Wednesday 23rd July 2014
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TUESDAY TICKER: JULY 22nd 2014 - The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has been transformed into a company from a mutual society, opening the way for a public listing on the bourse it operates. The ZSE has been owned and run by stock brokers since 1946, but after demutualisation the brokers now hold 68% while the government owns the remaining shares. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) alerts the financial services community and members of the public to misuse of the DFSA's name. It has come to the DFSA's attention that a fraudulent email purporting to be from the DFSA has been sent to a number of firms both inside and outside the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The false email: purports to be about a "DFSA Anti-Money Laundering Violation"; appears to come from "Amina Alshehi" from "Audit & Compliance"; attaches a "non-compliance notice"; and uses legitimate DFSA contact details. The email is fake, warns the DFSA. - Surecomp, the provider of trade finance solutions for banks and corporations, says Nordea has gone live in Frankfurt and London with the stand-alone version of allNETT, Surecomp's Web-based trade finance front-end solution – Saudi’s Kingdom Holding Company announced a net income for the second quarter this year of SAR211.7m up 16.8% on the previous quarter. The gross operating profit was SAR420.3m up 26.2% on the same quarter in 2013. Mohammed Fahmy CFO, says: “The second payment of dividends has been deposited in shareholders’ accounts. The outlook for the company’s profitability remains strong.” - Northern Trust has reported a 20 percent rise in assets under custody and a 15% rise in assets under management for Q2 2014 compared to Q2 2013.The Corporate and Institutional Services (C&IS) and wealth management businesses also report a 9% rise in custody and fund administration services, investment management and securities lending. Frederick Waddell, the bank’s chief executive officer, says, “Our business continued to expand in the second quarter as trust, investment and other servicing fees, which represent 65% of revenue, increased 8% compared to last year and assets under custody and under management increased 20% and 15%, respectively.” - In the latest Investment Quarterly for Q3 2014, Renee Chen, Macro and Investment Strategist at HSBC Global Asset Management, looks at the investment prospects throughout the Asia region. Chen identifies macro trends that are likely to shape investment themes in Asian markets, such as economic policy reforms, economic rebalancing and regional cooperation and integration that will provide a wide diversity of investment opportunities in relevant sectors. Financial deepening, in terms of financial system reform and deregulation and capital market developments, is another macro theme. HSBC continues to see opportunities in various sectors that could potentially benefit from structural reforms in several Asian countries. In particular, effective implementation of reforms could lead to a sustainable improvement in economic fundamentals and the growth prospects of China and India, prompting a reform-led re-rating of Chinese and Indian stocks. The continued search for yield resulted in decent H1 performance in Asian credit markets and there has been continued investor appetite for emerging Asian bonds, but Chen cautions that valuations could become a constraint, with limited room for further spread compression in some sectors and markets. However, the still-low default rates and overall healthy level of leverage among Asian companies on the back of overall sound Asian economic fundamentals provide a solid base for Asian credit market in the medium-to-long term.

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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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