Throughout history the world’s most reliable store of wealth is gold. SendGold makes gold simple to own, useful for payments and gifts, and accessible to all.
Founded by senior executives from Microsoft, McKinsey & Co., J.P. Morgan and Price Waterhouse Coopers with the goal of offering a simple, fast, accessible and fair way to build and exchange wealth using real assets that have stood the test of time.
The SendGold app is an investment, gifting & P2P payment app that lets you Buy, Sell, Send or Pay with gold to anyone, in any amount using just your phone. With 2-minute self-service signup, SendGold makes investing and moving value across town or across the globe as simple as sending a text message.
In this podcast, we speak with founder & CEO Jodi Stanton on their product benefits and where the organisation is headed.
Andy Scott is the CEO of Baldasso Cortese, an architectural, interior design and master-planning practice with over 30 years’ experience across Australia and New Zealand.
The firm has been recognised for design and customer-service excellence in the fields of care, education, and lifestyle and community, providing a diverse client list with groundbreaking architectural designs.
In this podcast, Mr Scott discusses the firm’s tradition of bucking industry trends to create bespoke architectural designs, the strength and continuing growth of the sectors it works within, and plans to prepare the next generation of leadership for the exciting future ahead in Australian architecture.
Paul Innes is Chairman of the National Jockeys Trust, a public charitable trust which provides funds and other benefits for the relief of financial difficulties for jockeys who have suffered from career-threatening illness or injury.
Since its establishment in 2004, the trust has helped over three hundred jockeys with equipment and resources to assist them during and after recovery, relieving financial hardship and providing the support, kindness and recognition jockeys and their families deserve.
In this podcast, Mr Innes discusses the formation of the trust in response to a growing need for national jockey support, the dangers prevalent in the horse-riding industry, and the trust’s plans to provide an even greater level of support for ill and injured jockeys in the future.
Anton Silove is Director and Chairman of Victoria’s MBCM Strata Specialists, a company specialising in professional management of residential, commercial and industrial Owners Corporations.
With over forty-five franchises across the state, MBCM is a Strata Management firm with a global conscience practiced at a local level, offering a high-level of support for its franchisees, as well as the very best systems and training.
In this podcast, Mr Silove talks about the company’s recent rebranding in preparation for taking the franchise across the nation, engagement with the public to increase awareness of issues facing the strata industry, and the community initiatives it’s become involved with to help achieve long-term goals.
Baldasso Cortese has been a leading architectural, interior design and master-planning practice in Australia and New Zealand for 30 years, specialising in groundbreaking architectural designs in the fields of care, education, and lifestyle and community.
With its strong, customer-centred approach, the firm provides award-winning architectural design services to a diverse portfolio of clients, with a wide range of ongoing projects that push the boundaries of what can be achieved in the architectural space. When he joined the practice last year, CEO Andy Scott was tasked with preparing the next generation of leaders to take Baldasso Cortese into the future, as he explained recently to The Australian Business Executive.
Collaborative and forward-thinking
Baldasso Cortese was started in 1987 by Anthony Baldasso and Steve Cortese as a small-scale operation specialising in residential, industrial and commercial buildings. Last year, the firm celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.
“I believe [it’s] a fantastic organisation,” Mr Scott says, “and it’s clearly focussed on client needs and expectations of building a collaborative team. We do have a very strong social conscience, so we do give to charities and the like on a regular basis.”
Over the last thirty years, the practice has been involved in a diverse range of projects for an equally diverse range of clients, including household names such as TLC, Australia Post and Coles, as well as smaller organisations less well known on the public stage.
“There’s been a number of changes in the practice over the years,” Mr Scott adds. “When they started thirty years ago, we were on drawing boards – now we have 3D computer model and visualisation.”
A key element of the firm moving forward is in embracing the increasingly blurred lines between design and contractor work, a change in the industry which has seen a more collaborative approach to architectural design develop.
“As an architectural and interior design practise, we will develop a brief with a client and develop that through to a set of construction drawings, traditionally then they’re tendered and then a builder takes over and builds the project under our supervision.”
In recent years, the delivery method has become more varied, and the firm has become more involved in early contractor involvement, meaning contractors have come in at an earlier stage to be involved in the design itself.
“[This] is interesting, because we can build into the design some of the techniques and methodologies and innovations that the builders would have, which otherwise we don’t get to see until post-tender.”
Leading expert in three key areas
Baldasso Cortese has seen most of its success come from the key sectors of care, education, and lifestyle and community. Mr Scott admits the time is right to start diversifying this portfolio by expanding into other sectors.
“Education has been particularly successful for us,” he says, “because of our focus on primary and secondary schools initially, and then moving into tertiary. There’s been a great deal of expenditure from governments and independent schools alike in that space.”
This has allowed the firm to develop some significant Intellectual Property in this area, helping rank them in the top three architectural practices in the education sector in Victoria, a ranking reflected in the awards received and the number of opportunities the firm is offered.
“When most of the significant clients in the area go to tender for architectural services, we’re usually on that list. That part of our work probably represents about 35% of the total portfolio, so it’s a fairly significant piece of work for us.”
Clients in the education space include big names such as Catholic Education Melbourne, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand and the Victorian Schools Building Authority, as well as a number of privately run schools in the area.
“The care team is focussed on aged-care, healthcare and childcare. They’ve completed projects both here, in Melbourne, and in Sydney. That is about 25% of the income of the business at the moment, but it’s rapidly expanding, particularly in aged-care and healthcare.”
The most recent demographics suggest that aged-care is seeing particularly high demand, prompting Baldasso Cortese to build four aged-care facilities of over 120 beds in and around the Melbourne area to cater for the demand.
There is also plenty of activity in the healthcare space, both in primary and secondary healthcare, where the firm is working with a large number of hospitals around the state to improve facilities.
“Lifestyle and community is our term for what others might term ‘mixed-use’. We brought two teams together about 12 months ago – one was a residential team; one was a commercial and retail team.”
These teams were merged as a response to a marketplace trend originating from overseas, involving these two particular typologies being combined into one element, when usually they remain separate.
“We combined a team that would match that, and had that capability in one integrated team. The team has built now to be about 40% of our overall income, so it’s been highly successful over the last 12 months, and we’re forecasting that it will continue to grow.”
The portfolio is designed to facilitate market diversification. With each of these markets subject to peaks and troughs, like any other sector, the firm is able to build up business resilience and move people between sectors depending on how well they’re performing.
Mr Scott believes the education sector will stay busy for the foreseeable future, especially the tertiary space, and that aged-care and healthcare will also sustain. It’s the lifestyle and community area where the biggest growth for the business is expected.
“We are seeing more and more of what you might call urban village developments, or precinct developments, where there are entire areas or small suburbs being developed in one go. There’s several of those happening in the Western suburbs of Melbourne right now.”
This ongoing trend can be seen all across Australia, and represents some significant developments. Such changes can be attributed to growing urbanisation, driven by the continued population growth in the country.
Equally important are the differences in architectural requirements in each of these individual sectors. Education, in particular, is usually aimed towards catering for the different teaching methodologies offered by each individual establishment.
“For example,” Mr Scott says, “there’s a growing trend for having integrated facilities for special needs children. We’re increasingly designing all facilities across the campus to accommodate special needs.”
Baldasso Cortese has a designated team for understanding and catering for the different teaching methodologies the firm are asked to work within. This often involves working with teachers to understand how they deliver their curriculum.
Award-winning customer service
“Our focus, from day one, is on clients. I listen to feedback from clients on a regular basis, and one of the criticisms they make of architectural practices is that they are fairly arrogant and try to impose their will on design upon them, rather than listening to their needs.”
For Baldasso Cortese, it is imperative to put in the necessary time to listen carefully to what the client is looking for, developing a brief alongside them with their needs at the very forefront of the process.
“We’ve won quite a lot of customer service awards based on the fact that we actually take the time, with care and attention, to listen to the actual needs. We explore them, we put options up, and we develop a design in conjunction with the client.”
This commitment to service excellence has been a key driver of the firm’s sustained success, resulting in a number of clients coming to Baldasso Cortese as a direct result of a negative experience elsewhere.
With such a diverse portfolio of clients, the firm often finds itself having to work within very different budget expectations, meaning it must be particularly shrewd about how it converses with clients regarding budgets.
“Managing a client’s expectations with regards to budget can be very difficult. We do have clients that come to us and outline their aspirations for a development, and we’ll quickly determine that the amount of money they’ve got to spend is about half of what they need.”
This is an ongoing challenge for the firm, and the outcome will often depend on the strength of the client’s vision. Usually, some diligent work early on in the briefing process will identify which parts of the design are essential and which are expendable.
“At the moment we’ve got another problem in that area,” Mr Scott adds, “which is that there’s an increasing demand on resources across the industry, both people and materials, and that’s driving up construction costs as well.”
This means the firm has to attempt to forecast potential additional costs at the beginning of a project, building them into original client discussions to make sure the expectations on budget are accurately represented.
Wide range of ongoing projects
“At any point in time, we’ve probably got about 70 projects on the go,” Mr Scott explains, “and they range from individual residences up to a project which has recently been appointed for – a large precinct development of up to about $1b worth of construction.”
The company’s most recent work includes the highly impressive TLC Clifton Hill project in the north of Melbourne, an integrated aged-care and healthcare facility, which will be completed and handed over to the client in August 2018.
“It’s a ten-level, high-end aged-care facility, and it incorporates an integrated health hub with 127 rooms, a basement car park, rest room, ancillary spaces, communal spaces. It’s got the local GP clinic in there, nurse’s treatment room, pathology, gym and physio suite.”
This project has been driven by a shift in the desired location of aged-care, which has traditionally been situated in the outer suburbs. The Clifton Hill development is designed to serve those who have been living in the area all their lives and want to stay in the community.
“Because of the density there, it drives the development upwards – hence the ten levels. Another important aspect was having the local GP’s clinic in the ground floor of the building, so that helped to serve that integration with the community that’s been there for so long.”
Another key project is the recently completed 750-seat Performing Arts Centre for Huntingtower School in Melbourne east. The centre provides excellent sightlines, with exceptional acoustics, whilst also maintaining a feeling of intimacy.
“That’s an outstanding facility,” Mr Scott says. “The quality and standard of the facility that’s been delivered to the school, I still find unbelievable. I’m really pleased with the job we’ve done there.”
Perhaps the most significant element of this project has been the feedback received from the school, which is absolutely ecstatic to be in possession of such an impressive venue. This kind of feedback only enhances Baldasso Cortese’s longstanding reputation for excellence.
Another project about to commence construction is the second tower at the Fivex building on Flinders Street, in the centre of Melbourne. Being in a city centre location has already presented significant development challenges for this project.
“It’s a very tight urban space, surrounded by towers, and we’re actually putting a tower on top of an existing podium, which will remain occupied during the construction. So that’s a particularly challenging project.”
The way the structure is being built means that the tower needs to be lightweight, and so has been made out of a mix of timber and steel. This has involved some innovative construction work and has been prefabricated offsite to be craned into position.
Industry trends will come and go, but one thing that keeps Baldasso Cortese’s designs fresh is their lack of desire to follow fashions. The firm’s approach is much more geared around individual needs rather than what everyone else is doing.
“We tend to design our buildings bespoke to the needs at the time. We do try to build in some longevity to them, and most of our designs are very contemporary and clean in their nature, and they will probably live past the fashions in architectural design over the years.”
A solid platform to grow from
Mr Scott joined the practice as CEO in 2017, on the back of extensive experience leading architectural practices of various sizes all over the world. The industry has taught him many lessons, most of which have revealed more about what not to do in business.
“If you watch the people around you,” he says, “you can learn a great deal. I learned a lot from a CEO that I worked for back in the UK. He was an incredible people manager, always took time out for the people around the office, even in crisis situations.”
This experience taught Mr Scott that leaders of businesses are, more than anything else, people managers. If they forget this key distinction, then they will struggle to do their job effectively, and everything else will fail.
“I’m very focused on people in the organisation. I strongly believe that, if I do the right thing by them, they’ll do the right thing by me. We have that ethos in the practice as well, and it seems to be working for us.”
Mr Scott was hired to drive the next generational change within Baldasso Cortese. There is already a huge amount of work going on to prepare for this, including moves to diversify both the portfolio and the firm’s geographical footprint.
“That’s just to build some resilience into the practice,” he says. “We’re actively looking at establishing a centre in Sydney and Brisbane, and perhaps overseas, and we’re developing healthcare and tertiary education markets and strengthening those.”
The overall plan is to give the next generation of the firm’s leaders a solid platform to grow from. In addition, the firm is actively working towards a vision of what skills the future leaders of the practice will need.
“We’re doing a lot of work to understand what our new leader needs to look like, in 20 years’ time. We’ve carried out a number of workshops, where we’ve sat down and said – what’s it going to look like in 20 years’ time when we’ve got robots building on site?”
With technological innovations such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality rapidly changing the way buildings are designed, the firm is aware of the need for a different managerial mindset in the future, and is working hard to prepare for all eventualities.
“We’ve devised a measurement framework now, so that we’re going to measure everyone in the organisation who wants to opt-in to being a future leader, and each of them will get a report from that, and that becomes a development plan for the individual.”
This approach will give potential new leaders room-to-grow and succeed existing leaders, taking ownership of the company. Equally important is encouraging existing leadership to pass the baton efficiently to the next generation.
“It’s an interesting dynamic that we’re working with, but we’ve got a good period of time to make it happen, and I’m very confident it will happen very well. We’re hoping in 100 years’ time we’ll be on the fifth generation of the practise and still going strong.”
Despite having travelled all over the world in his career, Mr Scott is extremely happy to have settled finally in Australia. In terms of Baldasso Cortese’s industry, the future for the country looks very promising indeed.
“I can see the next five to ten years being very exciting for us all,” he concludes. “I think there’s a lot of infrastructure development going in that’s driven by population growth in various parts of the country. I truly believe [Australia] will be the envy of the world.”
SendGold CEO Jodi Stanton has been through the blockchain roller coaster over the last five years, and has the scars to prove it. Today, her young company, SendGold, is live in ten countries in various forms across Asia-Pacific, delivering digital gold money to anyone with a mobile phone, and does so without relying on blockchain.What is SendGold and how did you get started personally? “To our customers, we are a very simple product,” Ms Stanton asserts. “We’ve turned gold back into practical money. You can buy it, send it as a payment, gift it cross-border instantly, and sell it at any time. Soon you’ll be able to spend it at merchants as well. It has many of Bitcoin’s attractive properties, but it’s fully-compliant, with an asset at its core.” Stanton stresses that if you buy gold through SendGold, you own full legal title to your gold. It is not a security like an ETF, a derivative or a blockchain security token. Ms Stanton began her career in risk management in insurance and on Wall Street, helping investment banks both construct and unravel complex derivative trades. But she also bicycled around the globe carrying her own gear, pedalling over 40,000 kilometres across 25 countries including some of the most remote regions on the planet. She’s been communicating and transacting with both the top and bottom ends of town for decades.
“This broad experience is how I really learned about money, its buying power (or lack thereof), and the importance of owning an asset. The gap between the extremely wealthy and everyone else is the widest in history and it’s getting wider, in part because of the way our money systems are designed”, she says.
She adds that even in the age of the mobile internet, cross-border transactions are expensive and slow, relying on complex legacy banking systems and bank currencies that lose buying their power through inflation. And according to Ms Stanton, in many countries these declines in bank currency values have been dramatic. In the Asian Financial Crisis, for example, the South Korean, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Philippines currencies lost more than 50% of their value in the space of less than one week. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian dollar buys 20% less than it did 10 years ago and 40% less than it did 20 years ago.
“Money is broken, and has been for a long time”, she says.
Ms. Stanton set out to address this growing wealth gap, and put a simple asset into the hands of those who are concerned by money printing, planned inflation, expensive cross-border transactions and the potential for another global crisis.
“Our early customers are sophisticated,” Ms Stanton notes. “Many of them work in the consulting and finance sectors and read a lot of news. They tend to be health conscious and seek to live life to the fullest. Many are well-travelled, politically aware and know that the buying power of their bank money is eroded each year.”
As a money platform, people use SendGold for many purposes. Some send money each month overseas. Some use it as a savings account. Some send gold as a gift. Some social groups have adopted SendGold as a way to routinely split restaurant bills or holiday expenses. How is SendGold unique in the market? Ms Stanton states, “I start each and every day with a clear focus on how we can solve problems for our customers and how we can differentiate ourselves in the market for our shareholders. To me these are the same thing.”
According to Ms Stanton, blockchain was designed for digital assets, and any tangible asset-based currency, whether a hybrid cryptocurrency or simply digital like SendGold, are unavoidably more centralised than purely digital alternatives because of the centralised management of the underlying assets.
“All asset-based digital currencies need to address things like regulation, banking integration, liquidity and management, so unlike many others in the market, we started there. And now we have a strong foundation to work from,” she says.
Ms Stanton says they will be able to offer valuable products and services to customers that only a mobile-only company can offer.
She adds that SendGold’s innovation in the gold sector is unparalleled, with its growing Gold-as-a-Service business offer (GaaS). “We have signed on our first few major GaaS partners and are talking to several others including neobanks, global e-wallets, social gaming platforms, reward programs and universities”, she says.
They have also innovated with gamified customer acquisition through its second mobile app “Gold Rush”. It’s like Pokémon Go but with real gold. According to Ms Stanton SendGold can drop real gold in any country to drive awareness. What have been your key milestones? Ms. Stanton emphasises that SendGold today maintains the powerful crypto benefits of instant peer-to-peer cross-border exchange, transparency and low cost, but does so in a way that complies with global regulation. The company spent two years making sure SendGold’s infrastructure was globally compliant, secure and low cost.
“Full compliance was non-negotiable for us, not just for legal reasons but because we feel user adoption requires full integration to the world’s existing banking system. Putting gold at the heart of the system also addresses the complexity and price volatility issues of crypto, which are hindrances to large scale adoption”, Ms Stanton asserts. “And we’ve done this with proven, enterprise-scale, bank-grade technologies so SendGold stays in control of the operating infrastructure.”
“Digital asset risk mitigation was like moving air around in a balloon animal. We were excited when we cleverly solved one risk, deflating the arm of the animal, only to see the air expand in the other arm. With distributed ledgers as infrastructure, you have to be careful you’re not simply moving the risk around.”
SendGold spent significant resources to ensure that SendGold is fully-regulated under Australian law. Agencies and laws included in the scope of SendGold’s Compliance Policy include AUSTRAC, RBA, APRA, ASIC, ACCC, AFSA, FIRB, OAIC, privacy laws and the ATO and Australia tax law. Planting SendGold in Australia made sense not only for compliance reasons but because Australia has a long historical association with the precious metal and is the world’s second-largest producer. She said they chose gold as it’s one of the largest markets in the world, it’s well understood, and has delivered impressive returns to investors over the long run.
To underscore SendGold’s commitment to the highest levels of security, Ms Stanton explains that, early on, the company employed Steve Wilson. A global expert in cybersecurity in financial services, Mr Wilson sits on a number of committees and programs including the U.S. National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology program. “We began with a threat risk assessment (TRA) for both the company and its customers across confidentiality, integrity, and availability,” Ms Stanton explains. “We have maintained a live TRA, a live security policy and quarterly risk reviews with our (financial and cybersecurity) risk committee. We’re not afraid to say we’re obsessed by managing risk and security.”
And while SendGold is low cost, Ms Stanton hinted that the company is busy lowering costs even further and will make an announcement on this subject before the end of the year. You began with blockchain, but given you are not reliant on blockchain now, is blockchain in your future? “We started out looking for a solution that satisfied our security, liquidity and compliance requirements to solve real business problems beyond storage and speculation. After 24 months full-time investigation, several in-house trials and an end-to-end prototype on a distributed ledger, we were convinced that blockchain ledgers did not yet present a compelling solution to that brief.” She adds that putting gold on current blockchain platforms presents more effort than it’s worth, adding an unnecessary layer of complexity and cost.
“After almost ten years, very few are using Bitcoin as money, in large part because of these ongoing security challenges”, she says. According to Ms Stanton, user-level security, in particular, has a long way to go, and crypto theft has already topped $1B this year. “The irony of a trustless system.”
But she is keen to point out that the company is immersed in the cryptocurrency sector and ready to move their dedicated tokenised product when decentralised ledger technology is proven, scalable and compliant.
“Blockchain innovation is a long-term fundamental paradigm shift versus a short-term disruptor. We believe it will take years to evolve into practicality. On the other hand, gold has been a store of value for thousands of years. Gold is the only investment asset that has survived every war, calamity, and economic recession in history, and it solves the volatility issue of cryptocurrencies.”
Ms Stanton believes this provides a significant opportunity for SendGold to combine history’s most reliable asset with fintech’s most innovative paradigm shift, as digital money matures.
She claims SendGold’s early work was invaluable and ongoing, and led the team to their unique business model of today. What is your next goal? From late 2017 SendGold has been able to accept a customer from any non-sanctioned country (from a compliance standpoint) and is currently live in various forms in India, Australian, New Zealand, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.
Given its compliance mandate, the company rollout makes SendGold a regional, rather than global play, requiring regional expertise across a number of domains including payments, regulatory and anti-money laundering laws.
The company is busy rolling out its peer-to-peer cross-border application with 350 global ways for ‘money-in’ and redemption in 140 currencies in 160 countries at wholesale exchange rates.
Ms Stanton concluded, “We are an iceberg, with very simple customer-facing products, and a robust framework below the surface. We are now ready to scale.”
Find out more about SendGold by visiting www.sendgold.com