To battle for the title of the “Smartest Company in the World,” you have to wonder who is granting the honor. Between the 14th and 15th of June, New York’s financial district will be home to a three-day chess championship, where corporate teams will battle it out to prove their strategic worth. 

“Success in chess, like business, comes from thoughtful deliberation and strategic positioning,” says Timur Turlov, the young CEO of Kazakhstan-based Freedom Holding Corp. sponsoring the championship. 

For Turlov, it appears that, unlike chess, there are no borders for success in business. Freedom Holding Corp, a fintech group with a presence in over 19 countries, has a history punctuated by strategic expansions, significant acquisitions, and sharp innovation in financial services and technology. 

Once a single company born out of the fertile business environment of Kazakhstan, it is now growing into a major global conglomerate with a presence across the US, Europe, and Central Asia, with Freedom Capital Markets representing its presence in the US. 

Freedom Holding (FRHC) shares have been listed on NASDAQ since 2019, holding a market value of approximately $5.2 billion. Alongside Kaspi.kx (KSPI), it is one of two Kazakhstani big hitters on the index. 

The company is incrementally serving as a proud display of Kazakhstan’s financial might. In 2022, the country drew in $28 billion in direct foreign investments, marking the highest amount seen in the past decade. Sustained economic growth has transformed the country into an upper middle-income economy, raising living standards and reducing poverty in tandem. The story of Freedom Holding’s growth is, in effect, the story of Kazakhstan’s prosperity. 

Both country and company have grown in tandem. Freedom Holding has built a robust fintech ecosystem in Kazakhstan, which has helped position the country as a leading financial hub in the region. In turn, the company’s international expansion has helped to expand the potential of Kazakhstan’s financial capabilities globally. 

Freedom Holding has made significant acquisitions in its history. In 2020, it acquired Prime Executions Inc., an institutional trading firm, which allowed the company to enter the US market. 

This was followed by the acquisition of Maxim Group LLC, a full-service investment bank that materially enhanced its banking and capital markets capabilities. Today, Freedom Capital Markets, the investment banking and capital markets arm of Prime Executions, serves as the group’s US flagship. 

Turlov is known for exalting praise for the promises technology can bring to financial services. Through the successes of his acquisitions, Freedom Holding Corp. is now a professional participant in not only the NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange but also the Astana International Exchange, the Republican Stock Exchange of Tashkent, and the Uzbek Republican Currency Exchange. A company grown out of a once struggling economy has boomed in the US market because of the foundational principles of its leader. 

Each of the companies under the Freedom Holding umbrella is an example of the adaptability, digitalisation, and diversification that technology can bring to market. From Kazakhstan, the 36 year-old CEO has shown the value that integral partnerships and thought-out strategic moves can bring to a nation such as Kazakhstan, which is now flourishing as a dynamic financial centre.

It would seem that those competing for the title of the “Smartest Company in the World” would have their work cut out for them to impress.