This article first appeared on FINalternatives and was contributed by Brian Macallister, managing director at Ledgex Systems.
Today’s hedge fund investors are more competitive – and more demanding –than ever. As a result, many hedge funds are walking a fine line. They need to track communications, client relationships and capital movements in order to raise and retain assets, while providing exceptional client service and exceeding reporting requirements – all without increasing headcount or operational overhead. That balancing act is essential to avoiding these three primary reasons investors walk away from their hedge funds:
1. They aren’t happy with performance.
No amount of communication or reporting will save an underperforming hedge fund from losing investors. However, those efforts will help fund managers get ahead of investor concerns and proactively address likely questions during periodic performance dips. Information is power, especially in the hands of the firm. When information about how the investor’s balance today relates to past performance is readily available and integrated with customer relationship management data, financial firms can better manage expectations and investor reactions.
Whether you are a new hedge fund startup evaluating technology solutions or an established investment firm looking for an application upgrade or technology refresh, you’re likely to consider the cloud as one of your infrastructure options. If a cloud platform is ultimately your preference, however, your decision-making is far from over.
Deciding between a low-budget public cloud environment (think: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure) and a vertical-specific private cloud (hint, hint: The Eze Private Cloud) is not always an easy choice for financial services firms. Despite the clear advantages of the private cloud, many investment management firms are drawn to the low-cost and high flexibility of a public cloud. While this type of infrastructure may suit a variety of other verticals, financial services firms have high standards and require a level of service and infrastructure beyond what public cloud platforms can offer. Trading via the public cloud can pose a host of challenges and concerns - let's look at a few.
Preparing for Cyber-Attacks and Breaches
At the top of everyone’s priority list these days is cybersecurity preparedness. And rightfully so. Security breaches and attacks are seemingly occurring on a daily basis, and hackers have become savvier than ever. As a result, large public cloud enterprises – the Googles and Amazons of the world – are inherently more susceptible to attacks and, as a result, downtime. While these public cloud services are surely beefing up security and have billions of dollars’ worth of resources to dedicate to security planning, it remains to be seen if they can sustain a targeted attack or significant downtime.
In an interconnected world, there is a trade-off between enjoying limitless information at our fingertips and threats that are just one click away. Most of us have become so accustomed to being plugged in, that we forget the world is simultaneously plugging in to us as well.
The global evolution of cybercrime continues to push boundaries and raise the bar for technology innovation and advanced security solutions. Indicating the evolving regulatory landscape, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)'s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced back in 2014 that it planned to inspect the cybersecurity preparedness of over 50 registered broker-dealers and investment advisers. In 2015, their examinations will continue across the financial services industry, and firms are locking down security practices in advance of these inquiries. Additionally, in Asia, the Singapore Personal Data Protection Act governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data.
In a constantly connected world, the majority of us cannot help but feel reliant on our mobile devices, especially when it comes to battery life percentage.
Whether you’re in the airport, train or just on the go, keeping that effervescent green light out of the red zone becomes a priority, and most will plug into just about anything. With public smartphone chargers on the rise, this resource seems ideal for the battery conscious user. However, prior to plugging in to power up, we suggest proceeding with caution. After all, do you know whose hands that charger was in before?
In today’s market, the pressure from both investors and regulators is at a steady incline. Reporting obligations have grown complex, transparency is in high demand and compliance technology has become a vital component to a firm’s success. With various demands tug-o-warring hedge fund managers in multiple directions, a Client Relationship Management (CRM) platform could be the solution your financial firm has been searching for.
Introducing Ledgex CRM, the revolutionary, stand-alone Client Relationship Management solution launched today by our sister company, Ledgex Systems. Ledgex CRM is ideal for managing and tracking investor communications, sales pipelines, client relationships and capital movements. The highly configurable, centralized platform is tailor-made for hedge funds, family offices and asset allocators.
The new product offers the sophisticated Client Relationship Management capabilities necessary to raise and retain more assets, maintain and grow clients, provide outstanding client service and meet heightened reporting requirements. Out of the box, the web-based solution delivers efficiencies, transparency and flexibility without increasing headcount or costs. By streamlining investor relationship management and capital activity, Ledgex CRM enables managers to optimize their time and focus on fostering relations and growing business.
HFMWeek Catches Up with Eze Castle Integration’s Managing Director, Vinod Paul, To Discuss How Technology Can Help Tackle the Challenges Facing Hedge Fund Start-up Firms.
HFMWeek (HFM): Are you seeing a healthy market for new hedge fund launches in the US?
Vinod Paul (VP): 2013 and 2014 were very strong years for start-ups in the US. Our US pipeline is also quite healthy for 2015 in terms of start-ups, which is a little different to Europe, where there aren’t as many launches. In terms of overall US business, 50% of the clients we brought on in 2014 were start-ups; this is up from 40% in 2013. There are several factors that have contributed to this, some that we cannot control, such as how the wider market performs. Institutional money coming back into the market is causing some of the start-up activity. Many of the start-ups we have been able to bring on were funded by larger institutions. HFM: How are today’s start-up funds different than those from five years ago?
Happy New Year, all!
As we embark on the New Year, there is no better time to reflect on 2014 and set new goals for the future, both personal and professional. We’ve asked a few of our employees at Eze Castle Integration what their aspirations are for 2015. Check out what some of their responses were below.
"Eat out less and cook at home more often." - Jim Bove, Systems Engineer
"To learn more about technology. You can never learn enough!" - Tim Macdonald, Product Manager
"To travel more." - Elizabeth Martin, Resource Coordinator
When it comes to the cost of a successful data breach, the ensuing ramifications are not limited to monetary loss. A firm’s confidential information, customer trust and overall operations are all at risk of being compromised. To protect their data and systems from cyber-attacks and breaches, it is critical that firms become as secure as possible.
Raising the Bar
Over the past year, we have witnessed more firms strengthening their security measures in an effort to comply with industry regulations as well as the SEC cybersecurity expectations. Additionally, we’ve seen an increase in frequency and sophistication of both data theft and cybercrime. A study by Risk Based Security revealed that within the first nine months of 2014 there were 1,922 data breaches reported and 904 million records exposed. Four of those incidents have made the Top Ten All time Breach List and three hacking incidents combined were accountable for nearly sixty percent of exposed records. Today, most hedge funds are aware of the severe negative effects a security breach can cause; however, gaining this knowledge may have been a tough lesson to learn.
Less than ten short years ago, Eze Castle Integration saw a shift in the market and gap in the cloud space. Firms had to hire multiple third-party vendors to fully outsource their IT needs, public cloud environments fell short of hedge fund security demands and service level contracts varied drastically. Fast-forward to today, and that very same spark of ideation has progressed to completely revolutionize hedge fund IT. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, today we're reflecting on the journey and growth of our very own Eze Private Cloud.
In 2005, Eze Castle built and deployed the first hosted cloud platform for a large hedge fund based in New York City. By 2007, 18 funds spun out from the initial firm, each selecting Eze Castle as their trusted cloud platform provider. The following year, the company began building the foundation for the Eze Private Cloud. The same year marked the opening of Eze Castle’s hedge fund hotel in New York City. The environment, which supported more than 200 users, united the company’s cloud computing platform and fully managed office suites for startup funds.
Traveling with electronic devices puts personal and critical business information at risk. As we embark on the busy holiday travel season, we decided to share some useful tips to help prevent your data and devices from falling into the wrong hands. Here are our top 10:
Back up Your Data Before You Leave: Prior to traveling, back up data that is stored on your device(s) onto media that will not be taken with you on your travels. For example, on a storage card, cloud, or computer, if you are not bringing the latter device on your trip. Furthermore, ensure you do not have social security numbers, passwords, credit card information and other sensitive data stored on your devices. If you do, save this information in a more secure place and remove it from your portable devices.
Travel Light: If you do not need it, do not bring it on your trip. Only devices that are necessary should accompany you while traveling.