As your hedge fund’s IT Manager or Chief Technology Officer, you may be tasked with evaluating and directing the strategic technology initiatives at your firm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean that you have the final say on how and when your firm makes technology-related decisions. That responsibility, in many cases, falls to the Chief Operating Officer or Chief Financial Officer, and in many cases, that individual does not have a technology background. It’s up to you, then, to ensure you provide your CXOs with the right information to make an informed decision about your firm’s technology foundation.
We asked our own CFO, Chris Holden, to talk through some of the primary considerations C-level execs will weigh when evaluating a move to the cloud. Read a recap of his thoughts here or scroll down to listen to the full replay of our conversation.
Cloud Drivers: Is Cost Always the Primary Factor?
According to Holden, the best way to justify a new technology to someone non-technical is to provide a sound and logical cost comparison. And when it comes to the cloud, yes – cost is a big factor and a serious selling point.
It’s a question that many folks in the financial services industry have been asking for a few years now. Are potential investors comfortable with the idea of hedge funds leveraging cloud services? In Part 1 of our cloud webinar series, The Investor Perspective on Cloud and Security, we asked Ashley Gimbel, Senior Vice President at Dyal Capital Partners, to share her thoughts on evaluating the operational and infrastructure decisions of hedge funds and alternative investment firms and if investors are truly comfortable with the cloud. Click here or scroll down to watch the full replay of our conversation with Gimbel.
The simple answer is ‘yes.’ According to Gimbel, investors are and should be at ease with hedge fund clients using cloud infrastructures to support their daily operations. In fact, she says, hosted infrastructures often make more sense for firms with little to no IT resources in-house.
With a few caveats, of course. Firms should ensure outsourced cloud providers have proper Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place and are conducting appropriate oversight of their provider(s). A few other technology must-haves:
Well integrated data and systems
Established policies and procedures
Comprehensive disaster recovery
In this Opalesque.TV video interview, Bob Guilbert and Vinod Paul from Eze Castle Integration discuss the cybersecurity landscape of the investment community, specifically the risks facing hedge funds and alternative investment managers in 2015. Both spend the majority of their time educating their client base on internal and external risks, protecting them against the “Activist Hacktivists” looking for any means of entry into funds.
These hackers will spend weeks, months, and sometimes even years trying to get access, most often with the goal of triggering illicit wire transfers out of the fund.
Today, the usual efforts of employees to avoid clicking links or opening files and password protocoling aren't enough. Everyone should be aware of new techniques employed by hackers like “spearfishing” and “whaterhole” attacks which, with more institutional dollars flowing into hedge funds, will become more frequent. Unless funds have the right Written Information Security Policy (WISP) and processes in place, together with true intrusion detection that monitors what is coming into the firm and what data and information is going out of the firm, they can be at risk of a cybersecurity attack.
Winter Weather Preparedness: Considerations for Keeping Your Firm and Employees Operational This Winter
Anyone who lives in a region that regularly receives snow knows (and expects) that every winter brings the potential for experiencing disruption, delays, cancelations and closures to roads, buses, trains, boats and subways that transport people to and from work. (If you’re in the Boston area, you’re experiencing this today with the MBTA shutting down all rail service to clean up from more than 70 inches of snow in the last three weeks.) Snow storms don’t just affect transportation though; weather events can cause power outages, force evacuations, impact deliveries, and as we saw recently with Winter Storm Juno, can cause entire states to ban travel.
Impacts of heavy snow if traveling to work
Let’s consider some of the issues firms can face even if a travel ban isn’t in place and employees must attempt to make their way to the office.
Most people who commute to work know that adverse weather can have a major impact on their travel to and from the office. Regardless of the manner of transportation (car, rail, subway, boat, bus, etc.), all will most likely experience delays and present challenges for commuters during a snow storm. Delays, breakdowns, cancellations, and longer commuting times are very common throughout a storm and can still impact travel days after a storm concludes, leaving employees largely unable to work effectively if at all.
It’s been quite a year, and as always, it’s hard to believe it’s over. In 2014, Hedge IT continued to thrive in its goal to provide advice and insight into hedge fund technology and operations. The financial services industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and we’re evolving our topics and conversations to keep up. Across 100 blog posts this year (not including this one), almost half of them – 49 to be exact – addressed the topic of security, which is undoubtedly one of the single most important focus areas for hedge funds and investment firms today. In addition to security, we covered everything from tips for starting a hedge fund to avoiding cloud mistakes to hiring for IT roles.
Looking ahead to 2015, we plan to keep the conversations tuned in to what really matters to hedge funds when it comes to technology, and we’ll share as much content as we can in as many formats as we can. But before we get too ahead of ourselves – it’s not quite 2015 yet – let’s take a look back at 10 of our most popular blog posts from 2014.
If you’re one of the seemingly few firms who has yet to make the move to the cloud, it could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you want to maintain total control of your IT environment. Or maybe you’re waiting for a tech refresh to motivate you. Alternatively, it could be that you just haven’t made the proper case to management for switching to the cloud – and many times the one who really needs convincing is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
If you’re the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or IT Manager, your responsibility is determining the infrastructure choices that are going to best suit operations at your firm. But those priorities may not line up exactly with those of the firm’s CFO. IT doesn’t always have insight into the financial ramifications of an operations decision of this magnitude. Instead they are typically focused on the other benefits including personnel reallocation, workflow efficiencies, etc.
The CFO, on the other hand, is ultimately tasked with ensuring the company’s financial decisions are appropriate, and therefore, it’s often advantageous to at least attempt to speak his/her language when pushing for an IT change.
As hedge funds and investment management firms shore up security practices in an effort to comply with the SEC cybersecurity expectations and other industry and investor standards, it can become overwhelming to sort out what's required and how firms should go about achieving compliance. It can also be easy to make mistakes. We asked Eze Castle's Business Continuity and Data Privacy Manager, Lisa Smith, to tell us about some of the common information security mistakes she witnesses firms make and how to avoid them in the future. Here are some of the key questions Lisa answers:
Where are you seeing the most deficiencies in cybersecurity preparedness?
What goes into an effective Written Information Security Plan?
What common mistakes do you find firms are making when it comes to information security safeguards?
Take a look at Lisa's answers!
The results from our Global Hedge Fund Technology and Operations Benchmark Study are in and here is a snapshot of the 2014 findings. You can find the complete report here. We surveyed 279 buy-side firms across the United States, United Kingdom and Asia in order to discover their front, middle, and back office technology and application preferences.
Respondent Profile[Hedge Funds by Type]All survey respondents fell into the following categories within the financial industry: hedge fund (58%), asset/investment manager (13%), private equity firm (3%), fund of fund (3%), and family office (3%). Additionally, 13 percent fell into an ‘other’ category, which included financial firm types such as venture capital, advisory, fund management, quant and wealth management.
Firms surveyed fell into three asset groups: thirty-three percent (33%) reported their assets under management (AUM) as less than $100 million; twenty-eight percent (28%) fell between $101 and $500 million; and the majority (39%) reported over $500 million AUM.
In regards to investment strategy, long/short equity continues to dominate as the most favorable with 50 percent (50%) of respondents reporting this to be their primary investment strategy. Additional preferred strategies include credit (8%), fixed income (6%), emerging markets (5%), event driven (4%), and distressed debt (3%). Twenty-four percent (24%) of firms fell into an “Other” category that included a wide variety of investment strategies such as commodities, derivatives, merger arbitrage, relative value, securities, global macro, and long only. In 2014, the top primes employed by firms are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and UBS (same as 2013 results).
In it's fourth year running, our Global Hedge Fund Technology Benchmark Study reveals the top technology systems and applications used by investment management firms around the world. And while we aren't due to officially release the results until tomorrow - register for our webinar to hear them live - we thought we'd share a little sneak peek in the form of an infographic.
Take a look below and discover how your hedge fund and investment management firm peers are using technology to power their firm operations.
Categorized under: Hedge Fund Due Diligence Launching A Hedge Fund Cloud Computing Security Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Infrastructure Communications Outsourcing Software Trends We're Seeing Videos And Infographics
Last week, we co-hosted another exciting Hedge Fund Startup event with KPMG in New York and had a great turnout of fund managers looking to learn more about everything from legal and tax implications to technology must-haves and capital raising strategies.
Since technology is clearly our forte, we wanted to share some of the key takeaways from our “Achieving Institutional-Grade IT” panel, featuring speakers from Evercore Partners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and, of course, Eze Castle Integration. Here are the highlights:
State of Emerging Manager Market
The hedge fund startup market is healthy, and investors’ appetite for emerging managers is strong
Investors are attracted to nimbler, hungrier nature of emerging managers.
Key Priorities for Startups in 2014/2015
Select the right service providers to support your business.
Understand your firm’s vulnerabilities and exposures.
The operational due diligence process is changing, therefore firms need to understand the protections they have in place to secure investor assets.