Blog Entries from 05/2014
Earlier this month alongside KPMG, we hosted a seminar in New York on “The Transformation of IT and Hedge Fund Operations.” We asked experts to examine the changes impacting hedge funds today and the future of this industry transformation. Our distinguished panel included Vinod Paul, Managing Director, and Steve Schoener, Vice President, at Eze Castle Integration, John Budzyna, Managing Director, and Dave Messier, Director, at KPMG, Timothy Ng, Managing Principal at Clearbrook Global Services, Jon Anderson, Global Head of OTC Derivatives at SS&C GlobeOp and Sheldon Rubin, COO/CFO/CCO at S Squared Technology LLC.
Below is a brief recap of the topics discussed during the lively event. To listen to the full audio podcast of the event, click here.
What do you see as the greatest transformation the hedge fund industry has undergone or is currently in the midst of?
There is more acceptance of outsourcing. Many firms are leveraging outsourced service providers for front office support, for example, and leaving their in-house departments to focus on the core business.
Many firms starting today don’t even consider building out a middle and back office – they immediately look to outsourcing. The quality and opportunities provided by outsourced service providers, including administrators, are much better than they have ever been before.
According to Forrester Research, it is “inevitable that enterprise IT in 2020 will be a hybrid mix of on- and off-premises services. While [a firm’s] particular mix of actual cloud services will vary, it’s unlikely that any enterprise IT shop will still be primarily focused on configuring server, storage, and network devices as a core competency. The shift to business technology and IT-as-a-service is well underway, so you can either ignore it, try to contain it, or embrace it.”
So when it the right time for a hedge fund to make the cloud move?
For newly emerging investment firms, the choice to adopt a cloud-based architecture is an easy one. Few firms have a business model where an on-premise solution makes strategic or economic sense -- but what about established firms that have been in business for several years and have invested millions of dollars in technology? When is the right time to make a move?
Opportunities and timing will vary, but generally speaking, the following three scenarios represent ideal inflection points for moving to the cloud:
Office Relocations: This is an ideal time to switch to the cloud. Many hedge funds are understandably reluctant to take on the expense of moving a massive, expensive, and often outdated infrastructure to a new location – particularly if the company expects to phase out certain portions or components in the following 24-36 months. In such cases, migrating to the cloud before relocating an office can be a smart move.
New Applications: Larger investment firms with larger application sets often find that a transitional strategy is best. Abrupt migrations to the cloud can be disruptive. In those instances, investment firms often find that new applications can start in the cloud – no subsequent migration needed. And those deployments are faster. While few IT portfolios will see 100 percent turnover in the short term, this strategy can simplify any migration of on-premise applications to the cloud by minimizing the work required when the company finally makes its move.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days, so I thought it was important to touch on the importance of including cybersecurity in your firm’s Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Ideally, firms should have two separate plans: a Written Information Security Plan (WISP) and a Business Continuity Plan, keeping in mind there will be some high-level overlap.
Let’s start with the basics, such as access controls and permissions required for accessing data that is considered confidential. Access controls focus on preventing unauthorized use of an application, service, website, etc., to gain access to confidential data. Only specific users will have a business need to access confidential data. During the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) phase of business continuity planning, be sure to identify applications, services or websites that require at least one level of authentication (e.g. password protection, PC certificate, or security tokens).
We’re back for Part Two of our UK Cloud Summit seminar recap. Last week on Hedge IT, we explored connecting to the cloud. In today's article, we will dive into the most talked about UK regulation: the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Dear CEO letter. We will cover how the letter affects IT outsourcing and the steps firms can take to mitigate service provider risk and adhere to the Dear CEO letter guidance.
The “Dear CEO” letter was issued in December 2012 to all UK asset managers and expressed concern about the endemic outsourcing risk in the sector, particular around asset managers having effective business continuity plans (BCP) and exit strategies in place with their service providers in the event of service provider failure.
Since the letter was issued, the FCA has asked firms to demonstrate they have a clear handle on what they outsource and why, a full understanding of the potential impacts of failure, and contingency plans that are viable, robust, and realistic.
Last month, the Eze Castle Integration London team hosted their second annual Cloud Summit at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The half-day conference featured industry experts from Eze Castle Integration, Apex Fund Services, Black Mountain Systems, Bloomberg, eSentire, Eze Software Group, Markit, and Simmons & Simmons to discuss topics surrounding cloud accessibility, the delivery of financial and trading applications and the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) “Dear CEO” letter.
In today's blog, we will take a look at cloud accessibility and how firms can connect to the cloud securely.
Five years ago, firms were making substantial investments in on-premise technology. In most cases, firms were building out intricate Comm. Rooms right in their offices. With the emergence of cloud technology, there has been a dramatic shift in how efficient firms can become, particularly as they realise the inherent benefits of the cloud, including the transition from upfront capital expenditures to ongoing operating expenses. Results from our 2013 Cloud Usage Survey found:
87% – nearly 9 out of 10 firms – are currently using the cloud in some way
74% of firms are using the private cloud, either exclusively or as part of a hybrid solution
Only 26% of firms are using the public cloud
The top business needs driving cloud adoption are:
Simplified application management
IT costs and budget predictability
Reduced complexity and management of IT
Improved disaster recovery and business continuity
93% of firms believe the cloud is just as secure or more secure than an on-premise IT environment
- More than 90% of firms say their chosen cloud deployment model is meeting or exceeding their expectations
The following article is part of our Emerging Managers Insight Article Series. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
What are the keys to starting a hedge fund? How does an emerging manager ensure success in a constantly-changing world of legal and regulatory guidelines, increasing investor expectations and evolving technology platforms?
In order to answer these questions, Asset TV and the Hedge Fund Association recently gathered an expert panel for a video roundtable focused on hedge fund startups. Our own Managing Director, Vinod Paul, was featured on the panel, along with experts from The Kingdom Trust Company, Eisner Amper LLP, and Thompson Hine LLP. Watch the video below to learn more about a variety of topics important to new fund launches, including:
Technology Infrastructure Priorities
Dodd-Frank & Regulatory Requirements
Cybersecurity is one of the hottest buzzwords in the industry right now – but it’s also a serious concern for hedge funds and investment firms. So much so that the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken formidable steps in 2014 to assess the cybersecurity landscape and provide guidance to registered broker dealers and investment advisers around what policies and technical safeguards should be in place to protect them.
With so much information being shared and so many industry changes around this topic, we asked our cybersecurity experts – Steve Schoener and Lisa Smith – to talk us through what’s happening in the world of hedge fund cybersecurity and provide direction for firms looking to comply with the SEC’s latest guidelines. Following is a brief recap of a webinar we held earlier this week doing just that. To watch the full replay of the event, click here.
Industry Update: How did we get here?
Before we dive into what expectations the SEC has for registered firms in regards to their cybersecurity practices, let’s first take a look at how we got to this point. Among the host of high-profile security incidents we’ve seen dominate the news of late, these few resonate the most:
Dec 2013: Target data breach results in customers’ personal data stolen
Feb 2014: Crytolocker ransomware holds data hostage
April 2014: Heartbleed vulnerability poses potential data exposure threat
April 2014: Internet Explorer vulnerability puts technology at risk, leaves PCs open to being hacked
As a result of these and other security concerns, the SEC has taken steps to ensure hedge funds and investment firms are prepared for the next incident. In a Risk Alert issued last month, the SEC announced it will perform examinations of at least 50 registered firms and also provided a lengthy sample questionnaire for firms to use as a guide in their preparations. The seven-page document addresses various aspects of a firm’s technical infrastructure and corporate policies and sets expectations that firms should meet a set of standard criteria in order to comply with the new guidelines.
The following article is part of our Emerging Managers Insight Article Series and was contributed by CFS Group. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
There are many layers to creating a successful launch of a hedge fund, and often one that is overlooked is implementing the right furniture, while keeping in mind budget, timeline and dimensional restraints for your new office space. For someone starting a fund, and relying on your own capital, creating an office space within a budget is essential. In order to do so, you must partner with a furniture dealership that understands the marketplace and has the creativity to provide a solution that is light on the wallet but has the feel of stability and success.
As you would expect, just like many other businesses, the commercial furniture industry is a very competitive, relationship-driven sale, and unfortunately the client is usually on the raw end of the stick. Let’s give an example:
Hedge fund A has six traders, and in their mind “we need a trading desk.” But the fund's users only have one PC and two monitors each, which equates to a minimal technology requirement. The fact is that a full-blown trading desk can range from $2,000 to $5,000 (for height adjustable product) per user.
Here is what the fund manager needs to know. There are other options that will adequately handle your technology, save you up to 60-70% and give you the look and feel of a trading desk solution - savings of $10,000 just by having the proper relationship and information.
Regulatory oversight, competition for assets and investor due diligence concerns have left investment management firms with more pressure than ever to succeed. And technology innovations like the cloud have turned the traditional hedge fund operations model on its head. The questions remain: how do fund managers evolve in 2014 and meet the increasing demands of the financial services industry? And how do firms compete with the incoming crop of new launches that continue to emerge and vie for investor allocations?
The following presentation takes a closer look at these key transformations within the hedge fund industry and examines the shift firms are making from traditional, on-premise IT infrastructures to cloud-based platforms. It also highlights managed disaster recovery services and offers best practices for security in the cloud.
Take a look, and if you can, join us in New York on Tuesday, May 6 as a panel of experts discusses these topics and more at our Transformation seminar.