In short, what is your business name and how many are you working there?
The company is called Highlander Downtown North and was launched on my initiative in May 2015 together with another two founders. Today we are eight key people, the founders included. An additional five to ten people work on a consultant basis, depending on the need for work effort.
What are your customers?
All companies in Sweden and Europe who manage private savers money in e.g. Pension funds, various foundations and common funds.
Is there something in what you do that affects us ordinary private savers directly?
Yes, the individual savers get a better result on the savings, i.e. higher returns. Both by reducing the tax rate and improving the management results. Information about savings is also becoming clearer and more frequent. In addition, saving becomes safer and safer.
Well then, it seems almost too good to be true. You are welcome to develop. Can you briefly explain what you are doing?
We have made the effort to build four features. It is these four parts that make us unique in the industry today.
CENTRAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
We have built a large network HUB capable of sending, receiving, collecting, storing, “washing”, sorting and analysing information from internal and external computer systems. A network solution that solves a logistical problem in a clever way. The problem in the industry today is the collection of all data to be analysed. To have complete, time-synchronized and sufficiently detailed data sets. The quality and trust of calculated values and analyses are usually entirely based on the quality of the basic data.
A test track – VIRTUAL REALITY – an environment to test new products
We have also built a virtual reality tool – a test environment – for professional asset managers. The tool is linked to real banks and exchanges, where each investment decision is based on real-time data. All processes, management, rules and costs involved in real management are also included in the testing tool. It is important to make realistic conclusions. The purpose of the tool is to be able to test new managers and new investment strategies before properly deploying them.
We are very careful that all our tools, features and processes comply with both internal rules and regulations, as well as external rules and regulations set by authorities and business relations. Today the industry has big problems with this. Both large and smaller organizations with old routines, processes and older systems find it increasingly very hard to ensure that all rules and regulations are always followed.
OPEN ARCHITECTURE FOR ALL USERS
Our customer can easily connect all their internal and external relationships, managers, banks and exchanges right into the system. A customer with us here in Sweden can, for example, allow, or require, an asset manager located in the United States to use the system in all management performed on behalf of our client. The system is WEB-based and therefore easy to connect to.
What do your intended customers say?
They all say the same thing – if our idea works as we say, it’s a dream for them. We have received very much positive attention.
Are your customers here in Sweden or outside, internationally?
We are currently targeting us in Sweden and the rest of Europe. For decades we have well-established relationships here. Already there is some dialogue with representatives of major companies in the United States, which showed great interest. However, it may be the next step when we get here at home.
What has been most challenging so far?
Financing – Clearly, Financing. Of course, it’s a pretext to develop such a product offering. As a founder, of course, I have used a lot of my savings money to get things in place. But we also have some other private investors who believe in what we do.
Today we also have dialogues with major professional investors. We have come so far now that we can now talk with potential customers to become a customer with us already in 2017. In connection with that, we will need to expand the organization to fulfill all commitments within a customer agreement.
What do you have for competition? Can not a big bank do this? They have both the money and the knowledge?
Because the system is based on coordinated logistics where more relationships with managers, banks and exchanges are connected, it becomes difficult for an individual bank to represent credibly everyone’s interests. They can represent themselves, but find it hard to do it with everyone. In addition, the banks now and for several years have been fully upgraded other than management to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
There are other big companies that could want, and can, do what we do. For example companies like Bloomberg. A world-leading software company in management. The problem for them is that their existing systems, modules and fee tariffs are built with another thought, a reason that was modern in the past, but that has not really focused of what we know today.
But it is of course only a matter of time before those who have the right capacity will think like us. Then it will be a race to take big market shares quickly. As we can see, it may be that we might be approached. We could help someone get a flying start.
In short, who are you and what have you done before?
My name is Anders Bergh, 53 years old, and have worked full time globally with asset management since 1987, when I started at SEB. In 1992 I joined Stora Kopparberg’s (Stora Enso) Finance Department in Brussels, where I stayed until the turn of the millennium. After that I have worked in a number of Swedish and foreign companies, in and outside Sweden, for example. ABB, Ericsson and Swedbank Robur. At Robur, I had a major responsibility for the activities and staff that constituted the active fund management. I also had the responsibility to carry out a business plan that I had been developing. The idea was to modernize and streamline administration so that the individual fund owners, savers, would notice a positive difference in the return. It’s also my job at Robur, which largely forms the basis of what I’m doing at Highlander today.
One last question only. Is it not expensive for your customer to replace his old system against you? It is not easily done.
In the short term, our customer will not have to replace any system at all. In the longer term, they certainly want it to save money. The idea is that all existing systems of the customer are connected to ours. We have built the system to complement existing systems. The customer can in their own speed integrate new processes and features in exchange of the old ones.