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sum of its parts

Malta: Fund Distribution Is The Sum Of Its Parts

1024 573 Ken Carmody, Finscoms

sum

Fund distribution plays an enormous role in the success of an investment fund. But what often overlooked elements play an enormous role in successful fund distribution? The answer is fund marketing and fund communications.

Strong marketing and communications strategies create strong distribution. Cut distribution open and it bleeds marketing and communications. Most asset managers refer to fund distribution as fund marketing but it’s vital to differentiate and understand each component.

Fund Marketing
Traditionally, fund prospectuses are seen as the main way to reach the investor by fund managers. And often oblige by sending out large, bland, monotonous and indigestible documents. On average, institutional investors receive 45 prospectuses a quarter and 10% receiving more than 100. Only 15% of these get passed the initial filtering stage. Less than 0.2% are actually successful in attaining investment. Pdf’s are being ripped from emails by many company firewalls and the hassle for the investor to have the pdf released becomes another boundary to penetration. Is it any wonder we are starting to hear slogans such as ‘Death to Pdf 2016!’ and ‘We are pdf deaf!’. In this post AIFMD world using ‘push’ marketing across global markets is an expensive way to attain very low penetration.

To overcome you must adapt. A dynamic fund marketing strategy will steer the fund toward reverse solicitation, inbound rather than push marketing. Spray and pray marketing is not effective. Those achieving the highest rates of penetration now rely on a strong brand and make the most of their marketing assets such as their website and reach prospects through video, webinars and social media. Many funds build a website on the premise that ‘my competitors have one so I got one’. The function of the website must be addressed. It can be a revenue generator, a communications tool, a value add to clients/investors. Asset managers are adopting social media as regulatory groups recognise it as suitable means to communicate. Social media can help create communities, promote without bombarding, become a thought leader or a subject authority.

Fund Communications
A fund is required to put out communications to stakeholders to satisfy fiduciary, regulatory and legal obligations. You don’t have to see this as an administrative drudge; a fund can use these obligations to strengthen your relationship with the investor and other parties. Change communications strategy regarding compliance to an open, transparent and well designed communication to investors. For example, with 54% of investors unhappy with the level of provided transparency compared to 78% of fund managers who believe they provide enough, create competitive advantage by addressing this clear disconnect. Speak the investors’ language, let them see how well the fund is being managed and see the relationship solidify. There is plenty of scope for this:

  • NAV publication
  • Meeting requirements in relation to Key Investor Information Documents (KIIDS) being provided to investors before they invest in a UCITS
  • Publication of semi-annual and annual financial statements
  • Shareholder notifications
  • Notices for Shareholder General Meetings
  • Key performance indicators such as investment performance versus benchmark

The fund’s message must be consistent across all mediums to avoid confusion and keep focus on the core message. The smart fund manager will deliver messages about updates and services through social media, the website, intranets, extranets. It is advisable to communicate regularly and stay in line with the investment philosophy and the strategy of the firm, this helps provide a ‘true to label’ comfort level for the client/investor. At all times funds must ensure that their communications are fully compliant.

Fund Distribution
The asset manager’s distribution strategy should include fund marketing, fund communication, knowledge of distribution channels and regulation.

Knowledge of the distribution channels per targeted jurisdiction is of course vital for building an effective distribution strategy. Each market differs from the next in terms of public offering listing, regulated public distribution, private placement, local distribution networks, regulatory requirements and more. The distribution network is still viewed as complex and somewhat opaque. A fund should make sure to complete full due diligence on the distribution network and on would be distribution partners. It is essential that the transfer agent and distributor used have solid know-your-customer and anti-money laundering procedures. From there the fund needs to grow a strong relationship with the local distributors and agents on a business and operations level.

Complying with local regulatory requirements is an area that needs constant supervision as regulations are constantly changing. Asset managers working with fund lawyers will need to get to grips with regulatory requirements on local agents, eligibility, investor disclosure, registration and continued registration, and marketing.

An adept asset manager will be looking at what the future holds for the industry and will have the fund prepared. For the near future in the asset management sector we can see the following:

  • An almost complete move from the traditional style of marketing to digital marketing. And the ‘Death of PDF’ in 2016.
  • An even greater evolution of fund products to match investor demand
  • The emergence of new distribution channels
  • The wide use of video to engage prospects taking into account the IT savvy nature of the ‘next generation of investors’

In Summary
Fund distribution is not complete without fund marketing and fund communication. These two components are often neglected and can result in the fund making a negative impression unbeknownst to the fund manager. In a congested sector, of over 25,000+ funds, investing in marketing and communication post AIFMD is critical. It is no coincidence that the most successful funds have strong brands and use communication strategy as a competitive advantage. Having a strong brand and identity helps strengthen the trust between investor and the fund. Strong communication strategy strengthens the relationship between the investor and the fund. Thus building a solid platform to increase the reach of fund distribution.

new-flexible-pension-rules-shutterstock

UK: Budget 2016 – What are the implications for pension flexibility rules?

1024 768 Wealth Management Services

Pension

The Chancellor did not make any major changes to the pension industry in his March 2016 Budget. There were a few amendments to the pension flexibility rules. These new rules will be part of the Finance Bill 2016. The below rule changes are set to have effect on the day after the date of Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2016.

Serious Ill Health Lump Sums
The criteria for Serious Ill Health Lump sums will be altered. Prior to the 2016 Finance Bill the Serious Ill Health Lump sums could only be taken on funds that were uncrystallised.

WiltonPensions

Once the Bill has been given Royal Assent the Serious Ill Health Lump sums will be able to be taken on crystallised funds as well.

WiltonPensions2

The 45% tax charge on Serious Ill Health Lump sums paid to individuals who have reached age 75 will be replaced with tax at the individual’s marginal rate.

Money Purchase Trivial Commutation
Trivial Commutation disappeared for Money Purchased Schemes on 6th April 2015 due to the availability of Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS). The 2016 budget will reintroduce it for clients with Money Purchase Scheme pension that are already in payment and their total pension wealth does not exceed £30,000.

Dependant’s drawdown and flexi-access drawdown
Where an individual has a dependant’s drawdown or dependant’s flexi-access pension fund due to being under the age of 23, they will be able to continue to receive drawdown pension or flexi-access drawdown pension as authorised payments after reaching age 23. The tax treatment will depend on the age at death of the original pension member (see Death Tax Benefits Section above).

Charity lump sum death benefit
A change is made to align the tax treatment of a charity lump sum death benefit after a member has died under the age of 75 whether paid out of drawdown pension funds and flexi-access drawdown funds or out of funds that have not been accessed (uncrystallised funds).

The need to pay an uncrystallised funds lump sum death benefit, a drawdown pension fund lump sum death benefit or a flexi-access drawdown fund lump sum death benefit within two years when it is paid to a charity is also removed.

feedback

Want a motivated Lawyer? Try a compliment sandwich.

1024 609 admin

Sandwiched feedback

Lawyers want to do interesting work, secure a good salary and earn recognition for their contributions. But motivating them takes more than a good salary and an occasional “thank-you.

Lawyers want to do interesting work, secure a good salary and earn recognition for their contributions. But motivating them takes more than a good salary and an occasional “thank-you.” It requires a strategy and a better understanding of those that work for you.

 

1. Communication is everything

Communication is key to making members of your firm’s team feel included in major decisions. Get your staff’s opinions, they will most likely bring up things you hadn’t thought of. More importantly, your team members will feel part of the process and that their voices matter. Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued.

Getting employees involved can also help identify potential managerial talent, which could help grow the firm in the future – as well as retain talented individuals.

2. Ask what they want out of work

Just knowing that their boss is interested in their goals will make many trainees and associates feel better about their jobs. Just don’t always expect an easy answer to your question. Some lawyers may say that they want to work as part of a team on a transaction, for example, only to discover once they have been assigned to the deal that they are more effective when left to work alone.

When you ask staff what kind of work they enjoy, also find out about what they’re hoping to do in the future. Giving them opportunities to build the skills and make the connections they need to get ahead in their careers will build loyalty and motivation.

 

3. Money isn’t always the answer: give them responsibilities and let them soar

It is true that paying your staff too little can make them feel unappreciated and resentful, particularly if they feel you are taking advantage of them. However, motivation to work hard rarely comes solely from money. If your employees are being paid fair salaries and still seem unwilling to go the extra mile, throwing more money at them is unlikely to be the answer.

Instead, if you know you have good employees, make them feel empowered.  Give them real responsibilities and they’ll do whatever they can to rise to the challenge.  It may lead to new opportunities for both them and your business, but crucially, they’ll remember that you gave them the chance.

4. Help employees learn

It’s important that staff keep learning new skills on the job. In addition to CPD, there are classes and seminars in areas outside of transactional law that will help massively with development. However, in many cases, it’s a matter of listening to what skills an employee is interested in acquiring, then giving them a chance to develop those skills.

Otherwise, employees may feel that they are stagnating in their current role, increasing the likelihood that they will leave the firm. Staff turnover inevitably adds to business costs, not only in terms of lost productivity but also recruitment and training expenditure for the replacement worker.

Work with each employee to create their own personal development plan. Then, provide them with coaching and mentoring and help them increase their skills and their sense of competence and accomplishment.

 

5. Bring everyone together at the end of the week

Unless you are a small business of less than 10 people, lawyers are likely to either be spread over a larger floor area or are working in different departments, which means that they do not get to spend much time with many of their colleagues.  Weeks can go by without people catching up and it can foster a ‘them and us’ attitude between departments or floors.  So take opportunities to bring staff together and remind them that they are a team.  Whether it is first thing on a Monday morning for about 15 minutes, where people can chat over a morning coffee, or a few drinks at the end of the week, your staff will really appreciate the effort you have gone to for valuing the hard work they put in.

6. Always give a compliment sandwich

Ah, the compliment sandwich.  Valued by those employers who put their staff first.  And those who are fans of the TV show Family Guy!  Feedback is important, but too many employers think that giving feedback will hurt morale, or that so long as they highlight an issue, it is up to the employee to work out how to put it right.  Neither way gets the right result nor helps with motivating your staff.  However, the way you give feedback is hugely important and is a sign of how you value your staff.

A compliment sandwich is made in three parts: first, give your employee praise for something they have done very well or an area they have improved in (for example, the hard work they put into a transaction or the relationship they have developed with a key client); then provide constructive criticism: it’s one thing to point out what someone has done wrong, but it’s your job to let them know how they can put it right, to show them that you are working with them to provide solutions, not just highlighting problems; then end on a high note, again complimenting them on what they are doing, so they go back to their work with high morale, feeling appreciated and feeling that they will be even more appreciated if they can fix the problem in the middle of the sandwich.

7. Recognise that motivation isn’t always the answer

If your motivation efforts aren’t working, it may not be your fault. Not everyone can be motivated for that particular job. If an employee would really rather be doing something else or working somewhere else, it may be best to encourage them to pursue something new.

We can often forget that, as employers, we don’t build a business, we build people; and then people build the business.  If we lose focus on what (in fact who) has got us to where we are today, they will very soon move on.  As Richard Branson said: “If you treat your employees right, they will treat your customers right, and sustained profits will follow.”

 

listening

Better Communication – Improve Your Listening Skills

1024 493 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach

Listening is one of the most effective ways to improve your communication. Good listening skills enable you to:

• Influence, negotiate and persuade
• Have better relationships with your boss, clients and colleagues
• Avoid conflict and misunderstandings
• Take in more information and understand better
• Be more productive and effective

For it to be effective you must learn to ‘actively‘ listen and really pay attention to the speaker.

In normal everyday listening you’re only likely to take in or remember 25-50% of what you hear. At the same time you’re likely to be thinking about what’s being said, forming a response, offering a solution or advice, getting distracted, losing focus or thinking about something else. You might just be waiting for the person to stop talking so you can jump in with your own opinion or perspective.

Listening is about more than what’s being said, it’s about understanding and paying attention to what the person is really saying.

Active listening is about listening without jumping to conclusions, judging or interpreting what they’re saying according to your own beliefs, behaviours and perceptions.

When working with clients, a large part of my role is to listen. What words are you using? What’s your tone of voice? Is there an underlying emotion? What are you really thinking or feeling?

Even over the phone you can pick up on certain cues and emotions.

When you’re face to face, you can see if the body language matches the words, tone and emotion of the speaker.

When you listen you do so in different ways from the superficial ‘only half listening’ to the total focus of deeper listening.

Superficial – not really there, thoughts or attention are somewhere else and the interest is low. May make the right ‘listening’ noises, nod and murmur agreement, but you’re not really listening.

Level 1 – What does this mean to me? You hear the words, but are using your own interpretation and judgement to decide what it means to you. There may be a need for more information. When you listen at this level you’re likely to impose your own opinions and thoughts on the conversation.

Level 2 – This is good for general conversation. You’re focused on the other person and not what’s going on around you. You may be leaning forward, head to one side, make appropriate eye contact, show you’re listening. You’re aware of the speaker’s feelings as well as the words being said. You stay focused in order to fully understand. You’re able to summarise and clarify what’s been said.

Level 3 – This is a much deeper level of listening. It’s about listening for what’s not being said. Use your intuition to truly understand the other person and what they’re feeling. You’re totally focused on the other person and totally unaware of your thoughts or anything else going on around you. This is the level used by coaches, counsellors and therapists when working with clients.

are-you-a-good-listener

How to improve your listening skills:

• Face the person and maintain appropriate eye contact.

• Show you’re actively listening by acknowledging and engaging with what they’re saying. Nod your head, make appropriate sounds, facial expressions or gestures.

• Focus on the speaker and notice what they’re saying – words, tone, gestures. Avoid getting distracted by what’s going on around you.

• Encourage them with small comments – “yes, uh huh, go on”. Ask ‘open-ended’ questions – how, what, when, where?

• Summarise or paraphrase what they’ve said to show you understand or to clarify what you’ve heard.

• Avoid interrupting. Allow them to finish before you respond or ask questions.

If you get distracted or side-tracked – be honest and apologise – “Sorry, I was thinking about/got distracted by…. Could you repeat that?”. Focus back on the person in front of you.

Listen using more than just your ears. What is the person really saying? Do the words match the tone and energy of the speaker? How do they look? Does their facial expression and body language match what they’re saying? What are they feeling – use your intuition?

Be aware that when you listen, you have your own filters and view of the world and the speaker may have a different perspective on things. Take your cue from them, what is the message, information they want to get across.

Even in emotional situations, show respect and understanding for the other person.

Improve the effectiveness of your listening skills by becoming aware of how you’re listening and practice.

Notice your conversations over the next few days. What level are you listening at? When are you really listening? What difference do you notice when you change the way you listen?

 

Communications

Communication Skills: Be More Assertive, Deal With Aggressive Behaviour

1024 683 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach

keep-calm-and-assertive

In order to get what you want, sometimes you need to be assertive. But there’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive.

The definitions for these two terms are:

Aggressive: Feelings of anger or antipathy resulting in hostile or violent behaviour; ready to attack or confront.

Assertive: Having or showing a confident and forceful personality.

asertivitate

At some point in your life, you’ll probably find yourself on the receiving end of unprovoked aggression or a negative emotional outburst.

People feel by being aggressive they will get what they want. Others feel by being assertive, they’re being aggressive or too demanding and will create conflict, so they avoid it.

Like the manager who sees one of their employees isn’t performing a task as required and rather than deal with the issue they avoid having a conversation and instead either ‘fix’ the issue themselves or put up with and ignore the error or behaviour.

I’m sure many of you have been in a situation where you want to say something but didn’t want to cause an argument or alternatively, say something in anger, which you later regret.

Aggression usually results from too much negative emotion and is a hostile attack usually against someone else, bullying them into submission. It’s often ineffective and causes conflict and resentment.

Aggression is often experienced when someone feels they should stand up for themselves but don’t and feel taken for granted or put upon. When they do react – it comes out as aggressive, overly defensive or emotional.

Assertion is about being confident in stating your opinion, standing up for yourself and your beliefs while maintaining respect for others. By talking calmly and assertively you’re more likely to get the result you want.

If people are unable to communicate effectively it results in either being too passive or being overly aggressive. You need to be able to say ‘Yes’ when you really mean it and ‘No’ when you mean it.

To be more assertive:

• Be clear about what you want and how you feel. Communicate your needs in a calm, unemotional way.

• Be specific and direct. Focus on the facts relating to the situation and how you feel about it rather than finger-pointing, speculation or exaggeration.

• Be clear with your boundaries. What it is that you want and be clear about what you will and won’t tolerate. State clearly what you need and why.

• Be aware of your body language, tone and the words you use when being assertive. Maintain good eye contact. Avoid confrontational words or tone, even when it’s a tough conversation.

• Be direct, open and honest. Respond in an appropriate way to the situation and respect the person or people involved.

• Consider their frame of reference – it may be different from yours, which affects the message they receive. What are their values, attitudes and experiences?

• Always respect the other person’s opinions, rights and point of view. Allow them to speak and respond.

• Above all keep calm and don’t get emotional if they become aggressive. Stand your ground firmly but politely. Be prepared to walk away. Anger and conflict will achieve nothing.

By being assertive you don’t accept bad or inappropriate behaviour or feel taken advantage of.

Practice behaving more assertively. If you have a difficult situation or conversation coming up – practice with friends, colleagues or your coach.

• Speak up when you have an idea or opinion – you’ll gain confidence.

• Stand up for what you believe – you’ll gain more respect if you’re able to assert your opinions or beliefs without giving in or becoming aggressive.

• Make requests and ask for help – people are often willing to help out when asked but won’t always offer.

• Refuse requests and say ‘no’ more often (without feeling guilty) – especially if you don’t have the time or resources or it’s something you’re uncomfortable with.

• Accept feedback, both positive and constructive – without batting it away from you or brushing it off. Say ‘thank you’. Especially if it’s helpful and you can learn from it.

be assertive

How can you communicate what you want in a calm, assertive way?

An aggressive person is communicating “I’m OK – you’re not OK.”

An assertive person communicates “I’m OK – you’re OK.”

Improve your communication by listening and observing. When are you and others being assertive? Do some situations, conversations result in more aggressive behaviour or reactions?

Get in touch if you need to talk through your own situation or need to deal with a difficult or challenging conversation.