Earlier this month, I took the almost 31-hour door-to-door journey from Brisbane to London to attend the Australian British Chamber of Commerce Financial Services Catalyst 2019 – four collaborative, information-rich days examining the key challenges facing financial services today. We explored the rapid progress of technology, AI and blockchain, we shared innovative thinking around data sharing transparency and trust and we delved deep into the very real, and frankly very sobering, world of data, information warfare and cybersecurity.
A reflection on succession and long-term planning
The majority of our time over the course of the four days was spent in the City of London – well known as the financial heart of the UK, the Commonwealth and (arguably) the world (her only contender for that title being NYC). The City of London is a square mile of finance – the home of Lloyd’s of London, the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange. It’s really a city within a city and is actually the most ancient part of Britain – pre-dating the UK, England, Wales and Scotland. Its full history is somewhat lost to time, but begins around AD43 as a Roman Settlement known as Londinium (for a deeper dive check out this fun, fact-filled video from CGP Grey (5-mins)).
During our week we gathered in some fascinating and striking locations – from Amazon’s ultra-modern UK HQ to the House of Lords (NB: in Westminster, not the City of London) and to Guildhall where we were hosted by officers of the City of London Corporation atop floor stones laid around 970 years ago!
Being in and around such rich history and tradition, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much the City of London Corporation has achieved across those almost 2,000 years of self-government (fun fact: the City of London is recognized as the oldest continuous democracy in the world). That’s the true definition of succession and effective legacy building. Such a result across such a long period of time takes careful and precise planning and a genuine long-term perspective.
There’s a lesson in there, I think, for everyone. Whether it’s a business you’ve built or perhaps a business that was passed on to you, or maybe it’s the wealth you have accumulated which you want to pass down to your kids, or perhaps its success and legacy in another shape or form altogether. Without careful, prudent planning and maintaining a long-term perspective, you run the risk of having all that you have worked so hard to build and/or maintain fall into the wrong hands or potentially fall apart altogether.
A comment on cybersecurity
One of the key themes from the four-day Catalyst, and possibly the most eye-opening, was data, information warfare and cybersecurity. We have always taken data security, privacy and cybersecurity very seriously – with regards to our clients as well as our firm. We have been aware for many years of the importance of vigilance when it comes to the protection of client data and client assets. In fact, we routinely stress-test our infrastructure and ensure that we have appropriate digital and human protections in place at all times.
The reality of our modern world is that locally and internationally based individuals, organised crime gangs and (most menacing of all) a number of state actors are investing considerable energy and expertise into their efforts to spy on and steal from each and every one of us.
For several months we have been exploring advice and solutions for clients in this regard. However, having learnt what I did during my trip, we will certainly be redoubling our efforts in this space.
My preliminary advice is to understand if any of your data has been subject to a known data breach (you can easily check this via haveibeenpwned.com), take password selection and management seriously (visit www.staysmartonline.gov.au for more information), use two-factor authentication on all sites containing sensitive information (such as banking and other financial information) and consider using a VPN whenever you’re online.
The Catalyst certainly wasn’t all somber. Hearing from a number of experts in the field of fintech only reinforced the fact that technological change is taking place at an accelerating pace. While it does come with cybersecurity risks (if the right protections are not put in place) it also comes with opportunities such as paving the way for more efficient processes and allowing firms like ours to better service clients who live remotely or are time-poor.
I’ve got to say, while I cannot fault the London charm and brilliant blue-sky weather we were treated to each day, it is great to be back on home soil and to have the opportunity to now share and take action on my learnings (and reflections) from the four days. If you’d like to catch up by phone, Zoom or face-to-face to discuss finance, FinTech or cyber-security , be sure to get in touch!
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only and is not intended to constitute financial product advice. Any information provided or conclusions made, whether express or implied, do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of an investor. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice.