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FNZ

fnz.com

Founded Year

2004

Stage

Private Equity | Alive

Total Raised

$1.4B

Valuation

$0000 

Last Raised

$1.4B | 1 yr ago

Revenue

$0000 

About FNZ

FNZ provides technology, transaction, and custody services to life insurers, banks, and asset managers, enabling them to develop and distribute financial products and services to customers. It combines technology, infrastructure and investment operations for personalized products and services. The company was founded in 2004 and is based in Edinburgh, U.K.

Headquarters Location

Suite 1, 3rd Floor 11-12 St. James’s Square

Edinburgh, Scotland, SW1Y 4LB,

United Kingdom

+44 (0) 303 333 3330

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Expert Collections containing FNZ

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

FNZ is included in 5 Expert Collections, including Wealth Tech.

W

Wealth Tech

2,053 items

A category of financial technology that is digitizing & streamlining the delivery of wealth management. Included: Startups that offer technology-enabled tools for active and passive wealth management for retail investors and advisors.

C

Capital Markets Tech

785 items

Companies in the capital markets tech space are providing software and/or services for investment banks, hedge funds, investment managers, and so forth. Companies included use technology across the front, middle, and back-offices and streamline all pre- and post-trade operations.

I

Insurtech

2,687 items

Companies and startups that use of technology to improve core and ancillary insurance operations. Companies in this collection are creating new product architectures, improving underwriting models, accelerating claims and creating a better customer experience

F

Fintech

5,028 items

Track and capture company information and workflow.

G

Green Fintech

269 items

a collection of fintech companies that have an explicitly defined environmental focus at the core of their business.

Latest FNZ News

Alphabet soup: The FNZ/GBST saga

Feb 2, 2022

Platform tech company FNZ thought GBST was an ideal match. But the simple fairytale became a saga with multiple characters and an unexpected ending Shutterstock / Marie Nimrichterova / Leon Parks Once upon a time, a platform technology company felt confident it had acquired one of its sort-of rivals. That company was FNZ, and news of its intention to snap up GBST came to light in July 2019. The former had entered a binding agreement to take over the latter in a deal worth A$269m (£150m). GBST made the announcement to the Australian stock exchange and explained FNZ would acquire 100% of its shares by way of a “scheme of arrangement”. Fellow Australian platform technology provider Bravura had previously mounted a A$172m bid for GBST in April 2019. But then everything went quiet. In my opinion, a full divestiture is the preferred option Directors of GBST unanimously recommended shareholders vote in favour of the FNZ deal when given the opportunity to do so in October of that year. The acquisition was expected to complete in November. FNZ group chief executive Adrian Durham was looking forward to building on GBST’s “well-established products” by expanding its product and service offering in both wealth management and capital markets. The deal was set to bolster FNZ’s position in the UK and came on the back of its purchase of software provider JHC Systems in July. And that transaction was hot on the heels of FNZ’s completion of the purchase of German investment platform Ebase. So far, so good By the time October rolled around, FNZ was a step closer to concluding its acquisition of GBST after the latter’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal. A notice to the Australian stock exchange showed 97.73% of those present at the meeting on 14 October 2019, in person or by proxy, had agreed to the move. In terms of all votes cast, 99.88% gave the nod. The scheme remained subject to approval by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, with a hearing scheduled just days later. The green light was given, paving the way for the purchase to be implemented in early November. GBST shares were suspended on 18 October, making the scheme legally effective. The acquisition would result in undue influence and dominance, and stifle competition and possibly even innovation The fairytale of two platform technology providers coming together was almost complete. But was it really a match made in heaven? Former Liberum analyst Rahim Karim, who is now equity research analyst at Investec, wasn’t so sure. FNZ had indicated to platforms with which it was partnered in the UK that it did not “anticipate any changes” to its service offering following the merger with GBST. Karim said: “While this provides certainty in the short term, we still question the impact this deal may have over the long term.” Twist in the tale He wasn’t the only one. Shortly after the deal was announced, and before approval was granted by the powers that be in Australia, Altus platforms director Ben Hammond warned that UK regulators needed to be mindful of risks brewing in the platform tech market. He suggested the “major acquisition” raised questions about the Financial Conduct Authority’s inaction towards such providers. Predictions of mass consolidation in the platform industry had been doing the rounds for decades. But most commentators thought this would be platforms merging or being acquired, not the technology companies sitting behind them. Since the FNZ/GBST deal was first announced, we have seen plenty of movement among platforms. Platform tech transactions have been another story altogether. If the merger goes through, it will become a two-horse race that sounds like a blow to competition In an article penned for Money Marketing in the summer of 2019, Hammond referred to the fact he had previously talked about the risks of market concentration from technology suppliers. He even suggested the FCA should “give it a good old mention” in its Investment Platforms Market Study Final Report. That suggestion seemed to fall on deaf ears. Hammond’s gut reaction that the most likely owner of GBST would be “someone not currently a direct competitor” was bang on the money, though. It just took a while for the saga to play out and for the conclusion to be reached. Hammond described GBST as a “just does the technology” firm; a commercial off-the-shelf provider. He considered Bravura to be in direct competition with GBST because it “operates in exactly the same space”, while FNZ and SS&C Technologies (which also tried to court GBST) operated in a “slightly different part of the market”. The most likely owner of GBST will be someone that’s not a direct competitor Hammond thought this difference, and the lack of direct competition, would be important to GBST shareholders and the FCA. And it appears FNZ also considered there to be clear differences between it and GBST. However, despite the deal getting the go-ahead in Australia, it wasn’t plain sailing in the UK. Here the purchase raised competition concerns and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) quickly sprang into action. The two platform tech businesses had to remain separate while the CMA carried out its review into the deal. FNZ said it would “co-operate fully”, as the CMA expressed concerns the transaction could result in a “substantial lessening of competition” in markets in the UK. The non-ministerial government department served an initial enforcement order on FNZ UK and FNZ Australia in relation to the completed acquisition of GBST. The CMA’s final decision will not change from its original one This came just over a week after the seal of approval had been given in Australia. All existing contracts of GBST and FNZ were to continue being serviced by the business to which they had been awarded, the CMA confirmed. FNZ may have been all too happy to co-operate as it could have proved costly otherwise “without a reasonable excuse”. The CMA warned failure to comply might result in a penalty of up to 5% of the total value of turnover both in and outside the UK. It also stressed it would consider moving to a more detailed, phase-two investigation, which it later did. Former Nucleus CEO David Ferguson, who will soon take up the same role at Seccl, said at the time: “A CMA inquiry is interesting but, given recent headlines, a slew of GBST-to-FNZ replatforming programmes may prove even more interesting for advisers and clients.” We are pleased to have the support of Anchorage to drive continued growth Altus managing director Kevin Okell was able to sympathise with the competition watchdog, saying: “Many platform selections currently end up choosing between FNZ, Bravura and GBST. If the merger goes through, it will become a two-horse race that sounds, on the face of it, like a blow to competition, so you can see why the CMA would be interested.” Back and forth The CMA remained interested. FNZ defended its position. The matter went back and forth. An official inquiry was launched, and the watchdog sought comments from other interested parties to help it reach a decision. Its initial findings were the deal would be detrimental to competition and a more in-depth investigation was needed. An inquiry group was appointed by the CMA, which set out two potential remedies for the problem. One required a “full divestiture” of GBST; the other a “partial divestiture”. A sell-off of GBST started to look likely. Evidence was gathered with submissions from the likes of research house Fundscape; pensions and platform business James Hay; direct-to-consumer platform Interactive Investor; and insurance company Vitality. Requiring FNZ to sell GBST… will protect investment platforms and the people they serve FNZ and GBST, of course, also gave responses, as did a range of other companies, customers and consultants. Fundscape CEO Bella Caridade-Ferreira said: “In my opinion, a full divestiture is the preferred option. At one end of the scale the industry is dominated by three large technology houses, and at the other end are a handful of smaller technology houses that do not have the scale and capital to compete for large-ticket projects. “The GBST acquisition would give FNZ a more than 53% market share of the retail platform industry, resulting in undue influence and dominance, and stifling competition and possibly even innovation.” Caridade-Ferreira thought an acquisition by SS&C would be a “sensible and complementary fit for GBST” and would allow the former to improve its technology offering and “balance the competitive market”. Vitality reached the same view that a full divestiture would be the most effective means of remedying the competition concerns. If you take account of the potential move of Nucleus’s AUA across from Bravura, this further exacerbates the increase in market share With GBST being a “key provider” to Vitality, the insurance business suggested “any potential purchaser of GBST should not be an established retail platform solution provider in the UK”. Interactive Investor did not feel it had “sufficient information” to assess the CMA’s analysis of the market structure, shares or market dynamic. But it did offer the following take: “What we see is a sub-scale sector in general and lack of investment by GBST — at least in the UK. Of the two remedies, we would therefore support remedy two — partial divestment of GBST — in order that the owner can invest sufficiently to compete in the UK.” Following its provisional findings in August 2020, the CMA published its final report on 5 November of the same year. It found the completed acquisition of GBST by FNZ had resulted or might be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition, “as a result of horizontal unilateral effects in the supply of retail platform solutions in the UK”. The CMA made its announcement exactly a year after FNZ had acquired the whole issued share capital of GBST. The CMA is, quite rightly, reconsidering a number of key aspects of its competition analysis The competition watchdog ordered FNZ to sell off GBST after concluding the merger could lead to a reduction in the quality of service and to higher prices for platform technology. End of the matter? Surely that was the end of the matter, then? No. It took more than another year before things were done and dusted. FNZ had previously hit back at the CMA’s intention to ban the merger and had accused it of misunderstanding the market. The platform technology firm’s lawyers, Slaughter and May, pointed out the CMA’s provisional findings contained “important errors” that did not justify its decision. They suggested the CMA had defined a retail product market “too narrowly” and this was “entirely at odds” with evidence about the needs of platform customers. When the seemingly final decision was reached and the CMA revealed it had come to the same conclusion, FNZ lodged an appeal with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). This was submitted in early December 2020 and called for the CMA’s decision to be quashed. FNZ gave four grounds for review and once again argued the CMA had failed to “properly define the relevant market”. Then on 24 December the CMA revealed it would ask the CAT to send the case back to it so it could reconsider its view. Perhaps a Christmas present for FNZ? The CMA admitted it had “identified certain potential errors” in its market share calculations. FNZ was spurred to continue its fight to keep hold of GBST, which it described as a “software business”. In FNZ’s remittal submission challenging the competition watchdog, it argued there was “very limited competition” between it and GBST, claiming the two companies “do very different things.” An acquisition by SS&C would be a sensible and complementary fit for GBST The tech giant wrote: “FNZ offers a fully outsourced platform-as-a-service solution. This means it assumes full responsibility — and all the associated operational and regulatory costs and risks — for a wealth management platform’s investment processes (trading, settlement and administration) along with the supporting (cloud-based) software and infrastructure.” It added: “GBST does not offer any of the services that form the core part of FNZ’s proposition. Unlike FNZ, it is not regulated by the FCA, does not need to maintain regulatory capital/liquidity and does not generally charge by reference to the value of assets on the platform (instead simply charging a licence fee).” Not giving up The battle continued. In March 2021, FNZ expressed concern the CMA seemed “intent” on reaching the same decision as before. Commenting on the CMA’s “emerging thinking” after being forced to reconsider its stance, FNZ said: “The CMA is, quite rightly, reconsidering a number of key aspects of its competition analysis, following the quashing of the final report of 5 November 2020. At this stage, however, the indications are the CMA is intent on reaching the same conclusion by a different route, and in a number of significant respects its approach may not stand up to scrutiny.” Prior to its acquisition, GBST had also been in discussions with SS&C. The CMA had suggested an SS&C acquisition of GBST was “materially the same as the continued independence of GBST”. FNZ challenged this view and also highlighted the watchdog had not addressed the “likelihood and importance” of a Bravura/GBST merger. The CMA appointed a remittal group for the case once the CAT had quashed the initial ruling. Many platform selections currently end up choosing between FNZ, Bravura and GBST In April 2021, the CMA said it still had concerns about the transaction after looking again at the evidence. As the long and winding saga dragged on, the CMA returned to the view that the deal “would raise significant competition concerns”. After considering new representations and evidence during the remittal, the CMA provisionally found its “current competition concerns” would also be “effectively and proportionately” addressed by requiring FNZ to sell GBST. But this time FNZ would have a right subsequently to buy back a limited set of assets from GBST relating to its capital markets business. The assets would be restricted to those “that do not affect GBST’s competitiveness in the supply of retail investment platform solutions”, the CMA outlined. The watchdog described FNZ and GBST as “close competitors” and said few other “significant suppliers” offered effective and competitive alternatives. While this was all going on, FNZ managed to secure another substantial client in the form of James Hay — increasing its share of assets under administration (AUA) across the platform market. This was one of the main measures of market share the CMA had been examining. In addition to its agreement with FNZ, James Hay had acquired the Nucleus platform. What we see is a sub-scale sector in general and lack of investment by GBST Altus’s Hammond said: “If you also take into account the potential move of Nucleus’s AUA across from Bravura, this further exacerbates the increase.” Making another prediction, he added: “We’ll have to wait a while longer; however, I believe the CMA’s final decision is not going to change from its original requirement for FNZ’s divestiture of the GBST business.” FNZ didn’t hold back and accused the CMA of being “inconsistent” in the way it assessed consumer harm. Disagreement Responses to the CMA’s provisional report revealed FNZ and GBST disagreed on the best course of action should the merger be prevented. FNZ stressed it did not believe the transaction would be harmful to consumers. It said the sale of GBST with the buyback option would be a suitable remedy if the CMA blocked the deal. It argued the remedy would be the “least intrusive option” to effectively address the “alleged” competition concerns. FNZ said a full divestment would “impose disproportionate costs” on both it and customers of GBST. A CMA inquiry is interesting but a slew of GBST-to-FNZ replatforming programmes may prove even more interesting GBST argued, on the other hand, as FNZ had never operated nor managed GBST — and as it had owned it only at arm’s length due to the CMA’s interim measure — it did not have relevant insight into the way the business was run. GBST suggested potential purchasers had a “worrying lack of knowledge” on what a separation of its wealth management and capital markets parts of the business would entail. The firm argued in favour of full divestment to “mitigate against mistakes and/or compromise of the purchaser”. GBST wasn’t granted its wish. Instead, in June 2021 came the news that FNZ was required to sell off GBST to allay competition concerns, but it was given the option to “repurchase certain parts” of the business. Chair of the CMA inquiry group Martin Coleman said: “Requiring FNZ to sell GBST, with the right to repurchase certain parts of the GBST business that are not related to the concerns we have found, will protect investment platforms and the people they serve — including millions of people with pensions and other investments — from facing higher prices or poorer service in the future.” Finally, on 22 December 2021 FNZ completed the sale of GBST to private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners and opted to reacquire GBST’s capital markets division. While this provides certainty in the short term, we still question the impact this deal may have over the long term Anchorage said it was committed to supporting GBST’s experienced management team to execute on its growth strategy and deliver market-leading solutions to clients. This included support for continued investment, and the rollout of the technology transformation of GBST’s platform solution, Composer, to current and prospective clients. GBST CEO Robert DeDominicis described it as a “key milestone” for the firm, adding: “Anchorage has a strong reputation of investing in organisations like ours with outstanding market potential and an enviable list of Tier 1 financial services clients. We are pleased to have the support of Anchorage to drive continued growth, including expansion in key existing markets such as the UK and Australia.” FNZ Securities managing director Scott Webster added: “Capital markets continue to undergo major structural change that will require service providers to renew their systems and processes. This creates a huge opportunity to combine the complementary product strengths of FNZ and GBST’s capital markets division.” So they all lived happily ever after — just not in the way they had intended. Expert view: The saga is over and the outcome is the right one Ben Hammond The CMA could have risked losing its authority if it had not got to a conclusion with an approved purchaser by the end of last year. The sell-back of the capital markets business is an interesting one. It doesn’t really exist in the UK. It’s an Australian-based thing and GBST is also promoting it in the US, but it’s a little bit different. But, because it’s not relevant to the UK market, I think the CMA was happy with that approach. GBST will want to get back out there and start talking to clients The conversations in the industry about the FNZ/GBST deal were kind of mixed as people asked, ‘What is the correct thing to do?’ There were so many opinions. ‘Should FNZ be allowed to keep ownership?’ I’m not sure many people would have come to that conclusion straight out. The CMA then reached its decision and was challenged by FNZ around some of the data. It circled back, which gave the investigation probably around a six-to-eight-month delay. But the CMA redid that and was asking plenty of people in the industry for opinion and stats — so it absolutely did its homework. It doesn’t mean FNZ is not still winning business left, right and centre, and it is doing that in other parts of the world now. But it is at least being challenged. The CMA could have risked losing its authority It’s great news for GBST to know what its future holds. I would say the same thing for any type of sale and merger as no one wants to be uncertain about the future. From a staff point of view, there has been lots of uncertainty and it has been dragging on for two years. It has gone on for at least six months longer than it probably should have done. For the industry, it’s a good thing because it means there’s a significant player that remains in the market. Being bought by a private equity firm always has mixed messages — ‘How much do they understand about the industry?’ But Anchorage is an Australia-based firm, so it’s aware of GBST and has invested in similar companies and been involved with various parts of financial services. It’s bought a good business in the UK. The next few months will be quite interesting. For the industry, it’s a good thing because it means there’s a significant player that remains in the market GBST will want to get back out there and start talking to clients. It hasn’t done at all badly as it has re-contracted with most clients in the past two years — Aegon, AJ Bell and Novia are a few examples. What GBST has been hamstrung by is trying to attract new business. Some companies may have liked what they saw but decided to wait until they knew what was happening. Ben Hammond is Altus platforms director This article featured in the February edition of MM. To read the full digital magazine click on the image below. If you would like to subscribe to the monthly magazine please click here . 2nd February 202211:49 am

FNZ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • When was FNZ founded?

    FNZ was founded in 2004.

  • Where is FNZ's headquarters?

    FNZ's headquarters is located at Suite 1, 3rd Floor, Edinburgh.

  • What is FNZ's latest funding round?

    FNZ's latest funding round is Private Equity.

  • How much did FNZ raise?

    FNZ raised a total of $1.4B.

  • Who are the investors of FNZ?

    Investors of FNZ include CPP Investments, Motive Partners, Temasek, Generation Investment Management, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and 6 more.

  • Who are FNZ's competitors?

    Competitors of FNZ include Wealth OS, Grow, Simplex, Affirm, Avaloq Group and 10 more.

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