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Cloud Computing: The Growing Competitive Advantage for Hedge Funds

By Katie Sloane,
Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The competition amongst firms in the financial services industry is ever burgeoning, and in order to achieve differentiation, it is imperative for firms to create and maintain robust, manageable, scalable and reliable technology infrastructures. Increasingly, we’re seeing more than just emerging managers opting for a cloud solution and established hedge funds and alternative investment firms shifting gears from traditional on-premise IT infrastructures to cloud services.Why the Billion Dollar Club is going Cloud
 
If you missed our webinar yesterday on Why the Billion Dollar Club is Going Cloud, read our recap below or scroll down to watch the full webinar replay, featuring Eze Castle’s Managing Directors Bob Guilbert and Vinod Paul.

The Business Case for the Cloud: Why Established Firms are Making the Move

Across the industry, established firms that have been in business for several years are moving away from physical infrastructures and adopting the cloud. Traditionally, investment firms would allocate substantial capital budgets to build on-premise Communication (Comm.) Rooms. These cost-intensive infrastructures can take months to build out, and specific expenses can vary depending on a firm’s unique needs. For example, at minimum, investment firms require file services, email capabilities, mobility services and remote connectivity, as well as disaster recovery and compliance. Beyond those, many firms also require systems and applications such as order management systems (OMS), customer relationship management tools (CRM), and portfolio management or accounting packages.

Categorized under: Cloud Computing  Disaster Recovery  Security  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Hedge Fund Regulation  Infrastructure  Communications  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing  Videos And Infographics 



FATCA: What You Need to Know About Tax Compliance

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

We’ve seen the face of the financial services industry change dramatically over the last few years, with emerging technologies, investor transparency demands and growing competition fueling firms to assess their operations and focus on the health and success of the overall business. But perhaps beyond any of these trends, the focus on industry regulations and compliance efforts may be the most significant in changing the way financial services firms do business.
 
FACTA and YouThis year alone, we’ve seen regulatory initiatives dominate headlines and leave firms scrambling to comply, notably the SEC’s cybersecurity guidelines released this spring and the official implementation of the Alternative Investment Managers Fund Directive (AIFMD), which went into effect last week. Also becoming official this month is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, which requires U.S. persons to report financial accounts held outside of the United States and financial institutions (notably banks) to report foreign financial accounts and clients who hold foreign assets.

To identify non-compliance, the Internal Revenue Service is requiring financial institutions with foreign entities and foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to disclose information about U.S. clients with balances over $50,000. The law threatens a steep 30 percent withholding tax on payments for non-compliant FFIs.
 
There is also a significant cost for firms to implement compliance procedures and reporting standards to meet the legislative requirements of FATCA. It is reported that implementation costs average between $100,000 and $500,000 depending on firm size and are expected to amount to roughly $8 billion USD a year for financial institutions alone (not including costs to the private sector, IRS and foreign entities).

Categorized under: Hedge Fund Regulation  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing 



What is a Security Vulnerability Assessment and How Does it Work?

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

One of the first questions on the SEC’s cybersecurity questionnaire for financial firms asks firms to "indicate whether they conduct periodic risk assessments to identify cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities and potential business consequences", and if so, who conducts them and how often. Clearly the goal behind this question is to ensure that firms are taking a proactive approach to security. But what exactly does this assessment entail?
 Cybersecurity Whitepaper
Here’s a quick overview.
 
The type of risk assessment typically associated with information technology/security is an external vulnerability assessment. Essentially, this is the process of identifying and categorizing vulnerabilities related to a system or infrastructure. Typical steps associated with a vulnerability scan or assessment include:

  • Identifying all appropriate systems, networks and infrastructures;

  • Scanning networks to assess susceptibility to external hacks and threats;

  • Classifying vulnerabilities based on severity; and

  • Making tactical recommendations around how to eliminate or remediate threats at all levels.

Categorized under: Security  Cloud Computing  Disaster Recovery  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Hedge Fund Regulation  Infrastructure  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing 



Tips for Tackling Your Financial Firm's Cybersecurity To-Do List

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Cybersecurity WhitepaperWe continue to speak with clients and prospects on a regular basis on the topic of cybersecurity, and with the expectation that the SEC will start security exams sometime around September, it’s evident that firms are working diligently to answer the questionnaire and shore up internal practices.
 
To continue fostering education around this topic, we hosted two events last week dedicated to cybersecurity for hedge funds and investment firms. For your convenience, you can read a brief recap of some of the key topics discussed or scroll down to watch our full webinar replay.

Cybersecurity a Hot Topic on State & Federal Level

By now, we all know the SEC has taken steps to assure that hedge funds and investment advisers put security mechanisms and practices in place to protect against cyber threats. SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar said there is “substantial risk that a cyber-attack could cause significant and wide-ranging market disruptions and investor harm.” Even beyond the federal level, some states are chiming in on the cybersecurity front. Earlier this month, Massachusetts and Illinois acknowledged that they were polling investment advisers about their security practices, and that based on responses, state regulations could be impacted.

Categorized under: Launching A Hedge Fund  Security  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Hedge Fund Regulation  Infrastructure  Communications  Outsourcing  Business Continuity Planning  Trends We're Seeing  Videos And Infographics 



Keeping on Top of Cybersecurity: Q&A with Lisa Smith

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Hedge funds have known for some time the importance of effective cybersecurity, and regulation increasingly enforces this as a requirement. For any practice to be effective, however, there are a number of factors which need to be considered prior to implementation. Eze Castle’s Lisa Smith recently sat down with HFMWeek Magazine to talk about how to meet and understand the new cybersecurity guidelines advised by the SEC. Following is an excerpt of the article.

The SEC's cybersecurity questionnaire sets the framework and best practices for the financial industry. When you consider the type of information that hedge funds are handling on a day-to-day basis, it's really important that they have security controls in place. The questionnaire is a way for the SEC to ensure that hedge funds, private equity and investment management companies are taking security controls seriously and are aware of what's in place for their company.

HFMWeek (HFM): Within the sample SEC cybersecurity request document, questions were divided into five categories. What is the SEC looking for in these categories? 

Lisa Smith (LS): Identification of risk in cybersecurity governance - this involves an analysis of what's in place. So for instance - when I conduct a business assesment I'll focus on what's currently in place versus what should be in place in accordance with the recommendations from the SEC. Anything that is not in place that should be goes into our risk assesssment summary and is categorized as low, medium or high.  It's about ensuring that hedge funds have certain controls and security policies in place to protect their environment and data.

Categorized under: Security  Disaster Recovery  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Business Continuity Planning 



What Happens to Your Firm's IT Team When You Go Cloud?

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

hedge fund staffingAs your firm evaluates moving to the cloud – as most firms today will inevitably do – your list of priorities will likely include:

  1. Regulatory and investor impact

  2. Migration plans and operational effects

  3. Hardware disposal and infrastructure changes

But another critical business area your firm should put some thought into is the effect of the cloud movement on your internal IT department (assuming you have one). What exactly happens to a firm’s IT team once it moves operations into a cloud environment? Is there still value in maintaining an in-house staff?
 
The simple answer is ‘yes,’ but the day-to-day responsibilities for those staffers may not look quite the same post-cloud. With a fully managed service provider, everyday management is typically taken care of – leaving internal resources with a lot more time on their hands. But that doesn’t mean there’s no longer a need for an IT department.

Categorized under: Cloud Computing  Security  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Hedge Fund Regulation  Infrastructure  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing 



Hedge Fund Transformation, Part 1: Evaluating Outsourced Solutions & Leveraging Technology

By Jennifer Odence,
Thursday, May 29th, 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.
 
OutsourcingBelow 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.

Categorized under: Outsourcing  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Trends We're Seeing 



Video: Hedge Fund Startup 101 Roundtable with the Hedge Fund Association

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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:

  • Custodial Needs

  • Technology Infrastructure Priorities

  • Compliance Concerns

  • Data Management

  • Dodd-Frank & Regulatory Requirements

  • Cybersecurity Concerns

  • Investor Expectations

 

Categorized under: Launching A Hedge Fund  Cloud Computing  Security  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Infrastructure  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing  Videos And Infographics 



Preparing for SEC Cybersecurity Exams: Webinar Recap & Replay

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Thursday, May 8th, 2014

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.Webcast: Preparing for SEC Cybersecurity Exams
 
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.

Categorized under: Security  Cloud Computing  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Infrastructure  Outsourcing  Trends We're Seeing 



The Transformation of IT and Hedge Fund Operations

By Kaleigh Alessandro,
Thursday, May 1st, 2014

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.

Categorized under: Trends We're Seeing  Cloud Computing  Disaster Recovery  Security  Hedge Fund Due Diligence  Hedge Fund Operations  Hedge Fund Regulation  Infrastructure  Communications  Outsourcing 



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