Financial intelligence unit calls for more resources and expertise, and other business-critical fund industry news

Every Monday, VitalBriefing is proud to publish its exclusive Luxembourg Funds Intelligence Briefing, featuring our editors’ selection of the most important stories of the week that impact the funds industry.

We invite you to check it out below, and if you like what you see, subscribe to receive the briefing FOR FREE to your inbox each week.

Luxembourg Funds Intelligence Briefing
20th January 2020

Beginning a year that will see a close inspection by the Financial Action Task Force of Luxembourg’s legal and regulatory framework to combat money laundering and other financial crime, Financial Intelligence Unit head Max Braun says the country needs extra resources as well as more specialised magistrates, analysts and IT experts. The volume of suspicious activity reports and freezing orders in the grand duchy has risen sharply in recent years, but Luxembourg has been criticised over its slow pace of transposition of EU directives, as well as the almost total absence of prosecutions in domestic money laundering cases.

— Simon Gray, Editor in Chief

Sustainable Finance
BlackRock reforms target leadership in sustainable investment

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $7trn under management, has announced a series of reforms to make it a leader in sustainable investment. The firm will double the number of exchange-traded funds focused on sustainability to 150, remove companies deriving a quarter or more of their revenue from thermal coal from actively managed portfolios, and target a 10-fold increase in sustainable assets from $90bn to $1trn over the next decade. CEO Larry Fink has told clients and CEOs that climate change represents an unprecedented investment risk.

Best source:

Financial Times

(subscription required)

Asset Management
Banque de Luxembourg Investments operations to integrate Crédit Mutuel asset management hub

French co-operative bank Crédit Mutuel is bringing together the sales and marketing operations of six group asset management units, including Banque de Luxembourg Investments, to create a specialised asset management hub, Crédit Mutuel Investment Managers. The structure will enable the different teams to promote the investment solutions of all the entities through a multi-boutique model, with the aim of expanding assets under management by 40% over the next five years. Banque de Luxembourg Investments will be responsible for international sales and marketing. Managing director Guy Wagner says the move will allow BLI to offer clients complementary investment solutions to which they might not otherwise have access.

Best source:

Crédit Mutuel
See also:

Investment Europe
See also:

Paperjam

(in French)

Fund Services
GSK Stockmann names Marcel Bartnik as partner

Marcel Bartnik, who has worked for the past 15 years in the Luxembourg investment fund industry, has become a partner in the Luxembourg practice of German-headquartered corporate law firm GSK Stockmann, whose speciality is advising institutions, private equity firms, investment houses and individuals in the corporate, real estate and financial sectors, particularly regarding fund formation and structuring.

Best source:

Agefi

(subscription required)

Regulation
CSSF fines Luxembourg fund firms for compliance failings

The CSSF has fined two fund management firms for non-compliance with regulatory requirements. Private label fund provider Axxion has been fined €80,000 following onsite monitoring in June 2017, while Hamburg-based Hansainvest Lux has received a penalty of €23,000, also following an onsite check in March 2018. The CSSF says the penalties took into account the remedial action taken and planned by the firms, which share an address in Grevenmacher. Hansainvest Lux management board member Christian Tietze was head of German business at Axxion until last June.

Best source:

Paperjam

(in French)

Public prosecutor highlights increasing complexity of financial crime and growing regulatory demands

The nature of financial crime and expectations on regulators to combat it have changed in recent decades, requiring increased resources, according to Max Braun, director of Luxembourg’s Financial Intelligence Unit and Patrick Konsbruck, deputy prosecutor at the economic and financial prosecutor’s office, who point to a particular need for more specialised magistrates, analysts and IT specialists. The financial crime agency imposed freezing orders on €220m last year related to suspicions of money laundering or the financing of terrorism, more than double the €87m total for 2018. However, Braun says he is optimistic about the outcome of the assessment of Luxembourg’s anti-money laundering policies and enforcement to be carried out later this year by the Financial Action Task Force.

Best source:

Luxembourg Times

(subscription required)
See also:

Wort

(in French)

Customise This Briefing

This free weekly Intelligence Briefing critical for your Luxembourg fund interests, prepared by our top financial journalists, can be personalised just for you: Essential and accurate fund market news to deploy internally and for your customers. Contact us to explore how we can customise to boost your brand and your business.

 

Business intelligence should supercharge, not drown, your sales team

In an era of information-overload, business intelligence, competitive intelligence and competitor/press monitoring can be any company’s differentiator

Our worlds as individuals and in business are driven increasingly by data: what we read, what we buy and what we think.

Businesses that fail to harness the data flowing to, from and around them will slash the ability of their sales staff to attract new business and retain existing customers.

Why we all need business intelligence

No business can operate in a bubble, particularly in the modern, globalised and internet-driven economy. Whatever your industry, you must stay current on your competition, the innovations about to rock your world and the data that will cut your costs and boost productivity.

Yet, corralling all that information is expensive. Data is often unstructured, and that means monitoring competitors or absorbing a tsunami of information from news articles, blogs and press departments is hard to squeeze into corporate KPIs and reports and onto a single spreadsheet that makes sense.

Here enter business intelligence, competitive intelligence, and monitoring software and services, drawing on data analytics and industry news/trends to spot strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and – just as important – to present the information in a format that executives and staff actually can use to drive decisions.

The aim is to collate, structure, present and update relevant data so that various staffers, including your sales team and finance department, can make better strategy, react faster to developments and ultimately sell more to create bigger profits.

The need for human intervention in business intelligence and competitive intelligence

Harnessing all that data is a massive and ever-growing challenge. Internal business functions create literally many thousands of data points each day. But information held by the finance team may not be readily available to customer service or passed in an understandable and useful format to sales teams that could, in turn, offer alternative products to a customer struggling to pay invoices, or offer an upgrade to those who consistently pay on time.

Meanwhile, automated business intelligence software and tools paradoxically can contribute to an organisation’s information-overload problems, flooding your business with too much irrelevance – especially related to media and competitor monitoring and press monitoring.

In this case, the old adage holds: quality is far more important than quantity.

And that’s where the personal touch matters.

As helpful as some of these automated services can be for amassing data and information – for example, those on offer from Oracle or Trakomatic – they can never match business analytics curated and organised by a human expert. That’s why 80% of businesses now have at least a part-time employee (e.g. business intelligence analyst) dedicated to gathering BI.

Companies must be on their toes, too, able to react immediately when fake news about them or their industry starts to spread. Left to fester, opinion and falsehoods can quickly overwhelm the truth, complicating efforts to respond by PR, sales, marketing and customer-service colleagues.

The greater the data flow, however, the greater the difficulty to filter the right from the wrong, the true from the false and the useful from the time-wasting – a process that quickly can overwhelm those time-pressed staffers responsible for teasing out the truth.

Multiple benefits

The need to recognise and respond to situations, good and bad — and to respond quickly — often drives a company to invest in business and competitive intelligence, which aims to bring all this data together, fast and intelligibly.

According to a global survey by MicroStrategy, 94% of businesses think data and analytics are important for growth and digital transformation. Almost two-thirds (64%) believe such software already has led to improvements in productivity and efficiency. Nearly half (46%) say they have improved customer acquisition and retention by deploying the technology.

Business intelligence, however, offers payoffs beyond sales: A full 46% of respondents also say that using the technology has led to the discovery and creation of new revenue streams.

ROI of up to 1000%

There are plenty of providers of business intelligence tools, software and services for marquee multinational clients such as SAP and smaller specialists that focus on specific sectors of the economy. Be aware that these providers’ services are never cost-free.

Measuring the return on investing in business intelligence is tricky yet almost uniformly positive. An often-quoted, 2002 study by IDC found a median five-year ROI of 112% and an average payback time within 1.6 years. One-fifth of the firms surveyed even found returns of 1000% or more.

Other studies deliver a wide range of results. A more recent survey by Nucleus Research found average returns of $13.01 on every dollar spent.

Companies as diverse as Amazon, cruise liners and even universities are keen on deploying business intelligence, respectively, to encourage more sales, more passengers and fewer dropouts by new students.

Ultimately, there’s a reason that the Dresner Advisory Associates’ 10th edition of its popular Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study found that improving revenues using BI is now the most popular objective enterprises are pursuing in 2019.

Sharing the sales benefit

These successes also depend on the correct implementation and usage of the software and the data produced. Done well, BI also produces intangible benefits, such as better employee engagement or a more pleasant, well-integrated working environment.

Poor implementation without the buy-in of staff across all functions and levels will reduce those intangible benefits — and the tangible, bottom-line ones too.

The MicroStrategy study found that more than 80% of management have access to the analytic data their systems deliver. Those on the front lines – in sales or customer support, for example – aren’t so lucky; just over half have access to the tools that could provide them more insight and help speed up decisions.

That lack of access creates friction, can add to cost and leads to poorer outcomes, including the loss of a previously-loyal customer when the sales team cannot be proactive.

In those cases, the majority of employees must ask someone else in the organisation for help when they have to make a data-driven decision. A substantial number simply ‘wing’ it, using intuition and gut feeling, not fact, to arrive at a decision.

In short, restricting access to business insight is a false saving.

Key takeaways

  • Business intelligence and competitive intelligence are now widely considered as critical by companies across every sector.
  • There is a significant difference between having access to business intelligence and having access to effective, high-value business intelligence. Simply gathering the data will not yield the potential 1000% ROI.
  • Business intelligence must be easily accessible by your sales team. It should be easy to share and absorb, and be tailored to your company’s specific needs.
  • The best business intelligence and competitive intelligence products are produced with some form of human curation.

How We Decided to Make our 2020 Holiday Donation

We’ve been discussing at VitalBriefing where to make a corporate donation for the holidays.

In part because I’m obsessed with a world that increasingly devalues the critical importance of fact-based information and in part because we’re a business based on journalistic principles, I set the parameters: Our contribution should be directed at an organisation dedicated to freedom of the press and/or safety of journalists and/or fighting censorship.

In my view, the issue of “information you can trust” and its impact on just and democratic governance, together with climate change, are two of the most urgent concerns for every person on the planet. And never in our lifetimes have the dangers been greater or the stakes higher.

According to the group we chose, nearly half the world’s population is denied access to free information, “knowledge that is essential for managing their lives…they are prevented from living in pluralist political systems in which factual truth serves as the basis for individual and collective choices.”

The candidate short-list was impressive:

The Committee to Protect Journalists: An invaluable, New York-based organisation with which I have many personal connections. It’s a wonderful group with a blue-chip board that has included David Schlesinger, the distinguished former editor-in-chief of Thomson Reuters and the current chairman of VitalBriefing’s International Advisory Board.

For more than three decades, CPJ has been defending and fighting for press freedom, shining the light on attacks on journalists and reporting on violations of press freedom around the world. It’s arguably the most influential voice defending the cause of essential journalism.

Index on Censorship: A young non-profit centred in London that “campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide,” publishing work by censored writers and artists and monitoring threats to free speech. Again, the personal connection was at work here: David Schlesinger is a trustee and the patrons include legendary figures such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Palin, Sir Tom Stoppard and Steve Coogan.

The group works in partnership with Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and Pen International, among others, and is a founding member of a global network that monitors censorship worldwide while defending writers and journalists and those persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression. As David told me: “We are one of the only voices fighting for pure freedom of expression in the face of severe encroachments including in our beloved EU.”

Reporters without Borders: Based in Paris, this NGO maintains correspondents in 130 countries able to take on governments over media and internet statutes and standards, defending freedom of information and publishing a World Press Freedom Index used as an evaluation and advocacy tool by the World Bank and the UN Refugee Agency in allocating aid.

From a marketing perspective, I also admire the shrewd and effective video they launched in November with a simple, straightforward and pointed message: “Without independent journalism, this would be the news.” Take a look, and you’ll have the answer to why I used Kim Jong Un’s photo for this piece.

All these groups – and many others such as ProPublica and PolitiFact do vital work and are worthy of all the support they can get. In the end, our decision was based on a laughably practical criterion: Which group had branded holiday cards at the ready that we could use to send to our clients and friends to solicit support for a cause we consider indispensable? Surprisingly, only Reporters met that need.

Next year, for sure we’ll move earlier and send our own cards and share our modest wealth with another of these worthy groups. I hope you’ll consider doing the same now and in future. Given the results of Brexit, the lies, distortions, real fake news and misinformation driving Trumpublicanism, and attacks on honest journalism and journalists around the world, the need will become only more urgent.

Is Content Marketing the Key to Your Business Growth?

In just a few short decades, the internet has exploded into an expanding universe of content – and content marketing. Run a web search and prepare to spiral into a black hole of possibly interesting but often false and distracting material that risks sending you spinning across a galaxy of irrelevance.

Information consumers — all of us — in this dense and fast-moving medium are challenged to know which sources to believe, especially when the term “fake news” is tossed around like confetti by our most powerful leaders. “What’s gone from the internet isn’t ‘truth’, but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be,” writes Max Read in New York Magazine.

It may sound counterintuitive – using more content to battle the content overload we are now experiencing – but high-value content marketing is critical for any business looking to separate itself from its competitors and effectively engage their target consumers.

In fact, a robust content strategy has fast become a key element of many business sales processes.

Standing out from the crowd

Amid this tide of dishonesty, it’s imperative for your business to open up an authentic channel of communication rich with real and valuable content. But if it’s never been more important for businesses to generate quality content to stay competitive, how do you deliver high-quality, targeted information to current and future clients without getting lost yourself in the endless forests of information?

And more importantly, why do so many of us find it so hard to produce effective content marketing?

According to Doug Kessler, creative director at Velocity Partners, the answer to succeed with inbound marketing is to build a great content brand:

  • Aim high and strike your target.
  • Become known for producing top-notch content.
  • Deliver on your promises.

Hit these three goals and you’ll attract quality producers who can power your upward spiral.

By providing reliable, engaging branded content and thought leadership that your customers opt in to read and share, you build trust – far more effectively than by throwing advertising at them – and can set your business apart from the competition, improve your brand recognition and reputation while highlighting your expertise in your industry.

According to DemandGen, 95% of B2B buyers consider content to be a trustworthy means of evaluating a company and its offerings, while Hubspot finds that prospective customers consume at least five pieces of content before buying – both points offering clear indications of content’s importance.

Anna Rosenman, an executive at customer relationship management software leader Salesforce – which just launched a content management system within its platform to enable businesses to harness customer data – says that without content, your commerce site is a mere webpage facilitating transactions.

Your own content also can serve as a forum to develop your brand’s voice, a place where you can present a more personal face of your business. Marketing expert Michael Brenner notes that forcing the brand name on the customer’s attention can be counter-productive, so try to mention it as little as possible. This restraint could also help you to decide whether to host your content on your main branded website, or on a separate domain.

With trust and a relationship established, your content can educate your audience with the information they need to take the next steps in the conversion process, whether making an actual purchase, getting in touch for more information or engaging with you online.

The key is to provide highly readable content that enriches the reader with new insights and ideas. The Content Marketing Institute says that after reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of American online consumers made a purchase.

Case studies

Brenner offers examples. A personal favorite: A few years ago, consulting company Capgemini suffered from poor brand awareness and was falling behind the competition. Vetoing a proposal to buy display advertising in golfing magazines — and even to sponsor a professional golfer — its brand manager opted in 2013 for a content marketing strategy based around Content Loop, a storytelling website integrated with LinkedIn featuring topics such as big data and the cloud, stories aimed at putting the company “at the heart of business and IT conversations”.

After one year, the brand site had drawn nearly one million new visitors, the firm had gained more than 100,000 new followers to its LinkedIn page and enjoyed 1.8 million shares of its content. The strategy generated nearly $1 million in sales the first year and has been growing since.

Other examples range from luggage company Away, which created Away Here, a high-end, magazine-style blog focusing on travel and lifestyle topics to enterprise chat provider Slack’s blog, “Several People Are Typing”, with tips on productivity and collaboration and Home Depot’s Garden Club portal, which is packed with how-to guides.

How to quantify your content marketing efforts

Quantifying the efforts you put into content marketing is difficult. Don’t fall into the mistake of identifying financial gain as the immediate goal. Rather, you’re in a marathon, not a sprint.

Nevertheless, return on investment can be maximized by creating a strategy that focuses on select topics for your target market rather than simply churning out content for its own sake. Media and competitor monitoring for current trends are key. Same for harnessing data on the customer experience on your site that’s useful for future content planning, such as journey maps, user feedback and customer profiles.

Improved search engine optimization for your business provides consistent and relevant content, including a variety of topics and keywords. Indeed, Tech Client provides this heartening statistic: Websites that post consistent blog content boast on average 434% more pages indexed by search engines than those that don’t publish at all.

Believe this: Content costs about 62% less than traditional marketing techniques — and generates three times as many leads, according to DemandMetric. Obviously, that’s a highly efficient and effective way to maximise your budget.

While it’s cheaper than straight-up advertising, dedicating budgets to this effort is important. Data from the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs shows that B2B marketers allocate 29% of their total marketing budget, on average, to content marketing (26% for B2C). The most effective allocate 42%, and the most sophisticated and mature allocate 46%.

Practical pointers

These tips should help you focus as you develop your content strategy and build trust in your brand:

• Know your audience. Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes, be aware of their challenges, needs, interests, desires and concerns – and tailor your content accordingly.
• Choose the right tools and software to produce and show off your content.
• If you don’t yet have an in-house team, call on content creation professionals.
• Decide on and develop your brand’s voice: serious, funny or somewhere between.
• Post consistently and regularly across content types and platforms.

How the EU’s green finance ambitions could revolutionise fund management

The European Commission will soon launch ambitious plans that would position the EU as a global leader in the reduction of carbon emissions and the transition to a more sustainable economy that can contribute to curbing climate change. On behalf of our client, KNEIP, VitalBriefing looks at how Europe’s green finance goals could be a gamechanger for the fund management industry.

Click here to read How the EU’s green finance ambitions could revolutionise fund management.

 

Competitive Intelligence Quality, Not Quantity, Can Cure Information Overload

Conducting business would be unimaginable without access to the internet, particularly for the news and critical information it delivers. Remember how painful it once was to research a competitor’s latest products, or to wait a week or longer for a review in your industry’s flagship trade magazine? Today your favourite search engine will deliver every catalogued article, review or social media posting in nanoseconds, making competitive intelligence and monitoring easier than ever before.

Now the question is: Which links should you trust?

Not new, just bigger

Information overload is not a new concept. According to the Harvard Business Review, it’s been an issue for at least the last 2,300 years. In fact, there’s even a biblical reference to the growing menace of the printed word.

‘There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body’ – Ecclesiastes 12:12

In the digital era, there’s a growing body of research that information overload is bad for business — and for your employees. When unfiltered, business intelligence is ineffective and even harmful. Whether sales data or media reports, the value of data declines sharply for recipients when they’re not guided to what matters most. Information overload – also known as colloquially as infobesity and infoxication – quickly leads to infoxiety (information anxiety).

As business psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of University College London and Columbia University argues, information and news filters may simply confirm our own information biases based on what Big Tech knows about us already.

Too much information may also inhibit our ability to digest and process information, too.

Gamechanger: Media monitoring

Even so, media and competitor monitoring cannot be overlooked as a crucial element in the decision-making process. It’s a key component of any business and competitive intelligence and analytics architecture. A well-designed system will follow the latest news about your chosen subjects, competitors, products, legal and regulatory developments.

That sounds like common sense. Yet designing a monitoring system is harder than you think.

Even conducting your own internet search will quickly leave you swamped and gasping for (information) air. VitalBriefing is hardly the world’s largest multinational (for the moment), but a quick Google search for us tosses out 5,370 results.

Try a bigger media outfit, like the BBC or New York Times, and the results run into the billions.

Online notification services such as Google Alerts are easy to create and free. Yet the results can prove frustrating: Complaints have been growing since 2013 that the alerts are more about driving traffic to certain websites than about delivering relevant news to its users.

Free filtering tools are fairly basic: alerts for the ECB — European Central Bank — are just as likely to deliver match results and player news from the England and Wales Cricket Board (also, confusingly, the ECB), no matter how carefully you tailor them. At best, Google Alerts is a back-up when everything else fails.

Quality matters

Bain & Company’s consultants call infobesity the enemy of good decisions. They suggest taking a step back, reviewing exactly what you need from your data, focusing on the important elements and standardising the output – in an internal email, on an intranet or in a corporate knowledge management system, for example — making it easier to digest. They also suggest that timing is an issue. With big data ever more accessible, the tendency may be to deliver too much information too often.

But perhaps the most significant insight from Bain & Company is on ‘quantity’ and ‘source’. Not every executive decision needs every single news article on a successful product launch or the impact of a new regulation. If the views are fairly uniform, then one or at most two will do, especially if the second adds new information.

For ‘source’, read quality. Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence aren’t always best at discerning quality media as their filters often are founded on momentum and traffic volumes. In the entertainment world, ‘clickbait’ articles create tremendous amounts of traffic (and advertising revenue for their hosts), so popularity could be said to equal success, of sorts.

But in the business, legal and financial worlds, the most insightful articles may be hosted on trade-news websites, government or agency sites or hidden behind subscription paywalls.

Then there’s the issue of fake news, particularly regarding politics and current affairs. In the US election of 2016 and the UK’s Brexit referendum the same year, fake news often was published on new and virtually unknown websites, and their reach amplified by retweets and “likes” on social media.

The human touch

Fake news is no longer confined to politics. There’s growing evidence that it can hit businesses, big and small, often with a real financial and reputational impact.

That’s why media and competitor monitoring, news curation, competitive intelligence, and worthwhile business intelligence continues to require a human element – and why at VitalBriefing we’ve recently updated our tagline to read “content you can trust.”.

We have a growing team of journalists around the world with expertise in their chosen fields, from financial services to logistics to sustainable development to the space industry and beyond. Their intuition on what’s important to your business and, more pertinently, what’s credible is an invaluable resource.

Software and automation just can’t substitute for the human expertise and insight into what you specifically need to know to protect – and grow – your business turf. We’re betting that will be the case for a long time to come.

Luxembourg fund assets lifted by stock market boom, and other business-critical industry news

Every Monday, VitalBriefing is proud to publish its exclusive Luxembourg Funds Intelligence Briefing, featuring our editors’ selection of the most important stories of the week that impact the funds industry.

We invite you to check it out below, and if you like what you see, subscribe to receive the briefing FOR FREE to your inbox each week.

 

Luxembourg Funds Intelligence Briefing
13th January 2020

 

 

 

Luxembourg’s investment fund asset total, second in the world only to the US, continues to be lifted by the year-long stock market boom since the downturn at the end of 2018. From €1.5trn in 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the industry’s net assets had risen to €4.67trn at the end of November. However, most of the increase in assets over the first 11 months of 2019 came from market growth rather than net inflows.

 

— Simon Gray, Editor in Chief

 

 

Asset Management
Fund assets set fresh record of €4.67trn in November

Net assets under management of Luxembourg-domiciled investment funds reached a record €4,669.7bn at the end of November, according to the CSSF. The sector has enjoyed almost a year of uninterrupted growth following the slump in global financial markets in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Best source:

Paperjam

(in French)

 

Fund Services
Thibaut Partsch joins Elvinger Hoss Prussen as partner

Alternative investment specialist Thibaut Partsch has joined Elvinger Hoss Prussen as a partner in the law firm’s asset management and investment funds practice. A member of the Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Partsch was previously with international law firms in Brussels, New York and the grand duchy, including 12 years with Loyens & Loeff, and is a member of the bar in both New York and Luxembourg.

Best source:

Elvinger Hoss Prussen
Aztec Group supports close of Headway Capital Partners PE fund

Fund services provider Aztec Group says it has assisted UK-based private equity fund manager Headway Capital Partners on the final close of its HIP IV fund with total commitments of €372m. Aztec helped Headway with the fund’s formation and fundraising, and will provide ongoing administration services from its Luxembourg office.

Best source:

Luxembourg Chronicle

 

Regulation
Paris lobby group calls for more transparency from activist funds and short-selling restrictions

Paris Europlace, the lobby group for the French capital’s financial industry, has added its voice to calls for greater transparency on the part of activist funds targeting French companies, as well as seeking restrictions on short-selling. The group recommends that funds inform the targeted company of their plans and sources of finance, and share any non-public communications with the company’s shareholders. Paris Europlace has also proposed rules for proxy advisers and securities lending.

Best source:

Les Echos

(subscription required, in French)

 

Technology
Fintech firm Numbrs to relocate most of Luxembourg team to Switzerland

Martin Saidler, the founder of Swiss fintech firm Numbrs Personal Finance, says it will close its subsidiary Numbrs Luxembourg, with nine of the office’s 11 employees to be transferred to its Zug office. The firm’s main product is an app that aggregates bank account and credit card information and facilitates mobile banking and personal financial planning. Numbrs blames reported problems with the app on the implementation of the EU’s revised Payment Services Directive, but has threatened to take legal action against anyone publishing false speculation about the company.

Best source:

Inside Paradeplatz

(in German)
LuxTrust to open Paris office in European expansion drive

Digital certification firm LuxTrust is to open an office in Paris in the coming months as part of its strategy to target the wider European market, according to communications director Stéphanie Godar. The firm has recently developed products involving secure digital signatures alongside its existing digital identity services.

Best source:

Paperjam

(in French)

 

Customise This Briefing

This free weekly Intelligence Briefing critical for your Luxembourg fund interests, prepared by our top financial journalists, can be personalised just for you: Essential and accurate fund market news to deploy internally and for your customers. Contact us to explore how we can customise to boost your brand and your business.

 

The legal and tax complexities of real estate, your biggest asset

How much do you know about the legal and tax complexities of real estate in Luxembourg?

For many people, property is the biggest asset to their name, so it is important to be aware of how real estate is held and passed on to future generations in the grand duchy.

Read the informative and succinct guide VitalBriefing created for Banque Internationale à Luxembourg’s myLife information platform.

Read the full article here.

Defend Truth Against “Truthiness”

Way back in 2005, long before Donald Trump was a glimmer in the eye of the voting public, the American late-night TV host Stephen Colbert came up with a wonderful concept. He called it “truthiness,” defined as “the belief in what you feel to be true rather than what the facts will support.”

Watch the clip and while you’ll see that the notion of anti-fact long pre-dates the current American president, during his campaign he raised the conveyance of lies, misinformation, disinformation and disproved conspiracy theories to a crude, highly effective art form — so much so that around the time of the 2016 US presidential election, the Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” as its Word of the Year, echoing Colbert with its definition as “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” 

The idea, it added, relates “to or denot(es) circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

From his insistence that Barack Obama had been born outside the United States and thus an illegally-seated president to his constant and repeated tarring of opponents based on false information, Trump literally built his campaign, and now his presidency on lies — as many as 13, 435 – an average of 13 lies per day – as of October 9, Day 993 according to the Washington Post, with the pace of his lies ever-faster in recent weeks.


Source: MSNBC/WashingtonPost


When lying is institutionalized

Why dwell on Trump and his lying? As journalists whose business is delivering “anti-fake news” for private- and public-sector clients who rely on us to ferret out the accurate from the inaccurate, the reliable from the unreliable and the truthful from the untruthful, Trump’s brazen contempt for actual fact is a constant affront, in addition to posing a real and present danger to the global economy, world peace and democracy. 

His contempt as well for accurate reporting and honest media outlets in the service of his own vanity, incompetence and immorality — reflected as well by his direct associates and his entire administration including his acting Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, various spokespeople and personal attorney —  has made it still more acceptable for autocrats around the world to traffic in phony information (see, for example: Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Hungary’s Orban, and Turkey’s Erdogan).

And let’s not forget one of the most egregious examples of the destructive power of fake news and false information: the 2016 Brexit referendum, whose supporters relied significantly on indisputably erroneous facts to help make their case.

While it’s not news that politicians lie, Trump has made it mainstream in his sheer, brazen disregard for the truth – over and over and over, despite being disproved over and over and over. 

Certainly, lying and politics have always been bedfellows. But two recent factors have combined to make this era different than any before it. Call it the Double Whammy of Misinformation: the decline of mainstream news organisations and the rise of social media. 

Nobody appreciates that damaging marriage more than the US president: “I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media, to be honest with you,” Trump told Fox Business News in 2017. 


Tweet, tweet, tweet

When Trump says social media, he’s really talking about Twitter, which he uses like a club that he wields over the heads of the frightened, many of them politicians from his own party — when he’s not pounding them with it, as he confirmed to a broadcast medium: “Tweeting is like a typewriter – when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show. When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it. The other way, I would never be able to get the word out.”

Twitter and other social media represent one aspect of the problem, enabling anyone with a social media account, a digital device and an internet connection to become a publisher. He or she can make any information look “real” by skinning it to appear to be real news in or from a real publication.

For you as an information consumer, though, it’s like buying cooked food from a kitchen you’ve never seen, with no ingredients on the package — or no guarantee that the ingredients on the label are really there at all.

That other factor — the decline of mainstream media — is actually the collapse of the traditional advertising-based business model for newspapers and magazines. The rise of digital media + the fragmentation of audiences + the demise of older print media consumers has translated into the rapid weakening and, in many cases, disappearance of the kind of responsible journalism — with fact-checking at its core — that once acted as a filter to weed out the erroneous.

In other words, the quality control once inherent in mainstream media has rapidly diminished and is disappearing.


Protect yourself

All that said, there are steps you can take at least to better ensure the information you take in both personally and professionally is as accurate and trustworthy as possible. (At VitalBriefing, we talk incessantly and write frequently about this issue. No surprise as trustworthy, accurate and timely information is our bread and butter and what we serve our clients).

Start with this video, then consider these tips:


Source: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

Here’s a handy tool, courtesy of California State University at Chico, to help you evaluate whatever you’re following. You have to love it for the name alone: The CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose)

Another American college, Mount Allison University, has assembled a helpful reference page.

Finally, keep an eye on the authoritative debunkers of fake news, among them FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.

It’s virtually become a civic responsibility to ensure that the factual material you’re reading, watching and sharing is accurate and truthful – no matter your side of any issue. Just know that it’s critical to our democratic way of life, as well as the health of your business or organisation, to make your judgements based on good information.

Don’t be fooled: Curing the fake news epidemic, one story at a time



Over the last several years, the world has succumbed to an epidemic of fake news. While disinformation has circulated for as long as people have created news, the internet, social media and changes in the way in which we consume information have turned fake news into an uncontrollable global virus with massive repercussions across politics, business and society.

Stories that on the surface may seem accurate but instead are misleading or downright false can have serious consequences once – to adopt the social media phraseology – they go ‘viral.’

Fake news stories have been absorbed and spread by millions of people, enticed by the click-bait headlines plaguing social media feeds – feeds originally designed to ease the sharing of content rather than to encourage the dissemination of untruth. On occasion, such as in the run-up to the 2016 US election or the Brexit referendum, this has resulted in a viral storm of sound bites that can trap people in a ‘filter bubble’ of disinformation, impacting how they vote, who they connect with socially and which companies they buy from.

While the mainstream media is certainly not innocent of embellishing the news to attract readers, of making mistakes or of inaccurate reporting, more alarmingly, the phrase ‘fake news’ is now deliberately being used by politicians and business leaders around the world as a weapon against legitimate news reporting, to mislead their constituencies and as an excuse to censor free speech.

In the business world, being tarnished with fake news that sticks can be disastrous, impacting public sentiment and your brand reputation with after-effects that can be hard – even impossible – to shake off.

No global vaccine exists for inoculating against the fake news epidemic, but VitalBriefing, as specialists in media and brand monitoring, has developed tools and techniques to filter fact from fiction, enhanced by our team of highly skilled and experienced journalists.

Here are six tips and tricks you can apply today when you read the news online or browse your social media feed:

  • Is the publisher credible?

Simply because a website is popular, does not mean it is accurate – especially if it appears on social media or automated news aggregation services where clicks and computer algorithms decide what leads. Be wary, for example, of unusual domain names or websites imitating legitimate news publications. Check the ‘About Us’ section to get an idea of what and who is behind the publication.

  • Is the writer credible? 

Check authors’ by-lines: Have they published anything else? Are they real writers, commentators or experts in their field or – as is often the case with fake news stories – simply a fictitious pseudonym?

  • Is the story credible?

Has the information been published on other websites, especially on authoritative ones such as noted mainstream media publications or specialist news outlets? If there’s no coverage elsewhere, it’s not a certainty that the news is fake, but it’s a strong warning sign that other verification methods need to be applied, especially if it’s not published by a legitimate news organisation.

  • Who’s in the story? 

If a person or organisation is quoted, perform a reverse search to check the original source of the quote. Is the attribution accurate? Is it being taken out of context? If there are no quotes or contributing sources, consider it another red flag.

  • How timely is the information?

Checking other sources can reveal a common indicator of fake news: the recycling of older information, dragged out of context, and made to appear as fresh news.

  • How’s the quality of the writing? 

Poor grammar and spelling is not necessarily indicative of a disreputable publication – automated or poor-quality translations are common on non-native language news sites, for example – but it should be a cause for scepticism, necessitating cross-checking the accuracy of the information. 

VitalBriefing applies all of the above and more when searching, filtering and curating information for your organisation, culling fake news to supply accurate business intelligence with journalistic integrity.