Ashley Groves is an expert in cross-border transactions with over 15 years of experience across the FX industry in Europe and North America. Having seen a need to simplify foreign exchange, he founded Deaglo to serve his extensive global investor network. Ashley is frequently engaged to speak on FX strategies, economic issues, and utilising AI and ML to transform global investment.
Previously, he was a Director at AFEX for 10 years, one of the world’s largest FX providers. There he led the East Coast region, doubling revenues annually. His team specialised in corporate, institutional and HNW clients across industries like alternatives.
Under Ashley’s leadership, Deaglo aims to transform the cross-border transaction experience through AI and machine learning.
In his interview with the International Finance Magazine, Deaglo CEO Ashley Groves delves into a myriad of topics, offering profound insights on sustainable and ESG investments, the transformative impact of technology-driven platforms, the dynamics of cross-border investments, the untapped potential of emerging markets, and much more.
Q) How do you perceive the impact of the global awareness and demand for ethical investment practices on the future of the investment industry, particularly with the pivot towards sustainable and ESG investments?
A) Ethical investing is crucial for the industry’s future. Investors increasingly demand principles-based allocation. This motivates asset managers to integrate ESG factors. Sustainable investing will likely be the norm rather than niche and I believe that breaking out ESG to focus on each component individually would result in more optimal outcomes
Q) With the establishment of a $100 million VC fund for sustainable fashion by Hugo Boss, how do you see such initiatives shaping the investment landscape in the coming years, and what role can corporate entities play in driving sustainable investments?
A) Corporate sustainability funds pioneer positive change. This move by Hugo Boss exemplifies the power that private capital has to transform entire supply chains. As stakeholders pressure the more unethical brands who have been profiting most, and therefore see corporations as the primary catalysts for ethical production through investment vehicles like these.
Q) The past year witnessed a decline in cross-border investments due to global tensions. How do you anticipate geopolitical factors influencing the investment landscape in 2024, and what strategies can investors employ to navigate these challenges?
A) Geopolitical uncertainty persists, although tentative easing has buoyed sentiment. Pragmatic exposure adjustment, selective hedging, and risk-balancing strategies can buffer volatility. But for long-term investors, momentary tensions seldom impair a thesis. I remain bullish on cross-border capital flows.
Q) The trend towards technology-driven investment platforms is expected to continue. In what ways do you think these platforms will reshape the investor experience, and what potential risks or concerns should investors be mindful of in adopting such technologies?
A) Technology platforms enhance transparency, access, and reporting – democratising investing. We are betting on a shift towards AI-powered investment platforms that will profoundly reshape user experiences. Users will have the ability to get the insights they need and ensure they are valuable.
As algorithms provide advice and execute trades, ensuring unbiased high-quality data flows is crucial. There will be premiums associated with guarantors who audit and validate the purity of data used in financial models. Similarly, certifying training protocols will ensure recommendation engines align with fiduciary responsibilities.
Users should scrutinise these safeguards rather than solely seeking frictionless experiences. Otherwise, this new AI-driven era risks compromising oversight and accountability if not developed deliberately with principled machine learning approaches.
Q) Brazil has continued to attract investor interest. From your perspective, what factors contribute to Brazil’s appeal, and do you foresee any specific challenges or opportunities for investors considering the Brazilian market in 2024?
A) Brazil boasts attractive fundamentals – consumer growth, commodities, and energy innovation. They are also a young, humble and highly educated population that is consistently online and quick to embrace new technology. PIX banking and Nubank have become the new standard in digital banking.
The currency has also performed well against the USD and remained relatively stable. Interest rates also seem to be flattening out and for the first time, hedging costs will not be a limiting factor to investors.
I still see a distinct lack of quality service providers supporting the local businesses and investment managers.
Q) Other countries like Colombia, Chile, and India are expected to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) due to improvements in their startup environment and banking infrastructure. How can investors identify and capitalise on emerging opportunities in these regions, and what due diligence measures are crucial in evaluating such markets?
A) Emerging markets offer tremendous upside. We implore Investors to stress test growth assumptions via scenario analysis. Examining financial inclusion trends, banking stability and tech ecosystem vitality in my opinion reveals standouts. But anti-bribery, IP, and FX protections also require a lot of additional due diligence.
Q) Given the historical volatility of crypto and digital assets, how do you assess the renewed interest in these areas within the investment industry, and what precautions or strategies do you recommend for investors navigating the crypto space in 2024?
A) Crypto retains immense potential on a risk/reward basis. I have always been a huge fan of blockchain and smart contract technology and I see multiple use cases within Deaglo such as multi-currency tokens for cross-border escrow. But sudden liquidity evaporation remains a key vulnerability in strained markets. Portfolio safeguards like exposure ceilings, hedge overlays, and managed drawdowns help temper this asset class’s risk but I believe that until Central banks adopt their own digital currencies and allow holders to move freely between tokens and cash we will be at risk of more boom or bust cycles.
Q) As the CEO and founder of Deaglo, what key takeaways from 2023 do you find most significant for investors, and how can these insights be applied to make informed investment decisions in 2024?
A) The year 2023 proved the resilience of innovation and global collaboration despite mounting uncertainties. For investors, embracing diversification and focusing on tangible income streams/adoptions create an all-weather portfolio to compound gains. Our goal is to follow FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and we believe that there are a number of emerging markets that are poised for incredible growth. We want to make sure that we are there to allow investors to invest and divest as safely as possible.
Q) With the shift towards personalised and efficient investment solutions through technology-driven platforms, how can traditional investment firms adapt to stay competitive, and what role do you see for collaboration between traditional and tech-driven players in the industry?
A) Platformization is inexorable – those who harness it first will lead markets. Incumbents are already starting to strategically integrate digital capabilities through partnerships with nimble innovative technology firms. Combining institutional and regulatory expertise, a large client base with software scalability and analytics will ultimately create superior user experiences and more profitable businesses.
Q) Looking ahead to 2024, what advice would you give to individual investors and institutional players to thrive in the evolving global investment landscape, considering the anticipated shifts towards sustainability, technology-driven platforms, and emerging markets?
A) As we approach 2024, my advice for both individual investors and institutional players navigating the evolving global investment landscape is multifaceted. To thrive in the face of anticipated shifts towards sustainability, technology-driven platforms, and emerging markets, it is crucial to construct globally diversified portfolios grounded in solid principles. Prioritising risk-balancing is essential to mitigate volatility, and staying informed about policy impacts and megatrends ensures a proactive response to changing dynamics. Adaptability is key, particularly when venturing into new markets or regions, allowing for flexibility and responsiveness. Moreover, the swift but cautious adoption and embrace of new technologies will enhance efficiency and competitiveness while maintaining a focus on safety.