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Anthemis’s Amy Nauiokas Reenters the Fintech Fray

The brokerage and capital markets veteran has reunited with Sean Park as president of London-based venture capital firm Anthemis Group.

Amid the crowd of investors flocking to financial technology innovations and start-ups, Anthemis Group wants the world to know, as stated on its website, that it is “not a traditional venture capital provider.” Who would want to say otherwise, especially in the space now trendily labeled fintech? Anthemis, though, backs up its claim with a relatively long history; incubation and advisory activities beyond the conventional venture financing remit; and personnel with diverse backgrounds.

Look no further than Amy Nauiokas, who was appointed president of the firm in February and will settle in full-time in September at its London headquarters. Anthemis has 32 employees and a similar number of so-called digital-native companies in its portfolio, ranging from New York–based Betterment in wealth management to international e-trading platform eToro.

Nauiokas is also a founder of Anthemis, having partnered with chair and CIO Sean Park in a predecessor firm, Nauiokas Park, from 2008 to 2010. They had tech-infused backgrounds, he with BNP Paribas and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, she with Cantor Fitzgerald, its eSpeed spin-off, Barclays Capital and Barclays Stockbrokers (Europe’s biggest e-brokerage, which, during her tenure as CEO from 2006 to ’08, grew its revenue 40 percent).

Staying put, even while “at the top of my game” at Barclays, “is not part of my personality,” Nauiokas reveals. With today’s type of fintech then barely a gleam in most visionaries’ eyes, “we were the crazy people with PowerPoints,” the 43-year-old recalls. But Nauiokas and Park were rare in also being able to “talk the talk and walk the walk of Wall Street.”

Nauiokas would pull up stakes again. After making such early investments as U.S. digital banking service Simple (now part of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) and U.K. property search site Zoopla, she headed home to New York in 2010 to launch a media financing and production company, satisfying an itch “to extend my personal brand and portfolio beyond finance.”

Perhaps it wasn’t such a radical leap; Nauiokas saw entertainment as another industry dominated by hidebound incumbents and beset with digital disruption. Her company, Archer Gray, scored a financial success with Once, a musical that was based on a 2007 film and opened on Broadway in 2012. Several art-house films followed. Nauiokas has producer credits on current releases Mr. Holmes and The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Archer Gray, with a staff of eight, will carry on without the presence of its founder and chair as Nauiokas concentrates on Anthemis and its pursuit of new ways to stand out. She prefers the U.K. base, “away from the noise” of New York’s fintech frenzy and closer to European developments that others may miss. “We’re looking to have more of a U.S. presence next year, and we are looking at Los Angeles rather than Silicon Valley.”

As for where the money is, or is going, Nauiokas says, “We are long on insurance,” an industry that is seeing “more entrepreneurial and big-picture thinking than ever before.” Anthemis is “antibullish on Bitcoin but very strong on the blockchain,” its underlying ledger system, she adds. “As Sean [Park] says, ‘If there is going to be a gold rush, we want to be in the picks and shovels business.’”

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