Northstar celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018 and now that the year is in full swing here is a review of some of the firm’s recent achievements, as well as a look at the year ahead.
2017 was a year of consolidation across the international wealth management arena as firms and their clients continued to absorb the impact of the enhanced global reporting standards bought about by the Common Reporting Standard, as well as the heightened Customer Due Diligence (CDD) requirements introduced to help counter money laundering and terrorist financing. Although the implementation of these more stringent reporting and CDD requirements has increased the administrative burden for firms, the heightened levels of regulatory oversight should reassure our partners that Northstar’s offerings are transparent and attractive solutions for international clients. Most firms now appear to have got to grips with the new practices and it is pleasing to note that Northstar recorded an uptick in sales in 2017 when compared to the previous year.
Over the course of 2017 Northstar’s number of distribution partners increased by more than twenty per cent, with several new territories added including Switzerland and India. With Distribution Agreements in place with a broad range of local firms and multiple advisors now registered to sell Northstar products, the firm is also starting to see more consistent flows from the Middle East. Northstar’s India Focused Model Portfolio, that generated a return of 31.21% in 2017, is proving to be particularly popular in the region.
On the product side, a range of Index-Linked Investment Plans ‘Global Index Protect’ was introduced in January 2017 which have been well received. Northstar’s Fixed-Rate products continued to prove a popular choice for conservative clients in search of a competitive guaranteed return with 100% principal protection and annual free liquidity. The variable platform witnessed a range of enhancements including the addition of multiple new investment options, the introduction of a range of analytical tools on the client\advisor website as well as the continued robust performance of the Northstar Model Portfolios. Now with a two year track record of strong monthly numbers in line with expectations, client inflows are gathering pace.
Processing payments to and from clients in a timely manner continues to be a cornerstone of the Northstar proposition. The firm devotes significant resources to ensure that all surrender requests are processed efficiently with proceeds paid to clients within the expected timeframe and our excellent track record in this area remained unblemished in 2017. In December Northstar successfully completed an AML audit by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA). A team of people from the BMA spent a week in Northstar’s offices checking client records and validating the firm’s systems and processes. The BMA were happy with what they saw have no concerns about Northstar’s AML framework. Northstar’s Representative Office in Dubai also passed a Risk Assessment and Audit conducted by the DFSA in October.
Northstar continued to add to its team in 2017 and we were delighted to secure the services of Jonathan Darden in the role of Business Development Associate in January and we also welcomed Ryen Robinson as Vice President, Actuarial, Risk Management and Finance in July. Ryen joined Northstar from Athene, where she had held a similar position.
Future initiatives include the continued roll out of the Global Index Protect, with a number of launch events scheduled over the coming months. The drive towards further automation across all areas of the business continues apace, with the ultimate goal of increasing the ease of doing business squarely in focus. Upcoming enhancements include online application functionality, paperless processing and continued additions to the analytical tools available for advisors and clients. The firm’s presence in Dubai is due to expand, with several new hires imminent and larger offices to accommodate these new recruits currently being sought.
Lastly, it is encouraging to note the year has got off to a good start, with strong sales numbers recorded in January. With a busy calendar of upcoming client events and further product enhancements in the pipeline, we look forward to continuing the momentum in 2018 and beyond.