Category Archives: Podcasts

LFP202 – Fintech Corporate Finance w/Aman Behzad Managing Partner Royal Park Partners

The fact that today we are talking to Aman, the co-founder of specialist Fintech Corporate Finance boutique Royal Park Partners which has done over 30 transactions is a great sign of the maturation of the Fintech market. In this episode we discuss the origins of Fintech Corporate Finance in Europe – not that long ago it didn’t exist as A Thing and how it is similar to MegaBank CorpFin and how it differs.

I was fascinated to see that whilst Fintech is one of the hottest, newest, trendiest sectors in the world the boutique CorpFin model is way more similar to oldskool, pre-Big Bang CorpFin models – in particular in it’s principal focus on integrity and long term client relationships rather than product pushing. In other words the oldskool model was more advisory and the modern MegaBank model more transactional.

In this context we also discuss how the Corporate Finance market itself has changed over the decades as well as the vital question of when a Fintech should move away from the DIY model to fund raising et al and move on from using the lawyers or accountants to support such processes and when they should use a professional CorpFin house whether of a MegaBank or a boutique.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP201 – Rethinking Investment Risk & Deep Dive Into Investing in VC w/Alan Vaksman co-founder Digital Horizon

Investment risk has changed radically from what regulators and the media propound. A prime example is that with negative real interest rates and at the end of a secular 40 yr bond bull market the idea of bonds being “low risk investments” is nuts yet widely followed in asset allocation. Furthermore as we touched on in LFP197 on the dollar, hyperinflation and much more and LFP199 on Gold the trend to invest in real assets is growing. As we haven’t yet covered VC from a “how to invest in it” we also dive into this important topic – especially during a tech bull market when most of the value creation happens before the IPO.

So throw out your textbooks and so-called modern portfolio theory (from the 1950s a long long time ago) and start thinking afresh.

Alan is a great guest to discuss this topic with having been a CRO as well as a banker and consultant and now head of Digital Horizon, a VC and Venture Builder firm.

We discuss investing in the 2020s with a particular focus on understanding what investment risk is now, what key new investment risk exists that was never really a thing in recent decades but is now and wrap up with the practicalities of retail investment in Venture Capital. Key points discussed being: Continue reading

LFP200! The Philosophy of Technology & Technique & their Existential Impact on People, Society and Civilisation w/Oswald Spengler & Jacques Ellul

Technology pervades our world more than ever and conditions us and our existence ever more. But I believe it is not well-understood at a philosophical level, nor are its impacts at an existential level. Two great thinkers about technology and its impact on man, society and civilisation in the 20thC were  Oswald Spengler and Jacques Ellul. The whole panoply of problems we face now from depression to global governance would not have surprised these gentlemen in the slightest. Indeed despite writing about technology – and its parent technique – in 1931 and 1954 respectively – their analysis and projections have proved spot on. Neither, I believe, would be in the slightest bit surprised by the world in 2022 and all its challenges for humanity. Indeed I believe they would perhaps been more surprised if we were not experiencing many of the damaging phenomena we are seeing now.

How could they have been so prescient writing 91 and 68 years ago, well before any of our “modern” technologies had been invented? Simply put, apart from having plenty of history of society and technology to examine in their day, I believe they penetrated to the very essence of what technology is – notably the embodiment of technique. Technique sounds so bland, so neutral, so essential. And from one perspective it is, after all, as Ellul writes, a lion uses technique to catch its prey. Technique is very necessary for all animals seeking safety, food, shelter and offspring. Continue reading

LFP199 – Gold, Have a Personal Gold Standard & Pay in Gold #Fintech #GoldTech w/Jason Cozens CEO Glint

Gold has been much in the news recently with Russia putting a Gold-floor under its currency to spectacular effect (almost as if desire for infinitely printed fiat paper is wearing off…) and offering to accept payment for exports in Gold the US sanctions/de-SWIFTing/and theft of Central Bank Assets (never happened in history) has spectacularly backfired. But what if you too could have your own personal Gold Standard, backing your cash with what has been real money for millennia? What if you could pay buddies directly with Gold? Is Gold the ultimate anti-CBDC? Glint’s mission is to create a gold-based alternative to banking and money and so is highly relevant right now.

In the bigger picture this episode can be seen as a part two to LFP197 with maneco64 which was snappily entitled: “Money in the 21stC: Ballooning Printing of Fiat/QE/”MMT”/Govt Debt, CBDCs, Crypto, Dedollarisation, Hyperinflation and Gold” in which we only had a short time to touch on Gold.

Jason’s Glint has, after thousands of years, provided a new functionality (or perhaps two or three new functionalities depending on how you count) to the gold would you believe it. Fintech (GoldTech?) at its best.

Back in the early days of the podcast 2014-15 I spoke to one or two folk who were working on gold and fintech in one way and another but no-one really cared much. Perhaps everyone and especially me should have as since 2014 Gold is up 60% (and in passing about 60-fold since the US came off the gold standard in the early 70s).

I’ve been looking into Gold since and it is far more weird/complex as a market than I ever realised… When we were young we would have known gold as perhaps rings on our mothers finger. A little later we might know it as something in the periodic table with certain properties. But that leaves much unsaid – what is golds function in society? If we want to invest in it how do we do that – ie what are the investable forms of gold? Indeed is gold an investment as such or a store of value? How well does it fulfill either role? Can we use it for payments (an amazing functionality Glint Pay puts on your phone)?

So for some of you out there this might not be just another podcast but one that makes you consider whether you should invest a certain part of your portfolio in Gold – whether through Glint, bullion dealers, ETFs, coins or many other ways.

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LFP198 – Tech/Fintech in Central and Eastern Europe w/Adam Niewinski co-founder OTB Ventures

There are at least 70 cities in Europe which have at least one unicorn in them – a very different pattern from the US/UK ecosystems. Over 20 of these cities are in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). There is thus far more to CEE than a place to near-offshore your tech or dev team. In this episode Adam gives us both a tour de force et tour d’horizon of the vast region that is CEE –  – I was certainly impressed with my lack of knowledge of the tech landscape in the region which has developed super-fast. 

Adam is a rara avis having been a multiple-times founder, bank CEO and now long-term regional VC so has a super-good 360 degree perspective on the area which he leads us through.

Five years ago Adam co-founded OTB Ventures, an early-stage CEE VC based in Warsaw, who invest $1-15m in their CEE portfolio companies,

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP197 – Money in the 21stC: Ballooning Printing of Fiat/QE/”MMT”/Govt Debt, CBDCs, Crypto, Dedollarisation, Hyperinflation, Gold w/Mario Innecco (@maneco64)

Where money in major economies is and where it is going is very concerning right now – look at the list of issues in the episode title, let alone the impact of the ongoing globalist putsch and UN Agendas 21 and 2030. This is a topic that will affect not just FS but the lives of everyone we all know we are more than overdue a dive into this essential topic. In particular we end with practical investment/monetary strategies to survive and thrive in an age of – inter alia – serious monetary risk.

I have been looking for a guest to talk about this for over two years there being some polarisation between the ~ “it’s all fine, needs the odd tweak” and ~ “Jacob Rothschild owns all the central banks and tells them what to do” camps. Mario is someone who being a long-term FS-er himself understands FS and markets deeply but also as a consequence of deep understanding and deep study has for some time been raising the red flag for some time. It is worth noting that all fiat currency systems have eventually collapsed. There’s a simple reason (before we get into civilisational collapse and venal politicians angles), as Graeber points out in his magnum opus on Debt if everyone repaid all their debts to banks there would still be an astronomical amount owed to the banks simply as when banks lend money they create that money but do not create the interest margin they charge. Fiat currency is thus a Ponzi scheme. 

In the UK it took 300yrs for the money supply to reach £1trn but only 8yrs to go from there to £2trn and another 4yrs to reach £3trn. A dollar a century ago is worth something like 2.5 cents now and as Charlie Munger the veteran Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway said recently “I think the safe assumption is that over the next 100 yrs the currency is going to zero”.

Mario has a very successful YouTube channel since 2015 where he is better known to 60,000 subscribers as maneco64 “the home of alternative economics and contrarian views”. And just in passing contrarian has a special meaning to us fund managers it doesnt mean your stroppy teenager who disagrees for the sake of it but rather long-term proven investment wisdom that you don’t make money by agreeing with the market. Rather to make money you need to stand against the current consensus.

Money is naturally at the heart of FS but most FSers don’t really understand what it is (they leave that to their treasury departments). Furthermore a 2014 Bank of England publication stated that the nature of money is widely misunderstood including in one important respect even in university textbooks (!).

But money isn’t just something of concern for FS folk. As John Kay notably explained when he was on the LFP, Finance is like a group of guys going into a pub and gambling with one exception namely that the outcome of their game extraordinarily affects everyone’s life outside the pub. That’s super-weird when you come to think of it.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP196 – Making Combatting Online Fraud a Truly Digital Experience w/Bence Jendruszak co-founder SEON

Fraud is sadly as old as humanity. However the digital age has created a huge arms race – on the one hand a massive increase in fraudulent attempts, on the other ever-stronger defences. Traditionally anti-fraud was a complex B2B sale but in the digital age where b2b and b2B sales outnumber by far B2B sales (SME/BigCo respectively) this all needs to change. SEON, despite being founded in only 2018 are making great inroads into this market already having signed up some 5,000 customers including Fintech Giants titans such as Revolut, (Transfer) Wise and Mollie as well as growing super-fast and having offices in Budapest, London, Austin and and Jakarta.

Bence and  his co-founder Tamas Kadar have a classic origin story as University buddies with an interest in crypto whose first project together, a crypto exchange for central and eastern Europe, as might be expected in the more wild west parts of Fintech was the subject of fraudulent attacks. They tried outsourcing/buying in solutions etc and before deciding they could do better themselves. And it sounds like they are. Despite only founding in 2018 SEON already have offices in Budapest, London, Austin and and Jakarta.

In this episode we focus in particularly on what has made them so successful. Surely by 2022 most things are pretty digital? Well not digital enough by a long way in fraud by the sound of it. Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP195 – How The Changing World (esp. Tech) Is Changing The Nature of Boards w/Patrick Dunne, Four-Time Board Author

In this show Patrick Dunne joins us to discuss how Boards changed in the 80s/90s/00s as a prelude to the significant shifts in Boards happening, and needing to happen, today. As the world changes massively and as tech changes only-ever accelerate how does this change what Boards are required to do, how they do it and what kind of people you now need on Boards.

Patrick has written four books on aspects of the Board over the past 30years and in 2021 the second edition of his magnum opus (426pp): “Boards: A Practical Perspective” (Amazon.co.uk link) was released. His principal executive career was 26yrs at 3i starting in 1985 and rising to the operating committee

Patrick Chairs board consultancy Boardelta and the charities EY Foundation and ESSA – Education Sub Saharan Africa. He is a Trustee of the Chartered Management Institute, a Visiting Professor at Cranfield and the Founder of Warwick in Africa.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

2022 New Year Special: How The World Is Governed – An Exploration Of The Nature Of Globalism, The Ne Plus Ultra Issue Of Our Time

Civilisation I believe is at a crossroads. The globalists’ road has a stench that we can smell from the crossroads. Their dystopian future has been designed for far longer and in far more detail than anyone who has not researched it would ever imagine. It is no secret, no paranoia, and is documented in the public writings of the UN, the WEF and many more NGOs and private clubs of oligarchs. It is already impacting the lives of billions of citizens. It has long been designed in plain, documentable sight, by a complex network of NGOs and supra-national institutions and in essence private clubs of oligarchs. At a governance level covid is merely an accelerant to the super-scary UN Agendas 21 (signed in the 1990s in passing) and Agenda 2030. I won’t be covering agenda 21 or agenda 2030 – there is plenty of high quality material out there. Suffice it to say that the bland Blairite words of the UN website – sustainability et al – cover ideas of creating a future so dystopian that few science fiction writers can have imagined it. “They will own everything, have all the power and they will be happy” we will be reduced to little more than farm animals in their eyes, banging the rocks together to create a spark when the lights keep going out as our Dear Leaders sprint towards net zero.

I have changed my view on going back to the old normal as opposed to the oligarchs new normal. I used to think that was a good idea. However the increasingly tyrannical actions of major governments – and I am not just talking re covid here but in information management that would have impressed Stalin, Mao or Hitler, in actions to stop protests (and in a brilliantly recursive fashion stopping protests about changing the rules on protests), but also in lethal laws in the UK which allow state agents to break any laws they like. Their almost complete death star has already destroyed nations, traditions and long-fought hard-won gains such as liberty and freedom

Yes there are many elements of old normal which are essential to revive – freedom and liberty uppermost – our ancestors fought so so long to bequeath those to us, we would betray not just them but our children and grandchildren if we were the generation that blew it. However and this is the key to my change of thinking we cannot roll back the clock knowing what we know now. To sketch a couple of pictures on a whiteboard Continue reading

LFP194 – Do We Need a Radically Decentralised Approach to Identity & is Tim Berners-Lee Right? w/Kirill Slavin CEO Reputation Transfer

With the long-planned centralised ID (via pretext of “medical passports”) juggernaut bowling down the road towards us and ushering in a Western version of the Chinese Social Credit Score where your Human Rights, rather than being God-given, become a function of  your obedience to ever-more politician-decided criteria it seems a great occasion to discuss what an alternative might look like. No less than Tim Berners-Lee has an alternate vision with his Solid project“Solid is a technology for organizing data, applications, and identities on the web.”

Serial entrepreneur Kirill Slavin is CEO of Reputation Transfer an InsureTech focusing on data portability and extra data points for insurers.

Kirill (who is also CEO of EdTech Academator – busy guy) joins us in this episode to discuss a radically different take on digital identity as well as discuss whether Berners-Lee is right, wrong, too radical or not radical enough.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading