In any relationship, when things are good, they’re usually pretty good. And when things are bad, sometimes they are really bad. There may come a point when you need to evaluate whether you’re still a good fit together.
Just like with a romantic relationship, your firm’s connection to a service provider (especially an infrastructure/cloud provider you rely on daily) should be strong enough to withstand a few hiccups and healthy enough to warrant open communication at all times. In some cases, it might be clear that you’re in a good place and moving forward together, but sometimes there are sure signs it’s time to call it quits.
Here are a few of those signs:
1. Your provider’s service levels are not up to snuff.
Maybe you recently experienced a major service outage or find that you not-so-conveniently have to work around confusing and interrupting maintenance schedules during work hours. You’re constantly frustrated and don’t feel like you are receiving the level of support that was agreed to – both verbally and as part of your Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Your SLA should clearly indicate the uptime standard (e.g. 99.995% availability) as well as repercussions to any breaches in the contract (for example, service credits) and associated RPOs if disaster recovery is involved
We are excited to be sponsoring the 2014 EzeSoft Client Conference later this week in Boston. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Eze Software Group is the owner of the order management system, Eze OMS, which is frequently used by hedge funds and asset managers across the globe.
As a preview to this week’s conference, we thought we’d dial it back to basics a little and explain exactly what an order management system is and why it’s a critical piece of software for many investment management firms today.
On our recent Hedge Fund Marketing and Due Diligence webinar we looked at how the hedge fund investor due diligence process is evolving especially in terms of scrutiny on technology processes and security safeguards.
The reality is that investors have a greater understanding of technology, are asking more probing questions and care about the responses they receive. We’ve even heard investors say that deficiencies in IT infrastructure and security contributed to the decisions to redeem from or not invest in a fund.
So at Eze Castle Integration we regularly assist our hedge fund clients in completing the IT portions of investor due diligence questionnaires. The wording of questions varies but here is a handy list of 51 common IT due diligence questions we see.
Provide an organization chart for the Company, its affiliates and key personnel.
Provide the physical address and general contact information for each of the Company’s office locations.
Provide the name and contact information of the Company employee(s) assigned to the client’s account(s).
Provide a list of compliance personnel, their roles and qualifications, the date of his/her appointment and position within the Company’s organizational structure.
As more and more firms compete for investor attention and allocations across the financial services industry, differentiation becomes a critical consideration. And the promise of positive returns is not always enough to secure investments in today's competitive marketplace. Now more than ever, investment firms must push the boundaries in an effort to impress and satisfy new and existing investors and emerge as premier firms. Two ways in which firms can deliver on this are through marketing and technology.
Last week, Eze Castle collaborated with Meyler Capital, a hedge fund marketing firm, to deliver a webinar on Hedge Fund Marketing Tips to Impress Investors and Raise Capital. Scroll down to watch the full replay or continue reading our brief recap.
This article first appeared in Hedgeweek's September 2014 Special Report on Risk Management.
Cyber security has quickly become a headline risk for hedge fund managers. On 15 April 2014, the SEC issued its Cyber-Security Risk Alert, a detailed 26-point questionnaire that aims to address various elements of a hedge fund’s technical and operational infrastructure to determine how vulnerable it is to cyber attacks and data theft.
This initiative is being driven by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. It will assess 50 individual firms and based on its findings will draft a set of final guidelines for hedge funds to adhere to. This is essentially a way to address ‘technology risk’ and implement best practices through documentation in the form of a Written Information Security Policy (WISP).
According to Assured SKCG Inc, an insurance advisory firm, 37 per cent of security breaches between 2012 and 2013 affected financial organisations. Hedge funds are a high profile target. Establishing a WISP and becoming as data secure as possible is critical.
At Eze Castle Integration, the phones haven’t stopped ringing as clients look to address any gaps in their IT infrastructure and operational policies.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic -- and rightfully so -- as headlines tout new vulnerabilities or incidents with increasing frequency. In the fight to prevent attacks, technology safeguards are typically the focus. A firm must have layers of security that include, but are not limited to, anti-virus, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and Internet monitoring and reporting, as well as procedures that restrict and monitor access.
However beyond technology, the role employees play cannot be underestimated. The reality is that employees can be one of a firm’s best lines of defense or weakest link. The deciding factor in which way it swings often comes down to access control policies and cybersecurity training.
Getting the Access Right
Employees require access to the data necessary to complete their job functions. But beyond that, firms should be limiting what data employees have access to. It’s not about not trusting your employees, but more so about not trusting the technology behind those employees. The less data employees can get to, the less damage can be done via an internal breach or external hack.
The SEC Cybersecurity Risk Alert issued in April 2014 highlights the importance of access control by asking about the controls a firm maintains to “prevent unauthorized escalation of user privileges” and how firms “restrict users to those network resources necessary for their business functions.”
Part of a firm’s cybersecurity planning must be defining how company data is protected, where it is located and who has and needs access. Once access levels are defined, they must be reviewed at least annually to ensure adherence firm wide.
We’ve tapped the expertise of nine experts in the hedge fund startup space to share their thoughts on a range of topics specific to emerging hedge fund managers. Below are some highlights, and you can read the entire Emerging Managers Insight Series eBook here.
Set a realistic schedule to launch and don’t rush to get the hedge fund up and running too quickly. Take the time to partner with the right service providers that will support your business from the start and as you grow.
Budget for a marketer in your first two years of operation. If you look at the largest funds in the industry, they all have substantial investor relations teams that keep current investors informed while prospecting for future investors.
Capital introduction is a much sought after service from prime brokers which can be very helpful in providing a new hedge fund exposure to potential investors. Take advantage of introductions and begin to build relationships with potential investors.
We all make mistakes, but when it comes to technology and hedge fund operations, mistakes aren’t an option. So let’s look at seven common cloud mistakes we see hedge fund firms making and talk about how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Sizing Bandwidth to Business Needs
Determining the right amount of bandwidth comes down to the types of services being delivered and user expectations. Nothing ruins a cloud or really any computing experience like sluggish application and Internet performance.
Beyond bandwidth, firms must also consider latency. While latency issues don’t impact all applications (i.e. email is relatively insensitive) for others it is a killer. Latency has little place in trading applications or voice over IP services. When moving to the cloud, have a realistic conversation with the hedge fund cloud provider about the amount of bandwidth your firm really needs.
Mistake #2: Not Planning for Applications
Not all cloud platforms are equal especially when it comes to supporting hedge fund specific applications such as Order Management Systems or Portfolio Accounting Systems. While a hedge fund may not launch day one with one of these applications, there is a good chance they will require one in the future. To help mitigate future growing pains a hedge fund should plan for the future when evaluating cloud providers. Being shortsighted can result in future disruptions and integration pains.
In Part One of Tips to Prepare Your Investment Firm for a Power Outage, we shared 21 key steps from one of Eze Castle Integration's Business Continuity Experts, Matt Donahue, which can help firms to develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
In Part Two, we discuss measures that individuals and families should take to prepare for a power outage or blackout.
19 Tips to Prepare You and Your Family
During an outage, it pays to have yourself and your family prepared. Take time and talk to your family about outages and what to do when they happen. Consider impaired or elderly family members and neighbors that may need assistance during an outage. Do research on your town's or city's emergency preparedness plans. Learn how they will identify shelters, warming/cooling stations, and announce their opening.
Extended power outages and blackouts have the potential to impact not only businesses but also our personal lives. Without electrical power, some business functions may cease entirely, resulting in the loss of valuable data and production time.
With Hurricane Season here and Tropical Storm Cristobal brewing in the Atlantic, we are running a two part series contributed by one of our Business Continuity Experts here at Eze Castle Integration – Matt Donahue.
In today’s article Matt looks at the steps or actions investment firms and other businesses can follow in order to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from an extended outage or blackout. Then Thursday’s article will focus on these same topics but for individuals.
21 Tips to Prepare Your Business
During an outage, investment firms risk data losses, experience logistical issues and experience unfavorable or impossible working conditions. Heavy reliance on technology items, IT systems and software can put businesses in a difficult situation during an outage, especially if they have not pre-planned or completed a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). Other mitigation activities such as purchasing alternative or back up power sources such as batteries or generators are good ways to ensure power for essential items.
Here are some other helpful steps and precautions investment firms should consider.