Welcome to our quarterly newsletter. In a year that had already seen a great deal of geopolitical turmoil, perhaps Mr Trump’s presidential campaign success and Italy’s rejection of constitutional reform were eminently predictable after all. With further elections and referendums looming, it would appear financial markets around the world will be subjected to economic insecurity and the rise of populism for the foreseeable future.
Closer to home, continued Brexit fallout and new legal challenges, abandoned plans for a secondary annuity market and the serious failings highlighted in the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study (interim report) are among a host of topics that have kept our industry on its toes. Thankfully, the Autumn Statement proved, by recent standards, a rather dull affair!
In the meantime, our consultants ran a highly successful P2P lending event and published a white paper offering useful insights on the potential impact of this new asset class, sponsored the Marketforce “The Future of General Insurance 2016” report and made two senior appointments to reflect our growing presence in the GI sector and our FinTech thought leadership credentials.
Our software business kicked off the quarter with a two-day Altus Transfer Gateway user group extravaganza and the launch of the latest 3.0 version, aligning the product with the very latest UK Electronic Transfers and Re-registration Group (UKETRG) standards. They have also been busy building a solution for annuity and pensions providers impacted by the Government's recent decision to scrap both the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and HMRC Government Gateway by early 2018.
I hope you find something of interest in what follows and I’d like to wish you and your nearest and dearest a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Peer to peer: the meteorite approaches
Altus Consulting recently ran another successful event, this time on the 'love it or hate it' topic of peer to peer lending. It was attended by senior representatives from leading UK banks, IFA firms, aggregators, IFISA providers and data and due diligence information providers.
Delegates and speakers were fully engaged, debating topics such as; why the industry feels uncomfortable with the P2P market, what it will look like in 2020 and helping intermediaries make the connection. A popular topic was 'Industry Data for Due Diligence' with Rupert Taylor, Co-founder of AltFi Data.
Speakers included: Cormac Leech, Principal Victory Park Capital, Tim Slesinger, CEO LendingWell, Rupert Taylor, Co-founder and CEO AltFi and AltFi Data, Ceri Williams, Investor Operations RateSetter, Gillian Roche-Saunders, Partner BWB Compliance and our own Will Watling. View presentations from the day here.
Whitepaper - Peer to peer: the meteorite approaches
The event was supported by our popular whitepaper which offers a balanced view of the peer to peer lending landscape and strategies to survive the likely impacts of this new asset class on the financial services industry and beyond. Download a copy of the whitepaper here.
HMRC Calls Time on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Government Gateway
Ben Cocks, Director of Altus Business Systems is warning annuity and pension administrators making PAYE or pension scheme returns to HMRC that they will need to start planning for two systems changes recently announced by HMRC.
Ben says, "At a high level the information exchanged is similar to the current flows, but the technology and the data exchange sequences with HMRC are very different: it is not simply a data formatting challenge. Administrators may choose to develop new software themselves or, more likely, will use a third party service provider to handle the XML channel for them in the same way that many of them used external service providers to support EDI". Read more...
Pension policy, tax relief and the Treasury’s revenue black hole
The clocks have gone back, the leaves are turning and we look forward once more to our biannual debate on the future of pension tax relief. This time, MPs and industry figures have been calling for an independent commission to settle the issue and put a halt to speculation for the next 10 years. Read more...
New Domain Director - General Insurance in Altus Consulting
Principal Consultant, Mark Andrews was recently appointed Altus Consulting Domain Director for General Insurance, effective 1st October 2016.
Mark has been working in financial services for 15 years. Having set up the General Insurance (GI) practice within Altus Consulting, he now shapes Altus’s GI propositions as well as being delivery lead on many client engagements.
He leads the development of Altus’s comprehensive General Insurance models that the company uses to help solve a number of complex problems that clients come across in this sector. Mark stays well-informed on the ever changing insurance landscape, appearing in industry publications, panel discussions and networking at industry events.
This annual report, which is put together by Marketforce and The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), is a comprehensive view from the general insurance market on topics such as; innovation and disruption, Brexit: jury still out, value added data driven services: the next big thing, pricing and the internet of things etc.
Altus Consulting, General Insurance, Domain Director Mark Andrews provided his viewpoint on Innovation and Disruption in this years report.
Extract: "It’s a fascinating time to be working in the General Insurance industry. There are over 40 Insurtech companies looking to disrupt the UK insurance market according to recent Altus research and with over £30 billion of GWP to go after, there’s plenty on offer for them" - Mark Andrews
As sponsors we are given a number of hard copies of the report and we would be pleased to post a copy to you, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact and address details and we will send you one.
Wealth Management Association (WMA)
Annual Summit 2016
On the day America announced it had elected Trump the WMA Annual Summit was being held in London. Altus Business Systems were at the event, pleased to have sponsored lunch and promoting its transfer gateway solution.
This full-on day attracted over 300 delegates with speakers covering a medley of topics - cyber security, engaging UK retail investors, expanding the zone of competence, the Brexit landscape, blockchain and robo.
The event was expertly compèred by Daisy McAndrew, former Economics Editor & Chief Political Correspondent, ITV News who also conducted a candid and thought-provoking interview with Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman Cicero Group on Brexit and the impact of the new American leadership.
If this wasn't enough to keep us on our toes we were treated to Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt OBE 'World's Greatest Living Explorer' who talked about a number of his explorations supported by some fairly graphic pictures of frost bitten fingers and muscle biopsies being carried out with no anaesthetic. His leadership message - "you can't teach character, you can teach skills - hire on character". An interesting message in light of the political landscape.
New Head of Innovation in Altus Consulting
Adam Jones, appointed new Head of Innovation will be spearheading Altus Consulting's profile in Fintech, effective 1st October 2016.
Adam has extensive experience in the financial services industry and will be responsible for consulting engagements and research centred around FinTech and more broadly, emergent technologies.
Themes of specific interest to Adam are: artificial intelligence, blockchain/distributed ledger technologies, RegTech, InsureTech and robo-advice. He also has a particular interest in how innovation is delivered in a larger enterprise setting, having spent much of his career supporting and developing agile approaches in traditional change functions.
Just as in Robot Wars, not all chatbots are equal. In the TV show, contestants pull together a range of components from hardware stores. A circular saw here, a cordless drill there, a flame thrower made out of a hijacked can of Lynx sticking out the back. Their aim is to build the best robot they can. For financial services firms developing chatbots, a similar array of choice is emerging from developers around the world and the challenge is now one of welding this technology together. Read more...
Association of Member-Directed Pensions Schemes (AMPS) Annual Conference
In-specie pension transfers, and who cares?
Ben Cocks, Business Systems Director was asked to speak at the AMPS Annual Conference in September on the topic of in-specie pension transfers - this interactive session allowed the audience to answer specific questions.
The session covered:
What is it?
How are we doing?
How hard can it be?
What can we do about it?
The audience were asked:
How well does the industry serve customers on in-specie pension transfers today?
Will demand for in-specie pension transfers increase post pension freedoms?
What needs to be done to improve in-specie pension transfers?
Robo 1.0 - Fintech start-ups - going it alone. Robo 2.0 - Hybrid blend of incumbent players and fintech start-up technology. Robo 3.0 - New 'smart-connected' services - blending technologies; artificial intelligence, big data analytics, telematics, biometrics, digital payments, chatbots, virtual reality and augmented reality.
Unless the financial services incumbents – or even the new ‘robo’ pretenders to the throne – up their game and really re-imagine what the future will look like, rather than just re-engineering what the financial services sector already does, don’t be surprised if the financial services landscape, and the brands supporting it, looks very different in a few years from where we are today. The sky is about to fall on some very famous heads…
With $multi-billions investment, we’re now witnessing incredible advances in artificial intelligence, Big Data analytics, telematics, biometrics, digital payments, chatbots, VR and AR. New ‘smart-connected’ services, underpinned by these technologies, are coming together like never before. In time, they will be able to work out what consumers need - before they know it themselves - and proactively serve up solutions that are perfectly tailored to each individual, in a rich, engaging way. Read more...
At the end of September, Altus Business Systems customers were treated to some good insight and knowledge share on new product features and key industry updates.
Customers discussed projects ranging from digital ID to pension payments and the release of ATG version 3.0 in November 2016, in line with the release of the new market practice structures from the UK Electronic Transfers and Re-registration Group (UKETRG) v3.0.
We heard from co-chairs of UKETRG, Darren Porter, IFDS and James Sloan, Fidelity about the what changes can be expected for v3.0 and also a look at future development plans for v3.1. Darren called for companies to send representation along to the meetings, he reiterated that vendors were not allowed to represent customers at these meetings and if issues were raised, customers would need to attend and make the objections directly to the group to vote on. If you would like more information about meetings and dates please contact email@example.com
The group was given an update from Ed Dymott, formerly of Fidelity, on the industry working group set up to look at the transfers and re-registration process of wrappers and assets. The objectives: to drive continuous improvements for the consumer, identify barriers that prevent efficient transfers and establish protocols and governance to ensure the industry is 'self-regulating' with best practice. Ed shared the differing industry perspectives between consumer, solution provider and product provider and discussed the draft framework for improving transfer standards. Finalised recommendations are due in January 2017. If you would like more information on this working group and their findings please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The second day was dedicated to an ATG masterclass. Nick Meredith, Chief Architect and Beth Chubb, Product Services Specialist demonstrated new features along with helping users by answering 'how to' questions from - how to tell if a message has been sent successfully through to amending a document template.
Altus Business Systems will be running their next ATG user group in Scotland in February 2016. To register your interest please contact email@example.com
The new release of the Altus Transfer Gateway (ATG) is now available to clients. This version supports the full
range of capabilities in the latest version of the UK Electronic Transfer and Re-registrations Group (UKETRG) transfer standards (version 3.0) and includes a whole host of new and exciting features.
The focus of this release is on automating all aspects of the transfer process from account opening to final reconciliation. Upgrade took place on the weekend of the 26th/27th Nov 2016.
Altus Business Systems holds an annual ViaNova user group for its customers and people interested in the ViaNova market practice initiative. The last user group was held on the 29th Nov 2016
The group covered the following topics:
Updates on current coverage, developments with Altus products and the wider ViaNova/STP market.
A new Fund Providers' view of implementing ViaNova (the good and the bad).
An example of end-to-end STP from a Master Trust to support the entire auto-enrolment process.
Update on wider industry initiatives including; pensions dashboard, FCA transfers review and HMRC reporting.
A look at how STP can be used to support ‘pension freedoms and choice’.
An example of how ViaNova/STP is being used to support flexi-access drawdown.
Open discussion on operational issues and industry best practice.
For more information about the group and to be added to the distribution list for the next event please contact Howard Finnegan, Sales and Marketing Director - firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of Consulting and Director for the Life & Pensions domain at Altus, Martyn Evans will be speaking at the 2017 Pensions & Life Trends & Data Conference on Tuesday 21st February 2017 at the Bafta Theatre, Piccadilly, London along with speakers from Celent, The Lang Cat and Aquila Heywood.
The conference will examine the developing investment trend toward ‘end-to-end’ solutions, particularly within financial services providers but also relevant to corporate funds and third party administrators. The conference will also explore the strategic themes of changing platform trends, the science behind multi-variant segmentation, how real-time data-warehouse intelligence dashboarding drives forecasting and efficiency, and which digital and data approaches to use (and pitfalls to avoid) to boost sustainable member engagement and strengthen your proposition in a digital marketplace.
Their keynote speaker this year is Sir Ranulph Fiennes - the “world’s greatest living explorer”.
This important and highly-relevant industry conference is designed for senior pension fund administrator and technology executives. This year the conference will be held in London at the luxurious Bafta Theatre, and they have compressed the event to be 'AM only' finishing with hot canapés and a range of refreshments.
2017 Pensions & Life Trends & Data Conference
Tuesday 21st February 2017
8.30am - 1pm - networking, hot 'canapés' and refreshments
The Bafta Theatre, Piccadilly, London.
Read more In the Press from Altus Business Systems and Altus Consulting
Lost in translation: Smart Contracts for Financial Services By Head of Technical Architecture, Michael James
The concept of ‘Smart Contracts’ is simple; clauses and rules are embedded in software which is distributed via networks to provide an interface which formalises a transaction.
Bitcoin has a distributed ledger, a distributed consensus mechanism, and a distributed set of business rules and conditions. The contract for Bitcoin is relatively simple: ‘are the parties who they purport to be’, ‘do they have permission to buy/sell’ and ‘does the buyer have funds’. This is a straightforward smart contract which is actioned and then fulfilled for every buy or sell on the bitcoin network. Read more...