Monday 28th July 2014
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According to Adam Cordery, global head of European fixed income, Santander Asset Management, and fund manager for the Santander Euro Corporate Short Term and Euro Corporate bond funds, “Pricing of risk assets doesn’t offer much of a margin for error at the moment. And now Europe is starting to go on holiday, market liquidity may get poorer than normal, and any buys today may well have to be holds until September. It is always interesting to note what yields are required to attract clients to financial products. Twenty years ago, bond funds offering yields of 10%+ could generally attract lots of client interest very quickly. However as rates have come down over the years, so the yields clients demand have fallen. Now 4% seems to be the new 10%, he say. Cordery thinks that unfortunately, investors often want today the yield/risk mix that was available last year, so the products that get launched, sold and bought in size may be more risky than people think. “Products with 4% yield will sell well today, but to get to a 4% yield in Euro you need to invest in a portfolio with an average rating of single-B, and that is far from being risk-free. I get the impression the conventional wisdom today is to think that interest rates must surely go up soon and the main risk to bond portfolios is an increase in bund yields. Because of this many investors are buying short-duration products and floating rate notes, perhaps viewing them as a safe choice, almost like cash. It is possible however that these products may yet prove to have a considerable sensitivity to changes in credit market spreads and/or bond market liquidity, and may prove to be no protection at all.” - Commenting on the RBS share price jump, Dr Pete Hahn of Cass Business School, says “It's hard to tell whether the RBS share price jump today is more about relief or optimism. The former is about fewer fines, fewer losses on loans, and fewer costs in a shrinking business and possibly dividends for shareholders. And there's the rub, owning shares (as opposed to interest bearing debt) should be about optimism and long-term growth in dividends. But from a shrinking business? Few would argue that RBS' retail and corporate bank had efficiencies to be gained and cash flow that might be converted to dividends; yet like most banks, RBS' cost of equity remains stubbornly and appropriately above its ability to provide a return on that equity. For shareholders, current improvements should mean dividends in the medium term but a recognition that RBS may lack any merit for new investment and delivering any long-term dividend growth - not good. While many large retail banks are getting safer, in some aspects, and we often speak of them in terms of moving toward utility type models, banks take risks, are cyclical, face competition, have new business challengers, and are simply are not utilities. Investors shouldn't get ahead of themselves here.” - According to the monthly survey held by the central bank of Turkey, the country’s capacity utilization (CU) rate declined slightly to 74.9% in July from 75.3% in June. Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted (SA) CU also declined to 74.3% from 74.7% in June, writes Mehmet Besimoglu at Oyak Yatirim Research. As for manufacturing confidence, the index declined to 109 from 110.7 in May. On SA basis, the index also edged down slightly to 106.4 from 107.2. SA capacity utilisation was broadly stable in 1H14, averaging at 74.7%. This is the same level with the 2013 average. Despite the political turmoil and volatility in financial markets, activity has been relatively resilient. Export recovery & government spending supported production in 1H. Following the elections, public spending relatively decelerated. The turmoil in Iraq also decelerated export recovery from June. Nevertheless, we still expect 3.5% GDP growth in 2014, writes Besimoglu.

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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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