Private equity firms have been slow to embrace outsourcing, but managing data and technology is more complex than ever. With increasing regulatory requirements and a growing urge to focus on core competencies, PE firms are shifting their views of the back office. In case you missed our recent webinar on 'The Transformation of Private Equity Operations', speakers from Citco Fund Services and Eze Castle Integration examined the changing tide for private equity operations and how CFOs, CTOs and fund managers alike can control operating costs, maximize efficiency and better perfect operational workflows.
Drivers for change.
The number one reason for managers to make the switch to an outsourced solution is the desire for managers to get back to their roots. The idea of back office transformation is really founded in that managers have found themselves spending much more time doing everything but raising money and investing money.
Beneath this layer, back office transformation is also driven by regulation, investor transparency, the lifecycle of a private equity firm, and global reach. Slow adoption, fast results. The private equity sector has been slow on the uptake when it comes to outsourcing, and we contribute this lag due to lack of education on the process and benefits of outsourcing. In the past three to five years, adoption in the PE space has increased because it is cost effective, secure and feature rich. Private equity firms that have made the switch wonder why others are not doing the same. The idea of leveraging an experienced managed service provider is one that private equity firms have really embraced because there is no burden for firms to hire and attract talent, which can be challenging and expensive.
As we work with clients on completing due diligence questionnaires (DDQs), one increasingly common question is, “does your firm block access to data sharing sites such as DropBox or Google Drive?”
Generally the answer to this question should be ‘Yes,’ but that isn’t always the case because public file sharing services such as these are very convenient, and firms may overlook the security risk they pose. Additionally, employees accustomed to using Dropbox for personal use may be tempted to go for convenience over security when they need to share a large file or data set.
However, with security threats multiplying exponentially, hedge funds and alternative investment firms need to be proactive in protecting data and personally identifiable information (PII) from accidental and malicious insider risks. That’s why for secure file sharing Eze Castle Integration includes Varonis' DatAnywhere product as a standard feature within our Eze Managed Suite. Varonis' DatAnywhere offers users seamless and secure collaboration and file sharing across devices.
Beyond security, Varonis' DatAnywhere is easy to use. Users receive the same drag-n-drop experience as shared network drives or a cloud sync folder, which means no need for training on complex user interfaces and collaboration workflows. Additionally, data is automatically backed up and version controlled.
In the context of information technology, social engineering refers to the act of tricking people into divulging confidential or sensitive business information, and breaking security policies. This form of attack infiltrates companies by targeting their weakest access point, which predominantly is a firm’s employees.
The Art of the Phishing Con
Let’s examine a popular technique for social engineering known as phishing. In a phishing scheme, the hacker broadly disseminates a fraudulent email with aim to acquire sensitive data, such as, login credentials, IT resources or banking information. The message may request the recipient to submit personal information or to click on a link embedded with malware. Although this approach rarely dupes sophisticated users, a distracted employee could make one mistake and compromise a firm’s entire network.
In its 2015 priorities, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) listed cybersecurity as a key focus area in its risk-based assessments. Then on February 3, 2015, OCIE released summary findings from its Cybersecurity Examination Sweep.
OCIE’s sweep focused on written documentation for their assessment and conducted "limited testing" of the accuracy of the responses. They did not review the technical sufficiency of the firms’ programs either. OCIE’s reliance on documentation highlights the importance of complete Written Information Security Policies.
Following are noteworthy items Eze Castle Integration observed in reviewing the findings.
Most firms adopted written information security policies, but 43% of advisers did not conduct periodic audits to determine compliance with these information security policies and procedures.
49% of advisers did not discuss mitigating the effects of a cybersecurity incident and/or outline the plan to recover from such an incident in their written business continuity plans.
The vast majority of examined firms conduct periodic risk assessments, on a firm-wide basis, to identify cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and potential business consequences. However, only 32% of advisers require cybersecurity risk assessments of vendors with access to their firms’ networks.
In the Written Information Security Plans (WISP) Eze Castle Integration creates for clients, we include service provider risk assessments as a standard element.
Today we released a new whitepaper that looks at a growing trend we are seeing -- billion dollar hedge funds and investment firms moving to the cloud. Here is a sneak peak at the paper's content as well as a video interview with Bob Guilbert on why firms should read, Why the Billion Dollar Club is Headed to the Cloud.
It’s More Than Managing Money
There’s more competition in financial services than ever before. Every week, new and agile boutique firms sprout up, armed with proprietary models and the right technology foundation to compete – intensely – with the major players for billions of investment dollars. Firms of every size are competing to deliver broader ranges of increasingly exotic instruments, specialized funds, and high-performance investments that deliver competitive returns to investors whose demands and expectations continue to climb.
But when it comes to performance and success in financial services, there’s more to evaluate than just the hard numbers. Returns alone aren’t enough. Today, savvy firms know they need to deliver more. In a post-Madoff, post-2008 world, the SEC and FINRA – and investors as well – are scrutinizing all corners of the operation. There’s an increased focus on how operational risk is managed and how firms respond to greater demands for transparency. That means it’s more important than ever for firms to deploy and maintain robust, scalable, and secure technology infrastructures.
Moving to the cloud is one of our favorite topics here on Hedge IT, and there is a compelling argument for hedge funds and alternative investment firms to consider leveraging the cloud for some or all of their infrastructure. INDOS Financial, an independent Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) depository based in London is one firm that chose to utilize the private cloud for their growing firm, and we’re excited to share their experience with you.
Watch the video below for an interview with Bill Prew, CEO and founder of INDOS Financial, as he talks about selecting the right technology infrastructure for his firm’s increasing demands.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here is an infographic of our 2013 Global Hedge Fund Technology Benchmark Study that explores the most common front, middle and back office applications and technology used at today's hedge funds.
Data center facilities are at the heart of any cloud offering and, as such, are getting more scrutiny as hedge funds evaluate who the right cloud provider is for them.
Earlier this year we created a pretty infograpic that mapped what firms should look for in a colocation facility. Remember this?
Since not everyone loves infograpics, we decided to spell out what we look for in a colocation facility. Our due diligence is extensive, but here are some of the high points.
Ownership, Operation & Support: Eze Castle Integration seeks a colocation facility that is owned and operated by a reputable organization with vast industry knowledge and experience. Additionally, the personnel and client support must be of the highest quality in order to ensure that all Eze Castle colocation clients receive the best service and support possible.
Are you like one of the millions of people pondering the answer to ‘what is hypervisor-based replication and how will it change my disaster recovery approach’? I know I was.
So, let me help you with that!
Our technology experts here at Eze Castle Integration spent some time in the lab testing and evaluating hypervisor-based replication and recently incorporated it into our Eze Disaster Recovery 2.0 offering. We think it delivers excellent benefits, but let’s start with the basics.
What is hypervisor-based replication?
TechTarget defines hypervisor-based replication as “a technology that automatically creates and maintains replicas of virtual hard disks or entire virtual machines (depending on the platform that is being used).” Analyst firm IDC goes on to say that this replication approach “protects virtual machines (VMs) at the virtual machine disk format file level rather than at the LUN or storage volume level, thus replication can be done without the management and TCO challenges associated with array-based replication.”
Like David bravely dueling with the larger Goliath, small and mid-sized investment firms are often faced with insurmountable odds when competing against larger (and better endowed) funds. With more experience and more assets, larger firms have the advantage when it comes to soliciting investor allocations. But do these inherent shortcomings equal certain failure? If David can emerge victorious, can’t smaller hedge funds?
Earlier this week, we gathered a panel of experts in San Francisco to discuss this topic at length. Following is a brief synopsis of the topics they covered.