From The Editor's Chair: Results, Merger Deals And Video Interviews
An update from the editor about recent coverage and what coverage is coming in the next few days on this site.
There have been plenty of financial results and more M&A deals announced in recent days, with figures suggesting that so far most banks have managed to weather the storms of 2022 in relatively decent shape. But it has been hard to ignore how the 2022 equity and bond market sell-off dented assets under management. Revenues fell at certain lenders, and firms are having to work harder to protect margins.
What has perhaps made a difference is that unlike immediately after the 2008 tsunami, firms have had time to strengthen balance sheets and cut risk exposures.
UBS, by some metrics the world’s largest wealth manager, reports its 2022 and fourth-quarter 2022 results on Tuesday, with other Swiss and European players reporting in coming days.
M&A deals have been something of a mini-theme. Charles Schwab, one of the big beasts of the US and global financial scene, has acquired Family Wealth Alliance. FWA is a B2B network organization acting for the firms and people working with ultra-HNW individuals. We know its creator and head, Tom Livergood, and will be interested to see how that group moves forward under its new ownership. There’s quite a bit of competition in this sort of space. In another M&A move, Indosuez Wealth Management, part of France’s Crédit Agricole, bought a majority stake in Wealth Dynamix, a firm providing client lifecycle and related software solutions. This shows how big players want to tighten their hold on such business areas. Tech firm FNZ has also been busy on the shopping front.
My recent opinion item on why the industry must do a better job at appealing to young adults looking for an exciting career won some “applause” judging by the clicks; our US correspondent, Charles Paikert, had a fascinating item out asking whether all those out-of-work tech folk let go by the likes of Google, Microsoft and others Big Techs could pivot to the wealth sector. The answer is a “maybe.” Charles also snagged a great interview with a US wealth management observer who cast a sharp eye over the doings of several firms.
Asia went a bit quiet over the past few days for the Chinese New Year – it is the Year of the Rabbit. We have got plenty of material in the pipeline, including a commentary from consultants Synpulse about the Asian mass-affluent market’s potential. And with Beijing loosening zero-Covid restrictions several weeks ago, economists are keeping a beady eye on what difference this may make to the global as well as Asian economy.
In Europe, one story that could cause ructions is about how European Parliament members have voted to give a proposed directive that targets "shell companies" more teeth. Some lawyers say this will simply encourage these entities to quit the EU for friendlier climes, such as the UK or the Channel Islands. We shall see.
We’ve got video interviews coming from a wealth manager in the US with a take on “faith-based” investing. And there’s another due to come out soon with Anne Liebgott, founder of AW+SWITZERLAND over a decade ago, who has shone a light on the Swiss firms that serve US investors and expats – an important niche area. Video content is buzzing on the sites: I had this recent interview with Steffen Pauls, CEO of Moonfare, the alternative investment management platform; we also have this recent webinar recording about our latest Tech and Ops research report.
As the weeks roll by, the usual end-of-financial year tax filing season gets underway in the US. This year there are rumblings about a threatened type of “wealth tax” stemming from a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals. We will keep our eyes on this sort of issue and see what transpires from the US legal system. As is always the case with US tax, it is never simple.
As ever, if you have stories, grumbles or comments, email me at email@example.com