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THURSDAY TICKER: JULY 24th 2014 - New opportunities for European businesses, affordable energy bills for consumers, increased energy security through a significant reduction of natural gas imports and a positive impact on the environment: these are some of the expected benefits of the energy efficiency target for 2030 put forward today by the European Commission in a Communication. The proposed target of 30 % builds on the achievements already reached: new buildings use half the energy they did in the 1980s and industry is about 19% less energy intensive than in 2001. The proposed target goes beyond the 25% energy savings target which would be required to achieve a 40% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030. At the same time the framework on energy efficiency put forward today aims to strike the right balance between benefits and costs - The California Pension Fund (CalPERS) has told the American press that it might cutting back on its investments into the hedge fund arena by as much as 40%. A CalPERS spokesman told papers that the investment staff will make a formal recommendation to the board in the fall. CalPERS reported a preliminary 18.4% return on investments for the 12 months that ended June 30th this year. CalPERS’ assets at the end of the fiscal year stood at more than $300bn - The number of funds notifying the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) of their intention to privately place into Europe under AIFMD rules broke through the 150 mark ahead of the end of the AIFMD transitional phase this week. The JFSC figures show that, as at 22 July, a total of 164 funds had opted to make use of Jersey’s private placement route into Europe, and that the UK was the top intended market for managers, followed by Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands - Vodafone Group’s debt rating was cut one level at Moody’s Investors Service after the carrier made multibillion-dollar acquisitions to expand in Spain and Germany. The second-largest wireless company’s senior unsecured debt was cut to Baa1, the third-lowest investment grade, from A3, says Moody. The outlook is stable. Newbury, England-based Vodafone reported net debt of £13.7bn ($23.3bn) for the quarter ended March 31st. It is the first time Moody’s has given Vodafone a rating lower than A3 since 2007. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings rank Vodafone’s debt at A-, the fourth-lowest investment grade. Vodafone’s acquisition of cable operators in Europe and falling revenue in some of its biggest markets contributed to the cut, Moody’s said - In a separate report issued this week, Moody's says the stable outlook on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Aaa rating reflects the bank's conservative capital and liquidity practices, which should support its solid financial performances despite the challenging operating environment. The rating agency's report is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action. Moody's also notes that the bank benefits from very high liquidity, owing to its prudent treasury management policies, favourable debt structure and strong market access.

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Regulatory Update

Positioning your firm with investors

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Written by 
Positioning your firm with investors The evidence keeps mounting that operational risks can lead to poor returns on investment and even cause a firm’s failure. A new study to this effect has just been published in the Journal of Financial Economics (February 2012, Trust and Delegation by Stephen Brown et al.). Based on data from 444 hedge funds’ due diligence reports from 2003 to 2008, Brown and his team conclude that “high operational risk can potentially destroy investor value.” They write, “operational risk as we define it leads to direct and indirect losses that can be measured in terms of diminished performance. In extreme circumstances, operational failures can lead to fund failure.” http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The evidence keeps mounting that operational risks can lead to poor returns on investment and even cause a firm’s failure. A new study to this effect has just been published in the Journal of Financial Economics (February 2012, Trust and Delegation by Stephen Brown et al.). Based on data from 444 hedge funds’ due diligence reports from 2003 to 2008, Brown and his team conclude that “high operational risk can potentially destroy investor value.” They write, “operational risk as we define it leads to direct and indirect losses that can be measured in terms of diminished performance. In extreme circumstances, operational failures can lead to fund failure.”

Interestingly, during the pre-financial crisis time period reviewed in the study, there appears to have been no correlation between investor behavior and an awareness of operational risk.  However, in light of recent high-visibility blow-ups reflecting inadequate internal processes investor behavior has changed considerably. 

In fact, a recent study by Citi Prime Finance focusing on more current investor behavior concludes that day one and early stage allocators to hedge funds are acutely aware of operational risk. In that study, the investors’ top three concerns – track record, previous experience working together and investment team stability – were followed by a concern with the fund's operational infrastructure. (See Day One and Early Stage Investor Allocations to Hedge Funds, Citi Prime Finance, February 2012.)  The study notes, “[t]here is growing sentiment that managers need to be more ‘institutional’ at launch to reflect a changing investor base.”

Given the results of these studies, an important way to set your firm apart from the rest is to highlight the quality of your firm’s governance structure and its related business functions and operational processes. Despite the concerns of potential clients, many managers mistakenly shy away from discussing operational risks, including compliance and regulatory issues. Instead, this calls for a proactive approach that differentiates the manager from the pack and allays concerns, which would otherwise delay an initial allocation, reduce its size, or prevent it altogether. Address this in an early page in your pitchbook. From then on, an investor should be primed to focus on your performance, your unique strategy, and your investment personnel. 

Deborah Prutzman

Deborah Prutzman is the founder and CEO of The Regulatory Fundamentals Group (RFG), a New York-based firm that designs and implements business and risk solutions for alternative asset managers and institutional investors. RFG's senior-led team employs a robust suite of tools, including practical alerts on new and potential industry developments and its powerful RFG Pathfinder® knowledge management platform which simplifies the challenges of operating in a regulated environment.  To learn more about The Regulatory Fundamentals Group call (212) 537-4058, email a representative at Information@RegFG.com or visit RegFG.com

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