The financial services industry is currently under tremendous pressure to meet both investor and due diligence requirements. Thus, it is increasingly important to maximize technology to meet these pressures. To conclude our six-part hedge fund launch webinar series, we spoke with Eze Castle Integration’s own managing director Vinod Paul, who shared insights about current IT challenges and demands and how today’s hedge funds can employ best practices for operational excellence.
Key Priorities for New Managers
Paul defined cybersecurity and scalability as two primary technology considerations for new managers. You must first understand your firm’s specific vulnerabilities and exposures. One of the most common mistakes new launches make, according to Paul, is assuming that they only require the basic bare minimum in terms of technology. He urges new managers to pick an IT solution with operational growth in mind -- considering the business not at the onset, but in three to five years.
Service Provider Selection Criteria
Paul continued to place emphasis on customized IT, stating that when it comes to outsourcing, it is imperative that a firm carries out proper due diligence in choosing a provider to meet the firm’s unique needs. “You want enter into a true partnership that offers open lines of communication, flexibility, and ultimately, trust and accountability,” he said. Brand and reputation, long lasting relationships with clients, and industry experience are some of criteria Paul feels are most important when selecting a service provider. “Don’t step in to it with the attitude that a current provider is good enough, for right now,” he cautioned. The service provider should not only address day-to-day operations but also anticipate potential problems down the road.
On Monday, March 21st at its California headquarters, Apple unveiled a new iPhone and iPad, as well as announced improvements to current products. Fittingly, CEO Tim Cook also discussed security at length – not shying away from concerns resulting from the current fight with the FBI. "We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers, and we owe it to our country,” he said. The key takeaways from the event are summarized below.
The 4-inch iPhone SE
The new iPhone was introduced as having all the power of the iPhone 6s, but with the aesthetic of the iPhone 5. The reason, said Apple VP Greg Joswiak, is simple: “For some people, they simply love smaller phones.” With a $399 price point, analysts believe that the new phone is Apple’s attempt to penetrate the fastest-growing markets of India and China, specifically “prepaid consumers who cannot afford, or are not familiar with, bigger screen smartphones,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.
The iPhone SE promises an A9 processor with faster LTE and Wi-Fi speeds, better battery life, 4k and 240 fps slow-mo video recording, live photo support, and Apple Pay. The 16GB model, as well as a 64 GB model for $499 go up for pre-order on March 24, 2016, with the first units shipping March 31, 2016.
9.7 inch iPad Pro
The “baby brother” to the 12.9 inch screen iPad Pro that some consumers deemed too large, the new 9.7 inch model is roughly the same size as the iPad Air 2 but with features like Apple Pencil, Apple’s Smart Keyboard, a 12 MP rear camera with 4K video recording and live photo support, and a 5 MP front-facing camera. In addition, the screen of the new iPad pro will be 40% less reflective than that of the iPad Air 2, but will be 25% brighter.
A feature called “True Tone” will benefit designers by constantly checking the lighting of the room and adjusting accordingly for color accuracy. Three models will be available for pre-order March 24, 2016: the 32GB for $599, 12GB for $749, and 256GB for $899.
Did you hear the story of the Central Bank of Bangladesh that lost $81 million to hackers? It happened in February 2016 and goes like this. The bank believes hackers executed a hack that allowed $81 million to be taken from the bank’s foreign exchange account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It appears that the initial point of entry for the hackers was a spear-phishing email, potentially sent weeks before the fraud took place, which allowed the criminals time to remotely monitor and probe the bank’s networks without detection.
This is just the latest advanced threat facing financial organizations. Beyond cyber technology (which is essential), organizations need an internal culture of security, an ongoing, organization-wide commitment to defining and adhering to careful, thoughtful policies that reduce or eliminate “people vulnerabilities” through assessments, awareness, and education.
We recently published a Four Step Guide to Creating a Culture of Security. Here are some highlights – you can read the full paper HERE.
1. Create a Computer Incident Response Team
Your first step is to find the right people who can oversee your information-security policies and be part of a “Computer Incident Response Team.” Although IT professionals are responsible for overseeing and maintaining your computing infrastructure, you also need business users to play a central role in your security initiatives.
After all, they’re the ones who use these resources – and the ones who can represent the biggest vulnerabilities and risks. While the team’s responsibilities can vary, many CIRTs are active in several key areas:
Create a Plan
Create Training Programs
Respond to Incidents
Communicate with Peers/Industry Groups
Successfully launching a hedge fund is a complex endeavor. Not only must emerging managers evaluate traditional deployment strategies, but consider current factors influencing the financial landscape.
Last week, Eze Castle Integration presented a webinar, “How to Launch a Hedge Fund,” featuring an expert panel that addressed some critical areas for consideration, notably capital introduction, legal and technology. There was quite a bit of content discussed during the 1-hour event, so we’ve pulled out some key takeaways.
Capital Raising (Paul Schultz, Director of Capital Introduction, Wells Fargo Prime Services)
Examine both content and context, i.e. cash inflows and outflows as well as the “big picture” that accounts for volatility
Be aware of the kinds of investors coming into the hedge fund space. Large and institutional pension plans are currently the largest investor base.
Be prepared when speaking to investors. Target those who have a history of being receptive to founder share class and who may offer lower management and performance fees.
Show investors that you have a 3+ year budget for working capital without any performance fees.
Have a well thought-out blueprint. Clarity and intention make all the difference.
Categorized under: Launching A Hedge Fund Cloud Computing Security Disaster Recovery Hedge Fund Due Diligence Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Infrastructure Communications Outsourcing Business Continuity Planning Trends We're Seeing Videos And Infographics
Investment firms often place too much emphasis on managing portfolios and not enough on managing the business as a whole. Particularly for startups entering a competitive marketplace, expectations are high. That means you have to demonstrate to investors that you take your business seriously and that you’ve made investments in your operations, technology, etc. that will fortify your firm and provide a solid foundation for investment success.
The decisions you make from the outset will define how your firm is regarded within the industry, by both investors and competitors. By taking into account all aspects of your firm and relying on trusted service providers to support operations, you prove to the greater investment industry that you should be taken seriously and can operate successfully in a challenging environment.
Transparency is of critical importance.
Since the 2008 economic collapse and scandals caused by the likes of Madoff, transparency has become a key requirement for investors. Nothing less than full disclosure is expected of firms from the newest launches to the most established investment firms. As such, fund managers should take this to heart and make strong efforts to comply with increasing investor expectations.
The following is the second excerpt from our new whitepaper, Launching a Hedge Fund: 10 Keys to Success. Don't forget to visit Hedge IT on Thursday as we reveal the last of our key considerations for starting a hedge fund.
To read part one, click here.
Develop an IT budget for your first 2-3 years.
Operating capital may be limited in the first few years after your launch, so careful budgeting and long range planning will serve your firm well. Your information technology budget should include priorities and figures for at least two to three years, including infrastructure/hardware and software requirements. Some questions you’ll want to consider:
How many offices are you launching with? Do you plan to open additional offices in the near future?
How many users do you have on day one? How many can you expect to have in years 2 and 3?
Where are your offices located? Are there cost differences between domestic and international offices?
What are your trading practices and how does this impact your budget?
What kinds of systems do you need? (Order Management, Portfolio Accounting, Risk Management, CRM, etc.)
Ensure your technology budget coincides with your firm’s growth plan. Do you expect to grow quickly? Open new offices? Expand internationally? You will need to account for these changes.
Understand hedge fund regulations and how they affect your firm.
Governmental oversight of the financial industry has evolved dramatically in the last decade. Hedge funds, private equity firms and registered investment advisers now operate in a world where they are beholden to regulatory bodies with growing expectations and requirements. When launching your hedge fund, you’ll need to be clear up front with any responsibilities you may have to any applicable agencies – in the United States, that means the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Are you required to register? If so, represent your firm accurately and be descriptive of your operations. If not forthcoming, you may open up your firm to serious regulatory and criminal prosecution.
Categorized under: Launching A Hedge Fund Cloud Computing Security Disaster Recovery Hedge Fund Due Diligence Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Infrastructure Communications Outsourcing Business Continuity Planning Software Trends We're Seeing
Today's hedge funds are facing an environment defined by regulatory pressure, investor demands and fierce competition. For hedge fund startups, the challenges are even greater, so too are the demands. Successfully operating a new startup beyond the first year is a feat many managers struggle to accomplish, therefore it's critical for emerging managers to gain a full understanding of the industry that awaits them and the hurdles they should expect to face.
While the list of considerations is surely long for new managers, we've whittled it down to 10 Keys to Launching a Hedge Fund Successfully - a guide for new startups to use when setting off on their new journey.
Take a look at our latest video for a quick look at our 10 Keys to Success. And be sure to come back to Hedge IT later this week when we'll be sharing an excerpt from our brand new whitepaper on the same topic!
Categorized under: Launching A Hedge Fund Cloud Computing Security Disaster Recovery Hedge Fund Due Diligence Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Infrastructure Communications Outsourcing Business Continuity Planning Trends We're Seeing
With threats of data loss increasing in both numbers and severity, it is no surprise that data security is on everyone’s mind within the financial and investment industry. Regulatory agencies and investors now expect businesses to have backup solutions and comprehensive record-keeping practices. Understanding the need and importance of implementing a backup solution can add instrumental value to your business.
We at Eze Castle Integration have identified the top four reasons why backups are critical to not only a firm’s growth, but also their survival.
1. Regulatory agencies demand security of financial records.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has instituted regulations on the storage of financial records and electronic communication, and financial industry regulatory agencies such as FINRA now provide standards and guidance information on potential threats. In addition, international regulators such as the FCA, a financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, are also demanding firms to have a data backup solution.
The reasoning behind these recommendations is the volume of things that can go wrong with your data storage solution. From hardware failure, software corruption, virus or network security breaches, to natural disasters and human error, the threat to your data is endless. With today’s financial services companies managing exponentially growing volumes of sensitive data, the risk of loss grows as well.
On December 9, 2015, Wells Fargo Prime Services and Eze Castle Integration hosted a panel on cybersecurity to discuss the current landscape. The panel featured leading industry experts including:
Eldon Sprickerhoff, Founder & Chief Security Strategist, eSentire
Stuart Levi, Partner, New York, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Vinod Paul, Managing Director, Eze Castle Integration
Timothy O’Brien, Supervisory Special Agent, Cyber branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation – New York Office.
Marc P. Berger, Partner, Government Enforcement, Ropes & Gray LLP
Marc Berger’s opening statements emphasized the extent of the cybersecurity threat currently facing firms across a wide swath of industries. He quoted FBI Director James Comey, who stated: “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked … and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked ….” (FBI Director James B. Comey, 60 Minutes, CBS TV Interview, October 5, 2014). Alarming statistics from the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, conducted with HP Enterprise Security, found that the average cost to resolve a single cybersecurity incident is $1.9M, and the average time to resolve is 46 days. Perpetrators range from nation-state-sponsored hackers and disgruntled/rogue employees to organized crime units, activists, and other thieves.
We spend a lot of time educating our clients about security best practices and encouraging them to implement comprehensive security policies and procedures to mitigate risk and protect both the firm and its employees. And for good reason. Data breaches continue to wreak havoc for businesses, and the cost is steadily rising. According to the Ponemon Institute, the total average cost of a data breach is now $3.8 million, up from $3.5 million in 2014.
While companywide policies should reflect long-range expectations and corporate best practices, they should also include tactical recommendations that employees can follow to ensure they are complying with the company’s overall risk strategy. In addition to providing employees with security best practices they should follow, don’t forget to also include a list of actions they should not. Here are just a few pieces of advice we regularly offer our investment firm clients. You can download our full IT Security Dos & Don'ts eBook by clicking here.
Lock your computer and mobile phone(s) when you leave your desk and/or office
Use care when entering passwords in front of others
Create and maintain strong passwords and change them every 60-90 days (We recommend a combination of lowercase & uppercase letters and special characters)