Thursday 30th October 2014
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THURSDAY TICKER: OCTOBER 30TH 2014: - In ConvergEx’s survey of financial market professional, released today, uust 17% of respondents say they approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, while 73% said they disapprove. (This compares with a 41% approval/54% disapproval rating for the President in the RealClearPolitics average, 10/8-10/23/2014) Half (50%) of those surveyed give the President a “D” or “F” grade on handling issues of concern to the financial services industry. Opinions of Congress are even lower, with just 8% approving of the job being done by Congress and 81% disapproving. (This compares with a 13% approval/79% disapproval rating for Congress in the RealClearPolitics average, 10/3-10/20/2014. Almost half (46%) give Congress a “D” or “F” grade on handling issues of concern to the financial services industry. 69% of respondents say they would like Republicans to be in control of the Senate following the elections, a figure above even the 65% who say they plan to vote Republican in their own House districts. By 61% to 14%, Republicans are trusted over Democrats on issues impacting the financial services industry. For 8 of 9 market sectors, a higher percentage of respondents said equities would respond positively to a GOP win than to a Democratic win. Only for the Heath Care sector do more investors expect a positive outcome in response to Democrats holding the Senate - The Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) posted a net profit (before deducting minority interest) of QAR503m in 3Q2014, flat QoQ, but 79% higher than a particularly weak 3Q2013. CBQ’s operating income in 3Q2014 increased 16% YoY but dropped 10% QoQ, driven by lower-than-expected results at subsidiary ABank. ABank’s operating income tumbled around 23% QoQ as non-interest income plummeted. For CBQ excluding ABank, operating income stood at around QR 764 million in 3Q2014, up 12% YoY, down 6% QoQ - Moody's has today assigned a provisional (P)B1 corporate family rating (CFR) to Kompania Weglowa SA, the parent company of the group. This provisional rating is subject to the successful completion of the issuance of new notes as currently contemplated by management. Concurrently, Moody's has assigned a provisional (P)B1 rating with a loss-given default (LGD) assessment of 3 (46%) to the senior unsecured notes to be issued by Kompania Weglowa Finance AB (publ), a financing vehicle owned by the company. The outlook on all ratings is stable - ING Group will release its 3Q 2014 results on Wednesday November 5th around 7:00 am CET - AIMCo, Allianz Capital Partners, EDF Invest andHastings have closed its buy of Porterbrook, a UK-based rolling stock leasing company. orterbrook is one of three main rolling stock companies (ROSCOs) in the UK that owns and leases a fleet of passenger and freight rolling stock to Train Operating Companies and Freight Operating Companies under long term contracts. It owns 32 per cent of total passenger rolling stock in the UK. No financial terms were disclosed - Fixed-income markets remain volatile: Europe is challenged, Brazil might struggle, and China is dealing with a potential property bubble. Opportunities nonetheless remain rife for savvy investors, particularly in the high-yield markets. Western Asset believes high-yield should be a key component of any successfully diversified bond portfolio. "We are pretty bullish on credit in general, and high-yield in particular," says Michael Buchanan, head of Global Credit at Western Asset. "Credit is less about the overall economic environment and more about strong corporate fundamentals. Corporations can do well in a mediocre economy, and that seems to be what's happening. Three factors are important right now: the overall economic environment is supportive; strong active management allows us to identify the right opportunities; and valuations are as compelling as they have been in months. This is a good time to take a fresh look at high-yield." Western Asset also believes high-yield products will offer price appreciation as spreads should tighten. On the global economic environment, Mr. Buchanan echoed Western Asset views that interest rates are poised to rise – albeit slowly, and via a process that will be carefully measured. Rates will not be meaningfully higher in the near future, or at least the moves will be gradual – According to Moody’s while the US government's current fiscal position remains relatively healthy, mandatory social spending will begin weakening the current fiscal profile of the US government at the end of the decade. For the next few years, barring another shock like the global financial crisis, the US budget deficit is expected to remain well within historical norms with Federal government debt ratios stable. However, the fiscal implications of the US government's healthcare-related programs likely will put pressure on its credit profile before the end of the decade, absent unexpected and sustained growth in revenue due to higher than expected GDP growth, additional tax increases, or reductions in planned expenditures, says Moody’s.

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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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