This article first appeared in HFMWeek's Special Report: How to Start a Hedge Fund in the EU 2015.
HFMWeek catches up with Eze Castle Integration’s executive director, Dean Hill, to discuss the importance of selecting the right business service providers and the key technology factors new funds must consider when starting out in the EU.
HFMWeek (HFM): Are you seeing a healthy market for new hedge fund launches in the EU?
Dean Hill (DH): Yes. I think going into 2016 we will see an increase in terms of the amount of new hedge fund launches across the UK and European markets. Not only are these launches coming more frequently, but their size, structure and launch AuM is greater than anything we have seen in the last two-to-three years. It is certainly on the uptake.
Among the many technology decisions your firm will face during the launch phase is selecting the appropriate telecommunications needs to power daily operations. High-speed Internet and voice connectivity are necessary to access market data feeds, communicate with investors and facilitate trade orders and other investment decisions. To help you make an informed decision about your voice and Internet needs, we’ve provided a few suggestions below.
The Internet, of course, is an essential vehicle for collecting and distributing market data, as well as communicating with your clients, investors and partners via email. You’ll likely find four Internet access choices, depending on availability in your area. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, as described below.
On September 15, 2015, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued a Risk Alert providing additional guidance on key focus areas for round two of its cybersecurity examinations. Specifically OCIE stated exams will “involve more testing to assess implementation of firm procedures and controls.” The Commission intends to focus on the following areas as a means to collect information on cybersecurity-related controls and assess the controls in place at firms:
Governance and Risk Assessment: According to the Alert, OCIE may evaluate the governance and risk assessment process for areas including, but not limited to, access control, employee training, third-party/vendor management and IT systems management. Examiners also expect to see that assessments and associated policies are specific to a firm’s business.
Access Rights and Controls: OCIE warns that the lack of basic access controls and user management policies can result in unauthorized access to systems and information. Examiners may request details on how a firm manages user rights and what supporting technologies are in place.
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The following article is part of our Hedge Fund Insiders Article Series and was contributed by CBRE Group, Inc. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
As a team focused exclusively on advising hedge funds on their strategic real estate planning, we have observed several trends continuing to proliferate in the market. Below are three real estate-related issues relevant to all hedge funds.
Increasing Construction Costs
Construction costs for office interiors throughout New York City are rapidly increasing and firms that built space 5–10 years ago will find that overall expenditures for the same quality installation have increased 30–40% based on benchmark construction cost data across NYC. Although benchmarking numbers are not available specifically for hedge fund construction, high-end design details like custom millwork and architectural metal and glass are often a significant part of the design and are seeing the most rapid appreciation in cost, driving even more significant increases specific to hedge funds. Additionally, these premium and other critical trades such as HVAC and electrical are in high demand and can cause scheduling delays, pushing associated costs higher than ever.
It is crucial for hedge funds to have an owner’s rep / project manager advisor involved to ensure projects are appropriately budgeted from the initial due diligence phase, assessed on a project-by-project basis throughout the site selection process, and effectively implemented during the design and construction of the selected space.
The following article is part of our Hedge Fund Insiders Article Series and was contributed by TriNet. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
Beginning January 1, 2016 every U.S. firm with 51-100 employees will be migrated to the “small group market” for healthcare benefits, as part of Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated changes. Currently, in many states the small group market encompasses firms with 50 or fewer employees. But for policies that renew in 2016, this market will be expanded to include companies with up to 100 full-time employees.
Companies with 51-100 employees, who previously enjoyed the “economies of scale” benefits associated with being in the large group health care market, will become part of the small group market as of their first renewal on or after January 1, 2016. While this change will happen across the U.S., we believe its impact will be very significant in New York State.
What mid-size businesses can expect from ACA changes:
Healthcare premiums, on average, will increase – potentially significantly – and the access to a wide-array of rich benefit plans these companies previously enjoyed is likely to be reduced. This is because New York State’s small group healthcare market is “community-rated,” which means the demographics (for example, average age of employees) at a firm have no impact on small group market healthcare pricing. New York State currently prohibits insurance rate variations based on the demographic characteristics of the firm. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the country, where firms are priced based on their employee “census”- thus taking into account their demographic characteristics. We believe this will result, on average, in significantly higher healthcare premiums – especially if the firm has a relatively young average age composition, as so many New York financial firms do.
“Small group” market plans will be “canned,” meaning you will now have to select your benefits from a group of plans that the carrier offers – and plans cannot be modified. This will likely cause firms with 51-100 employees to lose some of the previous benefits they were able to offer employees. As a result, this change is likely to affect deductibles, out-of-network coverage, advanced infertility treatments and lower limits on certain services.
Companies that have 51-100 employees and a relatively young demographic composition will likely be hit with significant healthcare premium increases, as the small group community rates will be much higher than what they currently pay. By my calculations, some groups could see premiums increase as high as 50 percent for plans similar to what they offer today.
The following article is part of our Hedge Fund Insiders Article Series and was contributed by Haynes and Boone, LLP. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
Cybersecurity risks pose an increasingly significant threat to investment advisers. In early 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (the “SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) identified its annual adviser examination priorities which reflect certain practices perceived to present heightened risk to investors and/or the integrity of US capital markets, one of which was cybersecurity compliance and controls. In April 2015, the SEC’s division of investment management (the “Division”) issued guidance (the “Guidance”)  reinforcing cybersecurity as a priority for advisers and suggesting that advisers implement cybersecurity risk assessment plans, response strategies, and written policies and procedures. Included below are measures advisers should consider (some of which are directly from the Guidance) when addressing cybersecurity risks relating to their operations:
Risk Assessment. Advisers should conduct assessments of: (1) the nature, sensitivity and location of information that it collects, processes and/or stores and the technology systems it uses; (2) internal and external cybersecurity threats to and vulnerabilities of the adviser’s information and technology systems; (3) security controls and processes currently in place; (4) the impact should its information or technology systems become compromised; and (5) the effectiveness of the governance structure for the management of cybersecurity risk.
The following article is part of our Hedge Fund Insiders Article Series and was contributed by Wells Fargo Prime Services. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
All business relationships are driven by the belief that both sides will receive a mutual benefit that will allow for a long term sustainable partnership between the firms. For a prime brokerage /alternative asset manager relationship this principle is no different. An alternative asset manager (“AAM”) looks for certain services from its prime broker (“PB”): financing, access to balance sheet, securities lending, Capital Introduction, research, Corporate Access, technology and other services that are essential to the AAM as it deploys its strategy. PBs are looking to generate an attractive after cost return based on the revenue generated from the client vs. usage of financial resources such as balance sheet and capital.
Driven primarily by post financial crisis regulatory pressures, banks and prime brokers are being faced with significant new requirements, which has changed the client interaction dynamic and has led to changes in balance sheet strategy, business objectives, and capital markets activity. While the fundamental nature of the business relationship has not changed between hedge funds and prime brokers, AAMs need to understand the impact of regulation on prime brokers and how best to optimize their impact on the prime brokers balance sheet in order to optimize the overall relationship.
While Basel III is the primary driver of this change, perhaps the most significant shift in the PB model has been the introduction of the return on assets “(ROA”) metric on a pre-tax basis as opposed to the pure top line revenue that previously drove the business. In summary, a balance sheet denominator has been added to the revenue numerator creating an ROA equation that now determines the health of a prime brokerage relationship. To be most effective, funds should understand how to minimize the balance sheet denominator as well as their impact on other relevant metrics:
Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR)
Net stable funding ration (NSFR)
Tier 1 capital ratio
High-Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA)
Hedge funds operate in a dynamic, ever-changing environment, so to assist managers in staying abreast of hot topics, we are launching a new article series aptly titled, The Hedge Fund Insiders Series. Running right here on HedgeIT during the month of August, we’ll cover a range of topics aligned to investor and regulator expectations, due diligence trends and operational best practices.
Contributors to the Series include senior leaders at Eze Castle Integration, CBRE Group, Inc., Haynes and Boone LLP, TriNet, Wells Fargo Prime Services and Willis Group Holdings Ltd.
Here is a sneak peak of some of the articles we will publish each Tuesday and Thursday starting this week:
Keys to Building an Effective Alternative Asset Manager and Prime Broker Relationship
Wells Fargo Prime Services
Excerpt: All business relationships are driven by the belief that both sides will receive a mutual benefit that will allow for a long term sustainable partnership between the firms. For a prime brokerage/alternative asset manager relationship this principle is no different. An alternative asset manager (“AAM”) looks for certain services from its prime broker (“PB”): financing, access to balance sheet, securities lending, Capital Introduction, research, Corporate Access, technology and other services that are essential to the AAM as it deploys its strategy. PBs are looking to generate an attractive after cost return based on the revenue generated from the client vs. usage of financial resources such as balance sheet and capital.
Hedge fund outsourcing is not a new trend, as buy-side firms have long dispersed the responsibility of many functions to third-party service providers more adept and accomplished at said functions. Technology, for example, is an area where many firms choose to leverage outsourced providers to manage complete or partial infrastructures, support projects or supplement on-site IT staffs. The benefits to outsourcing are numerous, but the true measure of a successful service provider relationship comes when an investment firm’s level of risk in using that provider is low.
Risks are everywhere, particularly in today’s cyber-focused environment. But the risk a hedge fund undertakes when outsourcing a function of its business to a third-party is enormous. Not only is the firm relinquishing control to an outside company, it also takes on the added burden of managing that company, in addition to its own.
It’s one thing to put faith in your service providers to do their jobs effectively. It’s another to ignore your own firm’s responsibility to manage that third party as a means of protecting your own firm. Successfully managing risk associated with third-party service provider relationships is a full-time job, especially for financial services firms working with dozens of various parties. Here are a few tips to help your firm properly manage third-party service provider risk: