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3D Global CEO: ‘Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be understood’

3d global ceo mark nowell small
3D Global CEO Mark Nowell

3D Global, a financial services and wealth management advisory firm headquartered in Limassol, has gone from strength to strength according to its new CEO.

The company recently announced that founder and CEO David Rumsey had stepped down following a successful management buyout. Mark Nowell, who has been with 3D Global since 2005 and a director since 2013, has assumed the role of CEO.

Nowell will continue overseeing the financial advisory firm’s €130 million in assets under management and international client portfolio, which spans 50 countries and focuses on European Union (EU) countries.

“3D Global has been at the forefront of Cypriot financial services throughout some of the most tumultuous geopolitical and macroeconomic events in modern history,” Nowell said in response to his appointment as CEO.

Nowell remarked that the company has witnessed and successfully navigated many external events. Internationally, there was the dot com bubble, the war on terror, the 2008 financial crash, Brexit, a global pandemic, and, more recently, a war in Europe for the first time since 1945.

Domestically, there was the Cypriot banking crisis, Cyprus joining the EU, a change in the national currency, as well as the introduction of sweeping financial services regulation.

“Against the backdrop of these developments, 3D Global has continued going from strength to strength under David’s guidance, tenacity, and vision,” Nowell said, adding that he is excited to follow in Rumsey’s footsteps as CEO.

Founded in 1997, the company was not only one of the founding members of the Cyprus International Financial Advisers Association (CIFSA), but was also one of the first to become regulated by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (CySEC), following Cyprus’ acceptance into the European Union.

Of the 112 companies on the CIFSA register in November 2000, 3D Global is the only one still operating under the same guise today.

3d global limassol cyprus
The company’s headquarters in Limassol

 

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail following his new role as 3D Global CEO, Nowell touched on a number of issues related to the company itself, as well as the wider financial industry, both domestically and internationally.

“I always laugh when somebody says they are fully qualified or fully regulated or fully authorised, because there is no such thing,” Nowell told me during a brief summation of how the company has evolved and what it does, stressing that being qualified is a continuous process.

“We are authorised and regulated by CySEC for our investment business, which is limited to investment advice, as well as receipt and transmission of orders. Currently, a client can come to us, we can advise them, they can say yes, I’m happy to go ahead with that. And then we pass that transaction on. We don’t do execution of orders, the way most other CySEC-regulated companies do, including many forex brokers. In fact, we don’t get involved with forex at all,” he added.

Forex companies are a somewhat controversial subject in Cyprus, despite the fact that many Cyprus residents have found career opportunities in the sector, and Nowell is keen to put space between such firms and what 3D Global does. For reference, Cyprus’ forex industry was shaken in 2021 after two Limassol-based firms were caught in a €15 million trading fraud.

“In the past, financial services were being provided by the banks and by a few well-regulated firms. But what seems to have happened, is the burden on the regulator, and therefore, the burden that’s passed onto us, is being driven by these forex companies. Because a directive comes from the EU and there is no sense of proportionality,” Nowell explained.

“We’re a small investment firm. We have maybe up to 1,000 clients. Every single one of our clients, we see face-to-face, we have a long-term relationship with. But the same regulation, which is correct and should be applied in proportion, is applied to the forex companies equally as it is being applied to us,” he added, detailing how this has resulted in compliance-related processes becoming significantly longer and more time-consuming.

Furthermore, the 3D Global CEO explained how this increasingly demanding regulatory framework has either driven some companies out of business, or has forced many of them to merge together and consolidate in order to survive. According to Nowell, this consolidation of smaller firms reflects a significant contraction in the market, something which has been further corroborated by industry colleagues now seeking job opportunities with the company.

Nowell also touched on the notion that financial investment services are solely reserved for the very wealthy, something which he is keen to dispel.

“There is a perception as well, that you’ve got to be high net worth, in order to afford or to be of interest to a financial services company. The reality is a very different story. We have clients who are at the beginning of their investing journey. But, typically, somebody comes to us with €50,000 or more and we will have a solution for them,” he said.

“And then we go right all the way through to the other end of the spectrum, in terms of age where a lot of our clients are in their de-accumulation phase. They have built up their capital, they have bought their properties, they’ve had their kids going off to university or doing their own things, and they’re now beginning to run down their capital. That means that they’re not interested in high-risk or long-term strategies. So we have to tailor what we can provide to an individual, or a couple or a company, to whatever their needs are,” he added.

Nowell explained that people should consider a number of things when they decide that they want to invest their money. An honest financial analysis would include the liquidity and assets a person owns, their liabilities, their goals and aims, the timeframes for their objectives, as well as the framework within which their goals need to be achieved.

“There’s more than one type of risk. There’s inflation risk, liquidity risk, currency risk and so on. We have a conversation with people today to make sure that they understand what risk means to them. And then, and only then, can you start to put together a legitimate plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. Understanding all of the implications,” Nowell said.

“And one of the things I say to everybody is that there is nothing you can do financially, that doesn’t carry some form of risk. My job is to help you understand it, and where possible, mitigate it. But it’s not possible to mitigate it entirely,” he added.

Nowell also spoke on the company’s need to identify individuals who can occupy more senior roles, either by promoting some of the company’s own people, or by finding strong external candidates who can be brought into the business. “We are always looking for people who are going to transition into the leadership roles within the firm,” he said.

“We’re looking for people who are either already working in Cyprus, or who are prepared to relocate. There are several aspects for someone to be successful in our environment, with the first one being their integrity and ability to be a good communicator,” he concluded.

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