Laura González
Laura González, Head of Americas at Allfunds, on their €1.3 Trillion Platform and Approach to Fund Selection, Open Architecture and Blockchain

In this discussion we examine the changing world of investment funds and the data ecosystems that surround them. To explore this, we're pleased to be welcoming Laura González, Head of Americas at Allfunds, onto the show.


Simon Brewer  02:31

Today, the topic for discussion is the changing world of investment funds and the data and analytical ecosystems that surround them. To help lead us through this potential maze, we're going to talk to one of the world's leading wealthtech companies, who offer the largest fund distribution network globally. Created in 2000, today Allfunds have over €1.3 trillion in assets under administration, 16 offices around the world and over 800 employees with a strong footprint in Latin America, a geography not discussed in any detail on the Money Maze Podcast before. And to help us, I'm delighted to welcome Laura González, Head of the Americas at Allfunds. Laura, Buenos días. [Speaks Spanish]

Laura González  03:21

That was an amazing accent! Thank you very much. Muchas gracias! Thank you for having me.

Simon Brewer  03:26

It's a pleasure. And I think I'm right in saying you're in Miami.

Laura González  03:30

Yeah, that is right. I'm based in Miami.

Simon Brewer  03:33

I'm in London and I'm especially grateful today as you had a surfing accident two days ago, and it sounded pretty nasty. So we need to start this by you telling me what happened.

Laura González  03:43

Oh, yeah. I could tell you a very romantic story, but I would be lying. We had a very good swell, very nice waves on Friday, because we had a hurricane called Ian. But actually, the accident didn't happen on Friday. We had a perfect day for surfing, nothing happened, all went smoothly. But I had an accident wakesurfing on Saturday, you know this sport that you are in a boat. So I fell down and the board badly hit me with the fin. So I broke my forehead. Not very sexy. I'm a very, I would say, Picasso model today but all good.

Simon Brewer  04:21

You are wearing the most elegant bandage of anybody who's had a head injury. So there we go. That's quite an accolade. Now, we're going to back-paddle because as I was going through your history, I think you might have more degrees than any of the 95 guests that we've had on the show. I just wondered, why so much education and what do you think it's given you?

Laura González  04:45

I must confess, Simon, that I was confused. It's true that I was somewhat intellectually very curious, so curiosity has always been wired in me, but I didn't know what to do in life. I was highly interested in politics, in psychology, in history, and I decided to go for a first degree that was a kind of door opener. I studied Communication Science in Madrid, which is actually my hometown, moved to Germany in my third year and that was a kind of cultural shock because I came from this public massive university, which is Universidad Complutense in my hometown, and I landed in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny town, very south in Germany, amazingly cold in winter. It was an awkward experience. It was actually the first and only Catholic university in the German-speaking countries where I studied, but it ended up being a very rewarding journey. I finished my first degree there, moved to Belgium, where I decided to go for International Relations, again, because International Relations was kind of the intersection between politics, economics, and also history, and you cannot study all of that at the same time. And I was like, being a war correspondent might be cool, becoming an ambassador could be something interesting as well. So I was doing my own digging around and trying to learn as many disciplines as possible. And the last subject that resonated with me was Behavioral Finance, did that at the LSE, at the London School of Economics, and that is going to be a lifelong learning for me. I am fascinated by how our emotions drive our investment decisions so I'm still trying to learn as much as I can about it. And that's basically it. Kind of confused, I would say.

Simon Brewer  06:34

Well, confused with five languages. Let's talk about your career path pre-Allfunds. How did you navigate that and why did you land on the side of finance?

Laura González  06:45

I would say that finance was a coincidence because my first job was the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. I lived in Luxembourg for five years. By the way, people tend to think that Luxembourg is very boring, but it is not. I had a very nice time there. So after my first job at the European Investment Bank, I landed at Reuters, not the news agency by the financial markets division, and I was already a salesperson there. I have been a salesperson very often throughout my career. And at Reuters, I was in charge of selling fund analytics, research, and hedge fund data. And that is how I came across Allfunds. Allfunds was no serendipity, actually. It was my first client. So I met Juan Alcaraz, its chief executive officer, during a business trip from Luxembourg to Madrid, and I truly fell in love with the company. I found its management super passionate about the long-term vision. So I decided to call Juan one day, and I think it was a smart choice because I've been around for 11 years now and it has been a very rewarding journey, Simon. So that's about me from a professional standpoint. That's how I landed at Allfunds.

Simon Brewer  08:01

Right. So let's talk about Allfunds and its origin. I understand that it was born within group of Santander, but please just explain to set the scene how it came about.

Laura González  08:13

That is right, Simon. So Allfunds was a spin-off business from Banco Santander Wealth Management business unit. At that point in time, third-party funds were gaining traction, but the process was not efficient. There was a lot of counterparty fragmentation, there was a lot of manual intervention, faxes. So our current CEO, Juan Alcaraz, came up with the idea of setting a platform that could streamline the process. And that was our Genesis, that's how we were born. We basically connected fund managers and private banks and we were born like a marketplace. We gradually became more independent because Intesa Sanpaolo, which is one of the largest banks in Italy, acquired 50% of our group, and that boosted our international expansion. We landed in Italy. Italy was followed by LatAm, we ended up going to Asia. And it has been a vibrant journey because we are now present in 17 countries and we have 1000 employees. And more recently in 2017, Intesa and Santander decided to sell us. They sold us to two private equity firms, one of these being Hellman and Friedman, a San Francisco-based one, and the other one being GIC, which is one of the two sovereign funds of Singapore. And that was truly transformational in the sense that it exacerbated our desire to lead the digital revolution. We were already into the digital space, but since then, we’ve actually positioned ourselves like a wealthtech platform much more than as a custodian or a traditional platform. And we truly believe that there are still monumental opportunities in the digital space and the two acquisitions that we have made in 2022 actually go on this direction. We acquired Web Financial Group and instiHub, and these companies are highly specialized either in digital or in big data. That has become our mission. When we go through our history, Simon, we forget what it was our tipping point in 2021. Because in 2021, we materialized our ambition of going public. So we were listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and although it was an awkward ceremony because everyone was locked down and I could not travel to Europe, we will never forget that day. The sense of interest alignment and skin in the game that you have when a company that you have grown goes public is truly special I would say.

Simon Brewer  10:46

So let's talk about Allfunds as it is today. How would you describe it in terms of its core business activity?

Laura González  10:56

Although we were born as a marketplace and we were very into the clearing, settlement and custody side of things, I would say that today, we have a truly wealthtech platform. And a wealthtech platform means that you are able to provide any given wealth management player or any given institutional player as well with anything they might need in order to access funds from a digital perspective. And this is precisely what we do. We have paid a lot of attention into that, and although clearing and settlement are still at the core of our strategy, we believe that the digital revolution should be led by us. And this has many implications because we are very active into the blockchain space, we are very active into research with a very digital delivery. But in short, our mission is to be the number one wealthtech when it comes to funds. So this is truly what we do and where we are today.

Simon Brewer  11:56

If I am to make sure I understand that correctly, on the one hand, you have global fund managers or fund houses that want to have their funds sitting on your platform, and on the other hand, you have consumers, many of them being private banks, but other institutions who come to you because of the fund houses that sell on your platform and the other added data analytics and skills, et cetera, that you have. Am I right? And just let me understand that in a little bit more detail how those two constituencies work.

Laura González  12:31

You are completely right, Simon. We are the largest digital marketplace when it comes to funds. It is quite important to understand that we are B2B, so our clients are always regulated. So our clients could be private banks, fund of funds, large custodians. And we currently have a very large and compelling fund universe that is composed of 2000 fund management companies. So any given private bank can clear, can settle, but we can also guide them. We have a very large research team, and we can cover that later if you want, and we have all the digital components so they can access market intelligence, so they can access feed data, they have all the fund fact sheets up and running, all the regulatory data they might need. So at the end of the day, we are a very smart hub for accessing cross-border funds. That is our DNA.

Simon Brewer  13:25

So if I am a private bank sitting in the world and I have my own research team, every time there's a new fund, I have to do the whole onboarding process and the due diligence. But if I want to short-circuit that, I sign up with Allfunds, and I can access in theory, that fund if it sits on your platform. Correct?

Laura González  13:41

Hundred percent! And we alleviate AML checks that the manager would be otherwise doing directly over the private bank. We do that as well. It is one single agreement and open architecture becomes a reality.

Simon Brewer  13:55

Now, you've referred to the data analytics and there's a lot of data in our business. Some would argue that there's too much data, but it's a question of how you use it. What do investors want with the data that you and others provide?

Laura González  14:08

Data is not the same as data science and data is not the same as market intelligence. And I think that if you are able to handle data effectively, you can add huge value to investors. Investors want to see whether they are following the consensus, for instance. Investors want to see which asset class is gaining momentum. And we can provide them with huge data in these regards because we have 2000 fund management companies, we have open-ended funds but also private assets. So we actually have one very compelling tool that is called Telemetrics, and Telemetrics is all about market intelligence. So you are able to track all of that. But again, fragmented data will take you nowhere and it's true that we are overwhelmed by noise these days.

Simon Brewer  14:56

That allows a firm looking at a given fund to be able to do a deep dive into that fund, see its characteristics, see if it's had style drift, see its market cap buyers. I mean, I'm putting these in here so correct me if I'm wrong, but i.e., to do everything that their own research team might do if that's the other route they'd taken.

Laura González  15:15

Yes. And this has been at the core of our strategy since the very beginning. When we onboarded a fund since day one, we did not only sign like an operational agreement in order to cover the operational flow, we also signed an information memorandum and that obliged the manager to deliver the holdings to us, all the structural data, and that is why we have managed to build such a massive database. So you got it correctly, Simon. That's what we do.

Simon Brewer  17:33

The world was a simple place when there were long-only funds, then it became more complicated because of the advent of hedge funds, and it's become more complicated still because of other private assets. So let's just talk a little bit given that those pools of capital are run with significantly less liquidity and other variables from drawdowns in the case of PE and other questions around valuation. How are you approaching the world of private assets?

Laura González  18:01

I think that is a very pertinent question, Simon. 2022 has been a very challenging year from a market perspective and that has had an impact on product mix. There are many, many private banks claiming that the 60/40 split where 60% is allocated to equity and 40% is allocated to fixed income is no longer working. They claim that there is no outperformance in that. We have seen very remarkable things this year. We have seen the Global Aggregate Bond Index down 12%. We have seen the S&P down 25%. So that is the ideal backstory for bringing new asset classes to the table. When we speak of new asset classes, we are of course speaking of alternatives and we are of course speaking of private markets. I think it's gaining momentum although we are still far from a retail revolution, Simon. If we take a look at the US landscape that is the most mature when it comes to alternatives, there is still such a gap in place between institutional investors and private investors. Let's forget about retail because if you take a look at a pension fund portfolio here in the US, you might come across something in between 30 and 50% allocated to alternatives, but if you take a look at a 401(k) plan, you might find nothing allocated to us. And the million-dollar question is why there is such a gap in place if they both should be sharing the very same investment objective, which is retirement. So although it is gaining momentum, I think we are still far from a retail revolution and maybe the first step towards this reduction is being the wealth management audience. We are seeing the very large GPs of this world paying a lot of attention to wealth management clients. It is quite understandable because only here in the US, it is a 40 trillion capital pool, so it is a very nice segment. We are definitely seeing more and more private assets. But as you just said, it is much more complex, you might need to handle capital calls, the data is much more opaque. So just to mention one of the things that we do within that space, we have a very compelling report that is a risk oversight. It is called the structural risk report analysis and we check non-market risk. So we can check all these complexities that are even more present when we talk about private assets. Just for you to know, we at Allfunds already had an alternatives platform in place. We made a very sizeable acquisition that was BNP Paribas Global Fund business, and that came along with a very sizeable team, highly specialised in private assets. So we already had our proprietary platform. But we released a combined offering with iCapital here in the US. Well, not here in the US. It was a global release, but you know that iCapital was born here in the US. And this is in line with this democratic trend, because we have capacities with the main GPs, and minimum tickets are lower than if you would go direct to the product itself. We are embracing the strand of private assets. We believe it is the present, it is happening as we speak. We will not be telling the client whether they should go for mezzanine or senior debt because we don't advise in this regard. But we will make sure that they can access these types of products in a very safe manner.

Simon Brewer  21:36

And if you were to look into your crystal ball, but only five or seven years hence, how might this asset allocation have shifted in the camp of both institutional and the individual and private wealth community?

Laura González  21:54

If you ask me for fund trends in a broader manner, I would say that I don't see open architecture disappearing. I think that the mantra of 'more choices, better returns' will remain in place number one, because wealth management clients are better informed these days, and they understand that alpha generation is not an easy thing to achieve. Number two, because the regulators also go on this direction. I'm sure you are super familiar with MiFID II in Europe, and MiFID II brought the concept of quality enhancement. So the regulators are truly obsessed about avoiding conflict of interest and the regulators are saying that you need an appropriate number of funds to prove that you are enhancing the quality of the service vis-à-vis your clients.

Simon Brewer  22:42

But I guess what I was also pushing out was in the way that institutional allocations and private assets have gone from very modest to very substantial. Is that going to be mirrored in your best guess in the individual community?

Laura González  22:57

Yeah, we are definitely already seeing that. And that is why we released a combined offering with iCapital platform and that is why we are onboarding GPs very aggressively, because there is indeed much more demand. And if you take a look at what institutional investors were doing in Europe back in the days, it was all about direct fixed income. It has nothing to do with that these days and we are seeing the same trend in wealth management. It's true that this exercise needs to come along with a huge educational effort and I think that this is also what the GPs are doing. We are seeing a lot of educational efforts coming from the very tier-one GPs, and they are no longer focused on the institutional marketplace. They are gaining traction and penetration within the wealth management audience. And educating, when it comes to alts and private assets, is not about sending a hundred white paper. Nobody reads that anymore. I think we are overwhelmed by newsletters and white papers is really sitting down with the advisor and going through the underlying strategy and also understanding whether an investor is open to embrace illiquidity, because we tend to think that illiquidity is something wrong, but sometimes, the fact that you don't have a daily NAV can change the risk perception and it's not necessarily bad. We are definitely going on that direction and there are even regulatory initiatives within that space. One of these that has been quite remarkable is the ELTIF passport in Europe. So the ELTIF passport, the long-term investment directive comes along with a much more democratic approach for private assets. So I think that both on the regulatory side and on the audience side, it's indeed gaining momentum as you said, Simon.

Simon Brewer  24:49

Now, I’ve spent my life as an investor with various organizations, doing it for clients, doing it for myself, and I understand that there is, when you're analysing funds, a quantitative dimension and there's a qualitative dimension. The quantitative dimension is, of course, there in front of one when you compile the data correctly. The qualitative one is infinitely more difficult because there's an element of subjectivity, the historic problem of people buying into good performance at the wrong time. How do you at Allfunds address and think that you can help people in their decision-making, particularly in the qualitative arena?

Laura González  25:26

The quant versus qualitative debate, it is a very lively one, Simon, and I truly agree with what you've said. We start with the quant methodology and we pay a lot of attention to peer group construction because we believe that having homogeneous peer groups is vital, because otherwise, you cannot compare apples with apples. And I know it might sound naive, but it is not. Just to give you one example, there is quite a lot of controversy around what absolute return is. If we need to be very granular and very meticulous to define peer groups, we will be. But as you just said, qualitative makes an impact and qualitative has a lot to do with psychology. And it's not that far from analysing a company because our team is going to check non-tangible aspects, non-tangible aspects such as the fund manager gut, conviction, long-term view, passion. We need to check how the manager is incentivised. So there are many, many technicalities and unless you have the longevity and a very lively and close interaction with a fund manager, you are not enabled to anticipate these aspects. And I truly think it makes an impact. And if we were speaking of whether a quant hedge fund can consistently beat the benchmark or not, that would be a completely different discussion and that could bring more controversy. But when we speak of fund selection and fund comparison, we truly believe that having both components, quant and qualitative, is the winning combination. But we indeed pay a lot of attention to the qualitative and subjective part of things, and we have the right team that has been doing that since the very beginning.

Simon Brewer  27:06

Now, the exogenous change is the arrival of blockchain and obviously with it, digital assets. Now they get pushed together when they maybe should be kept apart. Tell me a little bit how you're adapting and using the arrival of blockchain and to what extent people want digital assets, whatever one's view on them. Perhaps you can give some colour on that.

Laura González  27:28

Starting with digital assets and crypto, just to let you know that we at Allfunds don't hold crypto direct. We have seen many things happening and safety when it comes to custody is one of the fears that investors face these days. I think everyone remembers Netto or maybe we have someone that is too young and doesn't remember what happened with Netto, but we all know that it was a tipping point in our industry. But what has happened with crypto hasn't been a minor thing. We have seen $56 billion of Bitcoin disappearing, we have seen frauds all over the place, Turkey, Japan. We have not been brave enough as to hold crypto direct yet. It is true that we have a bunch of crypto active managers up and running. We have not been that proactive though. We have rather onboarded the ones that our clients wanted. Maybe one of the unique selling points that crypto active managers can bring to the table is precisely a robo safekeeping environment. Active management normally comes along with a third-party auditor, with an asset reservation policy. That could be an advantage versus holding crypto direct. Just a thought for my crypto friends out there. But when it comes to blockchain, Simon, we truly wanted to be first movers. We created a fully independent company that is Allfunds Blockchain and Allfunds Blockchain is fully dedicated to developing fund solutions in a 100% blockchain environment. We have our own proprietary network that is private, based on an Ethereum protocol, and we are doing very disruptive things in this regard. Just to name a few case studies, or rather real samples, we released the first tokenised fund in Spain last year together with a local broker, with Renta 4. We are envisioning the timeline for migrating funds thanks to blockchain technology. We truly believe that Allfunds Blockchain is leading the blockchain revolution when it comes to funds. We didn't see it as a threat. So I think it was a typical situation, Simon, where we wanted to leave the disruption to avoid being disrupted somehow.

Simon Brewer  29:42

As I said at the introduction, we haven't shone the spotlight on Latin America almost at all in nearly a 100 interviews on the Money Maze Podcast. You run the Brazilian, another, I think that's an American operation for Allfunds, an election, at least, election stage one this weekend. Let's talk about what's happening in the investment world in Latin America. And by that I mean, in terms of outsiders thinking about investing and domestic and other institutions inside those countries moving out.

Laura González  30:14

I don't think it has been a very promising period, Simon. We have indeed three offices up and running in LatAm. We have Sao Paulo, I opened up that one back in the days. I was personally in charge of the Brazilian market starting in 2013. We have Bogotá and we have Chile and we also have our Miami office. As you know, Miami is very often the back door for LatAm investors. And geopolitically speaking, many things have happened recently, and we have seen that private clients have been quite impacted. They are more and more considering offshore booking centres because of the political swings and that has also had an impact on institutional clients because you know that the pandemic and also the global price shock have made some governments approve early withdraws programs in pension funds and these programs have had many ramifications, one of these being outflows in international funds, because pension funds within the region were a solid source for sovereign credibility in first place, but also have investors in international funds. So I don't think it has been the most promising year for international fund managers. And the other way around as well, I don't think it is the perfect timing for going to a single manager that has a Brazilian equity, you know, a strategy at this point in time. But on the other hand, there have been some positive things happening. In Mexico, the AFORES, the pension funds, are finally investing in offshore funds. They could not do that back in the days because they could only invest overseas via mandate or via ETFs for regulatory reasons and they are finally investing in offshore.

Simon Brewer  31:59

So two things about Allfunds, you're owned by a private equity, but you've now listed on the exchange. And I just wonder what it is you think that having a listing gives you that's important.

Laura González  32:11

I think that the listing provided us with the flexibility to accelerate the digital transformation in first place. I also think it was the natural step for the company because after the acquisition of Credit Suisse fund platform, InvestLab, and BNP Paribas fund distribution business, our scale was already very relevant. So I think that going public was quite obvious. And when you have the support of leading institutional investors and you have access to global capital markets, I think that your pitch vis-à-vis the client becomes much more transparent and much more credible. We all know that on the other hand, when you have an intraday price, not every day is a glorious day. There are highs and lows, but I think we made the right choice because things are not always easy but the story is much more robust when you are a listed company. And on a more emotional note, I would say that the IPO ignited very positive energy into the teams, which is not a minor thing. This skin in the game and interest alignment feeling has also been very important for the teams.

Simon Brewer  33:19

You're touching on an answer to the next question, which is that as an organization, you have made several acquisitions, which as we know creates cultural challenges around integration. How do you think that Allfunds has managed that whole process of taking different firms with different people with different backgrounds and melding them into this organization with a unified sense of purpose and culture?

Laura González  33:45

If you just focus on finding a lucrative business, you might end up making an acquisition that can be counterproductive, precisely because of what you just said, Simon. Culture is vital and you cannot just do a due diligence that is focused on financials or numbers and potential for growth. We think that we truly need a value creation plan and a value creation plan is a broader concept that comes along with a corporate culture that is aligned with ours. So we truly do our homework in this regard. So it would take us nowhere to acquire a company with very robust financials and promising growth if the company has a toxic corporate culture that has nothing to do with ours. And acquisitions are not only a game of scale, we also try to bring the best talent to Allfunds and we have this entrepreneurial mindset and we try to seek out for entrepreneurs where human values and corporate values coexist. That's at the core of our strategy when we go for inorganic growth.

Simon Brewer  34:48

Let me ask you a question that we are all grappling with as investors, domestic and global, and that's the active versus passive debate with so much of particularly the S&P 500 being consumed by passive and it's a different debate about whether a bear market may trigger some review of that. But how do you approach the growth which appears to have been secular globally towards passive?

Laura González  35:14

You know how dogmatic we are very often, right? Human beings. And the discussion about active versus passive, I think it's sometimes dogmatic as well. Because there are many, many technicalities. Irrespective of what's happening with flows, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. Number one, market efficiency. We all know that it’s not the same to speak of US large cap equity as to speak of Indian equity, or even Indian small cap equity where a very high percentage of active managers beat the benchmark. And it's not the same to talk about the S&P as to talk about the Bovespa in Brazil. So market efficiency definitely has an impact. But I think that number two is even more relevant on it’s cyclicality. There is cyclicality in both, in active and passive, and it's totally understandable that when things go well, an investor might feel comfortable being the benchmark and following the consensus. But when there is a bear market or even a sideway market, investors might want to go for active bets. So that is understandable and logical as well. We at Allfunds truly understand that there are highs and lows and we act as facilitators. If the client wants alpha generation, he will be able to access the largest fund universe. As I said before, we currently have 2000 fund management companies, which is a very compelling universe. And if the client wants better, he would be able to access passive and index funds. So we are truly agnostic and we understand that there are many technicalities when it comes to active versus passive, Simon.

Simon Brewer  36:50

Laura, a few closing questions. We've really made a strong point of encouraging females in finance to be on the show to share their journey, and more importantly, to share their advice. Given your experience, what advice would you be giving to young women around the world thinking about finance?

Laura González  37:08

I would say to any young woman that perfection should not be the goal in life because if we rely on perfection and external validation, that can end up being quite insane. And women, we have this tendency to be super mother, super silver executives, super fit ladies, and that is very often a very heavy weight to carry, Simon. So if instead of that, we feel passionate about what we do and grateful for what we have, success might come easier. Not always that easy, right? There is not always a perfect correlation in life between how hard you try and how successful you are but at least you will have a meaningful professional life and that is what we are here for. I also think that embracing our feminine side, it is quite okay. Because one of the mistakes that I made when I started was trying to hide my feminine side because I thought I was too vulnerable. I thought I was too empathetic. And I was going to the office like if I was going to a gladiator war. And it should not be the case. We no longer live in the world from Wall Street Society. I don't seen that our society punishes vulnerability and empathy anymore. They are beautiful attributes, and if they are more present in a woman, it is totally fine. At the end of the day, I think there is nothing more impactful in life than being your true self. If you are your true self, it is more likely that people will gravitate towards you and if you are your true self, it is more likely that you will leave your mark. I'm not talking about building an empire, but leave a mark, I think it's something we all want to do in life. Our authenticity is very powerful because nobody else can be our true selves, only us.

Simon Brewer  38:56

Very good indeed. A different question altogether, as these markets are highly stressful for many of us who operate in them, how do you relax?

Laura González  39:06

I am a very, very devoted yoga practitioner, Simon. I've kept a daily practice for many, many years now. I am much more calm. I am much more empathetic because of yoga. I have more agility, more focus. So I wake up at 5AM every morning, and it is worth it. And yoga comes along with many, many things. It comes along with mindfulness practices, it comes along with history. It has a huge legacy. Both yoga and meditation changed my life. So if anyone needs an indication on that, be my guest. I have this reciprocity feeling for yoga because it gave me a lot. Very happy to advise anyone.

Simon Brewer  39:48

You have an uncanny knack of getting to my next question before I've got to it so I've got to just tweak this one which is what is the second most important daily habit you have? Because I know Yoga is the first.

Laura González  40:01

Yoga is the first. And luckily you said daily so I cannot answer surfing because I live in Florida, not in Hawaii. So there is no consistency where I live, but I try to surf as much as I can. But I cannot do it on a daily basis, not even every weekend. I would say that monthly basis is my current frequency.

Simon Brewer  40:22

So my final question is, you know Europe, you've lived in the US and Latin America, you've met lots of interesting investors courtesy of the business, but who would you most want to have dinner with?

Laura González  40:34

One person I would love to have dinner would be not an investor, but a psychiatrist, Carl Jung, if he was alive. Carl Jung was a top psychiatrist, but he also had a very, very developed spiritual journey. I don't know if you know him. He already passed away in the '60s. He was a very good friend with Freud in the very beginning, but their friendship began to deteriorate because they had different views on many fronts. And many people claim that Carl Jung was somehow esoteric, but I don't think so. He had this holistic view of human mind and of the subconscious mind that truly resonated with me. And the fact that he was highly impacted by science, but also by spirituality, made him a very, very interesting gentleman. He was a wealth of knowledge. He was honourable and I would truly love to have dinner with him if he was alive.

Simon Brewer  41:28

Well, Laura, what can I say? That you have done a great job in explaining these major changing dynamics in the world of fund investing and Allfunds’ approach to it and their position, but you've given us great advice. I'm just going to close by recapping on two of them. And one is that people tend to overlook in the active-passive debate that there is cyclicality in that very discussion. I would not be surprised if this bear market unfold doesn't in fact, in the US, cause some rethinking of the inexorability that passive only grows and active diminishes. The second thing in that, I think, really interesting advice, I have two daughters, as does Will Campion, my partner, is that women thinking about finance should be careful not to make perfection their goal and believe in their true self. Very, very helpful advice. So Laura, muchos gracia! It was a great pleasure to see you here today. I hope your head heals. And if it doesn't quite so quickly, people will just think it's an elegant fashion item that you're sporting.

Laura González  42:33

Thank you so much. You're too kind. I was delighted to share the floor with you, Simon.

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In this discussion we examine the changing world of investment funds and the data ecosystems that surround them. To explore this, we're pleased to be welcoming Laura González, Head of Americas at Allfunds, onto the show.

Created in 2000, today Allfunds have over €1.3tn in assets under administration (as of 30/09/22), 16 offices across the globe and nearly 1,000 employees, with a strong footprint in Latin America. She explains how fund houses use their platform to expand their reach, how private banks and other users of funds can access their platform and reduce the challenges around fund onboarding.

The discussion covers the growth of private assets, institutional and individual asset allocations to this space, and the shifts underway. Laura then discusses the cyclical component often overlooked in the active versus passive debate, how blockchain is being used by them, and thoughts on the Latin American investment universe (from both those looking in and those allocating outside).

Finally, she discusses the merits of being part of a listed company, managing cultural integration and gives some potent advice for women seeking careers in finance. She also describes how yoga and surfing give balance and joy to her life!

Laura González

Laura is Head of Americas at Allfunds, responsible for managing the firm's strategic direction and expansion in the US and LATAM. With approximately €1.3 trillion in AUM (as of 30/09/22), Allfunds is a leading B2B WealthTech platform, offering fully integrated solutions for both fund managers and distributors. Laura speaks five languages, and in her free time enjoys yoga and surfing!

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