick to enjoy your tipple of choice. With it being located near the bottom of the Furi-Zermatt slope, it is the most atmospheric après-ski destination in town.

Where To Stay: Backstage Hotel Vernissage, which was built by the designer, Mr Heinz Julen, is a Boutique masterpiece and our choice when visiting Zermatt.

Zerm

 

CORBET’S COULIOR

Corbets-Couloir-Bryce1

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA

Level: Expert.

The Run: “Someone will ski that one day,” Said mountaineer Barry Corbet in 1960 while surveying what was to become Jackson Hole Resort. He was specifically pointing out the vicious narrow chute shaped like an inverted funnel. Turns out, he was right. Today, it is one of the world’s most celebrated and challenging ski runs: known to some as the leap of craziness. Depending on the snow fall you could be dropping in from anything between 2m to 9m!

Après Ski: The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a landmark watering hole packed with cowboy memorabilia, including Billy the Kid’s silver revolver. The venue is nearly as deep in celebrity patrons as Corbet’s Couloir is in powder – Messrs Justin Timberlake, Ryan Reynolds and Quetin Tarantino have all perched on these legendary bar stools.

Where To StayHotel Terra, located in bustling Teton Village, is an “eco-boutique” property complete with slope-side location and rooftop hot tub!

MERICAAA

 

12 Hay Hill

The hub for business:

Mayfair is home to major corporations’ headquarters, hedge funds, arts and lifestyle flagship stores and boasts the largest concentration of five star hotels. There is a constant flow of influential people in need of a venue to host formal or informal meetings in a refined business environment.

12 Hay Hill, meets all needs within its majestic building on the south corner of Berkeley Square. The newly refurbished Club with luxurious business facilities is the perfect backdrop to conduct business, meet with like- minded individuals and dine, all under one roof.

The concept:

• State of the art, fully serviced offices granting Resident Members a permanent Mayfair address, access to all the Club facilities and invitations to tailored Members’ events.
• Both Individual, Corporate and Resident members enjoy all common areas of the building including:
• Business lounges (2), adaptable boardrooms and meeting rooms (11).
• Dining room, deli-bar and gallery lounge run by Michelin-starred chef, Shaun Rankin.
• Exercise room and shower facilities.
• Gallery/presentation rooms with large screens.
• Events space over three floors available for Members’ private events.
• Curated exhibition of artworks throughout the building.

The people:

12 Hay Hill is home to a community of like-minded individuals with the opportunity to meet more informally through our Members’ events program ranging from business, cultural and gastronomic events.

Members also enjoy Club benefits and access to offers from our luxury partners.

12 Hay Hill Exclusive Membership Offer:

Become a founding member of 12 Hay Hill, an exciting new business club, situated in the heart of Mayfair. As a valued Hedge Brunch member, you can benefit from a no-joining-fee offer, should you take out membership before the 1st of January (a saving £500). If you would like further information or a tour of the building, please contact Oliver Morton, Head of Membership, at o.morton@12hayhill.com.

In addition to state-of-the-art offices, communal business lounges and numerous private meeting rooms, 12 Hay Hill offers its members luxury serviced offices and members’ business facilities and a stunning Dining Room overseen by Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin.

For those not wishing to take a permanent office at 12 Hay Hill, Business Club memberships are available, providing members will full access to the Club’s business lounges and dining areas.

12 Hay Hill’s vision is to attract a community of business people, looking to establish both a physical presence in Mayfair and to build an exceptional network of business contacts. The Club acts as a hub for like-minded entrepreneurs and small businesses, seeking a high service office and private social environment.

For more information on 12 Hay Hill please click here.

Meyler Capital

There is no Secret Sauce to Hedge Fund Marketing: An Allocator’s Perspective on Avoiding Common Mistakes.
By JD David.

David Modiano has personally reviewed, met with or performed in-depth diligence on nearly 2000 hedge fund managers as a Senior Investment Professional on Investcorp’s single-manager platform over the past five years. This after spending five years in a similar capacity with Lyxor, the alternative investment branch of Société Générale.

If anyone is able to quickly evaluate a manager’s message, David is the guy. He now consults to managers at all stages on firm structuring, positioning and growth. Considering how challenging the capital-raising environment has become, he receives a lot of phone calls.

An outstanding pedigree or track record will nearly always turn a phone call into a conversation, irrespective of messaging. But not everyone has that to offer. And even those who do, still need to ensure they are getting their message across. David’s advice to clients:

1. RECOGNIZE THAT IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE

Sure…while there may not be another Jim Simons or Ray Dalio, there will be a next great manager. However, claiming that you are that person on a marketing deck will convince no one. Don’t bother trying.

2. KNOW YOUR PEERS

Along those lines, nothing aggravates an allocator more than hearing how unique a strategy is when a manager cannot identify who his competitors are. “I appreciate that managers are intensely focused on their own businesses, but using the word ‘unique’ truly is making a big statement. Managers are better off understanding what else is out there so they can effectively distinguish themselves.”

3. NO ONE HAS SEVEN POINTS OF “EDGE”

Just because your “Edge” slide is filled from wall-to-wall with text, doesn’t actually establish that you bring “Edge.” As a matter of fact, filling the page with text just dilutes an allocator’s ability to identify any real edge that you do have.

David’s advice: understand the one (or possibly two) true aspect of your strategy that can constitute “Edge” and really push on that. It may just be the approach to asset allocation or your process in cutting losses. Per his previous comment, “we don’t need an all new asset class – we just need investments that work – and do so in a way that are we led to expect them to work.”

4. SIMPLIFY THE MESSAGE AND GET TO THE POINT EARLY

If you measure popularity by the volume of emails a person receives, then even your most run-of-the-mill, buy and hold allocator is a Hollywood star in this industry.

“Allocators can spend every waking moment looking at managers. You need to make their job easy.” He prefers managers to start at a very high level in a marketing deck or introduction and then layer in substance as they progress. In his mind, the best executive summaries focus on the following:

What do you do?
There is little information value in learning that a manager is seeking to provide low correlation and high risk adjusted returns.

How do you do it?
Be specific and concise: how do you capture the upside and protect capital on the downside in various market cycles?

Why now?
What is the urgency for me, the allocator?

Who are the people doing it?
Pedigree, team and track record.

5. FORM MATTERS

According to David, far too many managers get eliminated from consideration simply based on a perceived lack of professionalism. Materials need to be pristine. This goes beyond content – it means clean collateral, free of grammatical errors and inconsistencies.

“Just like you wouldn’t go to an interview with a wrinkled shirt, the presentation of your materials matters. If you aren’t willing to make an effort on something as simple as a marketing deck, what should I infer about the rest of your business?”

6. CONSTRUCT A “STORY”

Human beings are wired to respond to stories. Stories help us relate to one another and remember information. And once you’ve established your story…make it flow. Be authentic and use a straight, simple tone.
David reiterated the point in our conversation that this does not need to be a complicated process. Focus on what matters, remove the industry vernacular and just get to the point.

To learn more about Meyler Capital please click here.

Urbanologie

With only a few weeks of the christmas season left it’s time to discover London’s best wintery rooftop hangouts and festive (lofty) pop-ups.

Festive 1 Wigwam

Once Upon A WigWam

Once Upon A WigWam is set to cast its spell over the skies of East London. Inspired by the the Grimms’ brothers Fairy Tales, look out for interpretations of well-known stories like Hansel & Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel as you get lost in its fantastical forest and magical menu, bringing U a unique drinking and dining experience….

Wander up the vine-covered winding stairs and spot hundreds of books leading you to the giant keyhole entrance of Queen of Hoxton’s magical land. Inside, a new tree house (with a raised mezzanine) elevates you even higher-up East London’s iconic rooftop. Expect ornate mirrors, silhouettes of gnarly branches, and look out for watchful faces amongst the golden trees.

Meander through hanging clocks and apples, branches laced with ivy and meadow flowers where you’ll find a gingerbread house-inspired bar. You can even gorge on the real gingerbread panels – from time to time! Open Monday to Saturday from 4pm to 10pm.

Ideal For
Something a little different…

Festive 2 Cinema

The Festive Winter Roof-Top Cinema

Adding a stylish sprinkle of rustic chic are three handmade wooden chalet-inspired cabins custom made to fit two people. With a hot chocolate in hand and wrapped up in a Moncler warm down feather blanket, guests will be protected from the cold while watching festive winter classics including ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ and ‘The Polar Express’. Towering high above bustling Knightsbridge and overlooking Hyde Park, this pine-lined outdoor theatre is London’s only rooftop private cinema exclusively featuring just six seats. 

A special Winter Cinema package for Londoners is available at £65 per person and includes full access to the movie theatre at 5:00pm and 7.00pm seatings, with copious amounts of hot chocolate and home-made mince pies. A Luxury Winter Cinema package is available at £85 per person and includes a glass of Champagne and canapés.

Ideal For
Hot chocolate lovers, mulled wine drinkers, festive films…

Festive 3 Selfridges

Forest Restaurant & Cabin Bar on Selfridges Rooftop

Inspired by an autumnal woodland, Forest Restaurant & Cabin Bar offers sophisticated comfort food and seasonal cocktails beneath a starry sky.

Throughout the autumn and winter Forest Restaurant & Bar (on Selfridges rooftop) evokes the beautiful autumnal forest and woodlands of England. Inspired by foraging trips to Britain’s lush forests, the ‘foraging and foresting to fork’ menu includes hearty hot pots, grilled meats and fish and seasonal vegetable dishes and inspired by the wealth of produce found in Britain’s vibrant woodland.

The Cabin Bar with outdoor lodges (complete with blankets and a bespoke photo-booth lodge), situated on the terrace is be the perfect spot to escape and indulge in the roof’s renowned ‘Choctails’, seasonal ales and warming mulled wine and cider.

Ideal For
Winter warmers, seasonal treats

Courthouse Hotel London

The Soho Ski Terrace at the Courthouse Hotel

The Courthouse Hotel on Carnaby Street has transformed its rooftop space, Soho Sky Terrace, into the Soho Ski Terrace – a cosy outdoor haven looking down over central London.

Complete with soft lighting and a welcoming design inspired by the iconic retro ski chalets of the 1950s, the terrace will be awash with plush, soft furnishings, candle-lit lanterns and retro ski posters.

With a capacity for up to 80 people standing and 60 sitting, the Soho Ski Terrace is available for corporate events and seasonal private parties; a unique way to celebrate during the colder months, in an opulent backdrop set against the central London skyline.

Ideal For
A cosy outdoor haven

Festive 5 TreeHouse

Tree House at Skylounge

Skylounge, the stylish rooftop bar atop the DoubleTree Hilton at Tower Hill, has launched its new winter terrace, ‘The Tree House at Skylounge’ – a mystical, enchanted woodland, set amongst the rooftops of the City, where rum cocktails and champagne flow freely.

Situated on the 12th floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London, the pop-up Tree House at Skylounge offers a unique experience to escape from the rush of the City to a cosy, winter wonderland. Modelled on a ‘mystical, enchanted woodland’ and embellished with stunning fibre optics lights to create an intimate, sheltered space. Enjoy winter cocktails like their Hot & Cold Spiced Toddy and warming winter food like Truffle Mac & Cheese.

Open Wednesday to Saturday, 5:00pm until late.

Ideal For
The height of winter…

Where to Spend Your Winter Nights

As the winter season is well and truly in full swing, what better way to escape the cold then to sit and sip on some of London and New York’s most tantalising tipples in the best bars around town. From classic cocktails to swills with festive flair, all are guaranteed to make those winter nights in that little bit warmer. 

aqua_nueva_bar_2done

AQUA Nueva

The AQUA Nueva located in Mayfair is a Spanish inspired restaurant with a bar, complemented with all the feelings of luxury- a doorman to greet you and a receptionist to take your coat and bag. Inside, the room is dimly lit with an impressive round bar taking center stage and more intimate booths surrounding the edges of the space. The perfect place to impress a date or grab a nightcap, but keep in mind it does not take reservations.

Nico Peratinos, bar manager at AQUA London: “During the festive season people treat themselves to rich foods and with this in mind I have created a unique Christmas cocktail using my favourite ingredients, chocolate and cheese.”

The Drink:

Christmas Cocktail

 cacao
rum
cherry liqueur
egg white
double cream
milk

ws-Duck-WaffleDONE

The Duck and Waffle

The Duck and Waffle boasts of being UK’s highest restaurant- an impressive 40 floors up, giving an unparalleled view of the city with floor-to-ceiling windows. Designed by award-winning architects CetraRuddy, the interior seamlessly integrates modern design with old classics: white marble, rustic metals, and weathered wood. Open 24/7 it is the perfect spot for those looking to keep the night alive long after most of London has gone to sleep.

The Drink:

Ristretto Negroni

Bombay Sapphire gin
vermouth
amaro
all slow dripped through coffee

SketchSketch

The Glade bar at Sketch, designed by artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu, was created with the aim to emulate an enchanted fairy-tale forest. Inspired by early 20th century stationery the artists hand painted, enlarged, and reversed the image onto the walls. If you’re looking for a place with charm, Sketch is the place to be. The space alone is worth a visit, but the interior is complemented with drinks just as imaginative and memorable.

The Drink:

Bittersweet Bonfire

Jose Cuervo Traditional
Xili Tequila
Benedictine
raspberry jam
balsamic vinegar
Angostura Bitters
fresh strawberrys

Beaufort-Bar-Savoydone

The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

Perfect for those looking to experience a true taste of opulence. Located in the world-renowned hotel, The Savoy, it is a striking place to sip a cocktail and take in the stunning décor. The expert team headed by award-winning bartender, Chris Moore, is certainly impressive: it won the coveted Best International Hotel Bar award at Tales of the Cocktail 2015. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a night of lavishness.

The Drink:

Le Beaufort

Grey Goose vodka
Lillet Blanc
Galliano L’Autentico Liquor
Louis Roederer Champagne
flavored with a touch of citrus and cardamom

 

porchlightdone

Porchlight

Located on Eleventh Avenue, this bar combines the traditional sleek NYC design with a splash of Southern charm. The menu consists of cocktails organized into four categories: Guzzlers (Light and Easy), Sippers (Not for the Weak of Heart), Nerdy (Late Night Experiments that Worked), and Classics (You Know ‘Em, We Make ‘Em). Opened with the goal of incorporating hospitality with drinking, it definitely delivers. If you’re looking for a casual yet upscale atmosphere this is the place to be.

The Drink:

Gun Metal Blue

Mezcal Vida
Blue Curacao
Peach Brandy
lime and cinnamon

press-bar2done

The Press Lounge

The Press Lounge offers one of NYC’s most breathtaking and dramatic views of Manhattan. During the summer it is one of the city’s favorite rooftop bars. However, there’s no need to worry about the upcoming cold weather stealing the skyline; the bar’s interior section has walls made entirely of glass. The best views are of course at night when all of the buildings are lit up, but the sunset is also quite beautiful. It’s a great spot to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view no matter what season it is.

The Drink:

Aery

Atlantico Reserva
Aval apple cider
maple syrup
ginger beer
lemon juice

attaboydone

Attaboy

The list wouldn’t be complete without a classic Prohibition era style bar. Attaboy is a speakeasy with a nondescript entrance, just a plain door with AB written on it. To enter you must knock on the door or ring the buzzer; a strange but fun method. Reminiscent of old days in NYC, you simply wait for someone to open the door and welcome you in. This place also has no menu, only expert bartenders who will serve you a drink based on whatever you’re in the mood for.

The Drink:

Old Fashioned Christmas Cocktail

Smirnoff No.21 Vodka
apple juice
cranberry sauce
cinnamon powder
orange zest
Star Anise

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Meyler Capital

The Salesperson of the Future will be Invisible.
By Kyle Dunn, President/CEO at Meyler Capital.

No, I am not indicating that the future will be void of human contact, nor am I down playing the importance of relationships. I am simply conveying that people now have a strong aversion to being “sold” to.

This is especially true for institutional investors. They want to feel in control, that they have objectively made the decision to approach you, not the other way around. You will never convince an allocator of anything. They don’t want to be convinced. You can, however, present information in a logical manner, and let them arrive at their own conclusion. How you present that information is “the sell”.

Are salespeople still critically important? Absolutely. Like anything else, sales is a respected profession. The difference today is that “the sell” has to be invisible: the salesperson is an omnipresent, supportive force that is unknowingly guiding interest, influencing opinion, and shaping the path forward.

In the old says, you could grab prospects by the arm and pull them in your direction. This is no longer possible. More often than not, the “prospect” is as informed, or even more informed, than you are.

It is critical to keep this in mind when approaching investors. For example if an allocator is looking for a real estate fund, there’s a good chance they have spoken to a lot of managers running real estate strategies. If you enter into that conversation claiming to be “different,” it actually does you harm if the last 10 managers are making the same claim. This is a big point. Investors tend to have a way more informed outlook on the competition than you do. (Have you recently talked to 20 of your competitors…probably not).

When shaping your sales process create an environment where the prospect falls through your information. The process has to feel natural. There can’t be any hard turns or twists. The fabled “close” can’t feel forced. The prospector’s journey should end with a natural conclusion of yes or no.

To find out more about Meyler Capital click here.

CheckRisk

Is risk analysis a contrarian approach?

It is a legitimate question. Is risk analysis a contrarian approach? The answer is no, but risk analysis may appear contrarian at times for good reason. A contrarian approach merely takes the opposite view of consensus opinion. That may occasionally work but most likely will be luck rather than judgement if things turn out well. Just because a stock is cheap does not imply that it will not remain so. In fact one of the major problems with Dividend Discount Models, for example, is that they identify plenty of cheap stocks, but often there is no catalyst to realize that value.

The above being said the key issue with risk is knowing when you are being paid to take the risk and when not. That implies both a macro risk knowledge as well as micro risk understanding at a stock level is required. It is not good enough to just know that a stock is cheap, although that is a significant risk mitigation. It is essential to understand the business of the investment, what the risks to it are and whether the current price reflects that value or not.

Where CheckRisk differs from the Buffett-Munger approach is to add in an understanding of the broader macro risk environment as part of understanding the micro risk of a business. In other words, a buy and hold strategy is not always a good idea, even if the company has a so-called wide moat. Take CocaCola, for example, a classic wide moat stock that is having to deal with the societal change to less sugar consumption. There are metrics available that show how many kilos of sugar CocaCola and other beverage manufacturers use per earnings per share. CocaCola is right at the top of the list.

Risk analysis appears contrarian mostly because of human behavioural factors. Following a stock market correction or crash instinctively investors do not want to approach the fire. A correction or crash is precisely the point at which investors should be finding value and more importantly a lower risk environment. While this may seem obvious, the converse is also true. After a period of rising markets, it is so difficult to say enough is enough. Risk analysis can provide a more quantita- tive approach. An approach that questions our natural aversion and bias. Risk is not a contrarian approach. Risk analysis is the driver of all returns and the starting point of any sound investment approach. At times, it will tell you to do things that feel desperately uncomfortable and against the crowd. However, for the majority of the time risk analysis will just inform investors that things are just fine. And that is why it is much more that a contrarian approach.

China, damn lies and statistics.

Chinese official economic data is questionable at the best of times. That is not to say that the Western world is much better where data is concerned. It is mildly amusing that the Federal Reserve has said that they are reliant on the data, and yet that information is continually revised from month to month. Also, members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), that set rates, all have a dif- ferent interpretation of the same data. What it boils down to is that the decisions are no more than gut instinct.

China’s social contract is pretty clear. The government will allow the Chinese to become wealthier provided that they give up their right to question politics. In all fairness, that policy has worked pretty well for the Chinese over the past two decades. China has, after all, become the world’s second-largest economy. The point right now though is that an accurate understanding of China’s actual economic growth rate is essential. If China is growing much slower than market expectations, then there will be a lot of turbulence ahead. Private forecasts of China’s GDP growth rate range from 3.3% to 7%, which is the official figure. CheckRisk, for a number of reasons, believes that China is growing at an actual rate of about 4.5% to 5%. The reason we think that GDP growth is well below the government estimate is from anecdotal evidence. Chinese electricity usage, for example, is growing at just over 1% per annum. Freight rates like the Baltic Dry Index and the Shanghai Container Shipping Index are at or close to multi-year lows. So, we are sticking with our view that China is growing more slowly than the official numbers suggest. That is not all bad news, though. It is just that the markets appear to be relying on the false government statistic, and so there is somewhat of a disconnect. There is a very real risk that investors will need to go through a period of adjustment concerning expectations of Chinese economic growth.

While CheckRisk is of the view that Chinese GDP figures are inflated, we also believe that the short- term outlook for China is quite positive. The freight rates we mention in the previous paragraph are close to all-time lows, but they appear to be picking up. Total freight shipments in September jumped to 4.1bn tonnes up from 3.8bn in June. There are also signs that Chinese PMI data has bottomed too. In other words, once investors have adjusted to the reality the growth outlook does not look too bad.

The implications of a slower Chinese economy are a weaker Yuan and a stronger USD. What is clear is that synchronization risk is worse than even we had anticipated. The US is out of sync with the rest of the world. The Federal Reserve is seriously considering raising rates in December at a time when Japan and the EU zone are about to increase QE. It is inevitable too that the Chinese will lower rates further and allow the Yuan to devalue. One of the biggest risks to the US economic recovery is that the USD appreciates another 10% to 15% from here. A strong dollar would kill off the shallow economic growth in the US altogether. It would be bad news for bond markets if the Fed raises rates and then almost immediately has to reduce them. So while Janet Yellen and the members of the FOMC say they are data dependent we would say that there are much stronger forces at play than targeting a 2% inflation rate. It will be interesting to see what steps China, the EU and Japan make between now and year end to stop Yellen raising rates. Another currency devaluation or a strong hint that the ECB will allow the EUR to weaken substantially might be enough to kill the Fed’s chance to raise rates entirely.

China remains a battleground for the bulls and bears. There is a case to be made that both may be right and that their perspective of time only divides them. Our view is that China is growing at a slower rate than market expectations but that the accelerant that China has used in terms of interest rate cuts, and monetary policy mean that it will recover quickly and that we are not, for the moment at least, looking at a country entering a recession.

The risk then is that China is unable to hide the real growth rate from the reported number during this period of consolidation. Hiding such things for any great length of time is hard. In the meantime short-term stimulus appears to be working and therefore, for the moment at least, we believe that the Chinese will not be exposed as peddlers of false data.

The reasons Yellen must raise rates in December.

CheckRisk has put forward the case on numerous occasions that the US Federal Reserve has cornered itself; that they have already missed the opportunity to raise interest rates and are going to be chasing the curve from now on. Our views on that have not changed. However, there are a number of reasons why Yellen must move now.

The Federal Reserve is having to deal with a number of opposing forces. The US economy is growing but not at a rate that would justify an interest rate alone. Had we already been at 3% interest rates we would not be discussing an interest rate rise right now. So there are other forces at work. The Federal Reserve knows that if interest rates remain at zero that they will have no room for manoeuvre when the next natural cyclical downturn occurs.

There is also a more delicate question of credibility. Janet Yellen made a nonsense of the September FOMC meeting. The guidance, on which the Fed prides itself, was unclear. Yellen spoke of foreign events, and inflation and data, but it was clear that she completely missed concerning market reaction. On the data issue, we are particularly concerned. It is somewhat frightening to consider that the FOMC is being led by the data when it is obvious that the data is revised on a constant basis. Further, the different members of the FOMC interpret the data in different ways. Is it possible that the Fed just acts on gut instinct? CheckRisk believes this is precisely how they act. If we are correct, then the chance of small December rate rise is almost 100%, as the Fed cannot afford to lose face.

Assuming that Yellen feels she must assert her authority then we can expect a small 0.25% rate rise in December. It is of course not certain, and it is not justified, but human factors are beginning to persuade us that the chance of a December increase is a distinct possibility.

What could possibly go wrong? Firstly there is a massive synchronization risk. The US is completely out of step with the rest of the world. China is easing, and we are likely to see further Yuan devaluations whether the West likes it or not. Japan will increase the QE on steroids program probably in Q1 2016. Mario Draghi at the ECB will allow Janet Yellen to do all the heavy lifting, and if the Fed fails to raise rates, then the ECB will increase QE. Synchronisation risk, if it occurs, can have only one outcome; a stronger USD. Currency risk is, therefore, becoming a primary concern. If you want to kill off the US recovery the best way to do it is to all the USD to appreciate another ten to twenty percent.

Another reason Janet Yellen must move now is that we could well end up with only one or two moves higher from here. That means interest rates in the US could stall again at or around the 1% level. It is quite possible having pushed rates higher that the Fed will have to start dropping them again. QE4, believe it or not, is still a distinct possibility even if rates increase in December.

The scenario, therefore, is for a short term increase in interest rates at the short end of the bond yield curve. Futures markets are already forecasting this. After that, the Fed must either stick or reverse the position, and that is likely to happen in the 2017 to 2020 timeframe. This is another reason we think that three year period is fraught with risk of another crash.

Will Yellen move at the wrong moment in December? A lot depends on what happens in the next few weeks in currency markets and, in particular, the appreciation of the USD. The Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans do not want to see higher rates in the USA, and they can influence the decision. Merely talking the euro, yuan and yen lower would be sufficient to pile the pressure on Yellen.

As a consequence, all things being equal Yellen is likely to raise rates in December, however, if the Chinese and others decide that they want to keep rates low it is entirely possible that they could make it nigh on impossible for the Fed to move. This line of analysis implies that the Fed is not in control of the process anymore. And that is precisely what CheckRisk believes. Central banks globally have abrogated their responsibilities in the face of immense political pressure. Perhaps Draghi alone has proven to be effective. However, he is dealing with the most fragmented and disorganized union of countries.

Our last point on interest rates and the December FOMC is that equity and bond markets have already discounted a small rate rise. We would not expect anything more than a minor wobble if the Fed move this time around. The risk is that a move occurs after resistance from other major nations. In other words that the Fed ignores the strength of the USD.

The normalization of interest rates is not going to happen in the same manner as it has following other recessions and downturns. The more likely scenario is that central bankers get behind the curve and then have to raise rates quicker than expected. Interest rate shock risk will follow at some stage in the future if central bankers continue to pursue the current strategy.

If Yellen raises rates in December but then is forced to reverse in 2016, the credibility of the FOMC and Federal Reserve would be completely shot. As a result while December may be a tough decision, it will be nothing compared to the difficulty of the decisions that will be made in 2016.

Portugal

There are radical political changes afoot in Portugal that the mainstream media appear to be ignoring. Three left of centre parties say that they have now reached a deal to form a government. As a result, the incumbent centre right part of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho looks increasingly unlikely to be able to hold power. The risk to Europe is both in the immediate future and of an existential nature.

The centre-left parties are deeply anti-austerity. They include the socialists, two smaller left of centre parties, and the Communists. If they can form a government next week, then Portugal will be heading the same way as Greece. If a parliamentary vote of confidence takes place on Tuesday of next week, then we would expect the centre-right government to fall.

Portugal’s constitutional crisis is a major issue for the European democratic process. The centre-right gov- ernment, after all, was only sworn into power two weeks ago. That despite being a minority government. The election of a coalition that includes the communists would send tremors through Europe. While Portugal has exited its bailout program, it must meet stringent debt reduction targets set by the EU and deal with a mountain of public and private debt as well as an anaemic economic growth rate. Anyone who thinks that Europe is out of the woods and that the euro is safe as a currency should think again. We are merely in act three of a five-act play.

Portugal has the ability to be far worse than Greece in terms of a thorn in the side of Merkel and the EU; the threat should not be ignored.

For more information on CheckRisk please click here.

Urbanologie

There are some new kids on the block for you to discover, and these lot stay up late…

New private nightclubs seem to be a trend in London, here are three of the best for you to discover…

Charlie
Charlie nightclub

A Mayfair private members club, taking inspiration from Charlie Chaplin…

The club (which replaces Funky Buddha) is open Thursday to Saturday, with a capacity of around 180-200 people features artwork by London based glamour artist Richard Zarzi. The £1M refurbishment was one of the most decadent and luxurious to be undertaken in the capital in recent years, by the London Hospitality Group, who also run Project and Toy Room.

The main inspiration comes from Charlie Chaplin and then the group developed the idea using inspiration from other famous people with the name including: Charlie Sheen, Ray Charles, Charlie Brown, Charlie’s Angels and Charles Darwin. Expect an eclectic interior (blending of modern and old fashioned) of warm woods, rich leathers and vintage furniture (including a pool table).

Ideal For
Late night revellers, a night cap, icon types…

Highlights
The club features a private members’ room in collaboration with David Beckham’s Haig Club whiskey called The Haig Room and features a pool table and a fireplace.

Tape
Tape nightclub

This members club (founded by Grammy-award winning producer, Dallas Austin) is the “home” for London’s music industry, designed as “a central hub of creativity and celebration”, also serving as a live music venue with its own recording studio…

The private members hangout (formerly Jalouse, Crystal and then Cafe Kaizen) offers a 150-capacity club space, ‘Little Tape’ where you can enjoy food, a bar (with a late night license), as well as a Baby Grand piano, guitars, and musical equipment for use by all guests. It is the only private members space in London, offering a fully equipped, sound proofed recording studio. Designed by Munro Acoustics (behind studio projects such as Abbey Road, AIR Studios and Tile Yard), the walls of Little Tape are adorned with musical memorabilia such as Sir Paul McCartney’s original contract for Live and Let Die, Kurt Cobain’s denim vest, a hand written poem from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry’s Cherry Red Gibson 335 guitar. Tape Studio also has its own in house technical teams.

Separately, there is a 250-capacity nightclub space, ‘Tape London‘ which is open to the public, complete with a fully sized stage for performances. As DJ and promoter Jacobi Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe (of Housekeeping), explained that “TAPE was going to be all about the music”. Open initially from Wednesday to Saturday, with Wednesdays set aside as an open-format evening, hosting live music and record launches.

Ideal For
Musical talent, record breaking, a new concept, groupies…

Drama
Drama

Art is key to this “hallucinatory vision”, so expect neon, a splash of PVC and bespoke pieces by local creatives – all enhancing the ‘drama’ of this Kensington hotspot.

Located in the site which previously housed Whiskey Mist, DRAMA (from the minds behind Cirque Le Soir, Mahiki, Steam & Rye – Nick House, Tom Berg and Ryan Bish) mainly focuses around deep house and hip-hop (expect big-name celebrity DJs) and is “more outrageous, extravagant and flamboyant” than anywhere else in town (expect scratch and sniff wallpaper and staff dressed in fetish gear).

Each night is themed and includes a range of elaborate performance art and “neon shopping trollies delivering bottles to the tables”. There is also a VIP Gold Room – a ‘shimmering beacon of extravagance and debauchery’.

Ideal For
A whole lotta drama…

To learn more about Urbanologie click here.

Limewood hotel and spa new forest accomodation spa day

Limewood

Hedgebrunch visits Limewood Hotel and Spa in the south coast’s New Forest, the perfect foil to hectic urban life.

When the city, which ever yours may be, gets too much, the country retreat is always a safe bet for that much needed decompression. Us Brits are old hands at escaping to the country – it’s a small island of course – and this means full-on silence in open fields or wooded glens is but a few hours away. A small hop for most global citizens used to mean long distance travel.

London, as a global centre, has to be one of the best spots in the world for this. We have so many options for escaping the pressure cooker and forgetting the week’s market woes or the thousandth due diligence question. Limewood Hotel offered us the antidote this weekend.

This grand yet fun pile of bricks is at once superbly finished and welcomingly laid back. A break here feels like a trip to a friend’s country pad as you’re invited to wander the main house’s eclectic rooms, settling in comfy fire-side armchairs or don a pair of wellies to enjoy the great outdoors. Staff are always on hand, yet unobtrusive, so being offered a drink or something to nibble on feels like a you’re in good company with warm hosts rather than demanding service.

There are rooms in the main house but also outbuildings, including a large coach house, cottages and cabins. This serves to create a lovely collegiate atmosphere about the grounds. Families, couples and the odd four legged friend bounce around, all showing happy a relaxed grins – there’s something in the water here.

We stayed in one of the Pavilion suites: at the foot of the gardens, it was mere feet away from the main house but could have been a million miles away once inside, such was the sense of serenity and privacy. With a roll-top bath facing bay windows looking into the forest outside, a huge four poster bed and your very own log fire, you’re hard pressed to find a reason to leave. The bed was so comfortable that we might never have left it were it not for the fact that an early morning swim at the spa seemed equally as appealing.

The spa at Limewood is everything you could hope for; three floors of single and double treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools of every nature. Plus there’s steam and sauna rooms and a fantastic raw food café offering healthy but hearty fare that manages to be good for both your body and soul at once. At the end (or indeed the beginning) of a long day you can’t go wrong here. Your whole stay can easily be filled in this haven-  but for the more adventurous, there’s biking and hiking aplenty in the New Forest too.

You really don’t have to move if you don’t want to though – we spent one of the days we were there working in the main study which was a welcome change to the office. It’s available for board meetings or casual use and you can easily take lunch and enjoy service whilst there. For a company away-day or weekend it suits perfectly.

Most guests don’t come to Limewood for a place to work though, with many enjoying some incredible eats and treats throughout their stay alongside all other activities. The healthy side is of course great but the more indulgent food and drink here is as good as you can find. You can choose to eat from a variety of menus pretty much wherever you’d like and the lauded Angela Hartnett (of Murano and Café Murano fame in the capital) produces with aplomb.

Limewood and The wider Pig group of hotels and restaurants is simply superb, you won’t regret your stay in any way. For more information and to book visit please click here.

 

 

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CheckRisk

“There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”   Aldous Huxley

There are times when one has set out one’s stall, and it is right to wait and see what transpires. Readers will know that CheckRisk has warned of the change in short-term risk relative to long- term risk. With shorter term risk ameliorating while the long-term risk outlook is deteriorating.

The short-term risk perspective is more benign than most observers believe as a result of positive liquidity actions made by central banks. Increasing liquidity has become the single most important tool in the tool box for central bankers. It has been used so often in time of crisis that it has be- come an extremely predictable reaction to stress. The strategy can only work for so long, however, for the moment CheckRisk believes it will result in equity markets resuming an upward trajectory to year end. Naturally, there will be some hiccoughs along the way. The labour report in the USA released on Friday is one such blip.

This week, having set out the stall, CheckRisk is going to focus on two things. Bits and pieces that either confirm or deny our views and secondly, why the longer term outlook is such a critical period.

What could possibly go wrong?

Confirming or denying a view as time rolls on is one of the most significant risk functions imagi- nable. We often see Trustee Boards, and Investment Committees becoming wedded to a position that is clearly wrong. It is not that the original position was incorrect it is just the failure to adapt. If you are a member of an investment committee ask yourself honestly now, how often have you changed an original plan midterm? The answer, for most people, is very rarely indeed. In fact, plans only tend to get changed as the result of a greater crisis. In other words when we are forced. Reacting to short-term events is a suboptimal approach, and there is a better way to approach the changing risk environment.

The first step is to establish how long the investment plan that has been put together is meant to last. This can be as long or as short as desired. A pension fund may have a ten-year strategic goal, with bi-annual target markers that must be achieved for the plan to be considered to be on track. Other funds may only look out one to three years others still shorter.

The next step having established the plan is to create the target “marker” dates. These are mark- ers that formally verify if the performance target set by the strategic plan is being met or not. They should impede further progress if performance is behind goal and act as a call for a wider strategic review. Falling behind a strategic objective requires a challenge to change the approach or a justification for sticking to it.

In between the marker points, there should be a shorter term tactical asset allocation approach, even for longer-term funds. CheckRisk is convinced that the investment industry, for the most part, has put the cart before the horse. In this example, the cart being investment returns and the horse being the engine of returns that we define as risk. By placing risk in its rightful place, a different approach can be adopted, that of investing for risk. This approach recognizes that an asset or market can only provide a set amount of return for the risk taken at any particular point in time. Sometimes that return will be double-digit growth at others low single-digit or even negative returns. There is little point setting a long-term strategic return and then assuming that the performance profile to achieve that goal will be linear, it is simply unrealistic to expect such an approach to work.

Having a tactical approach has two big advantages and no discernible disadvantages. The first benefit is that a tactical approach forces a regular review of the strategic plan against the risk profile of the current risk environment. In other words, it overlays a pragmatic approach onto a longer term profile. The second benefit is it places risk as the driver of returns, allowing for both the derisking and taking on more risk when appropriate. There are no disadvantages because with a tactical risk approach it is perfectly allowable to make no changes if none is required.

Having set out the stall, it is important to consider the bits and pieces that may change one’s view. As far as CheckRisk’s stall is concerned there are two recent news items that we believe are necessary to consider. The US labour statistics and capital outflows from emerging markets, these two items are naturally inextricably linked.

Bits and Pieces

The US Labor Department said that 142,000 jobs were created last month following a revised increase of 136,000 a figure lower than the original release. Median estimates, according to a Bloomberg survey had been 201,000. The release makes it tough for the Fed to raise interest rates in 2015. CheckRisk has held the view that it was more likely to occur in Q1 of 2016. That being said it now looks like the best of the year in 2016 will be in the first half. The Fed will be acutely aware that the global economy is likely to slow then as the natural consequence of the global business cycle, inventory cycle and the need to raise interest rates collide. It is entirely possible, indeed CheckRisk has speculated, that the Fed will not be able to raise interest rates at all for the foreseeable future. Worse still if the Fed moves prematurely it will have to reverse the decision and re-embark on QE.

B.U.M.P. or the Breaking of Unconventional Monetary Policy remains the core risk for any investor. The when, the means of execution and the impact of the same are critical to the future outlook. In the short term, the most recent payroll data makes any increase in interest rates a big gamble and probably a policy mistake for the Fed. The Fed has been overly optimistic on their growth forecasts, and as we stated last week in the Global WRAP, it is likely that the Fed has already missed the boat. This is a major issue and is part of the reason a crisis is becoming increasingly likely in the 2017 to 2020 period.

To be clear the US economy is not, as far as our early warning indicators are concerned, heading for recession, it is growing at a rate that is not far below historical averages. Historical averages, however, are too small in the current situation given the increase in debt and the stage of the cycle. The averages are much lower than what we expected for the amount of liquidity that has been created. This is the perspective that drives our tactical approach. The US is at the latter stage of the credit cycle, by contrast Europe is at an earlier stage. The EMs are at risk of being held hostage by US rates.

The next six months or so are going to see a global pick up in economic growth. This is likely to be met with stronger oil prices, increased demand for commodities and a sense of relief that a hole in the road has been avoided. CheckRisk would caution on overconfidence at that time. The US Fed may use it as an excuse to get a rate rise in when, in fact, the recovery will be quite fragile and dependent on continued liquidity. The markets are likely to get through 2016, however, as the readjustment phase either commences or is put off. The big issue is what happens next. Or as we often say at CheckRisk, “What could possibly go wrong?” The answer to that question is unfortunately quite a lot. This is the main reason that the period between 2017 and 2020 is so fraught with risk. The ammunition has been used up, and there is still a major campaign ahead. Inflation remains too weak, and GDP growth too anaemic to deal with the mounting levels of global debt and at some point bond investors are going to start to realize that there is a mounting sovereign credit risk.

CheckRisk mentioned two concerns in this “bits and pieces” section. The second is the mounting issue of capital outflows from emerging markets (EMs). Again readers will have seen this in past issues of our Weekly Risk Analysis Profile (WRAP), and the impact a rising US dollar and interest rates has on EMs.

According to the Institution of International Finance EM’s will suffer a net outflow of capital this year the first time since the 1980’s this year. The IIF forecasts that foreign investor flows to EMs will fall to $548bn in 2015. This is lower than levels recorded in 2008 and 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

Also, the IIF estimates that private outflows from EMs are greater than $1tn this year, against a figure of $23.7tn of indebtedness a five-fold increase in the last decade. The rise in debt, combined with the EM currency depreciation is making the cost of servicing that debt even harder. Should the Fed decide to raise rates, the problem will be magnified not only by the interest rate cost but also the impact of a stronger dollar.

As we have said before the current short-term indicators are showing a significant increase in global money supply, and that should result in a better relative short term market environment. This does not, however, solve the problem of mounting debt in EMs, and the risks associated with their currencies or dependence on commodities. The risk is that the short term improvement masks a significant deterioration in the longer term outlook. In a nutshell, that is what CheckRisk is currently forecasting.

If inflation picks up, and/or we see a pick-up in global demand that leads to above average Global GDP growth then we will have to adjust our tactical approach again. We certainly hope that this is the case, but risk management is not about hope. A rising inflation outlook or an increase in Global GDP is very easy to pick up in the data and will be signaled well before it occurs. In other words, it is unlikely to be missed by a risk system such as ours, and there will be time to adjust. The inverse, a meltdown in EMs, or interest rate shock risk, or a loss of confidence in the strategy of central banks is more difficult to time. It is this risk that we at CheckRisk are focusing our attention upon and urging clients to do the same.

In between the known and the unknown are the doors of perception.

To learn more about CheckRisk click here.

CheckRisk: Entropy in financial markets

check risk financial markets

Nick Bullman, of risk analysis consultancy CheckRisk, presents his thoughts of the week (28th September 2015)

  • Entropy in financial markets – is it the normal state?
  • Looking through the current market turbulence – are better times ahead?
  • A significant sentiment change vis a vis the Fed.

“Because our brains are so fine tuned to detect symmetry, is it possible that both the tools that we use to determine the laws of nature and indeed our theories themselves have symmetry in them partly because our brains like to latch onto the symmetric part of the universe and not because it’s the most fundamental thing?”

Mario Livio, “The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved.”

Pattern recognition, symmetry and entropy. Pattern recognition is one of the main reasons that humans are so often wrong-footed by financial markets. How cmoe yuor bairn is albe to udnertsnad tihs snetnece eevn tghouh olny the frist and lsat ltetres of ecah wrod are crreoct ? The answer as to why all English speakers can read the sentence is down to our ability to recognize patterns.

Recent studies suggest that pattern recognition is much more ingrained than previously thought. In his book, “The equation that couldn’t be solved.” Mario Livio describes pattern recognition as the search for symmetry. Our search for symmetry extends to financial markets, and that is a major problem for all of us.

Consider the following, the way most animals, including our human body, are laid out is in a symmetrical mirror form. In biology, this is called bilateral symmetry. Essentially most of animal nature is symmetrical on a plane running from head to tail or toe. Bilateral symmetry is so prevalent in nature that it is unlikely to be purely coincidental. Merely the fact that there are infinitely more ways to construct an asymmetrical body than a symmetrical one is proof enough.

Bilateral symmetry must have evolved for good reason. There are some streams of thought as to why. One of the theories is that bilateral symmetry makes it easier for the brain to recognize a mate or group member from different angles and positions thus making recognition and perception simpler. There is also a body of evidence that suggests human beings are attracted to symmetrical faces over non-symmetrical partners.

Symmetry in our universe extends well beyond bilateral symmetry. Our understanding of the Universe from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to the more recent understanding of quantum mechanics relies on an equal and opposite force. The Higgs-Boson or “God Particle” is an elementary particle and was predicted by the so-called Standard Model in physics because an opposing force had to exist to make the model complete. Thus, the search for the Higgs-Boson’s existence commenced well before it was verified. The Standard Model has been highly useful apart from its one major failing that is to explain gravity, and gravity may just not be a symmetrical force.

The Standard Model does leave an important question, though, do our brains look for symmetrical solutions to problems and, therefore, bias our ability to understand non-symmetrical outcomes? In other words are the solutions we find to explain the Universe real or merely a construct of brains that find symmetrical solutions easier to comprehend. This may be one reason that the standard model has failed so far to explain gravity. It is a long-winded way of saying one of the reasons we find risk so hard to grasp is that risk appears to us as a nonlinear and asymmetrical force for much of the time. This is the main reason Value at Risk (VaR) as a system for predicting risk cannot possibly work. VaR has its uses, of course, it is just that predictive capacity is not one of them. Other models have to be overlaid on to VaR to make it of any real value. Simply put this is why CheckRisk uses a series of different models to understand risk. If you want to look into this subject further you can go to one of the sources for this week’s Global WRAP.

http://www.livescience.com/4002-symmetry-nature-fundamental-fact-human-bias.html

Also, Mario Livio’s book from 2005 is a fascinating read.

The point of all of the above is that our search for patterns and symmetry in financial markets may well be alchemy. Technical analysis, with the possible exception of relative strength indicators, flow of funds data and momentum indicators, are for the most part pattern recognition and subject to all of the biases and failings we mention. A technical pattern does not predict the future. The search for symmetry raises all sorts of questions. One of the avenues of an answer is in the study of Entropy meaning disorder of uncertainty. CheckRisk uses Network Risk Analysis and our Early Warning Risk System to assist with the entropy that exists in financial markets.

Coming back to our original question is entropy in financial markets the normal state? In other words are financial markets disorderly? The question as posed is considered a heresy by efficient market theorists (EMT). The EMT model assumes equal information for all participants and rational investors. It is an example of symmetry that should give readers of this report a head start.

CheckRisk does not have all the answers yet. It seems to us that financial markets go through several different states, from benign stable to unbenign and unstable. The benign risk periods are associated with stable interest rates, increasing the money supply, and a host of economic data that are trending slowly higher. Volatility related to the benign state is low. Non-benign and unstable periods tend to be shorter than the benign periods and occur around regime changes, for example, a move from inflation to deflation, or interest rate shocks. Higher volatility is a characteristic of these phases. CheckRisk believes that our Early Warning Risk Models can identify the transition phases from benign to nonbenign and the reverse with good but not perfect predictability up to a year ahead. When combined with Net Work Risk Models and applied to Tactical Asset Allocation a superior risk-adjusted return is both achievable and demonstrable.

Financial markets are not efficient. They look efficient for long enough to deceive us. Our innate desire to recognize patterns and symmetry are sufficient to con us. The only way to avoid this trap is to look outside of the VaR box, the problems of symmetry, and to use tools that may help in reining in our predispositions. An early warning risk system is indispensible for any investor wishing to take advantage of and/or avoid risk.

Better times ahead?

CheckRisk has been alerting their client base of a distinct difference between the short-term risk outlook and the longer term in financial markets. Short-term risk is decreasing while long-term risk is increasing. To be clear the short term, meaning six months, outlook is benign given the recent sell off which we forecast in April of this year. The longer term into 2016 is looking tougher, and we are mainly concerned with the period 2017 to 2020 for financial market risk. The long-term risk outlook is dependent on two principal risk factors; inflation and Global GDP growth. These two risk factors are influenced by a whole host of others but unless inflation and Global GDP growth accelerate it is clear that the burden of debt on the world will at some stage become too much.

In the short term the outlook of financial markets are better, for what may seem an entirely contradictory statement, credit growth is accelerating again along with global money supply. There is, however, a complication. Sentiment towards the Fed’s actions appears to have changed. Over the past few years, any suggestion that the Fed was going to end QE sent the markets into a spiral dive. The latest concern, however, has been that the Fed needed to delay making an interest rate increase. Any delay must be viewed as an economic weakness. A complete volte face by the market and an important one. Markets rose on Friday because Janet Yellen made it pretty clear in a speech on Thursday in Amherst that the Fed still favours a rate rise this year, excluding external influences. The message has been well received because it indicates “things” cannot be as bad as the market has assumed.

To put some sense on this; one should remember that Yellen said in June and July that it was likely that rates would rise in September and that meeting has been and gone with no change. Essentially nothing has changed since the September meeting, however, what it means for markets is that uncertainty will persist at each Fed meeting until a change is made. Also for a Fed that prides itself on clear guidance the Fed now finds itself in muddy waters. The market sentiment change is significant, and will not be missed by the Fed. The financial market for the first time since 2008 is indicating that it wants there to be an interest rate rise. As such the focus will gradually change to “how much” question from a “when and if” question. This is a much healthier state to transition to provided the actual interest rate rises do not trigger an EM crisis, and the interest rate increases are gradual and small.

The most important point to register is that there has been a change.

In fact, 2015 is a year of change. Just consider the Chinese devalued the Yuan and then said they were not engaging in a currency war. The Japanese have so far failed to get inflation higher and are faced with the potential failure of their QE on steroids. The Fed, meanwhile, has made it pretty clear that interest rates are moving higher.

It is highly unlikely that the Chinese are serious that the Yuan devaluation is a one-off phenomenon and that no further depreciation is to be expected. CheckRisk expects a further 10% to 15% depreciation in the Yuan exchange rate against the USD as the most likely outcome. The Japanese will have to let the JPY move lower to counteract the Yuan as well. The Fed finds itself in a corner of their making. As the result of these three changes, it becomes clearer why the short term and long term risk environments are so different.

There is a world of difference too between the desire to normalise interest rates and the ability to do so. In this regard CheckRisk believes the Fed has already missed the boat. The bottom line, however, is that the USD is going to move higher and in the short-term stock and bond markets are going to perform just fine once we are through this period of risk discovery. The real risk event is going to happen in the period 2017 to 2020 by our best estimates at present.

As we have discussed before, there is a mounting risk of time compression. Network risks may intensify, and the risk discovery process may occur sooner than we anticipated. For the moment, however, our models show that there has been a significant short-term decline in risk with a balancing increase in the long-term outlook in the financial market. In case anyone thinks this has something to do with symmetry it is not so. It is because central bankers and politicians continue to shunt all of the risks into the future to avoid dealing with them today.

For more information about CheckRisk please click here.

 

Now read: Is This The Big One? Part II,

Is This The Big One Part III

 

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12 Hay Hill Business Club

12 Hay Hill, the newly opened Members’ Business Club, continues to go from strength to strength.

Hedge Brunch members were amongst the first to witness the luxurious design of the 4th floor Business Lounge, on the occasion of our Summer Classic Event. It was an awesome evening and 12 Hay Hill more than lived up to expectations.

The top floor gallery lounge is already proving to be highly popular as spot to meet & do business during the day & as a cool events space, during the evening. The Club has a great feel about it & a top class team in place, to look after its members.

Located on the south corner of Berkeley Square, 12 Hay Hill provides a meeting point and London base for a community of like-minded entrepreneurs & international business figures. It is no surprise that the uptake of memberships is booming & that word is spreading fast, about the opportunity presented by this novel Club.

The newly refurbished building is home to state of the art serviced offices, numerous meeting rooms and boardrooms, business lounges and a range of exquisite dining facilities. Hedge Brunch members still qualify for discount, but with only a few offices still remaining & Club memberships being snapped up, we advise those of you who have an interest in 12 Hay Hill, to make contact with them sooner, rather than later.

Le Bristol Paris

Summer wouldn’t be Summer in Europe without a trip to Paris. The Seine sparkling in the mid-year sun, decadent three course breakfasts and wandering the Champs Elsysee with Le coeur ouvert à l’inconnu. August is a great time to visit as the typical Parisian leaves the city for at least two weeks of the month (four if they really mean it) to enjoy their yearly coastal or country holiday. The streets are much quieter and you can let l’espirit Francais wash over you without the pressure-cooker feeling of many global cities in tourist season.

Le Bristol, one of Paris’ most celebrated hotels was home for the long weekend, and what a home it made. 

Catching the Eurostar from London St Pancras and heading to Gare du Nord is so stress free it’s a joy. We arrived in Paris after a Friday lunchtime train and it was seamless – the hotel a welcome welcome. The beauty is that there’s almost no difference in-between spinning between meetings in London and catching the Eurostar: it’s easy to get to, you jump on with little luggage, settle in quickly and can actually continue to work with ease – finishing off those last few end-of-week tasks that make a weekend away that much more enjoyable. That, or if you are more organised/feeling lazy (delete as appropriate), you can start enjoying your journey with a semi-decent glass of wine.

Le Bristol underwent a mammoth £120m refurbishment in 2010, lasting three years. It was a collaboration between hotel owner Maja Oetker and renowned designer Yves Roche – and the result is as opulent as it could tastefully be. 182 rooms, including 78 suits, make up the magnificent space on rue du Fabourg St Honore. Grand is an understatement. We settled in to a beautiful suite overlooking the sparkling lights on haute couture boutiques and felt like we’d landed in a timeless Wes Anderson short. 

Food followed quickly and we were not disappointed. Epicure, Le Bristol’s 3 Michelin starred gastronomic restaurant is run by Head Chef, Eric Frechon. The restaurant reflects the hotel’s art of gracious living through its cool, comfortable and bright ambiance and elegant design. Epicure features Italian Botticino marble flooring, 16th Century style mouldings, a majestic chandelier and a 19th Century marble fireplace. To complement the restaurant’s interior, guests are served using a white bone china dinner service created by Raynaud in Limoges and water glasses made of Baccarat crystal.

Éric Fréchon Head Chef at Le Bristol since 1999, holds 3 Michelin stars and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious French Legion d’Honneur for his culinary masterpieces. Famous dishes include stuffed macaroni with black truffle and artichoke and duck foie gras au gratin with ripened parmesan. The artichoke was a standout success – still reaching out and comforting days, nay weeks, after the event.

Drinking at Le Bristol continues in much the same fashion. Le Bar du Bristol exudes timeless elegance and you can while away a good few hours there. The atmosphere in the bar itself, which is closed off with thick silk curtains for greater intimacy, evokes old English clubs; with a wooden floor made from Versailles oak and magnificent panelling that is over 100 years old, made of natural pine from Esher in Surrey. Two bookcases flank the 19th century fireplace, which is made of marble from Sienna in Italy. Gravitas to say the least.

Every evening a huge mirror becomes a screen, which showcases work by some of the world’s finest artists – this nullified the guilt of not visiting enough of the city’s spectacular museums. The place is managed by Edgar Vaudeville and Maxime Hoerth, the Head Barman, who was named Best Barman and Craftsman in France in 2011. His own cocktail creations include Bristol Old Fashioned N°1 (winner) and Heartbreaker. Accompanied by exactly the right kind of DJ for the space, a perfect combination for a night of fun.

It’s not all food, drink and over-consumption though. In 2011 Le Bristol launched Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie. It comprises eight beauty treatment cabins, a Russian Wet Room with the first effusion shower in Paris, a Turkish Bath for women only, a double VIP suite, a fitness centre, children’s area and a hairdressing salon. It is set over three floors of the hotel, is bathed in natural light and opens out onto a beautiful indoor garden – a haven within a haven.  A welcoming water wall in the reception area invites guests to enter a timeless cocoon of wellbeing and beauty in typical French-style luxury.

Once you’re fed, watered and properly relaxed you may be (well it’s possible) inclined to burn off some of those calories. Le Bristol’s fully equipped fitness space offers personalised training programs and a stunning swimming pool dressed in teak and glass on the roof. The swimming pool is kept at a perfect 28°C and opens on to a vast sundeck overlooking Paris. Bathed in August sunlight on a Sunday afternoon it was hard to see a reason to leave.

Rooms at Le Bristol start at €950 per night. For more information visit www.lebristolparis.com

HedgeBrunch Private

Regular readers and friends of HedgeBrunch.com will know of our love for mixing Work and Play – especially when it comes to the best that the automotive world has to offer. There are few businesses, in the UK at least, that are better placed to take advantage of this than luxury car dealer, HR Owen. On a perfect sunny September day, we took eight of our most select network friends to the illustrious Millbrook Proving Ground, a collection of what is quite possibly some of the most exciting private road space in the world. It was to be a spectacular HedgeBrunch Private event.

With an early morning start we arrived at the highly secure Millbrook Proving Ground, which is just an hour north of London. We were greeted with a strict no-photos briefing and all had our mobile-devices disabled. Millbrook is used by every major manufacturer and some of the cars being tested are still years away from release, so secrecy is paramount. It is also home to a healthy slice of filming for car shows and Hollywood blockbusters (remember 007 flipping his Aston in Casino Royale? That was here). Exciting stuff.

Guests included a great mix of funds and family offices, making for fertile conversation off the track over bacon sandwiches and coffees, but it was the on-track action that was that had tongues waggling the most. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lambourgini, Aston Martin, Maserati & Ferrari. All in one place. All at our disposal. With no speed limit*.

Each guest was afforded at least two opportunities (but plenty had three or four) to take the model of their choice around 3 different circuits: an Alpine route, a one mile straight track, and the bowl – a fully banked track where you can hit speeds of 140mph+ with your hands off the wheel. The is certainly not the M25 in rush hour.

Each car comes with a professional driver, guys who know their onions and more – it’s really quite worth it. Whether you’ve experienced the kind of raw power that these cars have before, or not the inside track that a pro-driver can give you is invaluable. You get to know and understand the car in much greater detail than you would taking it for a spin straight from the showroom.

Over lunch the merits of each make and model were argued to death before diving a little further into each guest’s current projects and market thoughts. Turns out a proving ground for the best things on four wheels is also quite a good place to discuss work!

For more information on HR Owen please visit www.hrowen.co.uk. To learn more about Millbrook visit www.millbrook.co.uk.

If you would like to host your own experiential event for clients or your team please get in touch with the headbruncher@hedgebrunch.com.

*at least not one that resembled any other road in the UK!