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Archive for the ‘commodities’ Category

Apple’s electronic car and how it could change the ways we work, communicate and interact

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

With the unexpected level of success of the iPhone 6 generating record profits, Apple is said to be already ‘cooking’ up the next big tech sensation: the iCar. Apple’s shift into the auto sector would not mean the end of the iPhone business. On the contrary, Apple fans have come to devour anyiThing related to iPhones - apps, music, films and more. And that’s exactly the main idea behind the tech giant’s strategy: to captivate more prospects and clients with every new product into the Apple universe.

With Tesla already leading the electric car market one may wonder how is Apple going to compete against that given the company’s lack of experience in the strictly regulated automobile industry. Have the iBeetle and Google’s self-driving car not stolen the thunder away already? What new revolutionizing design or functionalities could the iCar bring? First of all, Apple has never played the race to first game, the iPhone was not the first smartphone ever seen and the iPad was not the first tablet on the market. Secondly, Apple’s strategy is strongly brand- focused on Apple being a product company and not a technology company like Samsung. The aim is not to come up with completely new products on the market but to make sure the products Apple brings to the market are well-designed and have cutting edge technology integrated. Therefore, the iCar project is going to take a few more years to be finalized. In the meantime, suggestions and rumors are unstoppable: the Apple car would connect to all its existing products thus creating an exciting Internet of Things (IoT) experience or it would enable unimagined ways of interacting through digital channels while driving. Imagine your car morphs into a full-fledged office. It will be another step to make clients and employees more independent of their physical surroundings. It will have implications for advisors and their clients, for the ways they work, meet, communicate and interact.

Electric cars and Apple definitely make an interesting combination but to take on the car industry will be a different kind of fight than everything Apple has done so far.


Why e-publications are so important for wealth managers

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

E-magazines and e-books will soon overtake printed publications in terms of market share in developed countries. The tablet revolution has made a deep impact on the publications market: habits of readers are changing fast and user needs with regard to digital publications are changing even faster.

If you want to capture your digital audience it is of critical importance to think about digital publications not only as the electronic twins of the printed versions but as a completely new and different animal. There are so many features in digital publications that can excite and win readers (search function, integrated video and audio formats, zooming, living links, self-updating charts etc. etc.). Any publisher needs to think very carefully about what functions and features to add.

For wealth managers daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly publications are an important tool to ensure client loyalty but also to gain new clients. As more and more people move to the digital usage of publications this brings up a big opportunity to rethink and reinvent a wealth managers’ publications strategy from the ground up.

In our new report “E-Publications for Wealth Management Clients” we are tackling these complex issues: how should a good e-publication look? Which features are required? What formats and digital delivery channels (including) mobile should be used? What content is most appealing to readers? And so on…

Most wealth managers invest substantial resources in the communication with clients via regular publications. To spend these resources wisely reading this report is imperative.


Mobile Apps for Advisors - our new report in the media

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Here is a sample of the most recent media articles that are quoting our latest report “Mobile Apps for Financial Advisors and Wealth Managers 2013“:

Banking Technology

Wealth Briefing (log-in required)

Mobile Business (German edition)

CIO (German edition)


Social Media and Banking - What is the Best Strategy?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

For the last months our analyst team has been working on a new landmark report “Social Media and Banking” - this report will get published in mid April. It will be an in-depth analysis of the social media strategies of the 50 globally most important bank. We are looking  at social media strategies targeted at private customers, retail customers or general users. The banks will be rated and ranked according to a very detailed set of evaluation criteria.

It has become increasingly clear to us that banks approach social media with very different overall strategie - and many have no strategy at all. I think there are right now 3 main social media strategies of banks:

1. Customer support via social media
2. Product and service information via social media
3. Strengthening the brand via charity & community initiatives, sponsoring etc. which is communicated via social media

In many cases, more than one of the strategies are blended together. Rarely, we find an integrated but differentiated offering which brings together all these strategies but doesn’t mix them up or confuses them. In addition, we find typically communication offerings with investors or recruits.

Most banks keep their social media teams separate from their general marketing or communication department. Right now I guess this ist the right strategic step as otherwise the development of social media will develop way too slow. .

We are finding that banks struggle immensely with the issue of how to integrate social media in their regular online strategies and Internet marketing. I am not sure if there is “one best way” to do it. I guess at this stage various experiments are in order to see which approach works best. But this means a good bank will do lots of different things on their website to try out the new media.

So, stay put for our new report - there is lots more to come.  By the way, here is our  older report on Wealth Management and Social Media.


Should banks be present on Google+?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Google+ was launched 7 months ago in June 2011. On January 19 it was reported that G+ has surpassed a user base of 90 million and may reach 400 million by the end of 2012. However, these are not necessarily active users (as the 900 million reported users of FB). MPB analysts are working right now on a new analysis of social media & banking (to be published end of March 2012). The preliminary results on Google+ show that most banks have a presence there - but usually without any or with very little content. It can be described as “wait-and-see-strategy” or simply to put a placeholder on the network.

Over the last 2 months G+ has gained a lot of traction and there seems also some clear support from Google’s search services for the network. I guess that G+ as a networking platform is still technically a bit confusing (may be a consequence of the different terminology like “circles”, “hangout” etc.) but is essentially offering a similar platform as Facebook. Some innovations like “hangouts” and the search function seem even better than on FB. Yet - despite some heated discussion among tech geeks - this is not really important. What seems crucial is the point that Google potentially has the market power and leverage to push G+ to become a FB rival. The key here is the search services of Google and some existing services which - in combination with a new viable network platform - can potentially become very successful. Yes, Google Buzz was a disappointment - but probably a necessary stepping stone to the technically much more mature G+.

What does this mean for banks and other financial service providers? They should probably have a presence on G+ and also spend some resources on filling this presence with content & life. Not necessarily too much yet - as it remains to be seen what will happen to G+ over the next 12 months but don’t underestimate the marketing power of a 800 pound gorilla. If G+ can keep its speed one will have to take it seriously very soon. It will be fascinating to watch how and where G+ and FB will try to get a competitive advantage and how the will try to differentiate themselves from each other. Make sure to follow our research when our new report will come out in March with more analysis about Google+, other social media trends and how banks can profit.


The Gold Bubble & How ETFs Have Fueled It

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We have had a number of pieces on the inflated price of gold, for instance here and here. Bloomberg today runs a great story on how the world’s most popular gold ETF (SPDR) has drawn ordinary investors to buy into the precious metal:

“Globally, the 10 biggest such funds now hold a combined 2,113 metric tons of gold, more than the official reserves accumulated by every country in the world save four: the U.S., Germany, Italy and France. Their popularity has helped drive unprecedented gains for the precious metal, and some people, including analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., say gold can go higher.”

But from a long-term trend gold has underperformed alsmost all other asset classes (except cash). So, don’t bet on this bubble - because “this time is different” won’t apply - at least not in the long-run…


Meeting Jim Rogers

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Yesterday I attended a conference with Jim Rogers, co-founder of the Quantum Fond (together with George Soros) in the seventies, founder of the Rogers Commodities Index, author of various books on commodities and one of the strongest advocates for commodity investments. He certainly has an exceptional investment record and even it is no guarantee for the future following a summary of his outlook for the decade(s) to come:

Favourite Commodity

Currently he is very bullish for agricultural commodities. He predicts a huge shortage to come, since prices are depressed since years, no investments in more farmland have been undertaken and the silos are close to empty. He regards farmer as the big winners of the next decade. He would buy precious metals on dips and predicts that Gold will be double by end of the decade.

Future Role of Commodities

Not surprisingly he regards commodities as the best investment no matter how the economy will develop. In the case of a new boom the demand for commodities (and prices) will go through the roof because the supply site can not grow as fast. If the economy goes down he is certain that the governments around the world will continue to frantically print money. As a consequence the value of real assets such as commodities will increase.

Role of China:

He regards China as the upcoming economic and political superpower, however, pointed out that the GDP of china is still only 10% of the combined GDP of USA/Europe, so investors need patience. He thinks that the China acts strategically far smarter than the US, buying assets (mainly mines, oil/gas fields) all over the world while the US has only one focus: Printing money.

Relations USA and China

In his opinion China needs the US as much as vice versa. However, historically politicians of a superpower challenged by a growing challenger behave irrational so he foresees more frictions to come.


He never made good experiences with timing and has given-up on it. If he buys an asset he plans to hold it “forever”. He only will start to sell if everybody has commodities in his portfolio and people talk about pork bellies on the street. In his view commodities are far from a bubble and China (except real estate) as well. Main argument is that the actual exposure to these asset classes in the investor portfolios is still comparatively low.

BTW: Rogers moved to Singapore, because in his view Asia is on the development stage of the US at the beginning of the 20th century and he wants to be where the action and future is. So given his background and interests (of promoting his commodity index) no surprises, but he made quite a good case for his view.