It's time for another Tech Tip video! Today, we have five security practices your investment firm should not overlook. Watch and learn!
This article was written by Bob Guilbert, Managing Director, and first appeared in Hedgeweek's 2016 Guide to Setting Up an Alternative Investment Fund in the USA.
You're a new fund manager, and somewhere on your task list the letters "IT" are probably followed by a question mark. Odds are, you don't have a technology background, so as your firm's Chief Operating/Financial/Compliance Officer (or in some cases, Portfolio Manager), the sudden responsibility you've undertaken as your firm's de facto IT Manager is intimidating at best.
The good news is, as a startup, your IT options are pretty clear. In 2016, there's no better technology decision a new firm can make than selecting a cloud platform – an infrastructure that has proven benefits including scalability, flexibility and robust security, among others. And while the thought of hosting IT offsite was once a worry for allocators, today's investors find comfort in knowing hedge fund and alternative investment firms are focusing on their investment priorities and leaving the technology decisions to the experts.
From our perspective, the cloud is now a tried and tested infrastructure environment that is acceptable to the institutional investor community. They have become very thorough in their operational due diligence process, understanding exactly what cloud providers provide from an operational, management and security perspective. This has allowed managers to become much more comfortable at appointing a cloud provider to deliver an infrastructure that will perform well in any type of trading environment.
Where managers need to spend their time is deciding on the best cloud provider to work with, as opposed to thinking about whether or not they should use a cloud provider in the first place.
And how exactly do emerging fund managers embark on that decision-making process?
The importance of employee security awareness cannot be understated. We hear and read stories too often about employees being victims of social engineering schemes. From downloading a malicious virus to falling for a wire transfer scam, these occurrences not only have financial implications to an investment firm but can also impact an employee personally and directly.
Most employees who fall prey to social engineering tactics never intend to hurt a company. In cases of wire transfer scams, for example, often an employee doesn’t follow the appropriate checks and balances at the firm or is being too "responsive" in order to impress a colleague or boss.
Just last week we learned of yet another inbound ransomware email (subject line: debt fax from <your domain here>) that had the ability to impact hedge funds if opened by an employee.
Pop Quiz: Phishing Email Example
Following is an example of the type of phishing or imposter emails that enter employees’ inboxes. Would your employees catch at least one of the items that make this email suspicious? Note the sender email address, which includes Eze Castle Integration’s domain, the balance due amount and the type of company (medical) sending the invoice. You may (and hopefully do) have advanced email security mechanisms in place, but you still have to train your employees because scams are only going to get more sophisticated.
Security Awareness Tips for Your Hedge Fund Employees
Phishing attempts can occur via email, phone, instant message, SMS or social media. Here’s what to look out for:
Check the sender email address as well as “to” and “cc” fields
Is it personalized? Be wary of generic greetings
Improper spelling and grammar can be giveaways as well
When evaluating technology providers, there are a number of factors to consider when determining which is the best fit for your firm. One important, and often overlooked, criterion is the quality of the Help Desk. Alternative investment firms rely heavily on technology, but no technology is completely infallible. In the event of an unexpected issue, having a knowledgeable, experienced Help Desk at your fingertips is essential.
So, what makes an exceptional Help Desk?
In this article, we will take a look at some critical considerations and provide guidelines for what to look for when selecting a Help Desk provider for your firm.
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.
Freshness, simplicity, clarity. Words we may use to describe the Spring season. While we wait for warmer winds to come sweep away the chaos of winter, it may also be time to freshen up our digital ecosystems. Below are some tips to help with your spring cleaning process, whether you are looking to tighten up your personal security situation or aiming to stay on top of enterprise-wide security concerns for the sake of your business.
Get rid of “junk”. Old photos, videos, and archives take up disc space and slow performance.
Check up on unused software. First, see what it’s actual purpose is. If it’s not something you use or need, uninstall. This will reduce potential malware-targeted software.
Install program updates. Updates include critical security patches that combat ever-morphing computer viruses.
Refresh passwords. Make sure your passwords vary across different platforms. Use a combination of numbers, special characters, and upper and lowercase letters. If you are an administrator, flag accounts that have not undergone a password change in three months.
Categorized under: Trends We're Seeing
To help emerging hedge fund managers we are running a 6-week Hedge Fund Launch Webinar Series. This week we were joined by Frank Napolitani, Director, Financial Services at EisnerAmper. During the 30-minute interview, Frank shared insights on the benefits of outsourcing to service providers as well as advice on how to conduct proper due diligence on front, middle, and back office operations.
The Learning Curve
“There is a learning curve to get your hands around what it takes to run a business,” Frank began. Often, he said, a portfolio manager that has left a larger hedge fund complex or investment bank knows perfectly how to run a book, but has little knowledge about how to run a business. The smartest managers, Frank said, are the ones who “sit back, listen, and consult a number of different service providers in the space before moving forward.”
He went on to note that the operational due diligence (ODD) industry has grown dramatically post-Madoff. While a manager’s pedigree, investment process, and performance used to take precedence, it is now front, middle, and back office operations plus legal compliance that are most important.
Frank warned: “Keep everything up to date.” Sophisticated investors will follow up quarterly, twice a year, or annually. Because they collaborate with many ODD teams, research teams will immediately have a feel for what is right and what is wrong with a manager from a front, middle, and back office perspective. “They won’t waste too much time on someone they won’t seriously invest in,” Frank concluded.
This article is contributed by Richard Wilson of Hedge Fund Blogger and provides unique advice for setting up a family office entity.
The topic of how to setup a family office is deep and could cover a full week long intensive workshop, but for those looking for some of the basics we have come up with a checklist that will get families pointed in the right direction. This checklist is based on our work meeting face-to-face with 1,000 family offices now, and currently acting as CEO of a single family office with $500M that we helped a family start earlier this year.
Family Office Startup Checklist
As you start your family office, ensure the following:
A Family Compass document has been created to ensure that from the beginning, the vision, objectives, goals, values, mission, and history of the family has been documented and incorporated into the investing and operating plans of the single family office.
An operating plan on how day-to-day activities are carried out within the single family office has been established. A binder has been created which documents each of the Key Performance Indicators and critical processes to ensure the family office is operating as it should.
Financial controls are in place to prevent embezzlement, unauthorized investments, and style drift within an investment portfolio.
A core team has been identified and one individual has been appointed as the single family office CEO and/or CIO to act as the key executive making operational and/or investment decisions.
Categorized under: Trends We're Seeing
For any new investment startup, the task list is lengthy. Beyond investment priorities and strategy decisions, new managers are also grappling with securing office space, ordering technology, engaging with service providers, and much more. One aspect often overlooked is human resources. To kick off our Hedge Fund Launch Webinar Series, we invited Maya Cohen, Senior Vice President at TriNet, to share HR priorities for startup hedge fund managers.
Human Resources Challenges for Investment Startups
HR can pose a challenge to any new business owner. If you’re venturing out from a larger institution, you’re used to relying on a large HR department to meet your needs and answer your questions. Now, as the employer for the first time, you’re expected to fill that role seamlessly. You’ll soon be faced with situations unfamiliar to you: creating initial offer letters, negotiating healthcare costs, and dealing with employee terminations. You’ll need to think about the type of work environment you want to foster. Will it be casual or formal? Will you offer rich benefits to employees? How will you handle payroll questions? These are just a sample of the decisions you’ll need to make as you start your hedge fund.
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.