With Brexit uncertainty still ongoing, businesses look forward and focus on growth

For the past three years, we have witnessed a carousel of Brexit-related ups and downs. Endless trips to Brussels and votes in Parliament have exhausted not only politicians but also the British people and business people who need to keep on working on shaky territory.

In the latest episode of FinancialFox, James Bevan, asset manager and Chief Investment Officer at CCLA shared his insights about Britain’s divorce from the EU, and the post-scenario for the UK and business.

James Bevan talks to PR Guru Stefania Barbaglio in the latest episode of FinancialFox.

Having been in the public sector for many years, James Bevan shares valuable insights about finance, investment, technology, employment and opportunities. He believes that despite diverging views on how to handle Brexit, an orderly exit with a deal is still the best option, as agreed by the majority of Members of Parliament. “I believe a positive deal with the EU might lead to a significant pick-up of investments. I don’t think it is fanciful to suggest that in 2020, the UK could be the fastest growing economy in the G7.”

Nevertheless, there are many challenges which could hinder such growth. James points out that the UK economy is largely reliant on the services sector, and if Britain wants to keep its competitive edge on the global stage, it has to increase internal productivity and entrepreneurship.

In practical terms, the uncertainty around how post-Brexit Britain would look is the same now as it was three years ago. Much has been said about the slowing of the economy as an immediate result of Brexit. Analysts do 2019 to be slow in terms of activity; growth should pick up again next year. According to PwC’s UK Economic Outlook report released in March, UK growth is to dip to 1.1% in 2019 and to strengthen only moderately, to 1.6% in 2020.

Data from PwC UK Economic Outlook March 2019

Fintech continues to boom

While no decisions are made in Westminster and political battles make for a gloomy outlook, in the City of London ̶ and more specifically in Shoreditch’s Tech City ̶ businesses continue to flourish.

Fintech is indeed one of the gems of the British finance sector, and rightly so: in the first six months of 2018 alone, the UK attracted a record high £12bn of investment in Fintech. London is quickly catching up with San Francisco, the global capital of fintech. City AM reported that, among the 29 fintech unicorns ̶ companies with a valuation of more than $1bn ̶ nine are in San Francisco, while seven are based in the UK capital. Last year, London received more than a third of the European fintech venture capital funding.

Will this trend continue to point upwards after Brexit? Some experts think so, as investments in digital banking projects continue to pour in in 2019. According to QZ, the chief executives of the payment app and fintech unicorn Revolut, and Clausematch, a compliance company, get five to six calls from investors each week. Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky claimed that Revolut may look to raise $500 million or even more in 2019 as the company’s valuation increases.

Data from Quartz, February 2019

Anne Boden, CEO of digital banking platform Starling Bank, says the positive outlook on UK’s fintech can be attributed to the uniqueness of the companies, and that not many new projects are being licenced.

Trade and New Partnerships

One of the main arguments of Brexiteers is that, once outside the EU, the UK would have more autonomy over its trade agreements and commerce partners. In the technology sector, we see that the UK has proactively looked for partners outside the European bloc. Closer relationships with emerging markets are particularly positive in this scenario, given the rapid growth of their digital economies and the market opportunities posed for fintech companies based in Britain.

International partnerships are crucial, given that most the UK’s trade agreements nowadays happen within the EU, rather than outside. In a quest to widen its outreach, British officials have started talks with other countries.

In March, leading members of the Thailand and Vietnam Fintech communities were in London to visit world-leading Fintech businesses.

“As we leave the EU, the UK is working harder than ever to build Fintech partnerships with others. We have put Fintech at the heart of the UK’s ASEAN Economic Reform Programme, which will focus on Southeast Asia and which aims to promote inclusive economic growth. This three-year programme will provide technical assistance and the opportunity to share experiences in support of the continuing development of Fintech regulation in Thailand, Vietnam and some other ASEAN countries,” said MP Mark Field about the deepening relationship with nations in Southeast Asia.

Alternative Assets Class: Bear market mood leaves investors seeking more stable options

Equity markets took a dramatic plunge last week. On Friday 26th, global markets recorded their longest losing streak since May 2013 . The MSCI all-country world index, tracking stock markets in 47 developed and emerging countries, closed down 3.7% on Friday.

Despite slight gains over the last couple of days, global markets were still down more than eight per cent for the month. Concerns over Brexit negotiations, as well as the dispute between the Italian government and the EU over the country’s budget, have impacted the markets negatively.

In fact, indexes have been oscillating since 2016 after the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US led to trade wars and political tensions. These factors have been shaking up the market mood more severely, having direct impact over stocks around the globe.

Equity shareholders are therefore gearing up to take their investments into other areas. But where? The sentiment is no more positive in the crypto sphere. Aside from its typical volatility, the crypto market started the week low and showed no significant bounce.

The cryptocurrency market peaked last year when the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed, reaching $19,000, and the crypto market cap nudged $700 billion. Since then, the Bitcoin price has crashed over 50%, with an ensuing 56% decline of the crypto market cap to $209 billion.

The search for investment options that are less reactive to political environment and market volatility, and safer than cryptocurrencies, opens the way for new forms of bond designed to resist market pressure and provide returns even in adverse circumstances.

Such options may sound unconventional, but they represent a favourable alternative, as well as being a good portfolio diversifier. According to asset managers, they can act as another source of income generation, potential capital appreciation and good balance of volatility.

Stefania Barbaglio, Director at IR firm Cassiopeia Services, which works closely with investors, commented: “Investors are very concerned about the recent market downturn and whether it represents an opportunity to buy, or rather is a warning of a further crash in light of Trump’s policies and the approach of Brexit."

"Some investors are switching to the crypto market and ICOs, where the worst seems to have passed and there is still opportunity to make money in an unregulated booming market; while others are playing on long-term market fundamentals such as uranium upturn or are trying to identify stocks that withstand this volatility. Quite a few are selling and cashing up and waiting for the right investment opportunity.”

Essentially, it is all about a diversified and balanced investment portfolio, powered by thorough and savvy research. Sometimes it is not about how much money you have to invest, but how smart your investment strategy is.

Alternative Assets: Attractive investment option in a bear market

Life settlements is a fragmented, niche sector not on the radar of the standard investor, but it should be. These assets are opening a new door for life insurance buyers and sellers. As birth rates go down and life expectancy keeps increasing, life settlements represent a growing asset group and an investment option suited for investors looking towards assets with less volatility and market sensitivity.

London-listed innovative alternative asset specialist Alpha Growth plc, (LSE: ALGW) is one of the best positioned companies in this sector. The company has great prospects and excellent growth opportunities through acquisitions of complementary and supplementary service providers. Alpha is planning expansion of the business with organic growth, particularly in Europe and internationally. The business started in the US, but Alpha is seeking to grow in the European, Asian and international markets.

Alpha Growth is a financial advisory business providing specialist consultancy, advisory and supplementary services to institutional and qualified investors globally in the multibillion dollar market of longevity assets. With solid experience in the North American market, as well as a global footprint, Alpha is looking to explore young markets. Life settlement markets in Europe, Asia and non-US territories are still immature, but with a growing number of investors, offer great scope for growth and returns.

Since listing on the London Market in December last year, Alpha has addressed the growing need for investments which are more flexible and suitable to current market conditions, launching a hybrid bond tailored to meet the high standards of institutional investors; as well expanding its operations with the acquisition of Alpha Longevity Management Limited.

Earlier this year, Alpha launched its innovative product: a hybrid security called High Yield Return (HYR). The HYR is an attractive risk yield over a 10-year term with minimal correlation to equity and commodity markets, meaning that investors and insurers are not vulnerable to market volatility and price crashes — a very attractive option in these times.

The product is a debt equity hybrid investment, coupled with risk management and quality-rated collateral that provides diversity and safety in return for a range of investors, institutions and insurers.

The market for our services is very niche; we are the only advisory business in this segment with a footprint in the UK and the US, where the assets originate. As an alternative asset, life settlement provides a very high-risk adjusted yield compared to other asset classes. Furthermore, longevity assets are uncorrelated to other financial markets and you know what your return is going to be, your rate is basically locked in,” says Gobind Sahney, Alpha Growth Executive Chairman.

The upward journey of the company and the opportunities in this space are reflected in the rise of its share price since IPO at 1.25p, escalating more prominently after the acquisition of Alpha Longevity in September.

For more information about Alpha Growth visit the company’s website: http://algwplc.com and contact PR and IR Representative Stefania Barbaglio at stefania@cassiopeia-ltd.com