Belasko sponsors BVCA Accelerate conference

Belasko is proud to sponsor the BVCA Accelerate conference, taking place across 21-22 May 2024.

The two-day conference will cover key industry topics, including angel investors, venture and growth equity.

With the opportunity to connect with a wide range of other industry professionals, the conference promises two days of sessions covering the latest thinking on geopolitical economy and politics, cutting-edge technology, diversity, ESG, and more.

If you plan to attend the event and would like to meet our team, get in touch with our Group Commercial Director, Ross Youngs, to set up a meeting.

Contact Ross via email: [email protected].

Find out more about the conference here: https://www.bvca.co.uk/Calendar/Event-Details/DateId/2649

Who advises the adviser?

Group Commercial Director, Ross Youngs, recently collaborated with Charlie Ring, Corporate Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, on an article for the FT Adviser.

Ross and Charlie explore the intricacies of financial advisory work.

In a recent survey by the Financial Conduct Authority respondents reported a high level of trust and satisfaction with the financial advice they had received. However, the question remains of; who advises the adviser?

While financial advisers have the capability to manage their own finances, the complex nature of financial planning requires individuals to utilise multidisciplinary teams for effective wealth management.

As stated in the article, objectivity is key. “Is ‘I can’ the same as ‘I should’?”

Celebrating International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, women across Belasko’s offices caught up to discuss their current experiences as women in the finance industry.

Our team give some advice on how to break through in the industry as a woman and share stories on the inspiration they’ve found in their colleagues within Belasko.

Watch the full video below.

 

Neurodiversity in the workplace

Article by Natalie Iacona, Business Operations Analyst at Belasko  

Is your workplace and team prepared to support a new employee with ADHD? Not many are, but I wanted to showcase my experience with Belasko as a case study for other workplaces to gain some insight. 

I have ADHD, or as I like to call it ‘perpetual burnout and occasional chaos’, and certain autistic traits which effects all my five senses. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which, because of historic underdiagnosis in females, is becoming more prevalently diagnosed in adult women in recent years. 

At its worst, people with ADHD can struggle with maintaining focus, stillness of body and mind. Therefore, ADHD is often linked to insomnia and a delay in the circadian rhythm which can severely affect sleep. Lacking energy exacerbates emotional dysregulation and negative eating habits. These features combine to impair executive functioning, which circle back to less sleep and less energy.    

The typical workplace requires a significant amount of multi-tasking. We must prioritise tasks, handle back-to-back meetings, make time for self-development, and utilise a multitude of media to get the job done. To suffer from ADHD means to fight impulsivity to stay on track which can be very draining. ADHD burnout is very difficult to prevent, with those various elements of working life being perpetually overwhelming. Furthermore, every person that suffers from ADHD is different so the chances of people understanding this very personal challenge is slim.  

It is important to stop this negative spiral, and to do so you must first recognise that ADHD in the workplace requires the right level of support, and it starts with honesty! 

Now whilst I don’t claim to have it completely under control, like everyone, I have good and bad days. One reason I can now have more good working days is down to the support I’ve received from the Belasko team since sharing my diagnosis with them.  

It’s not an easy journey to be honest with your employer, but it’s crucial. The main reason for this is the lack of education around ADHD and how it affects people. ADHD is hugely stigmatised and often downplayed. Commonly it is thought to be nothing more than a person lacking the ability to focus and who demonstrates hyperactive behaviours.  As you can see from the above, It’s far more than that.   

ADHD affects almost every one of the body’s functions in some form. The effects of an up to 30% developmental delay in executive functioning skills and emotional regulation are the main causes of difficulty for a lot of people with ADHD.  

For me, there was a huge fear of admitting the things I struggle with as they are often associated with laziness and are considered society’s defining adult life skills, for example being on time and remembering to eat. Equally, ADHD is not related to intelligence or capability to do one’s job well, so the fear is that people will think that because you can’t do ‘easy’ things, you can’t be trusted to do much else, the fear of being overlooked for development and progression opportunities is huge.  

Here are some basic steps of how the team has helped me. 

Open communication  

It’s clear to me that Belasko welcomes diversity in all its forms, Neurodiversity is just one example. Open communication has enabled me to be in a happy, healthy environment. Only by taking the risk in sharing my situation have the rest of the team been able to gain my trust and foster the mutual respect I experience daily.  

Since joining in October 2020, the entire team has been incredibly responsive and understanding of any changes we have made. For some, including myself, asking for equipment, changing my way of working or needing tasks delivered in a certain way can seem daunting. The ability to have an open conversation about how processes work or ways of working is incredibly liberating. 

It’s one thing to have the conversation, but it’s also the way in which my questions and requests are received. It’s never responded to with a sigh or groan but rather an understanding ear and immediate action.  

One example of this is an adjustment to my email signature in the form of a communication notice so anyone I am in contact with can know how to best support me. Boundaries have been established and there is no expectation on others to retain this information as they too are very busy! It reads: 

📣 Communication Note: Hey there! Quick reminder about my preferred communication style as a person with ADHD. To help me stay focused and efficient, please send requests and feedback in writing whenever possible. If we need to meet, let’s use my calendar and include a clear subject, agenda, and specific ask. Your support and understanding is much appreciated! 

Flexibility  

With my ADHD and sensory challenges, it can be incredibly difficult to complete simple tasks in my day-to-day life, let alone putting on my best face for the 9-5. These bad days don’t follow any schedule or calendar invite and the Belasko team is completely flexible with this.  

Belasko has enabled me to work flexible hours, blocking out ‘focus time’ and ‘available for meeting time’ in my calendar, and including a note in my email sign off to indicate my preferred communications styles. There is a clear mutual understanding of how the business, and I can best work together, creating an incredibly rewarding and productive team environment.  

Investment  

More support systems are being released daily and whilst many of these are paid, I’ve realised that having an employer who cares means we can overcome the costs. The business has helped me access funding through Access to Work for 12 weeks of one-to-one ADHD coaching, provide disability training in the workplace, noise cancelling headphones, dictation and mind mapping software and another software to record meetings and training with high quality audio and transcription.  

This type of investment not only allows me to perform at my best, but also reassures me that there is actual care behind what you hear or see online. It’s easy to say ‘we take care of our team’ or ‘great working benefits’, but these are the type of benefits that make a positive difference every day.   

I very am proud to work for a company, with people, who treat me equally and without judgement. I have found comfort in authenticity and have been able to positively contribute to my team and business in turn developing my skills and confidence. 

Businesses wishing to support Neurodiversity in the workplace can follow my checklist below, I hope you find it helpful!   

My checklist for in the UK to support Neurodiversity in the workplace:  

  • Learning about the Access to Work application processes & signposting employees here: Access to Work: get support if you have a disability or health condition: What Access to Work is – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 
  • Ensure Managers have adequate training to understand the validity of neurodivergent communication styles and needs – train everyone to respect everyone; preferred modes of communication, needs and boundaries, not just those assumed by the majority.  
  • Offer Occupational Therapist assessments as standard if someone discloses a health condition or seems to be struggling – this could be a hugely beneficial tool to bridge the communication & knowledge gaps between you and your employee.  
  • Focus on output – support the process and celebrate the output!  
  • Note the difference and overlap between Hybrid working & Flexible working policies; offer mutually agreeable solutions accordingly. Some will absolutely do more, and better, in less time if they’re enabled & encouraged to work with respect to their energy levels, whereas another may only thrive where they can rely upon a very dependable routine.  

 

Paul Lawrence, Group Managing Director, said: ‘Natalie’s honesty and transparency about her diagnoses goes to the heart of Belasko’s values and it is only through her bravery that we have been able to positively respond. The benefit for us is that we have a caring individual who helps to bring the whole team together and is a cultural carrier for the business. We’ve been delighted to support Natalie in producing this blog, something that is a personal passion for her, and hope that it might help others to take on personal challenges of a similar nature in the workplace.’  

How is ESG impacting everything, everywhere and everyone

I would imagine that by now, ESG is close to being a better-known acronym than KYC in financial services. This is ultimately because ESG dominates news headlines on a daily basis and as a consequence, buyers of goods and services now differentiating where they allocate capital – seeking out businesses pushing to make a difference.  

This means ESG or sustainable finance is becoming more than just ‘buzzwords’. Capital inflow into ESG-related funds more than doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year and analysts expect ESG AUM to reach c20% of Global AUM or $33.9trn by 2026 ($18.4trn 2021) according to PwC.   

Ross Youngs, Chief Commercial Officer at Belasko, identifies how to navigate the rising waters, the impact on our clients and the business’ proactive approach to lead the way.  

How are our clients impacted? 

Our fund clients are impacted to varying degrees depending on their size and marketing plans. Many share our proactive approach and have, generally speaking, adopted two different routes depending on the level of regulation required. This includes:  

  1. The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).   
  2. The Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) : – Where SFDR has not been relevant, our clients have chosen voluntary compliance with the PRI. (The PRI is a set of ESG principles developed by investors to have a positive sustainable impact in the global financial system.) 

Unpacking the SFDR 

There are three levels of regulation applicable to funds marketed in Europe under the SFDR:    

Article 9 covers funds that have a sustainable objective /outcome. They have strict requirements on how they achieve their goals. There has been a great deal of focus on this category of fund and as such, the burden of evidential reporting is very high. This has led to c40% or $175bn of article 9 funds reclassifying to article 8.   

Article 8 is for funds that promote positive environment, social and governance characteristics but do not have those as their overarching objectives.   

Meanwhile, article 6 is for funds that do not integrate any kind of sustainability into their investment.  

These three levels of regulation can be considered stepping stones depending on where the business or fund is on its ESG journey.  

How has ESG impacted Belasko?  

The team and I at Belasko recognise that ESG has several positive impacts when successfully incorporated into business strategy. We are not required by regulation to report on sustainability however, we have chosen to partner with Terra Instinct to create a Responsible Business Policy.   

We have dedicated resources to steward the implementation of our policy which requires a group-wide committee, the definition of sustainable metrics relevant to Belasko, measurement and target setting. This resource also includes an annual report for clients and investors on our sustainable journey.    

I envisage that businesses like ours will soon have mandatory reporting on ESG areas in years to come. We deem it essential to be a leader in this area and will continue taking proactive efforts to stay ahead of the curve.  

How can we help you?  

No matter the complexity of compliance with the PRI or SFDR, there are common challenges with which we can assist.   

  1. The first challenge is defining a policy of responsible investment. The policy must consider the fund’s impact on ESG factors and then set appropriate data points with which to measure and track positive impact according to the goals set.   
  2. Data collection sounds easy, but it is not standardised across markets and countries so the sophistication and resource availability of portfolio companies to stream up the data sets can vary considerably. This is a major hurdle for our clients.  
  3. Regulation and investor demand are evolving at pace. Our clients do not usually have internal resources to dedicate to ESG and therefore rely on Belasko to keep them advised as to what’s next and how to remain compliant.  

Belasko has developed an end-to-end solution in partnership with Terra Instinct to power auditable data collection. It is helpful to have a specialist like Terra Instinct to define policy and collect, validate and where data is not available provide reasonable industry estimates. The benefit of having an advisory expert is of critical importance to ensure data quality, meaning it is auditable and reporting to investors (on which decisions are made) is accurate and reliable.   

Doubts?  

It should be clear by now that ESG is not going anywhere and there is a market expectation to consider sustainability in our personal and business lives. We must adopt positive impacting principles going forward.  

If you would like to get ahead of the curve and prepare yourself for the ESG future, get in touch with Ross at [email protected]. 

Belasko appoints Edward Green as CEO

Belasko announces the strengthening of its senior leadership team with the appointment of Edward Green as Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”). This development will see current CEO, Paul Lawrence, transitioning to the newly created position of Group Managing Director.

Edward joins with 19 years of experience within Private Equity, Private Credit and Real Estate and most recently as Partner and Head of Asset Management at AnaCap Financial Partners (“AnaCap”). Edward will now take responsibility for driving the next phase of Belasko’s growth as a digitally enabled administration platform. Moving forward, Edward will base himself in London and divide his time across Belasko’s extensive operations in the four jurisdictions of Guernsey, Jersey, UK and Luxembourg.

Edward’s introduction to Belasko stems back to 2019 when he first met Paul with the pair instantly recognising a unique market opportunity to position a privately owned asset servicing business in Luxembourg, United Kingdom, and the Channel Islands, in a market dominated by private equity backed global businesses, leaving smaller asset businesses under serviced. This market opportunity ultimately led to the acquisition of Belasko by a group of strategically aligned private investors with patient capital support.

Edward Green, CEO at Belasko, commented:
“I am very much looking forward to continuing my working relationship with Belasko, having operated closely with the impressive team since its acquisition by private investors back in 2019. This new role will now enable me to more actively focus my operational skills, developed as both a client and an investor in several fund administration businesses, to drive the business going forward. I look forward to deploying my experience and network avenues to bolster the client proposition and further support the company’s growth trajectory in what is a very exciting time for the rapidly consolidating market as a whole.” 

Paul’s role as Group Managing Director will largely focus on the delivery of first-class client services, operational performance and regulatory compliance across multiple jurisdictions. He has more than 30 years of experience in private wealth, banking and private capital.

Paul Lawrence, Group Managing Director at Belasko, concluded:
We see a significant level of high potential opportunities ahead for Belasko and I am very confident for the firm’s future development across multiple jurisdictions. I look forward to working closely with Edward and the wider senior management team as we look to deliver sustainable growth for the business.”

Edward will also be taking a leadership role in Equipped.ai, a technology business for alternative asset managers. This will present synergistic opportunities for working with Belasko clients to provide more holistic technology solutions.

Straight to the point – a Fund Administration Strategy Series Making the break.

The Private Capital market has grown to a booming $10trn of assets and Prequin predict it shall hit $16trn by 2026. Goldman Sachs goes further to say that with the right economic conditions, that figure could be as high as $30trn!

Keeping up with growth of this nature creates many challenges however advancements in technology and processes have enabled administrators to keep pace on a global scale however, the entrepreneurial nature of the Private Capital market continues to challenge business models as it matures.

Complexity exists in every corner.  International structuring, a la carte investor terms, co-invest, multi-currency offerings are just a few of the areas that can quickly break the model.  If we combine this with the global growth in fund administrator operating models and a necessity to standardise service delivery and technology to enable that growth, it’s hardly surprising to see a divergence in client requirements and the service received.  Still, Private Capital Managers are reluctant to change administrative providers fearing the grass is not greener and the process of transfer too complex and risky.

We set out some of the considerations to provide comfort that there is a playbook to navigate through these short-term challenges and to create a long term partnership  that enables your organisation to keep pace with the fast moving requirements of the private capital market.

Be honest about your requirements

Cultural and operational alignment is critical.  Private Capital Managers who need to close new investors, make capital calls, or make new investments frequently, at the last minute, late at night, will stress operating models that do not have the capacity to be flexible and apply adaptive governance.  By making your expectations clear, you can expect less friction in your day-to-day operating model once the resourcing and operating model is designed properly.  Cost considerations should be secondary to defining the right operating model to deliver on your requirements upfront.

Where a tailored service arrangement is required, be sure to test that your administrator can customise delivery to the extent it is needed.

Strategic alignment

Great partnerships require operational stability yet the ability to grow.  A service provider with an aggressive acquisition strategy will have multiple challenges across HR, Technology, and rigid operations risk management.  When managed well, the outcome can create genuine client and shareholder value but as with all projects, there can be waves.  Conversely a partner that does not grow cannot invest and your service may suffer in the long term.   Growth needs to be measured and sustainable to enable a positive client and shareholder dynamic but not at the cost of operational flexibility.  Be clear about the direction of travel of your administrator and seek a partner whose strategy has a positive enduring impact on your operating model.

Planning, communication, and handling complexity

Effective communication between organisations is often overlooked in the planning stage of a fund migration to a new provider.   Expectations are set during the administrator selection process without either party really understanding the requisite level of planning to unpack all the detailed requirements of the Client.  This often leads to a delivery that falls short of the brief and immediately places the relationship under water from a quality and economic standpoint.

Skilled communicators can bridge this gap by ensuring a clear scope of deliverables are properly understood by both parties allowing subject matter experts to provide the technical analysis upfront so that expectations are realistic, can be detailed in a Service level Agreement and costed properly.

Plan for challenges in the short term.  Consider that terminating your incumbent administrator will need delicate management and will likely have a cost to exit.  Your new administrator will be able to balance the equation with a reasonable set of requirements to ensure your data, records and operational knowledge land in good order.

Data

A fund in its mid life will have a considerable data legacy.  Mapping that historic data to a new accounting system is time consuming and will also require cleansing of underlying data to ensure a consistent accounting history.  Experience with data enrichment and transfer tools is critical to ensure that advanced features of the operating model, like a GP or LP portal, may be used reliably from the get go.  Ensure your administrator has a clear understanding of how to achieve a good data transfer and the resources to enable it.

Practical Commercials

Be clear about your pricing objectives and whether they align to your requirements.  Sustainable tailored service solutions do not lend themselves to a low-cost functionalised operating model.

An experienced administration partner will be able to introduce master services agreements that create contractual and pricing simplicity for the inevitable add-ons that are required throughout a funds life.  This will reduce the frequency with which you have to negotiate a fee schedule enabling your teams to focus on delivery.

Working with a provider that values good market conduct ensures that termly pricing review will identify areas of both saving and incremental resourcing that should be met to enable the service model to be resourced properly.   Understand how this review will take place and the information systems that support it.  Strong transparent data will reduce unnecessary negotiation and discontent.

Is it about technology, process, or people?

It’s about delivery… Technology advancement has been rapid in Private Capital and self-service tools such as GP/LP Portals, system integrated workflows, electronic investor onboarding have enabled a reduction of human interference in processing.

However, to my earlier point, if your funds structure and terms are complex, varied and fast moving, then Technology is only part of the solution.  We believe that fund administration remains a people business so retaining, recruiting and developing those people is essential.  But realistically, staff changes happen so it’s imperative to embed knowledge into robust processes to protect your service.

Work with a provider that can help you identify these challenges early in the sales process and can resource accurately around it. 

Conclusion

Our firm view is that through effective planning and with the right expertise, complexity and risk can be managed for a successful transfer.  Finding an administration provider that has a sustainable growth plan without the distractions of wider corporate actions is essential in striking a long-term successful partnership.  In our experience, every Private Capital structure requires a tailored service and technology solution and only a successful combination of the 2 supported by a strong team will deliver to your needs and fully support your strategic objectives.

The Belasko Group –on point tailored service solutions.

belasko.com

 

Author : Ross Youngs – Group Commercial Director

Ross joined Belasko in 2021 to lead the Groups commercial growth strategy in Private Capital Fund Administration, Corporate Administration and Fiduciary services.

He has over 20 years’ experience in the Offshore Fund and Fiduciary markets holding leadership roles in Alternative Assets, Sales, Relationship Management and Client Service for a global provider.

Working with managers across the UK, US, Europe and Middle East, Ross has helped clients launch fund and investment structures in the Private and Public markets focusing on Private Capital and Real Assets.

Martin Parry

Martin joined in March 2022 to lead and develop Belasko’s UK operations.

Martin has over 30 years’ experience within the financial services industry covering the investment, fiduciary and banking sectors which is closely related to Belasko’s service offering. Throughout his career he has led and participated in several strategic initiatives and has delivered strategic growth and business transformation to drive financial performance and increase shareholder value.

He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW).

Nick McHardy

Nick joined Belasko during 2020, is based in London and leads our Fund Administration service offering.

Nick has over 15 years’ experience working with private equity, credit and real estate fund structures and is passionate about delivering excellent client service through the deployment of efficient processes and the effective use of technology. He has led on the transfer of complex fund administration and accounting mandates and in the implementation of ISAE 3402 compliant fund administration operating models.

Nick qualified with PwC and has held a number of board positions for regulated and unregulated fund structures (General Partners & Managers).

Alice Heald

Alice joined Belasko in 2024 as Group Head of Marketing

Alice has over 10years’ experience in marketing for financial services organisations and joins the Belakso team to help strengthen their marketing endeavours, drive growth and elevate the brand in our core markets. She’s experienced when it comes to executing bespoke marketing strategies tailored to the private capital funds and financial services sectors. Alice holds a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma in Professional Marketing after studying English Literature at the University of Surrey.