"What are all these repo headlines about?"
Repo (short for a repurchase agreement) is the grease in the wheels of financial markets, where banks lend to one another, but on a secured basis. This week has seen us enter a period of severe dislocation in these markets.
Rather than Lehman Brothers where this was a credit specific issue, recent symptoms stem from market-wide illiquidity (or shortage of cash).
"What is happening to cause this?"
The drivers to this dislocation have been the increased supply of government debt, the shrinking of the Federal Reserve balance sheet and primary dealers holding increased government inventory - by some estimates primary dealer balances have more than doubled in the last 12-18 months. The pulling back of Quantitative Easing has also left the US financial system yet shorter of cash. Banks reserves are tighter as the cost of capital is being driven higher by regulation; and tax receipts paid by corporations this week did not help, with significant funds being pulled from money market funds and deposits. Finally, overseas investors have not increased allocations in line with rising government debt issuance. The good news for the US thus far is that at least foreign buyers have not pulled back. China could be particularly dangerous/the US vulnerable here given the current trade-related negotiations.
"Whilst this is quite interesting, why should I care?"
The real question is...would you like to significantly reduce risk AND get paid to do so?
For those with USD cash balances, who are typically being under-compensated for the unsecured financial risk they are taking in the form of bank deposits, this presents a fantastic opportunity. Moving from unsecured and highly correlated bank risk to a secured position (against government assets), holders of excess cash balances can get paid materially more for taking less risk. However, entering this market directly requires a big infrastructure lift and, in our experience, complicated contract negotiations, new financial infrastructure implementations and additional technology integrations are not typically at the top of most treasury teams' wish-lists! Our Bank Secured FTFs give all of our clients the opportunity to safely place cash in this market, without the need for any financial infrastructure, at the click of a button.
"What else is being affected?"
Another impact of this market volatility has been on foreign exchange swaps markets, making it more expensive to buy dollars, which has a whole range of other consequences reverberating outside of capital markets. The knock-on effects have also already been felt in short-dated corporate issuance. Any issuer through TreasurySpring's digital platform is considerably more sheltered from such day-to-day price shocks. We are a stable, robust and friendly partner to navigate these volatile times.
"Have I missed the boat?"
In short, no. The US Treasury department has been issuing record levels of debt, loaded towards the end of the year when funding pressures are at their very highest in financial markets, as banks look to minimise balance sheet usage. Thus, we do not see these elevated levels going away any time soon, or at the very least they will continue bubbling just beneath the surface, until the next time...! Whist the Federal Reserve did cut rates yesterday, further reducing borrowing costs, this will not solve the problem of a shortage of cash in the most important of markets. This week’s price movements in the repo market were discussed by the Federal Open Market Committee but for now, they are perceived to be temporary and exceptional, with the Fed believing that their existing toolkit can manage to get things back under control. Interesting to note, however, is that fewer members voted to cut this time around, with the split being 7-3. Thus, more members will need more convincing should we continue along the current path.
TreasurySpring raises £2m to fuel growth
TreasurySpring, the London-based financial technology company today announced the closing of its latest capital raise, securing £2m of investment in a round that was led by ETFS Capital, with participation from MMC Ventures and existing investors.
The round was more than three times oversubscribed and the company has now raised more than £3.5m since its first external capital injection in November 2017.
TreasurySpring was voted one of the top 3 fintech startups in Europe at the prestigious Money20/20 conference in June 2019, before publicly launching its digital Fixed-Term Fund (FTF) portal in July, following a year of rigorous beta testing. It has already issued more than $600m of FTFs to clients from multiple sectors.
The firm was co-founded in 2016 by long-term business partners Kevin Cook (CEO), Matthew Longhurst (COO) and James Skillen (CTO) to unlock the multi-trillion dollar wholesale money markets by providing new digital pipelines to connect cash-rich firms to institutional borrowers from the sovereign, bank and corporate sectors.
FTFs enable all holders of large cash balances, from corporates to charities, private funds to insurance companies, family offices to private banks and beyond, to reduce and diversify risk on those balances, whilst simultaneously increasing returns. For investment-grade firms seeking financing, TreasurySpring’s FTF platform provides flexible, low-cost access to a diverse universe of new short-term funding sources.
Proceeds from the financing round will be invested in the development of the platform’s core technology and the expansion of TreasurySpring’s sales, technology and operations teams to meet the growing demand for FTFs.
Graham Tuckwell, Chairman, ETFS Capital said: “We see many analogies between what TreasurySpring is building in the cash management space and the very successful business that we built over the last 15 years in the exchange-traded products market. They have developed a simple, unique and powerful way to offer access to a huge, desirable segment of the market that is currently unavailable to most institutions. We are delighted to have this opportunity to invest, as well as to increase our use of the platform. The ETFS Capital team is looking forward to supporting the team with more than just capital as they continue to grow their business.”
Kevin Cook, Co-founder and CEO, TreasurySpring, said: “We are thrilled to welcome our new investors ETFS Capital and MMC Ventures. Their capital injections, together with the funds that we have raised from more than 40 senior financial markets professionals over the last two years, put us in a really strong position to accelerate our growth by further building our team, our public presence and our product offering. We are grateful for the financial and non-financial support from all of our investors and we are excited about what we can achieve with the proceeds of this funding round over the next couple of years.”
Alex Schmid, Managing Partner, ESO Capital, added: “We were the first external investor in TreasurySpring because we saw the huge opportunity that Kevin and the team had identified and strongly believed in their ability to deliver on their vision. Over the last two years they have achieved everything that they set out to do and more, so we were very comfortable following on from our initial investment for a second time. As a client of the platform, we have seen first-hand the value that it can bring in reducing the risk and simultaneously increasing the returns that we earn on our surplus cash.”
Media contacts: TreasurySpring
Sarah Duranni, Holly Finn
Tel: +44 20 7959 2235
TreasurySpring is a financial technology company that is unlocking multi-trillion dollar short-term funding markets. Our Fixed-Term Fund (FTF) platform delivers new digital pipelines to connect cash rich firms to institutional borrowers from the sovereign, bank and corporate sectors.
Built on enterprise-grade infrastructure, FTFs bring the power of the largest, most sophisticated treasury departments to all firms holding material cash balances, for the first time.
Driven by client demand to reduce and diversify risk in cash holdings without compromising returns, we have taken established concepts and structures and re-purposed them to create a new, regulated and standardised platform.
Designed for all holders of large cash balances, from corporates to charities, private funds to insurance companies, family offices to private banks and beyond, FTFs provide transparent, single-name, fixed-term access to government, secured bank and corporate assets, through a simple digital platform that requires no additional infrastructure or cost. Our executive team has worked together in fixed income since 2006, in the hedge fund, asset management, consultancy and technology sectors, and we have advised on over $30bn of cash management assets for some of the world’s leading hedge funds and corporations. For more information, please visit TreasurySpring.com, follow us on Twitter @TreasurySpring or visit our LinkedIn page.
About ETFS Capital
ETFS Capital is an investment company working across the global investment ecosphere with a focus on ETFs. Created by ETF industry veterans and chaired by Graham Tuckwell, an ETF industry pioneer and founder of ETF Securities. In 2018 ETF Securities sold its European and North American issuance businesses to WisdomTree, Legal & General Investment Management and Aberdeen Standard and became ETFS Capital. Today, our purpose is to identify and empower the innovation-led companies driving change, often technology-enabled, and help then become tomorrow’s leaders. www.etfscapital.com
About MMC Ventures MMC Ventures is a research-led venture capital firm that has been backing high-growth technology companies since 2000.
MMC’s dedicated research function provides the Firm with a deep and differentiated understanding of emerging technologies and sector dynamics, to identify attractive investment opportunities. MMC’s research team also supports early stage companies through the life of MMC’s investment.
MMC helps to catalyse the growth of enterprise software and consumer internet companies that have the potential to disrupt large markets. The Firm has one of the largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolios in Europe, with recent exits including CloudSense, Invenias and NewVoiceMedia.
MMC’s dynamic consumer portfolio includes several of the UK’s favourite companies, including Bloom & Wild, Gousto and Interactive Investor.
TreasurySpring voted top B2B fintech at Money20/20 Europe
We were delighted to be the only B2B fintech to make it into the final three of Money20/20 Europe's competition to find Europe’s most exciting financial technology startup.
It was a pleasure to share the (enormous) Main Stage with Garrett Cassidy from Trezeo and Stuart Bungay from Tully, as well as Ian O'Sullivan from Mastercard StartPath and Surabhi (Ruby) Nimkar from GreenHouse Capital Africa. Huge congrats to Trezeo for winning overall - you and Tully are doing amazing things!