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In my daily interactions with financial advisers, it is evident that the search for the perfect investment platform in South Africa is a top priority. The platform, basically a piece of technology that facilitates investment, not only needs to deliver certain functions, but it also needs to evolve over the long term alongside the changing investment goals and financial aspirations of clients.

When looking for a trading platform in South Africa that is right for your clients, what then are the boxes that need ticking? In my experience, there are a number of important things to look out for...

Service standards
In financial services, a great service offering is key. Having a local presence that delivers excellent service is even better. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to resolve a client query and struggling to even get a hold of someone to assist you, particularly when dealing with far flung locations that may also be in different time zones and with different native languages.

Product and service offering
Having a variety of products and services is what separates an all-in-one investment platform from bog-standard platform services. The more comprehensive platform providers tend to have tax efficient offerings to assist clients in building up their overall wealth.

Furthermore, you should consider a platform that does not limit the underlying assets that users can purchase. Choose a platform that can access unlimited funds, investment structures and allows you to buy shares to ensure that you are not restricted to what you can buy for your client. You also want to be able to trade those assets at your desired price without having to monitor the stock markets – this is why market and limit orders are a must-have function. The ability to make trades immediately is important too in order to make the most of a price at a given time. 

Asset transfer
When you set out to open an account, the transition between investment platforms can often be tricky and off-putting. To make this process as smooth as possible look for a platform that allows you to move your assets via an asset transfer from a different wrapper, platform or life bond at no costs.

Investment platform south africa

Fees
Don’t we all want an investment provider that does not charge an arm and a leg whilst still managing to tick all your boxes? Platform fees are extremely competitive in the offshore space and it is worth taking the time to seek a provider that offers everything you need. It is imperative that you find a suitable platform  where the fees are completely transparent. This way you are able to be clear with your client about the costs involved and any additional related ancillary fees. 

Jurisdiction
Tax implications are a big consideration when choosing a jurisdiction in which to hold your assets. There are a number of offshore jurisdictions to choose from and the regulations vary. One example of an offshore jurisdiction often considered by investors in South Africa is the Isle of Man, where there is relatively low income tax and no capital gains tax. From a South African tax perspective the Isle of Man is tax neutral.

Probate
It can often be very frustrating and time consuming to finalise and regularise inheritance. Having a platform that provides multiple account ownership - in other words, joint accounts -  makes this process much easier, as the account will automatically be left to the surviving owner(s) of the account. 

Technology
In terms of technology, a platform should allow you to access your data via an API Rest or SFTP data feed. It should also provide a user-friendly portal that you and your client can access to manage the portfolio in a seamless manner. This would include the ability to trade the underlying portfolio online without the need for paper based dealing forms. 

investment platform south africa

Local presence
Another point to consider is whether your chosen platform provider has a local presence. Why? Firstly, it brings more comfort knowing that you can visit the office or pick up the phone to call your key contact who is in same time zone as you. Secondly, the tangibility of a local office brings comfort to investors as they can see for themselves where their hard-earned money will be going and who will be dealing with it.

investment platform south africa

Lastly, and very importantly, a platform should allow you freedom of choice. This choice can come in many forms but ultimately, it should allow you to control the why, how and what around your client’s investment. Look for a platform that is 3rd party and DIM agnostic that has no restrictions on your client’s capital, such as exit penalties or restrictions on contributions and, most importantly, one that is open architecture in terms of the underlying asset classes you wish to invest in.

If you would like to find out more about Capital International Group’s platform service, please click here.

Alternatively to learn more about our Johannesburg based team of investment specialists, please click here.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

Online gambling is one of the most regulated industries in the world, with an increasing number of jurisdictions now drafting their own legislation and regulation to ensure they aren’t left behind and to prevent unlicensed operators from acting within their territory.

The benefits of having a licensing regime far outweigh those of not having one, even if the primary driver for most jurisdictions is to charge a tax/duty on the profits generated by eGaming businesses. Greater regulation allows for greater player protection and welfare. The industry itself receives a lot of scrutiny in respect of player protection, responsible gambling and ensuring player welfare. It has been very noticeable that over the years the focus of the larger operators has most certainly changed for the better. Television adverts and online banners now promote responsible gambling tools, such as setting deposit and session limits as well as advising players that they can ‘take a break’ from their account as opposed to offering them enhanced odds or free bets/spins. Operators are doing more and more in the industry to tackle the stigma attached to online gambling and to ensure they provide their customers with a friendly and safe player environment.

Operators and those operating from within the sector do typically find opening bank accounts very difficult and this comes down to the nature of their business. ‘Gaming’ is perceived as negative, and banks are very reluctant to work with these types of businesses and have been for many years. Understanding the sector and the high standard of regulation across multiple jurisdictions allows Capital International Bank to make informed decisions and to implement a risk-based approach when assessing new business from this industry. We are comfortable working in this particular space, whether it is with new start-ups trying to get a foothold in the market, or well-established enterprises seeking alternative and contingency solutions. We offer solutions for operational gaming accounts, player protection / segregated player funds accounts across a variety of jurisdictions however we cannot accept direct player deposits or offer accounts in USD at this time.

At Capital International Bank, we work with a variety of different businesses operating in the eGaming sector, and we understand the regulation that businesses are required to adhere to. Similar to our own banking requirements, regulatory reporting in the gaming industry is requested frequently and demands a high level of detail. Regulators rely heavily on the reporting that they receive from their operators to ensure the industry is kept crime free, operators are acting within the regulation and key events are reported as and when they occur.

According to the Global Online Gambling Market Report, the online gambling market is forecasted to increase by $40 billion between 2020 and 2025. eGaming businesses are continually innovating and developing their platforms to improve customer experience and enhance the range of products available in order to battle for small margins of the market share. Customers remain loyal to their favourite brands and platforms. Operators are therefore always looking to add further content to their sites to ensure satisfaction and longevity in their relationships with consumers. Like the rest of us, if we aren’t happy with something, we would seek out change and improvement. The same can be said for banking. While developing and creating our digital bank, client research was at the forefront of the project. We built Capital International Bank for the purposes of client satisfaction and to serve industries that are new and emerging as well as existing sectors seeking better banking solutions.

Having developed a customer-obsessed culture, client feedback is crucial to our business. Enhancing our own platform is continuous and always focused on client satisfaction. Having built the bank’s user interface in-house, we are able to make key changes quickly and efficiently, giving us the edge on our competitors.

Through our entirely digital offering and pragmatic, local decision-making, we have established a banking solution capable of serving the e-gaming industry. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you would like to know more about Capital International Group, our digital banking platform or to share your feedback/customer experience.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

Women in banking and finance

Whether it’s new faces within the business or those who have worked their way up through the ranks, at Capital International Group, we are incredibly proud to work with a team of talented and tenacious women who are playing a key role in steering the business to future success.  

Some of our team now share their experiences of being women in banking and finance and give advice to those just starting out.  

Climbing the Ladder

Sue Shute

Sue Shute - Director: Success, I believe, comes from enjoying what you do, finding a niche, having confidence in your ability, and pushing yourself to go for that new role or promotion even when you don’t have all the right experience or qualities. It’s also important to be accountable while not being afraid of making mistakes. My advice to others would be not to get hung up on being a woman in business – just be good at what you do.

Jill Harrison - IT Service Desk Team Leader: When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had a GCSE in IT but had never considered it as a career. At the age of 19, a friend who worked in IT suggested that I apply for a junior position at their firm. A month later, I was given my first position as an IT administrator with the opportunity to learn on the job. IT was and continues to be a predominantly male dominated sector, but I’m not really sure why! The IT world is ever evolving, no two days are ever the same. If you have an interest in technology, enjoy helping people and problem solving, this may be the career for you! My advice would be not to be afraid to take on things you’ve never done before; never stop learning.

Women in banking and finance
Claire Baldwin

Claire Baldwin - Banking Operations Team Manager: Find what motivates you! Whether it’s saving up for a big holiday (post-covid) or climbing up the ranks to become a director. Working hard with determination and dedication has given me ample opportunities within my role since I started working at Capital just over two years ago. Keeping myself focused and motivated to achieve my goals has allowed many of them to become a reality.

Women in banking and finance
Minna Perup

Minna Perup - Marketing Team Leader: After university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but by not being afraid of going for jobs that pushed me outside my comfort zone, I was able to get a foot in the door. By embracing continuous learning, showing initiative, and not being scared to voice my opinion, I was able to be seen and heard and progress within my field. If you don’t get noticed, you won’t get the chance to show what you are capable of. My advice would be to speak up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to come up with new solutions that will allow you and the company to progress.  

High-flyers

Lucy Cureton - Banking Operations Senior Manager: Wanting to challenge myself 15 years ago, I moved from the UK to the Isle of Man to take on a new middle management back-office role. As luck had it, I had a fantastic line manager who acknowledged my previous achievements and encouraged me to fast track through multiple teams every 12-18 months to build up my knowledge and most importantly my stakeholder sponsor network.  

Lucy Cureton

Don’t be afraid to step back to go forward. Always at least consider the opportunities offered to you; they are all chances to challenge yourself and learn new things. Accumulating a strong knowledge and awareness of Banking Operations has led me to my current role and I am sure I have many years more of learning ahead of me. It’s great now to have the chance to give back and support others with their own career journeys.

Women in banking and finance
Kim Quirk

Kim Quirk - Business Development (ESG Investments): As a child, I was privileged to have a positive influence in my father who taught me to have strong ambitions and a good work ethic. This foundation combined with working for companies who have been very supportive and encouraging has been vital in helping me move up the ladder. I have also been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by some powerful and motivating women along the way. I have embraced every opportunity presented to me, which was scary at times and not all opportunities led to positive outcomes, but I learned something from each experience. If I could give any advice, it would be to remain true to yourself and don’t try to be like anyone else. Our different approaches are what make us unique.

Newcomers

Women in banking and finance
Kavitha Rajagopalan

Kavitha Rajagopalan - Senior Product Manager: Being a woman in the workplace to me means to be recognised for the impact that I have and the passion I bring to the workplace. I started my career working as a software developer in India and when I moved to the Isle of Man, I restarted my career as a marketing analyst and worked my way up in product management having children along the way.

My advice? Don't hesitate to try new things or make fresh starts. Get outside your comfort zone, keep learning, take breaks when you need them and bank on your transferable skills. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.  

Women in banking and finance
Laura Morris

Laura Morris – Risk Manager: There has never been a better time to be a woman in business. Key bodies internationally are waking up to the benefits of diversity in their leadership structures and wider businesses. The number of women on FTSE boards is up 50% in just five years, and women occupying a third of positions at the highest level is not only inspiring, but a call to action for those of us that want to join their ranks.  

Having both male and female sponsors who believe and champion the benefits you can bring has been key in my experience. Investing in mentoring relationships with those working at a senior level and making career decisions that challenge and develop me professionally have been essential in my professional journey so far.

Women in banking and finance
Lucky Kemigisha

Lucky Kemigisha - Senior Internal Audit Manager: Being a woman in the business world for me means continually transcending gender barriers and being the best version of yourself every day. Working through the ranks, I started my career in a ‘Big 4’ audit firm which taught me the value of hard work and laid the foundation for the professional that I am today. Over the years, I have learnt that my career is in my hands. I need to steer it to where I want it; no one is going to do it for me.

My advice to young women? “It can be” is a powerful mantra. Believe it and align yourself to it. Identify a mentor and career coach, someone to hold you accountable and likewise someone who can remind you that your dreams and aspirations are valid. Do not tell the time using someone else’s watch - our paths are different.  

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

There is a common perception that banking organisations are slow to innovate, due in part to the historic systems on which they run being inflexible and resistant to change. As recently as July 2020, TSB in the UK were struggling with ongoing problems resulting from a major system upgrade.

Delivering major innovations for ‘brick and mortar’ banks is certainly challenging. The clunky integrations between siloed systems such as ATM networks, internet banking and the platforms used in-branch can slow down development, but is this picture of glacial change as a result of aged technology a true reflection of the banking world as a whole?

Fintech is often seen today as the marriage of financial services and information technology, but unlike the legacy systems of ‘brick and mortar’ banks, this is an open marriage based on the very latest technologies and delivery practises.

What Does Continuous Delivery Mean for Capital International Bank?

The first version of Capital International Bank was deployed for live testing on 1st December 2020.  This was the minimal viable product. Over the following months, before the regulator lifted all licensing restrictions on 27th May 2021, the bank was slowly opened up to more users, and their experiences were used to validate our product features and learn critical lessons about what our clients really wanted from our digital banking platform.

During this period, Capital’s team delivered a total of 65 new banking features, 61 major improvements and 803 fixes where the functionality fell short of expectations. While the average number of changes was over 5 per day, the majority of updates were made weekly, and major client facing feature releases were scheduled on a monthly basis. With this, it’s fair to say that the snail-pace of innovation the banking industry has come to be associated with is quickening; for us at Capital, it’s less glacial change, more speed of light! How did we achieve this? Keep reading to uncover our secrets.

Banking Technology Innovations Open the Door to Opportunities

The leading internet businesses across Fintech, gaming and other regulated sectors have one foundation in common: continuous delivery from cloud-based infrastructure. This is the foundation that Capital has adopted in order to bring the agility of best-in-class businesses to the world of corporate banking and investment services.

What is Continuous Delivery (CD)?

This is a software engineering approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time. For example, some digital retail banks release product enhancements every two weeks and most gaming companies update products daily.

The essence of this approach is often termed ‘agile development’. The diagram below shows a simplistic view of how the mechanism functions. Rather than the focus being on producing a final version of the product (a car in the example), the focus is on delivering a simple version that meets the user objective (moving from A to B). Only after that comes the regular refinement of the product based on an in-depth understanding of user needs.

This approach reflects the reality that it is almost impossible to define a complex product on day one with enough detail to satisfy the needs of the customer. It is better to use real customer feedback to determine the requirements and to iterate the product frequently until the customer is delighted with the product that is being offered.

The approach helps reduce the cost, time and risk of delivering changes, by allowing for more incremental updates to applications in production. Frequent update cycles – or having a high release velocity – is also the key to being responsive to client demands, which ultimately drives customer satisfaction.

The Benefits of Continuous Delivery Include:

  • Accelerated Time to Market: Continuous delivery lets an organisation deliver the business value inherent in new software releases to customers more quickly. This capability helps the company to stay a step ahead of the competition.
  • Building the Right Product: Frequent releases let the application development teams obtain user feedback more quickly. This means they can target their efforts toward only the useful changes. If they find that a certain feature isn't useful, they can then take the decision to spend no further time on developing it. This helps them to build the right product.
  • Improved Productivity and Efficiency: Significant time savings for developers, testers, operations engineers, etc. through automation.
  • Reliable Releases: The risks associated with a release have significantly decreased, and the release process has become more reliable. With continuous delivery, the deployment process and scripts are tested repeatedly before deployment to production. With more frequent releases, the number of code changes in each release decreases. This makes finding and fixing any problems that do occur easier, reducing the time in which they have an impact.
  • Improved Product Quality: The number of open bugs and production incidents has decreased significantly.
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: A higher level of customer satisfaction is achieved.

A straightforward and repeatable deployment process, which minimises the risk of releasing faulty software, is vital for continuous delivery. Continuous delivery is based on the notion of a deployment pipeline, which is analogous to a conveyor belt that includes a set of validations through which a piece of software must pass on its way to be released.

Every time a new release is planned, all software and systems changes are verified, using a mix of automated and manual functional testing, security testing, and business ‘user acceptance’ testing. Only once these validations have been positively confirmed as meeting the set quality criteria is the new software version permitted to be released.

As a world class banking product organisation, Capital International Bank fully supports continuous delivery but with some further controls added to the process which ensure the integrity of the product within a highly regulated market. Capital’s continuous delivery capabilities have been established around a number of investments designed to ensure the company’s future success:

  • Full Control and Accountability: All releases follow a formally defined ‘pipeline’, which is enforced by tools that allow any change to be tracked through several validation phases. This allows all constituent parts of a release to be version controlled and allows releases to be managed in production and in-life.
  • Feature Team Organisation Design: Our delivery organisation is modelled around the so called ‘Spotify’ structure in which teams are aligned to specific product features (e.g. payments). This creates a sense of ownership and a deeper understanding of the customer requirements than if delivery tasks are being continually spread across a wider team.  
  • Automated Code Quality Analysis: All software updates created by Capital’s development team are analysed using a state-of-the-art tool which is used widely by other leading organisations. This uses machine learning techniques to automatically identify potential security vulnerabilities, poor production standards and levels of maintainability.
  • Services Based Architecture: Breaking a system into a number of independent microservices can increase a software system's ‘deployability’. The Bank system is broken down into several subcomponents, which can be updated independently with some elements being released with zero downtime.
  • High Levels of Test Automation: We have invested heavily in test automation; this runs every day for the most critical areas of the software to ensure that we have confidence in the integrity of each release.
  • ‘Live Like’ Environments: Different environments used in development, testing and production can result in undetected issues slipping to the production environment. We have created a ‘life like’ staging environment – which replicates production as closely as possible – so that each software version can be validated end-to-end before release.
  • Customer Feedback Monitoring: The business has created a ‘Voice of the Customer’ team as a forum for gathering customer suggestions and analysing data to help us understand where the product can be improved.

So how is this Working at Capital?

Capital International Bank was born on 1st December 2020 with the first release of the new banking product. At this time, the product was hidden from public view whilst a period of commissioning took place in which Capital International Group companies used the bank for live testing within terms agreed by the regulator.

In the six months leading up to this first launch milestone, the newly created Capital delivery organisation was releasing internal updates every two weeks and this bi-weekly release cadence became the natural ‘heartbeat’ of the organisation. In unregulated markets such as retail, many larger companies release changes daily. Our decision was to establish a slow natural cadence to our updates but within a process that supports daily releases if ever required by the business. Immediately after our first ‘hidden’ launch, we started using analytics and direct feedback to influence our product development roadmap and priorities. Daily reviews between business, product, operations and technology stakeholders allowed us to understand how the bank was being used and decisions were taken quickly if improvements were needed.

Following a soft launch on 1st March in which a customer facing version of the bank was released, our natural bi-weekly cycle was cut in half. For a period, we then ran a cycle of weekly scheduled updates allowing us to directly respond to customer feedback.

Following the excitement of the initial soft launch phase and after proving that our delivery capabilities could support daily and weekly releases as needed, the team settled back into bi-weekly sprints. The clients of Capital International Bank can expect new features to be introduced on a monthly basis, with any emerging friction points being resolved bi-weekly and critical issues being solved on a daily basis if needed. The investment in a continuous delivery capability stands us in good stead to support a customer obsessed culture in which the business can respond quickly to the needs of our clients.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

ESG has surged in popularity recently with nearly all large organisations now promoting some kind of ethical product or business practice in order to attract ESG conscious consumers and investors.

While ESG is new to many, the concept is something the Capital International Group has been familiar with for a long time. In fact, Fusion ESG, the Group’s ethical investment portfolio, was established more than a decade ago. Throughout its 25-year history, the company has consistently upheld high ethical standards. With over $5 billion in client assets, the Group acts as a trusted partner to its clients and has invested heavily in maintaining a strong organisational culture, giving back to its people and communities.

Building on the business’ existing initiatives, Capital’s ESG approach going forward will be characterised by authenticity and a genuine desire to do the right thing. Simply coating the business with a temporary ESG lacquer that will wash away in a few years is not something the Group would ever consider. Instead, Capital will be making real, practical and sustainable changes, a process which began earlier this year with the formation of the ‘ESG Forum’ which is headed up by Group Chairman Anthony Long:

Group Chairman, Anthony Long

"We wanted to embed years of informal initiatives into a much more structured approach.  We formed a new ESG Forum that draws its membership from staff across all of the Group’s offices and reports directly to our Group Board. We also developed a new ESG mission and strategy statement, which now touches all areas of the business and sets a new tone that will define our cultural development in the years ahead.”

First on the Forum’s agenda was to set out goals for the coming five years. These are built around five key themes and are framed around the ambitious target of the Group becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2025.

“It’s a big, hairy, audacious goal, and it won’t come easily, but every decision that we take from now on is framed around meeting this target,” said Anthony.

One step the Group has already taken towards achieving this goal is the introduction of an electric vehicle scheme for staff. There are currently only around 400 electric vehicles on the Isle of Man and with over 160 staff based across the company’s Douglas and Castletown offices, there is potential to have a real impact in reducing the Island’s emissions.

Another step has been to launch a major initiative to plant indigenous trees on the Island and in Africa, and to link this with local community engagement and educational awareness.

Anthony commented “Both the electric vehicle scheme and the tree planting are really exciting initiatives which, on the one hand will dramatically reduce our commuting emissions over time, and on the other I expect will enable us to plant around 30,000 new trees over the next five years."

In addition to the net-zero objective, work is progressing on the creation of a procurement score card which will be used to ensure that suppliers of the Group also uphold high ethical standards.

The ESG Forum draws from various departments across the business; those enthusiastic about creating a better world are encouraged to join the group. In addition to this voluntary committee, an ESG department has also been created which spans the Group’s Investment Management and Business Development teams.

Greg Easton, Business Development Manager

Tasked with managing and growing the Group’s ethical investment offering are Business Development Manager Greg Easton and Investment Manager James Fitzpatrick. Greg has been active in the ESG space for over a decade and even ran his own sustainable ecological assets fund between 2010 and 2013.

James meanwhile is responsible for ensuring that the Group’s ESG portfolios remain truly ESG through a stock selection style that combines both exclusion and inclusion strategies.

Greg said: "We understand that investors are increasingly seeking an ESG manager that goes beyond negative screening and ESG scoring to provide a transparent and purposeful investment strategy. We also recognise that we are in a position to lead the Isle of Man investment industry in decarbonising our discretionary portfolios and are the first on the island to appoint a dedicated ESG team. To demonstrate our commitment to responsible investing, we have also recently become a signatory of the UN PRI, a United Nations-backed global network of investors uniting to transform the investment landscape according to six aspirational ESG principles.”

James Fitzpatrick, Investment Manager


James said: "Capital International have had an ethical investment solution for over 10 years. In 2020, we decided to relaunch this solution as Fusion ESG, an actively managed portfolio focused on positive impact strategies and resource sustainability. Fusion ESG has a 100% ESG asset allocation, investing across four key themes of sustainable agriculture, clean technology, water management and healthy living."

Joining the company earlier this year, Capital’s ESG team was strengthened further with the arrival of Business Development Consultant Kim Quirk. Kim’s role within the team is to grow Capital’s ESG client base and manage existing relationships. With vast experience of working with private clients in the banking sector, Kim will now be putting her relationship skills to use once more in an area she is passionate about.

Kim Quirk, Business Development Consultant

Kim said: “Many companies claim to be focused on ESG, both on a company level and through their product offering, but few deliver on both counts. At Capital we have literally put our money where our mouth is. Through our ‘Conscious Capital’ pledge, we are committed to becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2025. This pledge comes right from the top of our organisation and has the backing of our staff in both the Isle of Man and South Africa. ESG is not just something we invest in, it’s in everything we do.”

Unlike Kim, the fourth member of the ESG team, Paige Orlik, is not new to Capital. Her graduate internship with the company began in 2019 shortly after she completed her Finance degree at the University of Cape Town and gained the CFA Level 1 qualification. Having recently moved over from Cape Town to the Isle of Man, Paige now joins our ESG team in a role that will see her time divided between Business Development and Investment Management.  

Paige Orlik, ESG Research Analyst

Paige commented on her appointment: “I couldn’t think of a better time in history to be a young, passionate individual starting out in the investment industry. The world, and particularly the economy and financial markets, are changing as climate, biodiversity, and other ESG issues come to light. With my passion for people and the environment, alongside my financial background, I aim to empower our clients to better understand the relationship between these issues, risk, and long-term financial performance. In addition, I aim to shed more light on the importance of ESG based investment decisions in ensuring a sustainable future.”

A sense of duty to protect the planet and better society has always come naturally to the Group. Since its inception, the business has been guided by its core value of integrity combined with an intrinsic desire to do the right thing. The Group’s drive to make a lasting and positive impact has now however been formalised and it looks forward to a future of building on its current initiatives, growing its ESG department and making a lasting difference in the local community as well as further afield.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

Head of Equity James Penn recently spent a week on the Calf of Man, a small island off the coast of the Isle of Man, assisting in the annual two-week Shearwater Survey conducted by the wardens on the Calf. This involves playing a pre-recording of a Manx Shearwater call into one of the burrows they nest in on the Calf.

Shearwaters are members of a group of birds known as ‘tubenoses’, the group also includes fulmar, giant albatrosses and tiny storm petrels. The incredible Manx shearwater flies for thousands of miles to return to the same burrow every year, nesting on small islands off the west coast of Britain. Raising only one extremely fluffy chick a year. The parents wait until the cover of darkness before heading out to fish. Shearwater chicks become so big that they are not able to leave the nest – and instead, must go on a crash diet in preparation for their big journey to South America for winter. (Source: Manx Wildlife Trust)

The Manx Shearwater Is the only bird named after the Isle of Man, after the bird was first identified in the 1700s, with a large population at that time based on the Calf.

Later on, a Russian ship was wrecked near the Calf of Man, resulting in a huge infestation by escaping longtails (the local term for rats) which decimated the Shearwater population over subsequent decades. As a result, 30 years ago they were thought to be extinct on the Calf.

The Calf of Man (far) and Kitterland

Eradication of the rodent population over the past two decades has created an environment suitable for them once again, and the birds have gradually reestablished themselves. There are now thought to be perhaps as many as 600 pairs living on the Calf of Man.

James also visited Kitterland, the small island between the Calf and the mainland while he was there, conducting ringing of Herring Gull and Greater Black Backed Gull chicks.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

We caught up with Finance Director Paul Atherton following his incredible performance in the Parish Walk at the weekend. Paul crossed the line after 15 hours 23 minutes, earning him first place and a spot in the event's history books.

Q: How are you feeling today?

A: I’m feeling a lot better today than on Sunday after the race! I’m trying to stay as active as possible by doing lots of short walks around the office to prevent my muscles from stiffening up.

Q: Have you always been a race-walker? How did you get into it?

I got into race walking in early 2019 when Capital’s Chief Operating Officer Werner Alberts set completing the Parish Walk as one of my work objectives. He then coached me and helped me with my race-walking technique. We trained together regularly before entering the 2019 Parish Walk where I finished 8th.

Q: What’s been involved in your training?

A: My training started in early 2019, but when the lockdown came along in March 2020, I decided to focus on running instead due to only being able to train for 1 hour per day. After lockdown restrictions were lifted, I moved forward with a combination of both running and walking training.

My running had improved a lot during lockdown and on hearing about Christian Varley’s 19 Marathons in 19 days, I decided to run an unofficial marathon by myself, completing it in a time of 3 hours 22mins.

After this first attempt, I had definitely caught ‘the bug’. I wanted to beat my time and so entered the Isle of Man Marathon in August 2020, completing it in 3hours 5mins. I then competed in the IOM Vets Marathon in May 2021, achieving a time of 2 hours 37mins and coming first.

The fitness and endurance I have gained through my marathon training undoubtedly helped me in the Parish Walk. I’ve been training in both disciplines for over a year and am the fittest I’ve ever been.

Q: Do you have any rituals on race day? 

A: I have a very well-organised race day. I like to meticulously plan out my itinerary in advance. On the day of the race, I was up at 5.30am and at the NSC before 7.00am, so I could casually take a few steps around the track and talk to some of the other competitors who were there.

Q: What do you think about during the event to get you through?

A: I find a good distraction is to spend a lot of time thinking about where I’m up to on the course, what’s coming up next, what I should be eating and what pace I should be doing based on all that.

Q: What did you eat and drink during the race?

A: During the Parish, I knew I had to regularly take on a lot of calories, but after 4 or 5 hours of walking, you really don’t feel like eating. I try to consume as many non-sugary foods as possible earlier on in the race such as sandwiches, bananas and rice-pudding. Later in the race, it’s much harder to tolerate those foods so I tend to then turn to energy gels and Jelly Babies, as well as Crunchies (my favourite chocolate bar).

Q: Did you ever think you would win? 

A: I never thought I had a chance of winning. My aim was to improve on my finishing time of around 18 hours from 2019, and to get as close to 16 hours as possible. So to beat the time I was hoping for by 40 minutes and win the race was a real surprise.

Q: How did it feel when you finished? 

A: I’m not normally the sort of person to get emotional, but as I approached the finish line to the cheers of all the supporters and my colleagues, I could really feel myself getting emotional. There was such a long build up to the Parish walk with months of training which all culminated on the one day with incredible support all around the Island and at the finish. The icing on the cake was to see my two daughters at the finish line and get a big hug from them both.

Q: What’s the next challenge?  

A: Now that the border restrictions are easing, I’m hoping to get away to compete in a larger marathon later in the year and after that I’ll be working towards next year’s Parish Walk.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

In a world where technology is evolving at an exponential rate and disruption has become the new normal, we should ask ourselves: how do we find opportunities in one of the most transformational times in human history?

In the past 20 years, there has been more innovation than what we saw in the past 300. The power of battery technology is improving exponentially every year. Our cell phones have become our second brains, our experiences, our memories and soon, they will become a copy of us.

We also find ourselves in a world where people prefer experiences over things. Look at the rise of platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, it’s all designed to show off your experiences and connect you with the world, even if those experiences are only a snapshot in time.

Will technology replace me?

Some of the biggest fears people have when they think about technological change are: will I still be valuable? Will I be replaced by technology? Or will Skynet activate and end the earth? Thankfully, Skynet isn’t a real threat but the opportunity to harness the power of technology is very real.

We need to realise that people are inefficient. We need to eat, we need to sleep, we are emotional, we question things based on our beliefs and this makes us slow and expensive. Computers and robots don’t feel. They don’t eat. They don’t question. They don’t sleep. They just do and they do it much faster than we can.

While computers and robots will inevitably do some of our work, this shouldn’t be seen as a threat, rather, it should be seen as an opportunity. It allows us the time to focus on the things that cannot be automated, it allows us to focus on smarter work.

Things like human only traits such as creativity, imagination, intuition, emotion and ethics are becoming extremely more valuable not just in the future, but right now. I’d even argue that when having a conversation, it’s maybe more important to think about what I am not saying rather than what I am saying. These are the things that computers will not be able to do.

When thinking of the future of technology and the impact it will have on your business, focus on “what can be” not “what is”. Never confuse the tool with the purpose. The tool (technology) is your force multiplier, the purpose is to give your client the best experience possible.

The problem with laggards

Another question to ask yourself: What is the downside risk of delaying the adoption of technology in your business? Is there a fundamental threat to your business model if you don’t act? Or is the reason to act purely to unlock more upside potential?

By delaying the adoption of technology, you run the risk of locking yourself and your business into a trap in which any advancements that do take place, will be to your detriment. Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot at a later date implement technology, but it does mean that whilst you delay, your competition will be leapfrogging ahead of you.

Let’s look at the global pandemic. Advisers who embraced the change, albeit a forced change, flourished. Those that didn’t lost a lot of clients and ultimately a lot of money.

There is also a reason to act because of the upside potential. I have spoken to a lot of advisers in my time in the industry and there seem to be three things that advisers want; more time, more money and more/better clients. As I mentioned earlier, people are inefficient and by using technology, businesses can become more efficient and effective which will allow them to manage increasingly larger numbers of clients.

Where to start with implementing tech?

I want to start by making a note that you must not be scared to scrap what isn’t working and focus on what does work. Focus on implementing the ‘Agile’ methodology as it involves rapid iteration.

As an adviser, you already know what you client needs from you, so I would start by defining what experience you want your clients to have when dealing with you and your business. Once you have done this, implement the plan and then ask your clients what they think about the plan you have implemented and then tweak the experience as you go along.  

Next, break down every aspect of your business and determine how it impacts the client experience. Determine what impacts the clients experience. Anything that does should be seen as a cost of sales item.

Once you have done this, determine what you need from your technology partner/s. This will help with your search for a technology partner because you will have a good idea of what you need walking in. Know that you don’t need one system to rule them all. Rather implement a tech stack, a set of tools and technologies that work together to build your client experience.

When evaluating a technology partner/s, don’t focus on price, especially if it’s a cost of sales item. Rather focus on what value you will get from that piece of technology and how that technology is going to improve the client experience.

You will almost certainly have a demo from the potential tech partner that you are interviewing. It’s important to make note that a demo is generally a perfect world scenario and that your experience won’t be like that on day one. There is likely to be crinkles that will need to be ironed out.

Technology is a force multiplier that will help you give your clients the best experience possible, but without data feeding into the system, the technology won’t be as effective as you need it to be, so it’s important to understand what data you need to feed into these systems and then speak to the relevant data aggregators.  

Last but not least, give your clients a digital portal. If possible, give them one that not only allows them to access their info but actually do some planning themselves. Give them a sandbox to play around in so that they can better understand the implications of their actions on their plan. This will push your client to take more responsibility for their plan going forward because they will feel more involved rather than being told what to do.

The API Economy - Is it the next big thing?

An API otherwise known as an application programming interface has been around for decades. It’s only in the past decade that we have seen APIs becoming so prevalent. Gary Hoberman, the Founder and CEO of Unqork explains an API like this, “They allow different systems to talk to each other in a seamless, fast fashion”.

The API Economy enables organisations new ways to create value and extend their services. This leads to an improved customer experience, continuous innovation and fast delivery of products and services to market. It also means increased efficiency because contributors in the API Economy focus on making their digital assets readily accessible.

At Capital International Group, one of our digital assets is the client data that we have stored in our system. We have employed an Open API architecture which allows you to access your clients’ information. We did this for two reasons:

1) We believe that client data belongs to the client.

2) We understand that this data will be valuable to you when managing your client accounts, so we have made this info accessible to you.

Technology is the reason that Batman is able to beat Superman. The new way to work is to embrace technology, not to be scared of it. When thinking about the future and technology, ask yourself - am I driving change, or am I being driven by it?

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.