Sunday 7th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: Friday, February 5th: According to Reuters, Venezuela's central bank has begun negotiations with Deutsche Bank AG to carry out gold swaps to improve the liquidity of its foreign reserves as it faces debt payments of some $9.5bn this year. Around 64% of Venezuela's $15.4bn reserves are held in gold bars, which in this fluid market impedes the central bank's ability to mobilise hard currency for imports or debt service. We called the central bank to confirm the story, but press spokesmen would not comment - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) says official foreign currency reserves stood at $357bn (equivalent to seven times the currency in circulation or 48% of Hong Kong M3) as at the end of January, down compared with reserve assets of $358.8bn in December. There were no unsettled foreign exchange contracts at month end (end-December: $0.1bn) - BNP Paribas today set out plans to cut investment banking costs by 12% by 2019 to bolster profitability and reassure investors about the quality of its capital buffers. The bank is the latest in a line of leading financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Barclays and Deutsche Bank which look to be moving away from capital intensive activities. BNP Paribas has been selling non-core assets and cutting back on operations including oil and gas financing for the last few years as it looks to achieve a target of 10% return on equity. Last year the bank announced a €900m write-down on its BNL unit in Italy, which pushed down Q4 net income down 51.7% to €665m - Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)-listed tech company, Huge Group, will move its listing from the Alternative Exchange (AltX) to the JSE main board on March 1st - Moody's says it has assigned Aaa backed senior unsecured local-currency ratings to a drawdown under export credit provider Oesterreichische Kontrollbank's (OKB) (P)Aaa-rated backed senior unsecured MTN program. The outlook is negative in line with the negative outlook assigned to the Aaa ratings of the Republic of Austria, which guarantees OKB’s liabilities under the Austrian Export Financing Guarantees Act – As the first phase of talks between Greece and its creditors draws to an end, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde stressed to journalists in Greece that debt relief is as important as the reforms that creditors are demanding, notably of the pension system. "I have always said that the Greek program has to walk on two legs: one is significant reforms and one is debt relief. If the pension [system] cannot be as significantly and substantially reformed as needed, we could need more debt relief on the other side." Greece's pension system must become sustainable irrespective of any debt relief that creditors may decide to provide, Lagarde said, adding that 10% of gross domestic product into financing the pension system, compared to an average of 2.5% in the EU, is not sustainable. She called for "short-term measures that will make it sustainable in the long term,” but did not outline what those measures might be. According to Eurobank in Athens, IMF mission heads reportedly met this morning with the Minister of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity, Georgios Katrougalos, before the team is scheduled to leave Athens today. According to the local press, it appears that differences exist between the Greek government and official creditors on the planned overhaul of the social security pension system. Provided that things go as planned, the heads are reportedly expected to return by mid-February with a view to completing the review by month end, or at worst early March. In its Winter 2016 Economic Forecast published yesterday, the European Commission revised higher Greece’s GDP growth forecast for 2015 and 2016 to 0.0% and -0.7%, respectively, from -1.4% and 1.-3% previously - Fitch says that The Bank of Italy's (BoI) recent designation of three banks as 'other systemically important institutions' (O-SIIs) has no impact on its ratings of the relevant mortgage covered bond (Obbligazioni Bancarie Garantite or OBG) programmes. Last month, BoI identified UniCredit, Intesa Sanpaolo. and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena as Italian O-SIIs. Banco Popolare and Mediobanca have not been designated O-SIIs. This status is the equivalent of domestic systemically important bank status under EU legislation. Fitch rates two OBG programmes issued by UC and one issued by BMPS, which incorporates a one-notch Issuer Default Rating (IDR) uplift above the banks' IDRs. The uplift can be assigned if covered bonds are exempt from bail-in, as is the case with OBG programmes under Italy's resolution regime and in this instance takes account of the issuers' importance in the Italian banking sector – Meantime, according to local press reports, Italian hotel group Bauer and special opportunity fund Blue Skye Investment Group report they have completed the rescheduling and refinancing of Bauer’s €110m debt through the issue of new bonds and the sale of non-core assets, such as the farming business Aziende Agricole Bennati, whose sale has already been agreed, the Palladio Hotel & Spa and a luxury residence Villa F in Venice’s Giudecca island – Meantime, Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has also agreed a restructuring of its debt with credits after two intense years of talks. The mining company, is controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin - Asian markets had a mixed day, coming under pressure. Dollar strengthening worries investors in Asia; from today’s trading it looks like dollar weakening does as well. Actually, that’s not the issue, the dollar has appreciated steadily over the last year as buyers anticipated Fed tightening; but it has hurt US exports and that has contributed to investor nervousness over the past few weeks, which is why everyone is hanging on today’s The nonfarm payrolls report, a bellwether of change – good or bad in the American economic outlook. Back to Asia. The Nikkei 225 ended the day at 16819.15, down 225.40 points, or 1.32%; and as the stock market fell the yen continued to strengthen. The Nikkei has shed 5.85% this week. The dollar-yen pair fell to the 116-handle, at 116.82 in afternoon trade; earlier this week, the pair was trading above 120. It is a hard lesson for the central bank, whose efforts to take the heat out of the yen by introducing negative interest rates has done nothing of the sort. Australia's ASX 200 closed down 4.15 points, or 0.08% after something of a mixed week. The index closed at 4976.20, with the financial sector taking most of the heat today, with the sector down 0.7%. In contrast, energy and materials sectors finished in positive territory, buoyed by gains in commodities. The Hang Seng Index closed at 19288.17, up 105.08 points (or 0.55%) while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.61%. down 17.07 points to 2763.95. The Shenzhen composite dropped 20.36 points (1.15%) to 1750.70, while the Kospi rose marginally by 0.08% to 1917.79. Today is the last day of trading on the Chinese exchanges for a week.

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A streamlined approach

Friday, 15 June 2012
A streamlined approach The European asset management industry has grown considerably over the last ten years. Assets under management (AUM) stood at €3trn at the end of 2001, and had reached €7.89trn by the end of the second quarter (Q2) 2011. This growth, which will support the savings and retirement of a large portion of the European population, means asset managers have an enormous responsibility to their end clients. By Ann Doherty and Brian Coughlin, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services (WSS). http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The European asset management industry has grown considerably over the last ten years. Assets under management (AUM) stood at €3trn at the end of 2001, and had reached €7.89trn by the end of the second quarter (Q2) 2011. This growth, which will support the savings and retirement of a large portion of the European population, means asset managers have an enormous responsibility to their end clients. By Ann Doherty and Brian Coughlin, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services (WSS).

It is inevitable that asset managers want to retain their investment gains by reducing uncertainty and risk from their activities as much as possible and increase straight through processing (STP) and transparency, particularly in today’s volatile environment. One way to achieve that is to use a custodian that can provide all of these benefits through a streamlined product offering to help reduce both costs and risks while keeping up with the ever-

changing regulatory environment.



The objectives of asset managers present their own challenges, particularly with a regulatory reform agenda framed by G20 commitments, which culminated in the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act and the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). Since 2008, regulation has been constantly evolving and expanding. In addition to those two regulations, investors also have to adjust to the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), UCITs IV, AIFMD, FATCA, Basel III and Solvency II.

To understand and execute on what regulators expect from them, asset managers today look to their service provider for help with the provision of an industry-leading  global custody and securities services offering with innovative technology to meet their daily requirements; seamless execution to increase STP and reduce risk; thought leadership to help them understand how regulation and potential market events could affect them (as well as their end-clients) and provide appropriate and timely data analysis.

Inevitably, the most sophisticated asset managers want to work with a securities services provider that can provide global reach and which has sufficient resources of capital to invest in industry-leading systems and technology. That means all of their requirements are met in one place. Investors then benefit and can have confidence in the fact that whatever complexity is injected into the market, whether by unexpected market events or by regulators, their custodian will be able to manage it.

Next, asset managers want seamless execution to help them eliminate risk and costs. Recognising the important role that asset managers play in the savings and pensions industry, regulators are putting pressure on them to provide their end clients with transpar­ency and as little risk as possible.  To do that, fund managers must tighten up the chain in their post-trade activities. 

For their part, custodians have been moving into more consultative technology-driven services for years, which asset managers and other users of custodian and related securities services have greatly benefitted from. Increasingly, these users of securities services are looking to their providers to move even closer to their front office, even coming just after the trading and investment decision. 

In the past, using one firm’s investment bank to execute trades and using the same bank’s custodian arm might have raised concerns about whether this one-stop-shop provided the best execution and cost in the market. ­Regulations, particularly MiFID, have removed that uncertainty.

Finding a provider that can tick the first two boxes as well as provide the critical consultative thought leadership all asset managers look for to keep up with regulatory and market changes, isn’t easy. Asset managers look to their service providers to provide ­information about changes arising from the rapidly evolving regulatory environment, to ensure that new requirements are understood and ­prepared for. Large international firms that are present in multiple jurisdictions are best placed to have a view of regulatory changes and to adapt their services to new requirements on a global basis.

Lastly, asset managers also rely on service providers to help them provide up-to-date and transparent data ­analysis, which is a critical reporting requirement to regulators, governments, trustees and other stakeholders, and is part of their own internal risk reviews.

This means asset managers want detailed information about their ­transactions, securities held, and ­breakdown of the core characteristics of those assets. They also want this data delivered in a fast and efficient manner, which requires a strong STP framework. This presents a challenge and an opportunity for service providers as it is not an easy task pulling together different sets of data and presenting it in a format that asset managers can consume and customise.

To meet all of these requirements, a service provider has to continuously invest in technology, and have ­regu­latory experts who can quickly analyse new regulations and understand how they will fit and potentially impact existing regulations with which asset managers are already complying. This re­quires a delicate balance between investing in business enhancements and people, while maintaining required capital levels. Large global custodians with the capacity to invest in its technology and systems are more able to make these investments than smaller firms.  

Asset managers are looking to ­securities services providers to act more strategically then ever before. By using one bank for all activities following the investment decision, asset managers are recognising their ability to cut potentially weak links from their post-trade chain, and rationalise the number of providers they use. This coordinated servicing effort across a firm, usually a bank, enables the large and fully-integrated players to really understand an asset manager’s needs, requirements, product and geo­graphical expansion plans. This support across many distribution channels helps fund managers reduce cost,

outsource the risk by leveraging ­operational cap­abilities, risk management capabilities and therefore offers a much better and broader value proposition. Today, a service provider must have all the ­necessary tools in the tool box and be willing and able to use them.

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