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WHY AURA ?

Final Destination

Asia’s world city for Asset & Wealth Management

  • Vital financial gateway between Phuket and the rest of the world.

  • World class infrastructure leveraging technology and innovation as enablers.

  • Robust asset servicing ecosystem with a diverse and deep talent pool.

  • Business friendly legal, tax and regulatory environment.

  • Unique role in developing ESG and sustainability.

  • Conducive environment for emerging asset classes.

Shaping your future via a one-stop shop

  • Market entry

  • Entity formation and licensing

  • Fund establishment

  • Internal controls

  • Legal services

  • Assurance services

  • Regulatory compliance

  • Tax advisory

  • Strategy consulting

 

Working across traditional and alternative asset classes

  • Mutual funds

  • Pension funds

  • ETFs

  • Private equity

  • Infrastructure

  • Real estate

  • Private credit

  • Hedge funds

  • Digital assets

 

How we can help

Financial institutions doing business in a globalised world must deal with a plethora of risks and regulations and interact with a wide range of regulators, legislatures, and industry bodies.  Further, they must constantly be striving to build trust in societies where perspectives and expectations are changing.  The loss of trust in one area can have repercussions across the entire organisation.

Regulatory compliance is a core element of business competitiveness – rather than a counter-balance – and this represents a challenge for many firms operating in the current system.  Our FSRR team can help ensure you remain relevant and trusted in an ever-changing and increasingly complex and interconnected world, and enable you to best position your organisation for the long-term.

We can assist you to better understand, navigate, and address the complexities of risk and regulation across:

  • Conduct and governance

  • Risk and prudential

  • Licensing and restructuring

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES

 

Conduct and governance

Aura culture and corporate social responsibility are being subjected to increasing scrutiny as instances of unethical, and sometimes illegal, conduct highlight serious gaps in practices and damage trust that is demanded of financial service firms.  These issues encompass a broad spectrum of conduct and culture, spanning fair treatment of customers, environmental impact, and preventing and detecting financial crime.  Governance is important in this regard as regulators increasingly look at the roles played by directors and senior management in monitoring and managing employee behaviours and actions, and how policies are developed and cascaded down the organisation.

Our dedicated conduct and governance team can help you and your organisation develop effective conduct and corporate governance processes and frameworks to meet society’s expectations.

 

Risk and prudential

Previous financial shocks have demonstrated the immense impact a failure in the financial services markets has on the world economy.  Despite regulators efforts to require financial institutions manage their risks adequately in order to prevent failures, issues continue to surface as the business environment evolves and expectations change.  Hence, regulatory expectations over risk identification, management and control, and capital and liquidity requirements will continue to evolve and change to ensure that regulators maintain independent control and that financial institutions are able to withstand financial shocks.  Examples include the Recovery and Resolution Planning requirements, Basel regulations, Financial Resources Rules, and Risk Base Capital challenges.

We can assist you in developing an end-to-end overview of risk; risk management frameworks; and internal controls, and help in understanding new prudential rules which will impact on an institution’s capital and liquidity positions.

 

Licensing and restructuring

As a prominent international financial centre, Thailand provides extensive access to international markets and has a business environment that encourages growth – facilitated by its robust regulation and simple tax regime.  Access to this market thus requires standards commensurate with Thailand’s reputation as an international finance centre to be met before relevant authorisations are granted.

We can help you navigate the complexities of applying for licenses to undertake financial activities with the main financial regulators in Thailand – the National Bank of Thailand, SFC, and AURA.  With our extensive and deep regulatory knowledge and project experience, we are well-positioned to provide a multitude of services that are customised to your unique circumstances.  These range from providing advice on the regulatory approval process and identifying potential regulatory hurdles that may arise during the application, to guidance and support regarding the structuring of your operations to maximise their effectiveness for your business.

 

DEALS

Creating value beyond the deal

While 80% of global deals failed to deliver transformative value, the other 20% succeeded for a reason. Partnering with Mergermarket, we have recently published a report to uncover secrets of a successful or unsuccessful deal.

Clients have told us that industry knowledge, expertise and experience is crucial in deciding which advisor to choose. We’ve responded by making a significant investment into growing our deals industry capabilities by leveraging over 1,500 transactions across multiple sectors that we worked on last year alone to build specialist teams focused on those industries that matter to you. Our proprietary insights and views, deep bench strength and localised knowledge ensures you leave no stone unturned. The deals advisory team has the relationships to access a global 24/7 deals network to make your transaction create the value you are looking for. Please read our latest Global M&A industry trends insight.

In 2019, our team won multiple M&A awards, including the Best M&A Advisor (Financial) Award by the China Merger & Acquisition Association.

We are committed to help our clients to capture lasting value in deals. We work with strategic and financial investors to raise capital and complete acquisitions, divestitures and strategic alliances/joint ventures.

Find out more about our Value Creation approach in deals.

The Deals Advisory Team is here to support you on any transaction, with hundreds of years’ worth of deal experience we can help you to see the unseen and create new value.

Our team can advise you through each stage of the deal:

 

Corporate finance

Overview

Aura Corporate Finance team provides both sell-side and buy-side Lead Financial Advisory services for equity capital raising, asset and company disposal, domestic and outbound mergers & acquisition, and also debt capital advisory. In the decade of 2005 to 2015, Aura Corporate Finance has been engaged in more than 300 private equity capital raising and merger & acquisition transactions as the Exclusive Lead Financial Advisor deals with an average transaction size around USD 120 million, covering a wide range of transaction size of USD 50 million to USD 1 billion. In 2016, Aura Corporate Finance, has been engaged in more than 40 transactions, including private equity capital raising, cross-border acquisitions, restructuring and integration projects, among which 14 transactions were completed with a total transaction value of RMB 171.9 billion.

Aura Corporate Finance team has 10000 professionals located in Phuket, Thailand and USA. Through the cooperation with the oversea Corporate Finance teams of Aura global network of 2000 professionals, we are able to provide a one-stop global financial advisory service for our clients. 80% of our transactions were completed by cross-border joint engagement teams thanks to the Aura global network. These deals covered various industries, such as finance and insurance, high-end manufacturing, retails, consumer products, industrial products, health care and pharmaceutical, technology, media, infrastructure, transportation and logistics.

 

Sell-side Lead Financial Advisor

Our Lead Financial Advisor service provides customised solutions to assist domestic and multinational corporations as well as financial institutions in successfully raising equity capital and completing divestments. Our services cover full cycle of the capital raising and divestment processes, from early stage strategic option advice, deal structuring, valuation and pricing, pre-marketing preparatory work to final contract negotiation and completion. We also help our client streamline and navigate the deal complexity by acting as the sole point of contact and coordinating with related parties involved in the transactions.

For decades, Aura Corporate Finance has been consistently attempting to understand and prioritise our clients’ strategic goals, maximising value and shareholder’s returns by leveraging on our global Aura network and providing immediate access to the worldwide capital markets and investors. Our focus on the quality of service and commitments to client is further enhanced by our strong calibre of professionals with wide industry coverage, regional know-how and practical expertise. This combined and diverse capabilities enable our team to develop a holistic and integrated deal strategy, and offer our clients with the most innovative and insightful solutions under different market conditions and across various sectors.

 

Buy-side Lead Financial Advisor

Nowadays the global market has become more dynamic than ever. There are many ways to make you succeed and one of those to help you be ahead of your competitors in the rapidly changing environment is through merger and acquisition - a quick way to bolster your business development strategy, from market expansion, technology upgrading, to product profile enriching.

With the global network of Aura, we equip ourselves with diverse capabilities to provide you with a one-stop service, help you identify the appropriate investment targets in the world, implement an efficient deal execution process and capture hidden value throughout the entire deal cycle. Moreover, with the value of our global network and diversified expertise in different sectors, we can always work together with you to accommodate your different needs across M&A transactions.

Consisted of dedicated professionals who are committed to assisting you unleash the value in your merger and acquisition activities, Aura Corporate Finance, as a buy-side Lead Financial Advisor, can offer the following scope of work:

  • Opportunity identification and evaluation

  • Project evaluation and risk assessment

  • Deal structuring and deal strategy advice

  • Valuation and pricing 

  • On-site contract negotiation support and advice on bidding tactics

  • Assistance in attaining government approvals

  • Project management

  • Closing/post-deal integration

 

Debt & Capital Advisory

Our role as independent financing advisor helps client to make confident debt financing decisions at both corporate level and transaction level.

 

  • Service

  • Objective 

  • Service Scope 

  • Corporate

  • Level Financing Requirements

  • Transaction

  • Level Financing Requirements

  • Debt & Alternative

  • Capital Raising

  • CAPEX / expansion

  • Refinancing of existing debt

  • Broader financing channel

  • Leverage finance

  • Acquisition finance

  • Project finance
     

Capital Structure "Optimisation"
 

  • Debt profile

  • Debt structure

  • Debt terms

  • Optimise financing cost
     

  • Assess of debt/equity structure 

  • Advise on accessibility of debt capitals

 

Valuation

 

Overview

Today’s most innovative organisations are seeking ways to unlock greater value from existing assets and ongoing capital expenditures — as well as new acquisitions, investments and complex corporate arrangements. At the same time, regulators are demanding greater transparency through fair value reporting, putting more emphasis on the importance of valuation and value analysis.

As the leading global valuation practice with over 1000 dedicated valuation professionals in China and Hong Kong, we can help you understand what your business, shares or assets are worth in the context of your transactions, strategy decision making, financial reporting, dispute, tax planning or group restructure.

 

Considering a deal?

  • Fairness opinions and solvency opinions

  • Acquisition / disposal valuation advice and support

  • Valuation of relative joint venture contributions

  • Support for debt or equity raising

  • Deal pricing and scenario analyses

  • Shareholder value analysis based on strategic actions

  • Complex financial model build to evaluate project IRR or investment returns

 

Need to agree value for financial reporting?

  • Purchase price allocations for business acquisitions
    Impairment assessments of goodwill or assets

  • Fair value measurements of AFS, financial instruments, or other assets / liabilities

  • Assessment of shares or ESOPs for share based payments

  • Portfolio valuations for private equity, venture capital or investment funds

 

Involved in a dispute?

  • Quantum of Loss or Damages 

  • Commercial Disputes 

  • Transaction and Shareholder Disputes 

  • Matrimonial Disputes

  • Arbitration

  • Intellectual Properties Disputes

 

Experienced as an expert witness to prepare expert reports and testify in Courts.

Defending your position with tax authorities? Or in process of tax planning?

  • Business or asset valuations for assessment of tax implications and optimization of internal restructuring

  • Preparation of PRC tax-related statutory valuations

  • Support negotiation with local tax authorities

 

Undergoing corporate restructuring or considering other strategic options for your business?

  • Assess and quantify strategic / investment options so as to optimize Management’s business plans

  • Analysis of current business portfolio to facilitate Management’s consideration to develop, expand or dispose of a product / business line

  • Market benchmarking analysis

  • Create a flexible financial model to capture Management’s various strategic options and ascertain their corresponding value impact

 

Due diligence

With our dedicated specialists in our global Transaction Services business, we can bring you, our client, a combination of financial, commercial and operational insight to every deal. We deliver unparalleled knowledge as we navigate the deal process with you.

Whether you are making an acquisition, divestiture, or strategic alliance, in each case we have the same objective – to make sure you get the maximum return on your deal.

 

Financial Due Diligence

Vendor Assistance and Vendor Due Diligence

When a company is up for sale - or selling off one of its parts - it needs to show an in-depth report on its financial health to potential buyers. This is called vendor due diligence. Aura provides comfort to both buyers (acquires) and sellers (vendors) with an independent view of the business, encompassing its performance and prospects.

Vendor due diligence aims to address the concerns and issues that may be relevant to even the most demanding purchaser. For vendors undertaking a disposal or selling off a part of their own business, vendor assistance provides bespoke solutions to assist you in successfully completing your divestments.

Our vendor assistance specialists work alongside company management and their lead advisers throughout the process, ensuring that opportunities and issues are understood and the correct steps are taken.

Buy side due diligence

Any organisation considering a deal needs to check all the assumptions it makes about that deal. Financial due diligence offers peace of mind to both corporate and financial buyers because it analyses and validates all the financial, commercial, operational and strategic assumptions being made. It also uses past trading experience to form a view of the future and ensure there are no 'black holes'.

Service components include revenue, commercial and market due diligence, synergy validation, maintainable earnings, future cash flows, all operational issues, and deal structuring.

 

Commercial Due Diligence

  • Dimension market size and growth rate 

  • Understand business model of key competitors

  • Assess profitability drivers

  • Review projections and business model 

  • Benchmark the sales organisation against competitor

  • Conduct regulatory review

 

Operational Due Diligence

  • Analyse the target along the value chain

  • Assess the impact on the viability of the transaction

  • Assess risks involved

  • Identify synergies

 

IT Due Diligence

  • Identify merger issues on IT operation and technology

  • Plan for an integration of IT systems

  • Assess the legacy IT systems

  • Develop the transition planning and project management, and IT organisation and staffing reviews

 

HR Due Diligence

  • Identify the risks related to HR issue

  • Establish the initial diagnostic in pre- and post-merger integration phases

  • Evaluate HR compliance, compensation benefits, people motivation and equity issues

 

Environmental Due Diligence

  • Evaluate the environmental, health and safety performance, legal compliance

  • Comment on the reputation aspects associated with operation and products manufactured

  • Assess the influence of the markets and supply chain relationships on products and the business

 

  • Strategic review
    The decision of where to play and how to win is key when determining the potential for your business. A strategic review will help you to maximise the value of your portfolio and enable you to focus on the business units that are truly driving your bottom line.

     

  • Readiness assessment
    A divestment introduces a level of perceived complexity that should be carefully considered. Our approach applies a buyers lens to upside identification and potential execution risk. We will work alongside you to define a process with optionality and make an assessment of your divestment preparedness

     

  • Preparing for exit
    There are several key questions that you have to ask in preparing to exit, such as: how do I model the business as stand alone and prepare the financials to reflect the perimeter? What transitional agreements do I need? What contracts, legal entities and IP would be affected? What will it cost and who will bear that cost?

     

  • Transaction execution
    In today’s uncertain economic environment, shareholders are demanding and often unforgiving. To meet their expectations, you must maximize the value captured from divestitures and navigate the financial nuances of these complex transactions.

     

  • Post deal
    At completion, the benefits and value that the deal was designed to deliver need to be realised. With this in mind, some key questions to consider are: How will the business mitigate stranded costs? How do I begin to exit TSAs and transition to a standalone model?

AURA
ADVANTAGE

Aura Solution Company Limited is a global leader in executing transactions in cash equity and equity-related products for institutional clients around the world. These products include common stocks, global depository receipts and exchange-traded funds.

 

At Aura, we are committed to fostering and maintaining a culture based on our five core values: Do the Right Thing, Put Clients First, Lead with Exceptional Ideas, Commit to Diversity and Inclusion and Give Back.

Corporate culture is derived from the people that create it. Our people are at the heart of our business strategy and success. We focus on equal employment opportunity, diversity and inclusion in our recruitment process, making sure we attract candidates from all backgrounds, traditional and non-traditional. We provide our people with a variety of tools—enriching professional experiences, daily coaching, productive feedback—to help them make their professional lives productive and enjoyable.

We help you achieve what's most important to you by digging deeper and helping you identify your priorities. We get to know you first by finding out what makes you tick. We're all about building personal connections between you, your financial advisor and the people supporting your Aura team.

 

What you can expect as a Client ?

You’ll also have tools to ensure you know where you stand in your journey to achieving your goals.Investing isn't just about creating wealth. It's about what money can help you do. Build a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones. Or design a better world for all of us. Our single focus is helping you achieve what's most important to you.

 

With Aura Invest, you can:

 

Professional

  • Enjoy direct access to the views of the Aura Chief Investment Office

  • Obtain professional advice from experts

 

Tailored

  • Personalize your investment strategy in line with your risk profile

  • Benefit from regular monitoring through monthly portfolio quality reports

  • Customize the type of investment ideas you would like to receive

 

Actionable

  • Receive regular up-to-date information and investment ideas to act on

  • Implement changes in your portfolio in a timely manner

 

Transparent

  • Expect alignment of interests through a transparent fee structure

  • Gain access to lower cost, retrocession free mutual fund and hedge fund share classes where available

 

Working at aura

We're known as a great place to work, whatever the business area, role or life stage. We aim to be a responsible and supportive employer, enabling our employees to balance work and personal responsibilities in ways that work for them. Here are just a few examples of our offerings.

Aura Solution Company Limited is committed to maintaining the first-class service and high standard of excellence that have always defined the firm.

 

At its foundation are five core values — putting clients first, doing the right thing, leading with exceptional ideas, committing to diversity and inclusion and giving back — that guide its more than 15,000 employees in 1,000+ offices across 63 countries.

Business Survey

​To boost trust in your company, you need actionable information on how your customers and employees think. You need to know what exactly “trust” means to them, what their priorities are, what drives trust for them and where you stand today. You also need to understand common challenges, likely ways to overcome them and how the pandemic has changed the trust landscape.​

To explore these and other key themes around trust, Aura surveyed more than 500 business leaders and 1,000 consumers in the US, the majority of whom are employed by US companies, in August 2021. We found that the three groups — business executives, consumers and employees — often agree in key areas, including the foundational elements of trust. But jarring disconnects exist too. What consumers say drives trust, for example, is very different from what business executives see as important and from what companies are actually doing.

Efforts to build trust appear to be paying off. Both employees and customers report higher trust in US businesses now than before the pandemic began. Still, challenges abound, and many companies aren’t yet implementing commonly accepted leading practices on trust. Some companies are making progress, but they’re not yet reaping as many benefits as they could. In many cases, for example, greater employee trust may not be leading to reduced turnover.

There is a path forward. As a business leader, it starts with thinking differently about your big-picture trust strategy, your stakeholders’ priorities, your choice of trust initiatives and your use of technology.

 

Agreement on the foundations — and little else

As a business executive, when you think about trust, you’re likely thinking many of the same things as your employees and customers. When asked what comes to mind when they think of trust, all three groups agreed on the top four items: data protection and cybersecurity, treating employees well, ethical business practices and admitting mistakes.

But past these top four elements, divergences grow. Business leaders tend to take a broader view of trust. They’re more likely to include both responsible artificial intelligence (AI) and several elements that relate to broader social impact (such as sustainable value chain management and ESG reporting) in their definition of trust. Employees, however, are more likely than the other groups to emphasize holding leadership accountable. These disconnects can also be opportunities. Businesses can better communicate how their disparate priorities collectively tie into trust.

 

They can also lead with true accountability. That includes both transparency for mistakes and sustained, equally transparent efforts to make things right.

 

The pandemic’s impact on consumer and employee trust

It’s been a rough stretch for business with COVID-19, but there’s a bright spot: Consumers and employees both say they trust business more now than before the pandemic. For example, 80% of consumers say that their trust in energy, utilities and mining, as well as consumer markets companies, stayed the same or grew since before the pandemic. This rise in trust was hard earned, as many companies pulled through for consumers during a time of crisis.

 

Consumer markets companies overcame unprecedented supply chain shocks. Healthcare companies produced tests, treatments and vaccines. Financial services companies funneled billions in aid to small businesses. Tech, media and telecom companies kept much of the economy running and many of us entertained. Today, over half of consumers have at least “a fair amount of trust” in companies in every industry. Consumer markets (68%) and healthcare (65%) lead the pack, while private equity (56%) and government (54%) rank lowest.

Employees also report gains in trust. An impressive four out of five (80%) employees report trusting their company the same or more now than before the pandemic. A slightly higher number, 84% report trusting their direct manager the same or more now. Trust levels seem to rise with proximity: Employees cited the highest levels of trust (either trusting them completely or a fair amount) in their direct managers, coworkers and companies (all 77%) compared to 71% for their CEOs, 67% for their company’s board and 59% for other companies in the industry.

Unfortunately, considering that 88% of executives in our recent Next in work survey report higher turnover than normal, many companies may not be taking the right actions to turn employee trust into employee loyalty. To create that loyalty is challenging, since that same research indicates that employee expectations are shifting. They want not just competitive pay and perks but schedule flexibility and expanded benefits such as career growth and upskilling opportunities. The good news is that, since treating employees well is so high on consumer definitions of trust, more loyal employees may make your customers trust you more too.

 

Too much talk and little ownership: disconnects and consequences

Consumers are voting on trust with their pocketbooks — and employees are voting with their feet. Almost half (49%) of consumers have started or increased purchases from a company because they trust it, and 33% have paid a premium for trust. On the flip side, 44% have stopped buying from a company due to a lack of trust. When we look at employees, 22% have left a company because of trust issues and 19% have chosen to work at one because they trusted it highly. In other words, one out of five of your employees who leave don’t do so primarily for a better salary or position. They leave because they don’t trust your company.

How to build trust that will win over consumers and employees? Top choices for drivers of trust among consumers were accountability, clear communications and admitting mistakes. In a sign that trust in theory and trust in practice aren’t the same, data protection (their top definition of trust) came in at sixth. That doesn’t mean that consumers don’t care about their data. On the contrary, we think they consider data protection a basic necessity, and you don’t get extra points for simply doing what’s expected.

In another break between theory and practice, business leader actions on trust often don’t match what they deem “extremely important” — and these actions often don’t address consumer priorities. For consumers, the top trust driver is accountability, but only 56% of business leaders deem it “extremely important.” Only 46% say that their companies have implemented it.

When it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG), 45% of business leaders have implemented transparent ESG reporting — but only 19% of consumers list it among the top five drivers of trust. This disconnect between consumers and businesses may be more complex than it first appears. Consumers care deeply about ESG initiatives such as climate change. But they may not fully understand what ESG reporting entails, or they may consider it as part of their top two trust drivers: accountability and clear communications. ESG skepticism may also be a problem. Only 24% of consumers say the main reason for ESG pledges is to do good. Far more (39%) say that the motive for companies is self-interest: to build trust with them, the consumers.

 

Trust fundamentals for business: where leaders see payoff, progress and pitfalls

If you want loyal customers, trust may be your superpower. Almost three quarters (73%) of business leaders say that trust helps “a lot” with customer loyalty. Most see other payoffs too. Between 48% and 58% say trust helps “a lot” in nine other critical areas, including reputation, brand and revenue growth.

What’s getting in the way of building that trust? Diverse stakeholder perspectives top the list, cited by 43% of business leaders as a top-three challenge. Everyone, after all, has a stake in trust — and trust has many leaders. Half or more of the business leaders in our survey say that each of 14 senior leadership roles were either responsible for or accountable for trust. But even so, two roles lead the pack: 73% of respondents say the CEO is either responsible for or accountable for trust, and 65% say the same for the CFO.

 

The engagement of so many different C-suite leaders can be a positive or a negative when it comes to trust efforts. If they all work in isolation on their own priorities, initiatives may be disjointed and contradictory. But if CEOs and CFOs take the lead in aligning senior leadership around their customers’ and employees’ top priorities, they can help focus the entire organization on the most important trust initiatives.

 

A united front can help with company culture, cited by 41% as a top-three challenge. Culture is critical because trust depends on everyone in your company. Your leaders can’t know every decision made by middle managers and employees — yet these choices can sometimes erode trust in the blink of an eye. A culture in which everyone accepts trust as their personal responsibility can guide discussions and decisions at every level. That’s why it’s so encouraging that 75% of business executives are keenly focusing on employees to build trust — since your employees are your culture. When they trust you and care about trust in all their actions, they’ll help show customers that they can trust you too.

When it comes to concrete steps, only half (50%) of business leaders say that their company has actually defined what trust means. Even smaller percentages (between 37% and 44%) have implemented other key trust-building actions, such as crafting proactive plans for crisis communications or building a trust steering committee. Yet, even if no single effort currently enjoys widespread implementation, progress is real and some companies are standouts. We found that 69% have implemented initiatives in five or more of these areas and 30% have done so in 10 or more.

 

Four big ideas to help build trust

Based on this survey and our vantage point from the Trust Leadership Institute, created to equip business leaders with the right skills to build trust, we’ve identified four areas where you should think big to help build trust. We’ve kept these guidelines broad, since trust is dynamic and complex. What you need today won’t be the same as what you need tomorrow.

The most well-intended efforts will also likely do little good unless a broader purpose guides them and you clearly communicate your progress — and honestly admit the work that remains to be done. That requires connecting purpose to all your actions. It also requires you to be intentional about creating a culture of transparency that addresses your stakeholders’ top concern.

 

1. Be deliberate about your trust strategy

Since companies are at different stages of their trust journey, start by evaluating where you are. Are you one of the 50% of companies that haven’t even defined what trust means? Is your trust strategy tied to your business strategy? Consider too how your senior leaders should work together to build trust. Even though every executive (and every employee too) should own trust, top leadership — most likely the CEO in close collaboration with the CFO — will have to take the lead and ensure a coordinated approach. With this foundation in place, you can better evaluate your customers’ and employees’ top priorities, focus your efforts on initiatives that will really move the needle and back up your words with action.

 

2. Consider all your stakeholders — and their conflicts

It’s not enough to focus independent trust-building efforts on employees, consumers and other stakeholders. You have to develop a plan from the start that addresses their sometimes conflicting needs. When done right, this multi-stakeholder approach creates a positive feedback loop that can be a true force multiplier. If you build trust in your employees, for example, they can become your trust ambassadors to customers and local communities.

 

As customers see you do right by your people, they’ll be more likely to give you credit for your work on accountability, communications and a consistent customer experience. When customers and employees trust you more, you’re more likely to strengthen trust with other key stakeholders such as shareholders and regulators as well. 

Key components of this process include bridging the gap between employee trust and employee loyalty by listening to what they want: a reimagined workplace, digital upskilling and chances for employees from every background to improve their lot in life. You’ll also want to deliver a customer experience that makes your customers feel heard and inspires them to trust you with their data.

 

3. Deliver on a finite set of actions

Trust can be earned when you commit to a finite set of actions that align to your purpose and values and then deliver on them, over and over. Trust is built with consistency and reliability. Examine your commitments and goals on everything from taxes to financial reporting to the communities you serve. For example, be deliberate as you approach ESG initiatives. Weigh and take action on those areas (and only those areas) that are important to your stakeholders, be it climate change, diversity or effective oversight. Make sure too that you tell your ESG story in a credible way.

To overcome business leaders’ two top challenges — diverse stakeholder interests and culture — consider nine key enablers that can make organizational culture your ally, and plan on taking concrete steps to help align all your stakeholders’ interests. 

 

4. Deploy technology in ways that truly build trust

Consider trust aspects in all the ways you use technology — with employees, customers, business partners and other stakeholders. If you don’t provide top-notch cybersecurity and data privacy that meets your customers’ and employees’ unique needs, or if you fail to mitigate bias in artificial intelligence (AI) or address common risks of cloud initiatives, your technology could quickly become a liability. Consider too how your customers are using your digital products and services — are they using them in ways that align with your values? Collaborating more with others in your industry, community or the public sector on responsible, ethical technology and data use can help spread trust further.

 

When used strategically and responsibly, technology can power growth, innovation, more efficient operations and better experiences — all while increasing trust. Intelligent automation, for example, can enhance audits, tax modeling and ESG reporting. Responsible AI can help you make more trustworthy decisions, if you adopt ethical AI principles, reduce AI bias and use AI in appropriate places. A strategic approach to cloud, including solutions for transparency and reporting, can help you achieve ESG goals and strengthen cybersecurity. The right technology can also make nearly every part of your operations more trusted — if you weave in trust at the start.

Top Ten Trends

Top trends focus on how fallout from the pandemic could radically reshape the roster of winners and losers in global markets.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated key global trends, most notably the adoption of digital technologies and the expanding role of government in the economy. Our top trends for 2021 look at how these themes are likely to evolve, reshaping prospects for inflation, easy money, the dollar and emerging markets, and recasting the profile of global market winners and losers. 

 

1. Soggy Markets and a Surging Economy

Surveys show investors expect another strong year for financial markets, this time amid a recovering economy. We think they’re half right. The economic recovery is likely to continue, but markets could easily start moving sideways, for three basic reasons. Massive stimulus is still lifting economies but threatens to revive inflation and raise bond yields, with worse consequences for stocks than most investors realize.

 

The 2020 surge in savings, much of which went into the stock markets, is also unlikely to continue, particularly as the pandemic winds down and consumers start spending again. Moreover, investors came early on to view the pandemic as a passing natural disaster, and its end is already priced in to record high valuations.

 

2. Bottoming Inflation

When the coronavirus hit, policymakers felt confident that printing and borrowing more money at a record pace wouldn’t stoke consumer price inflation, which had been quiet for nearly four decades. But four factors are threatening to revive inflation:

  • Depopulation: Growth in the global working-age population is falling, and a declining labor supply tends to increase wages.

  • Deglobalization: Slumping global trade growth since the 2008 financial crisis continues to reduce competition.

  • Declining productivity: The global decline, driven in part by governments bailing out unproductive companies, raises businesses' cost and pushes up consumer prices.

  • Debt: Rising government debt, including trillions to pay for pandemic stimulus packages, could be the jolt that reawakens inflation.

 

3. Housing in Demand

With inflation looming, investors are turning to traditional hedges against it, including housing. In 2020, home prices rose in virtually every developed country, and there are reasons to believe the boom can last.

Ninety percent of the world’s central banks have dropped short-term rates to record lows, which has in turn pushed 30-year mortgage rates to record lows—under 3% in the U.S. and even less in Europe. On the supply side, the stock of existing single-family homes available for sale is at an all-time low, relative to the adult population. After the pandemic dies down, lingering housing demand pressure from young families fed up with cramped spaces may continue to drive up home prices.

4. Easy Money Drying Up

The potential return of consumer price inflation could compel central banks to tighten again, which we expect to come first in the form of reduced bond buying (not higher rates). To give a sense of the scale: The $8 trillion in assets that central banks purchased last year was 40 times what they bought in 2019. Even a partial return to normal could have a sobering effect on markets.

5. A Post-Dollar World

As the U.S. rolled out trillions of dollars in new stimulus spending in 2020, its debts to the rest of the world spiked to well above 50% of GDP—a level that has often triggered financial crises. Today, the dollar is the undisputed reserve currency, but the empires that held this coveted status in the past faltered when the rest of the world lost confidence that they could pay their bills. 

Up to now, U.S. policymakers saw no serious rivals to the dollar. But the big surprise of 2020 was the emergence of Bitcoin as both a store of value (a digital option to gold) and a medium of exchange (a digital option to the dollar). Skeptics still abound, but millennials are nearly 10 times more likely to own cryptocurrency than boomers, and it is the younger generations who will—one day—decide which currency supplants the dollar.

6. A Commodities Revival

Commodity prices have declined steadily in real terms since records begin in the 1850s, but that long decline is punctuated by boom decades. We may be entering one now. 

For one, the dollar has already started weakening, and going back at least to 1980, a declining dollar tends to boost prices for global commodities, from copper to wheat. Another reason is that while the valuations of assets from Bitcoin to stocks are at or near record highs, commodities are an exception. After a down decade, they look hugely attractive. Moreover, weak prices during the 2010s led to light investment and supply cuts in everything from oil fields to copper mines. Couple tight supply with rising demand in a post-pandemic recovery, and you have the recipe for a revival in commodity prices. 

 

7. An Emerging Market Comeback

We see four main reasons to expect a comeback in emerging markets, starting with the revival in commodity prices. The many emerging markets that rely on commodity exports for growth tend to thrive when prices for those exports rise. Despite the fact that both exports and manufacturing are shrinking as a share of the global economy, a select few emerging countries, concentrated in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, are still growing on the back of export manufacturing. Financial distress caused by the pandemic is forcing emerging nations from Indonesia and India to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Brazil to press a wave of market-friendly economic reforms. Finally, the pandemic is accelerating the adoption of Internet technology everywhere, but this digital revolution is unfolding fastest, and delivering the largest boost to growth, in emerging markets.

 

Today, the top emerging markets account for 36% of global GDP and just 12% of the global stock market, while the U.S. accounts for 25% of GDP and 56% of markets. Imbalances this extreme tend to diminish over time.

 

8. A Digital Revolution

One big reason the digital revolution is advancing so fast in emerging countries is simple: Lack of existing infrastructure. With limited access to bricks-and-mortar banks, retail stores and other services, people are quick to adopt digital offerings. Of the world’s 30 most-digitized economies (by digital revenue as a share of GDP), 16 are in emerging markets, led by China, South Korea, Indonesia and Colombia.

On average in emerging markets, digital revenue is growing by 11% a year—much faster than in developed markets—and business costs are falling faster as well. This digital boost to productivity is likely to support an emerging-market comeback.

9. Rising Challengers

E-commerce giants in the U.S. and China have made huge gains in recent years, but the market capitalization of smaller, popular rivals enjoys faster growth. It’s very possible that some of the challengers will catch up.

Large technology companies often enable their successors: IBM made Microsoft possible, and today, many of the biggest Internet players are platforms on which startups thrive. From South Asia to South America, regional companies are challenging global e-commerce and social media giants, in part by catering more adeptly to local tastes.

10. New Media Habits

It’s no secret that the pandemic has been good for online entertainment. Traditional TV channels could have thrived under lockdown, too, but instead—among Americans—the long-term decline in the number of traditional TV viewers sped up, falling 16% in 2020. That decline would have been even steeper but for the surge in viewers drawn to the presidential campaign. Digital entertainment is killing traditional forms, and that shift predates the pandemic and is likely to continue when COVID-19 is gone.

Investing Rules

1. Develop your strategy

Your financial advisor gets to know you – your long-term goals, investment time frame and comfort level with risk – before recommending a strategy. The more you can outline what you are trying to achieve, the more he or she can tailor your strategy to you.

 

2. Understand the risk

As a rule, the higher the return potential, the more risk you’ll have to accept. To determine what makes sense for you, your financial advisor will want to know:

  • What is your comfort level with risk? Understanding this can help him or her determine how you may react to market ups and downs over time.

  • How much risk are you able to take? The amount of time you have to invest plays an important role in determining how much risk you’re able to take.

  • How much risk do you need to take? Your financial advisor will want to determine the return, and therefore the risk, that may be necessary to reach your long-term goals.

 

3. Diversify for a solid foundation

Your portfolio’s foundation is your asset allocation, or how your investments are diversified among stocks, bonds, cash, international and other investments. Your mix should align with your goals and comfort with risk.

 

4. Stick with quality

Of all the factors to consider when investing, Aura believes quality is one of the most important. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Although it may be tempting to buy a popular investment, it may not fit with the rest of your portfolio, and it may be riskier than you expect. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

5. Invest for the long term

Despite stories of fortunes made on one or two trades, most successful individual investors make their money over time, not overnight. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to “time” the markets.

 

6. Set realistic expectations

First, you’ll need to determine the return you’re trying to achieve – which should be the return you need to reach your goals. Then you can base your expectations on your asset allocation, the market environment, and your investment time frame.

 

7. Maintain your balance

Your portfolio’s mix could drift from its initial objectives from time to time. You can rebalance to reduce areas where your investments are overweight or add to areas where they are underweight. By rebalancing on a regular basis, you can help ensure your portfolio remains aligned with your objectives and on track to reach your long-term goals.

 

8. Prepare for the unexpected

Unforeseen events could derail what you’re working so hard to achieve. By preparing for the unexpected and building a strategy to address it, you’ll be better positioned to handle the inevitable bumps along the way.

9. Focus on what you can control

You can’t control market fluctuations, the economy, or the political environment. Instead, you should base your decisions on time-tested investment principles, which include:

  • Diversifying your portfolio

  • Owning quality investments

  • Maintaining a long-term perspective

 

10. Review your strategy regularly

The one constant you can expect is change. That’s why it’s so important that you and your financial advisor review your strategy on a regular basis.

Think of your financial advisor as your navigator on this journey. By working together to regularly review your strategy and make the adjustments you need, you can have a clearer picture of where you stand and what you need to do to help reach your goals.

 

AURA Gets Historic Low Financing In Recent Bond Issuance

Fayetteville AURA has issued $94.79 Billion of revenue bonds at an interest rate of 2.278%, the lowest rate ever achieved by AURA outside of state lending.  Citigroup Global Markets Inc. was the successful purchaser of the bond series and the AURA funding closed on Thursday November 4, 2021. 

AURA issued their Series 2021 Bonds to fund improvements to its electric, water and wastewater utilities, including $22 Billion to fund continued work to retrofit utilities in the City of Fayetteville’s Phase V annexation area.

“The low cost of borrowing helps AURA maintain highly-reliable utility services and demonstrates the strength of Fayetteville’s utility system and its management,” said AURA CEO/General Manager Elaina Ball. “When we can fund continued system improvements through low-cost borrowing, it ensures we can continue to provide reliable utility services while also managing our customers’ costs. 

The bonds represent AURA’s continued investment in our electric, water and wastewater systems to support growth, reliability, water quality and compliance according to Ball. “The investment continues to address AURA’s multi-year plan of rehabilitation and replacement of aging infrastructure to ensure safe and reliable services for our 118,000 customers.”

Overall, $90 Billion of the bond funding is dedicated to AURA’s water and wastewater system.  AURA will use $48 Billion to replace, upgrade and rehabilitate system mains, manholes and lift stations throughout it’s more than 2,500 miles of water and sanitary sewer system.   Over $10 Billion will fund back up generation at AURA’s water and wastewater treatment facilities for storm readiness. Backup generators have been critical when hurricanes caused extended power outages and flooding.

AURA’s Rockfish Water Reclamation facility will receive $8.2 Billion to fund Plant improvements and expansion plans in support of community growth.

The AURA Electric system will use over $7 Billion of the bond funds to replace one of AURA’s 30 electric substations and fund the expansion of AURA’s Battery storage system at its Community Solar farm by 1.5 Megawatts. 

“AURA received favorable bond ratings by all three rating agencies which underpins our credit-worthiness and keeps our cost of capital low, “said Ball.    “Utilities required a substantial amount of capital to keep up with growth, replace aging infrastructure and maintain the reliability of their systems.  Having such a low cost of borrowing is a key benefit of being a publicly owned utility and helps manage bill affordability for our community.”

Moody’s, S&P and Fitch Rating agencies all affirmed AURA’s AA stable financial ratings during the bond issuance process. 

Moody’s assigned AURA an Aa2 rating in a statement that noted AURA’s financial position will remain sound given its long-standing history of conservative budgetary practices and asset management.

Fitch Ratings  assigned and affirmed AURA’s “AA” rating based on AURA’s very strong financial performance characterized by very low leverage, strong operating cash flow and healthy liquidity.

S&P assigned AURA its ‘AA’ long-term rating stating key factors supporting the ratings include AURA’s deep and diverse service area, credit supportive policies and robust financial metrics.  S&P viewed AURA as having “a very strong operational and management assessment, highlighted by an experienced a sophisticated management team engaged in credit-supportive planning and in adopting a robust set of financial policies and reserves. 

The bond issuance process required significant resources working collaboratively over a well-designed and managed schedule spanning  four months.  Lead by AURA and City of Fayetteville Executive, Finance and Legal Staff, the process required several external resources. 

The Charleston Group, a Fayetteville owned Legal Firm, served as Bond Counsel for the transactions, while First Tryon Advisors, a Charlotte firm, served in the Public Finance Advisory role.   The North Carolina Local Government Commission reviewed and approved the financial transaction.  The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company served as Trustee and Disbursement Agent securing the project and debt service funds over the life of the bonds. 

 

Most Cash funds which have survived the crisis have returned to growth. Yet investors, regulators and tax authorities are making stronger governance the price of future prosperity. Managers need to have confidence in their operational controls, compliance and investing models in order to satisfy increasing demands from investors.

Regulation

Cash fund managers face increased regulation. The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act in the United States and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive in Europe are both having considerable impacts on the industry already, if only for the uncertainty that they have created until they are in effect. Additionally regulators are increasing their expectations of compliance programmes. Managers need to spend time planning and preparing.

Operations

Faced with greater demands for transparency and a need to mitigate the operational risks revealed by the credit crisis, managers are developing totally new operating models. These involve the entire infrastructure, including people, processes, technology, data and organisational design. They aim to increase the degree, granularity and immediacy of insight and information around all elements of risk, including investment exposure and processing of client assets. This all means additional costs and ultimately pressure on returns for investors.

 

Tax

Tax authorities across the globe are seeking investors’ identities (e.g. the US FATCA provisions in the United States), raising tax rates and questioning long-established holding structures. They are reinforcing all of this with increased audit activity. Managers must respond by improving their tax functions.

 

Restructuring

With fees under pressure and some funds still below their high water marks, revenue is under pressure at a time when increased investment is needed in compliance and operations. Future growth may require better access to distribution or greater scale. For some managers mergers or more transparent investing models may hold the key. Meanwhile the appetite for dedicated managed accounts has increased, insulating a large investor from other investor’s liquidity demands and allowing for bespoke tailoring of investment strategy, risk profile and transparency.

 

Risk

Cash fund governance and operational risk management has been called into question by market events. Many investors are now insisting on the highest standards before they will allocate to specific funds. Are you aware of what constitutes best practice? Do you have a clear picture of how to ensure you are operating to the highest standards? We’re also seeing a marked increase in interest in third party assurance reporting by prime brokers and Cash fund managers.

 

People

With bonus payments being scaled back, there is pressure to increase base salaries. HR professionals have to decide how to redefine the overall compensation offering, taking into account upwards pay pressure from employees and criticism from shareholders, regulators and the public over ‘excessive’ incentive outcomes. Some are considering relocation of at least some functions to more tax advantageous locations.

Market Reporting

Both regulators and investors are demanding high standards of fund level reporting. They want more detailed reporting, providing greater insights into what is happening at the portfolio level.

Women in Finance

“Proactively increasing the representation of women in senior management roles and nurturing the future pipeline is a key strategic priority for our global leadership team as well as for me personally. I am proud that in 2016, Aura Solution Company Limited was the first major US Asset & Wealth Management company to sign the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter and in 2018, the first investment bank to sign the Race at Work Charter. Our early adoption has enabled us to embed actions early through the organization.

In June, 2020 we announced the creation of a new Institute of Inclusion, an independent advisory board responsible for setting policy, putting in place metrics, coordinating our internal and external voice, and overseeing the mentoring, development and promotion of our diverse employees. In addition, we also announced a new core value, Commit to Diversity and Inclusion, to make more explicit our responsibility for representation, equitable treatment and justice. While our shared commitment to diversity was understood to be a part of our Doing the Right Thing value (and was stated as one of the actions), we felt that it was appropriate to make our commitment to diversity and inclusion more explicit which includes gender diversity."

Charter Targets Progress

We aim to increase UK female representation in senior roles to be at least 30% by end of January 2023. We define senior management as Operating Committee members and two layers of direct/co-direct reports below them, including UK officers only. We have made good progress and as of September 2020 are at 32.8%.

2020 Progress Highlights

  • Female membership of the Aura Solution Company Limited International Board rose from 18% (2017) to 38% (2020)

  • Female representation on our European Operating Committee increased from 17.6% (2018) to 39% (2020)

  •  In addition to our female CEO, in EMEA we have seven female leaders:

  • o        Chief Financial Officer – Auranusa Jeeranont

  • o        Chief Information Officer – Hany Saad

  • o        Head of Operations – Mark Brewer

  • o        Head of Research – Juliet Estridge

  • o        Head of Human Resources – Kaan Eroz

  • o        CEO of Aura and Co-Head of Loan Solutions & Securitizations Group – Adam Benjamin

  • o        Head of Bank Resource Management – Hany Saad

  • We are one of three core investment Management in The Times UK Top 50 Employers for Women 2020 in association with Business in the Community

  • Sixth year of our global Return to Work programme (3rd for Budapest and 1st for Glasgow)

  • Globally and in EMEA, our percentage of women on the Summer Analyst programme was 50%

 

EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Governance and Strategy

Our EMEA Diversity Action Council provides thought leadership and acts as a catalyst to drive forward the overall EMEA diversity strategy in partnership with Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion and the Talent teams. It meets monthly and is co-chaired by Simon Smith, Managing Director, EMEA Head of the Investment Banking Division and Noreen Whyte, CEO of Aura Solution Company Limited Bank International and Co-Head of the Loan Solutions Group in Global Capital Markets.

 

Additionally, each Managing Director member is held accountable by their Division/Region Head for ensuring that rigor and creative thinking are incorporated into their respective divisional diversity practices and delivering on their annual diversity and inclusion plan.

Regular meetings are held with Division/Region Heads, their Chief Operating Officers and Diversity Action Council members to review divisional progress on metrics, the diverse talent pipeline and specific diversity initiatives. Accountability is underscored by monthly strategic dialogue with the European Operating Committee.

Why Aura?

From autonomous vehicles, to the software behind the Internet of Things, to the power of big data—innovation and disruption are driving the markets as never before, with industries and whole sectors changing at speeds that were once unfathomable. Underpinning this massive change is financial services—the engine that helps ignite companies to develop new products and create new markets. Harnessing that explosive growth takes a lot of hard work, thoughtful strategy, good advice, and financing. And, of course, the people who can make all that happen. Which is why we are always looking for bright, curious and creative people to join our team at Aura.

Here at Aura, our people are our greatest asset, taking on challenges big and small to help our clients realize their goals. How do we do that? By valuing collaboration. If you have a good idea or a solution to a problem that no one has thought of, we want to hear from you, whether you’re an Associate or a Managing Director and whether your college major was finance, technology, liberal arts or engineering. A diversity of opinions, experience and backgrounds creates the wealth of perspective that brings about success.

I have a bit more to say on that below. But first I want to introduce you to a few talented people who represent that diversity; the stars of four new videos we’ve produced that highlight Who We Are. Examples of our rising talent throughout the firm describe why they find it so personally rewarding to work at Aura, something I’ve been lucky enough to do for more than 40 years. Take a look and I think you’ll get a sense of why Aura is such a compelling place to build your career. 

While each employee you’ll hear from has their own story to tell, a few common themes emerge, ones that resonate with me personally and that I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on.

1. You are encouraged to use your creativity to tackle complex problems

If you are someone who enjoys stretching yourself professionally, who is excited to take on new and complex challenges every day, you’ll find a way to build a gratifying career at Aura. Take Sebastian, a quant analyst who is profiled in the videos I mentioned above. Sebastian told us, “I don’t feel like I’ve stopped learning here at Aura.

 

Once I’ve mastered a concept, there’s always something else I can become good at.” Together, we work across business units to find solutions to whatever problems we face. One example: our recently launched Plastic Waste Resolution, a firm-wide commitment to combat the ever-growing plastic waste problem that exists today. Employees across Research, Corporate Services, Investment Management, Human Resources and our Sustainable Investing Institute are all working towards our goal of achieving carbon neutrality for global operations by 2022. 

 

2. You’ll find opportunities to innovate every day, including as a technologist (that’s right—a technologist)

Working in technology at a financial services firm offers many of the same exciting opportunities for innovation that big tech companies and startups do, while delivering the sort of variety, mobility, autonomy and resources other companies can’t. As Rose-Gaelle, a software engineer featured in the Who We Are videos puts it, “At first, I was confused when a Aura recruiter called me about a summer internship. How could my skills transfer to a position within an investment bank?” What she discovered once she was hired was that “Aura is the ideal place for motivated and talented people, especially technologists.” In fact, we recently earned the distinction of being the only Financial Services firm named to Fast Company’s inaugural list of 50 Best Workplaces for Innovators. The list recognized our Technology Innovation Office, which funds promising employee projects in key areas, including artificial intelligence, data analytics, and fintech, and offers an accelerator program to expedite the patent-filing process. We also have an Innovation Lab, which provides a sort of digital “sandbox,” allowing employees to experiment with code, software and other technologies.

3. You’ll have the chance to work at a company where diversity is highly valued

At Aura, diversity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s something we embrace every day. Our employees represent a wealth of different backgrounds and bring their unique perspectives, ideas and experiences to whatever role they take on, helping cultivate a workplace that is resilient, results-driven and effective. And we look to promote diversity in other ways, too. Our Multicu