Retirement & Superannuation Solutions
Our RSS business has confidently navigated a year of change and uncertainty with significant regulatory reform in the market and continued impact from the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the RSS business has continued to evolve its global service offering and identify opportunities for transformation and growth.
“Our team’s knowledge and experience of the markets in which we operate, coupled with our strong partnership with our clients, has stood us in good stead throughout a challenging period.
Our continued focus is to truly partner with our clients to deliver more innovative solutions that exceed their members’ expectations and help to build a healthier superannuation ecosystem.”
CEO, Retirement & Superannuation Solutions
Our aim is to contribute towards a healthier superannuation ecosystem and to support our clients in navigating this increasingly complex and competitive environment. We achieve this through our strategic partnerships and investment in experience-led, technology-enabled solutions to differentiate our clients’ offering and deliver better outcomes for their members.
Supporting our clients through a period of change
Following a significant amount of regulatory upheaval in the superannuation industry, consolidation activity has accelerated with historic levels of fund mergers being announced. This has created opportunities for RSS as our clients’ member bases grow. Our proven track record of transitioning over 100 funds onto our platform across the past decade with an open ecosystem that enables our clients to access new and evolving solutions makes us a partner of choice for fund consolidation.
Delivering innovative solutions
In FY2021, we launched our Retirement Ready service in partnership with fintech Retirement Essentials. This is a great example of our open ecosystem at work as we collaborated with Retirement Ready, resulting in a solution that makes entering retirement as simple and affordable as possible for all members. The service fills a gap in the market for an all-encompassing retirement solution and provides funds with the tools they need to help their members manage the transition into retirement with ease. Our continued investment into technology and data, further broadened and scaled our superannuation ecosystem with over 200 Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) available, underpinning more than 50 million API calls per month to facilitate our clients in innovating and creating market leading automated, digital experiences.
FY2021 saw a continued investment into our CX Data Hub and further roll-out to clients, providing them with a state-of-the-art, cloud-based data and analytics platform to help our clients to better understand and service their members. The Hub provides access to rich data sources and insights in a customised format to feed next best interaction and deep personalisation strategies – essential to remaining at the forefront of the industry.
Simplifying how we work
In FY2021, we continued to invest in our technology, one of the key examples being our next generation member portal with the launch of a new Member Centre eXperience (MCX), a simplified member onboarding and account management platform with human-centred design at its core. Coupled with our newly designed and built member mobile app, this solution empowers our clients to manage their site content and marketing updates via a robust and flexible, yet easy to use content management system, providing control and agility for our clients and an engaging experience for members.
Growing in the future
We have established a solid footprint in the UK market with our strategic investment in Smart, which in FY2021 culminated in a Smart Pension Master Trust member base of over 800,000 with strong year on year growth, and GBP1.9 billion in funds under management. With a continued shift towards defined contribution markets and changes to regulation creating a systematic shift towards models seen in Australia, we have a unique perspective on mature defined contribution markets and capabilities to inform effective transformation.
They recently announced a collaboration between UK bank Barclays and Smart Pension that offers Barclays customers a simple pension solution that will deliver a successful retirement outcome for members. This strategic partnership demonstrates Smart's focus on delivering better outcomes for members and enabling our clients to provide more technology‑enabled solutions for their members and provides a further platform for future growth.
Our Corporate Markets business delivered a solid year of customer retention, new business wins and organic growth. We delivered strong recurring revenues from a client base that continues to grow – having acquired over 700 new clients, contributing to a total of more than 6,000 clients worldwide.
“We have a significant opportunity with our combined offering in Corporate Markets. Our team brings together an enormous amount of experience and expertise; which together with our technology platforms, will enable us to deliver more solutions and services for our clients globally.”
CEO, Corporate Markets
We have a resilient and diversified business model, offering a wide range of services to both listed and unlisted clients, including share and unit registry, employee share plans, and company secretarial services, as well as investor relations, treasury, virtual meetings and omni-channel communications.
Growing and supporting our clients
Our focus on enhanced client engagement and expansion of our global capabilities has led to the renewal of numerous contracts with valuable clients, such as BP p.l.c. in the United Kingdom, and Qantas Airways Limited in Australia who utilises our full breadth of services.
Our Treasury Solutions team contributed to the large number of client renewals, as well as winning several long-term retainer contracts with clients such as North Northamptonshire Council and Broxbourne Borough Council. We were also recognised as the ‘Registrar of Choice’ for the UK market in the recent Corporate Advisers Ranking Guide after winning the ‘Best Share Registrar’ award at the 2020 annual Shares Awards.
In India, we acquired two regional corporate registry players and expanded our client base, with now over 1,500 listed clients. Building on the success experienced in other regions, we also extended our Orient Capital investor relations offering into India in November 2020 and have signed over 20 new clients. This is a key achievement, demonstrating our ability to leverage and expand our extensive range of Corporate Markets services across different regions.
While the impact of COVID-19 presented its challenges, it also presented opportunities for our division. For example, FY2021 saw active equity markets, providing us with opportunities for new customer growth. We successfully listed 75 IPOs, making us the global market leader in this space. It was also a noteworthy year for capital raisings, having supported 42 listed issuers across the ASX and NZX raise over A$13 billion via various pro-rata accelerated offer structures.
We also delivered a greater number of employee share schemes and managed Australia’s largest ever share plan to over 109,000 Woolworths employees. Furthermore, we updated our award-winning Investor Centre mobile app to include employee features, with 68% of Fortescue Metals Group employees downloading the app to access their recent share offer, an example of the constant drive towards technology-enabled solutions.
Delivering a simpler client experience
As part of our global transformation, we have continued to consolidate our offices, particularly in the UK, to simplify our operations and create further capacity, dedicated centres of excellence and new product capabilities.
Our team in Mumbai has enhanced our IT infrastructure availability and delivered new digital capabilities to ensure our employees can service our clients safely, securely and efficiently, even in adverse times. We also re-engineered our operations and virtual meeting model in Germany to support the market, adding 70 new clients in FY2021.
In the UK, we launched a new Shareholder Engagement Programme (“SEP”). The SEP aims to reduce the size and cost of a client’s share register by offering a simple and cost‑effective channel for smaller shareholders (under £13,000 in value) to sell their shares. In addition, shareholders wishing to increase their holding can do so for a flat fee. The SEP also encourages more sustainable practices for shareholders who choose not to sell, reinforcing positive habits such as electronic communications and online engagement.
Across the globe we have strengthened our client engagement programs – hosting live virtual events, webinars, webcasts, and online publications, developing new ways to share our insights and industry updates and maintain open communication with our client network.
With the ongoing pandemic and social distancing requirements, we remain focused on helping our clients engage with their stakeholders and deliver their meetings safely. We experienced rapid growth in the use of virtual meeting technology in FY2021, managing over 2,000 virtual meetings globally, a significant increase from the year prior. This included AGMs, general meetings, and member meetings in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates.
Currently, we are the only registrar in the market to have developed an inhouse virtual meeting capability, which won ‘Digital Platform of the Year’ in Financial Standard’s 2021 Marketing and Sales Excellence Awards. We have also successfully extended this offering to RSS clients, delivering 14 virtual meetings for superannuation funds for their member meetings this financial year.
The future ahead is an exciting one for Corporate Markets, as we continue to simplify our business, deliver solutions to clients through our technology platforms, and explore new markets to grow our business.
Banking & Credit Management
“I am so proud of the entire team. We have continued to support clients by working collaboratively, adapting and mobilising new solutions and ways of working, and delivering exceptional service across Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. I look forward to our future growth and expanding into new markets and service lines.”
CEO, Banking & Credit Management
FY2021 has been a year of change for BCM, as we navigated both opportunities and challenges during the year.
From 30 April, BCM rebranded externally to BCMGlobal. This involved a huge collaboration across the entire organisation to introduce a fresh identity to the marketplace. Activity in one of our biggest markets reduced significantly in FY2021 which impacted on our revenue expectations. In turn, this delivered a lower than expected EBITDA, and a write off of IT assets and investments from a depreciation and amortisation perspective ultimately resulted in a financial loss for FY2021.
Growing and moving forward
BCM provides services to banks, lenders and debt purchasers, supporting the origination of new loans, servicing portfolios of performing and non-performing loans (NPLs) and providing outsourced solutions.
As COVID-19 created many challenges over the last 12 months across the whole industry, BCM has worked hard to continue to support our clients and their customers across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy in line with European Central Bank and local regulatory initiatives. This has resulted in our UK clients giving us higher than ever satisfaction scores for how we have mobilised to support them and their customers during this difficult period.
Growing and delivering in the face of COVID-19
In Ireland, BCM’s most defining growth achievement during FY2021 was our appointment to provide loan origination and primary services to Avant Money as it entered the Irish residential mortgage market. Avant Money, owned by Spanish banking group Bankinter, is an established leading provider of credit card and personal loan products in Ireland. This will make Bankinter the first overseas institution to enter the Irish mortgage market since the financial crisis, representing an important milestone.
Our teams in Italy have also spent the last 12 months expanding our existing services to provide innovative value-added solutions for our clients. Throughout the pandemic in Italy, closures left prospective buyers unable to physically visit assets. We adapted to support our clients by repositioning our sales and marketing, delivering them exclusively online. This has resulted in the team overseeing double-digit million-Euro capex investments and selling hundreds of residential units together with sales of property from various asset classes, on behalf of our clients.
In response to the pandemic, many governments introduced schemes for mortgage payment breaks to support consumers and corporates. In the UK and Ireland, customers could apply for a payment break of up to six months. BCM supported banks, non-bank lenders and debt purchasers across the UK and Ireland to implement payment breaks for over 9,000 customers.
We accepted our first payment break applications within days of the government announcements and adapted to respond to client requirements, including a new customer portal in Ireland and sympathetic engagement with customers.
Dutch banks also provided payment holidays and temporary bridge loans to consumers and entrepreneurs. Our team in the Netherlands worked with lenders to help them evaluate the risks in their portfolio and provide other interim services they needed – including data-driven portfolio risk analysis, temporary servicing and individual borrower analysis.
Simplifying to enhance
In the Netherlands, BCM uses a disruptive, technology-led approach to create a simple, quick and easy experience for mortgage brokers, lenders, investors and borrowers. Our end-to‑end, cloud‑based platform is designed to flex and scale for corporations of all sizes and needs across different markets, adding value and intelligence throughout the loan cycle. Now, even the most complex loan can be underwritten in less than one minute.
In Ireland, BCM has also rolled out workflow automation and other central solutions to streamline the delivery of quality, accurate data to our key NPL clients. We are using these learnings to continue to develop and enhance our systems to ensure efficiency and ease of use for our people and clients in all regions.
With a focus on growth in the area of loan origination and further embedding our services in the markets we operate in, BCM is excited for the future as we enhance and leverage our technology platforms to give our clients and their customers a simpler and better user experience in FY2022 and beyond.
Link Fund Solutions
“Link Fund Solutions has had a progressive year despite challenges posed by the pandemic. We have continued to support clients through market-leading technology, new centres of excellence and a focus on our clients globally. We look forward to continuing to deliver innovative solutions, backed by the expertise of our team, as we enter FY2022.”
CEO, Link Fund Solutions
Globally, Link Fund Solutions (LFS) has experienced a positive year, despite challenges posed by COVID-19. Funds under management and administration grew to A$825 billion as at June 2021. We also won business with 13 new clients, totalling 185 clients globally, many of which were long-term contract renewals.
We now provide transfer agency and administration services to seven of the top 10 global asset managers – including two new large global asset manager clients.
LFS has continued to focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects, as governments, regulators and investors increasingly demand more from companies to consider the impact of their activities. LFS has supported investment managers to integrate ESG in their investment policies by engaging and working with data partners to support our clients with their ESG requirements, including by providing data-driven investment management solutions.
We continue to invest strongly in enhancing the client experience and driving to more efficient operating models. We have leveraged our Mumbai Hub for operational functions as part of Link Group’s global transformation program, allowing us to increase focus on client and investor interactions.
From time to time, LFS receives enquiries, complaints or claims from investors or third parties in relation to the funds for which it acts, or has acted, as authorised corporate director (ACD) (in relation to authorised funds) or operator (in relation to unregulated funds). As disclosed on 18 June 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) notified LFS that it was commencing an investigation into LFS as ACD to the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund, now known as the LF Equity Income Fund (Fund). As the FCA investigation is an ongoing and confidential process, Link Group is unable to make any further comment. We continue to act in the best interests of investors in the Fund as the orderly wind-up of the Fund progresses.
Expanding our expertise to deliver for clients
FY2021 also saw the acquisition of Luxembourg-headquartered Casa4Funds SA from Banor Capital, completed in August 2021 following regulatory approval from the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF). The acquisition provides additional scale for LFS in Luxembourg, Europe’s largest investment fund centre. It also provides access to Casa4Funds’ extensive experience across traditional and alternative asset classes, including private equity, real estate, infrastructure and debt.
We are committed to reinforcing our position as one of Europe’s leading independent Management Companies and Authorised Fund Managers. We will now leverage the combined strengths, experience and capabilities of our existing operations in Luxembourg, Ireland and the UK with Casa4Funds to deliver market‑leading services for fund managers and financial institutions around the globe.
Simplifying, delivering and growing our digital services
Our Digital Services Framework (DSF) will support new digital and integrated online services, moving into FY2022 with longer‑term, future-proofed technology. We have introduced a global Cloud Centre of Excellence in our Leeds Hub that standardises practices, oversees and governs cloud architectures, and creates global synergies. The framework helps us move from large, complex applications to smaller, simpler, shareable microservices. Our DSF enables us to simplify, grow and deliver systems that give our clients the best, most efficient and resilient service.
The DSF is now our ‘go to’ model for delivering changes and new features. It allows us to introduce new skills, technologies and tools, plus enhances our teams’ skills and creates roles within Link Group that are attractive to any technologist. For example, the PRU system which was developed for our client using the DSF, with features and functionality that were built and rigorously tested quickly. The Fund Manager Web has developed highly efficient transaction and reporting capabilities allowing our clients to better interact with their investors.
Our DSF’s agility enables it to evolve with user demand while continuously providing a market-leading service.