Wednesday 10th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: KPMG has appointed Adrian Stone as its UK head of audit with immediate effect, succeeding Tony Cates who now leads KPMG's international markets and government practice. Stone joined KPMG's Sheffield office in 1984 and has been an audit partner since 1997. He previously held several senior roles in KPMG's audit practice including head of audit for the north of England and Scotland, chief operating officer for the UK audit practice, head of internal audit and head of KPMG's department of professional practice. He has been KPMG's interim head of audit since November last year - Bridge Bank says it has provided faith based Spark Networks with a $10m revolving credit facility - BNP Paribas Securities Services has been appointed by Sampo Group, the Finnish financial services group, to provide global custody and settlement services for Sampo’s €25bn of insurance assets held globally - Saudi Arabia is reportedly reconsidering the requirement for foreign companies setting up in the country to have a local partner. A committee led by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labour, will look at ways to spur additional inward investment into the realm, according to newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. The committee is expected to ease the bureaucratic barriers for foreign firms that want access to the Saudi Arabian economy. Foreign direct investment is vital as the kingdom looks to make up foreign exchange losses and balance its $98bn budget deficit – European president Donald Tusk met with Georgian premier Giorgi Kvirikashvili today. Discussion focused on continued reforms of the Georgian judiciary, rule of law and human rights are important priorities and I underlined the EU's readiness to assist. It is crucial that criminal investigations and prosecutions be evidence-based, transparent and impartial, in line with the commitments of the Association Agreement. “I share Georgia's concerns about the continued implementation of the so-called “treaties" between Russia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I saw for myself the situation at the administrative boundary line, including the "borderisation" [sic] process, during my last visit to Georgia,” said Tusk following the meeting. The European Union will continue to give its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.” - February 9th 2016: The Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) at its meeting today confirmed the appointment of Małgorzata Zaleska as President of the Management Board of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, following her appointment as president on January 12th. Zaleska is the director of the Institute of Banking, Warsaw School of Economics; the Chairperson of the Committee of Finance Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences; a member of the NBP Economic Research Committee; a member of the Central Commission for Degrees in Finance – Today’s equity markets tell a tale of fears of a global slowdown with even the US considered a candidate for recession. The US session yesterday was not pretty, with the S&P500 down 1.42%. The index has lost around 9% of its value this year and is now 13% below the nominal high that it reached last year. The DJIA was down 1.1% and Nasdaq100 fell 1.59%. The Nasdaq100 is now 17.92% below the nominal high that it reached last year. Swissquote says: “The sentiment is risk-off at the moment, with gold reaching $1,200 for the first time since June. Gold’s bullish momentum continues yet commodity linked currencies such as the AUD and NZD failed to gain the advantage as outside precious metals and other commodities broadly fell. In particular, WTI Crude is now back around below $30 a barrel over continued oversupply concerns. Markets are now fearing that this period of lingering low oil prices could last a long time”. – In the Asian session Japanese stocks fell more than 5% and the yield on the benchmark government bond dropped into negative territory for the first time. The decision by the Bank of Japan to introduce negative interest rates looks to have pushed down yields for both short and longer termed bonds. In afternoon trading in the Asian session, the benchmark 10-year government bond was yielding minus 0.025; in other words, investors were willing to lend the over-indebted Japanese government money for 10 years and get back less than they put in. Remember that Japanese sovereign debt is more than double the country’s GDP. The question is now, how far down can yields go? Moreover, when will central banks stop flirting with negative interest rates. It is a dangerous policy. The stock market took the brunt of investor fears today, as the Nikkei Stock Average closed y down 5.4%, falling 918.86 points to finish at 16,085.44. This is a sizeable drop and the largest one-day fall for about two and a half years. Yet again, the yen did well, rising against the US dollar to 114.80. Financial shares took the brunt of today’s pain with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (MTU) shares closing down 8.7%, and Nomura Holdings losing 9.1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended the session 2.9% lower, and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was down 1.3%. India's Sensex was 1.2% lower. Chinese, Singapore and Korean markets are closed today. In Europe, equity futures are mixed. The CAC40 has dropped 0.22%, the DAX is down 0.21% while the FTSE100 is unchanged, but there’s still half a day’s trading to go.

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Regulatory Update

Protect Your Firm... And Your Personal Assets!

Monday, 30 July 2012 Written by 
Protect Your Firm... And Your Personal Assets! Hoping for a respite from regulatory change?  Think again.  Gathering forces may create a regulatory storm that is even more difficult than the one faced in the 2007-2009 financial crisis.  In this tempest, both the regulated and the regulators will have bull’s-eyes on their backs.  Regulators are likely to become more conservative in their analysis and more active.  It is therefore imperative to assess your firm now and prepare yourself to withstand regulatory inquiries.  You can also expect more scrutiny from investors who will seek to allocate funds only to those firms that they believe are fully complying with applicable laws and regulations. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Hoping for a respite from regulatory change?  Think again.  Gathering forces may create a regulatory storm that is even more difficult than the one faced in the 2007-2009 financial crisis.  In this tempest, both the regulated and the regulators will have bull’s-eyes on their backs.  Regulators are likely to become more conservative in their analysis and more active.  It is therefore imperative to assess your firm now and prepare yourself to withstand regulatory inquiries.  You can also expect more scrutiny from investors who will seek to allocate funds only to those firms that they believe are fully complying with applicable laws and regulations.

What fuels this gathering storm?  Outright major misappropriations by the likes of Madoff and Peregrine's Wasendorf are part of the equation.  In addition, events such as the LIBOR-fixing scandal at Barclays, J.P. Morgan’s “London Whale” trading losses, and MF Global’s failure to segregate customer funds serve as cautionary examples.

These stories highlight that a firm’s assets, reputation, and in some cases, even the firm’s fundamental viability are at stake when things go awry.  As if that weren’t bad enough, senior executives face additional consequences.  In these and other similar incidents, personal assets can be at stake even when others are the primary wrongdoers.  



Think you are immune from these risks?  Think again.  Labaton Sucharow LLP, a plaintiff's law firm, recently published a unsettling study indicating that one in four financial industry professionals in the U.S. and U.K. believe wrongdoing is necessary for success.  If this study is credible, the message it sends to the general public is highly negative.  It speaks to senior management of alternative investment firms loud and clear: sometimes the best-intentioned executive may have an employee who hears an "unintended message" and veers off course.  Intended or not, the executive may ultimately bear responsibility. 

The first line of defense for an investment advisory firm and its executives is to build a culture in which the firm’s standards clearly and consistently meet all applicable regulatory and ethical expectations.  It is particularly important for firm leaders to reaffirm these standards and expectations during times of economic and operational stress, when legal and internal requirements may appear to conflict with business drivers (such as maximizing short-term results).  Employees must internalize that senior management will take the ethical route in order to maximize the long-term value of the firm—and expects them to do the same.

The second line of defense, at least in the U.S., is to develop a governance structure that satisfies the requirements specified in the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual.  This manual offers incentives to companies that adopt a comprehensive compliance and ethics program (and take certain actions upon the occurrence of alleged missteps).  A program that satisfies these requirements will contain elements in addition to those required by the SEC and CFTC.  Complying with the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual can be an invaluable safeguard that reduces the likelihood of an executive or his firm being charged with criminal violations.

The third line of defense is to undertake an honest self-assessment, and to consider the types of pressures that senior management and employees will encounter should the weakened state of the global economy continue.  Topics in the regulatory spotlight should be included in this assessment.  The intent here is to prepare for the possible pressures employees and senior management might face, thereby reducing the chance that hasty decisions are made in the heat of the moment. Ill-considered actions can carry serious penalties and act as a lightning rod for litigation by regulators, investors, and other third parties (such as credit providers).  Advance preparation will help your staff make faster and better decisions if the need should arise. 

You can't always remove that bull’s-eye on your back, but you can at least make the target less bright.

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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