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The subject of hedge fund operational due diligence is one that has risen to the forefront for both hedge fund managers and investors in recent years. Historically, there has been a general lack of transparency within the hedge fund industry; larger funds, in particular, often balked at investor inquiries. Due diligence, as a process, did not gain significant importance until just a few short years ago. Hedge funds managers and investors are now taking due diligence seriously and making conscious steps to maintain open communication and increase information-sharing. Operational excellence has become one of the most important factors to hedge fund investors today as they determine where to allocate their money. What service providers are you engaged with and how do you determine their quality of service?
Investors need to understand why hedge funds have made each of their operational choices, including when it comes to technology.
Investors have become much more aware of technology and how important a role it plays in the day-to-day operations of a hedge fund. Hedge funds should be prepared to recover from both short- and long-term disasters and be prepared to outline their processes and procedures (in writing!) to investors.
Hedge fund operational due diligence is an opportunity and a marketing exercise – one that funds should undertake with educated personnel and a willingness to be open and transparent.
Show investors that you have a 3+ year budget for working capital without any performance fees. Make sure to properly allocate expense and investment opportunities if you decide to launch a single investor fund or separately managed accounts.
When it comes to seed arrangements, pick the right partner and put parameters around potential issues that could arise. Become familiar with the changing expectations on the cybersecurity front, from both investors and regulators. The Cybersecurity Interpretive Notice applies to all membership categories--futures commission merchants, swap dealers, major swap participants, introducing brokers, forex dealer members, commodity pool operators and commodity trading advisors. But whatever approach is taken, the Cybersecurity Interpretive Notice requires Members to adopt and enforce an information systems security program (ISSP) appropriate to its circumstances.
Description of ongoing education and training related to information systems security for employees. NFA recognizes that some Members may face a significant challenge implementing ISSPs by the March 1, 2016 effective date, and any programs that are adopted will be refined over time. Eze Castle Integration’s Cybersecurity Practice Team is available to create Written Information System Security Programs for firms. Operating capital may be limited in the first few years after your launch, so careful budgeting and long range planning will serve your firm well.
Governmental oversight of the financial industry has evolved dramatically in the last decade. Apart from registration, you should also determine if there are any legislative implications for your new firm. Since 2014, cybersecurity preparedness is also a critical area of focus for regulatory bodies. Cloud services offer more flexibility than traditional infrastructure models and, beyond cost-savings, can reap rewards for new launches. Of course, one of the greatest benefits to using an outsourced cloud service is professional management and monitoring. Beyond infrastructure safeguards, it is critical that firms implement policies and procedures to protect firm and client assets.
While the list of considerations is surely long for new hedge fund managers, we've whittled it down to 10 Keys to Launching a Hedge Fund Successfully - a guide for new startups to use when setting off on their new journey. With offices, colleagues and clients spread across the world, firms need to consolidate data in an organized fashion. As the regulatory environment continues to intensify, RMS has evolved into a vital component in establishing a complete compliance strategy at investment firms. Industry-specific RMS dives deep into the complex layers of investor relations, enabling professionals to monitor interactions, track communications and identify accounts that deserve further attention.
Unlike generic solutions, RMS tailor-made for alternative investment firms presents data in an instinctive manner apropos to the industry. RMS empowers companies to evaluate operations and establish best practices, foster relations, attract investors and fuel returns. Marc Berger’s opening statements emphasized the extent of the cybersecurity threat currently facing firms across a wide swath of industries. Where there is reliance on third-party service providers, the AAM is NOT relieved of its cybersecurity risks but rather, has the obligation to assess and monitor the provider’s security policies and procedures and conduct adequate due diligence. While the SEC has issued various Risk Alerts providing guidance on areas of focus, the guidance and rules are not prescriptive. Only 39% agree that their organization has ample resources to ensure all cybersecurity requirements are met. Last year, cybersecurity took center stage across the investment community, and there is little doubt that it will continue to dominate in 2016. Previously a non-factor for hedge funds, marketing is now a critical element to any firm’s success. One trend that we noticed in 2015 that we may see extend into the New Year is the transition some hedge funds are making into the family office spectrum. The Securities and Exchange Commission took major strides to regulate investment firm cybersecurity practices in 2015, with the release of multiple guidance updates (Click for the September 2015 update).
In December 2015, we participated in a Wells Fargo Prime Services cybersecurity event and the panelists outlined everything your hedge fund needs to know about the SEC’s security expectations. As referenced above, training is critical to showcasing cyber preparedness in today’s world. One final article related to security hones in on the fifth bullet above – vendor management.
New fund launches and emerging managers are always looking for tips to assist them in successfully creating their firms – and Hedge IT delivered in 2015. We love delivering new educational content to our loyal Hedge IT readers, but we also like to share new voices and invite our partners and colleagues across the investment industry to share their expertise. We live in a world dominated by social media outlets, yet LinkedIn has emerged as the de facto professional site for industry networking and information sharing. The April 2015 SEC Cybersecurity Guidance Update goes deeper into risk assessments expectations. You must also understand where your data is located, how it is collected and who and what technology systems have access to it. Registered investment advisers should have a clear understanding of the threat landscape, including potential internal and external risks as well as unique vulnerabilities specific to the firm. Once firms understand the risks facing their organization, they must conduct assessments of the existing controls and processes to ensure they account for the risk landscape and put the appropriate safeguards in place. Be sure to understand the potential impacts of various cyber risk scenarios and outline specific protocols for incident response and quick resolution.
Finally, testing and assessing the governance structure, including administrative and technical safeguards, is key to ensuring effectiveness. Gone are the days of management simply outsourcing responsibility to third-party experts and trusting them blindly.
Additionally, management must instill the importance of security preparedness in all employees by making it a top-down priority. A firm must train employees on handling confidential data and define their responsibilities around cybersecurity. Importance of Security Policies: Outline employee responsibilities concerning information security, the incident escalation process and how to protect data from malicious intrusion. Practicing Internet Safety: Help employees recognize the signs of malicious activity, how it can spread and prevention strategies. Email Safety: Identify what makes an email message suspicious, such as a strange subject line or unexpected sender, and how employees should handle it.
Access Control Responsibilities: Train employees on how access controls and passwords are maintained and expectations for employee behavior in both areas. When it comes to cyber threats firms can no longer act in silos, rather they must share information with industry peers (including competitors) to protect the entire sector.
Access Rights and Controls: OCIE warns that the lack of basic access controls and user management policies can result in unauthorized access to systems and information. A few internal security best practices we advise clients to keep in mind are: 1) maintain a strong password policy, 2) evaluate multi-factor authentication, and 3) implement a mobile device management policy. Data Loss Prevention: For this control area OCIE covers two potential data breach weaknesses.
Vendor Management: OCIE highlights the significant risk exposure third-party vendors and platforms can introduce to a firm and reinforces the importance of conducting adequate and regular due diligence.
The goal of an information security awareness program is not merely to educate employees on potential security threats and what they can do to prevent them. Incident Response: OCIE examiners expect firms to have detailed written information security plans as well as incident response policies. Taking immediate measures to prevent compromises and unauthorized access (including requiring periodic password changes and restricting use of the system by non-essential vendors and contractors). Companies that have 51-100 employees and a relatively young demographic composition will likely be hit with significant healthcare premium increases, as the small group community rates will be much higher than what they currently pay.


A New York City business of 79 full-time employees recently came to TriNet concerned about how upcoming ACA changes would impact their mid-size business. TriNet conducted an analysis of what they could expect, using the New York small group rates that are available today. Because TriNet provides small and mid-sized businesses with access to rich Fortune 500-level benefits at prices they can afford, we were able to not only help this NYC business avoid a premium increase in 2016 – but we were actually able to provide them with a 10 percent savings on their current rates.
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While it is critical to implement appropriate cybersecurity protocols in order to comply with applicable federal and state law, it is equally important from a franchise risk perspective as the costs associated with potential losses and responses to a breach can be devastating and significant. Shelley Rosensweig is a partner in the Investment Funds and Private Equity Practice Group in the New York office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. Prior to the economic downfall in 2008 and high-profile investment scandals made infamous by Bernard Madoff and others, hedge fund due diligence was viewed as an unnecessary assignment. They figured there would never be a shortage of investors, so there wasn’t a need to spend extra time satisfying their needs. In the past, the responsibilities associated with hedge fund due diligence would often fall under the role of a CFO, CCO or other executive – someone who had very little time to devote specifically to due diligence. There has, undoubtedly, been a significant increase in the number of due diligence inquiries by hedge fund investors, and the questions they are asking are much more relevant and involved - that rings true across business and operations functions, technology departments and the investment side of the business. They want more information, more transparency and more assurances that fund managers have done their own due diligence in assembling and managing their infrastructure and overall businesses.
Small-scale disasters, such as winter weather scenarios, and larger incidents like the Madoff scandal have initiated a real shift in the hedge fund industry and highlighted the need for hedge funds to have robust technology solutions in place and systems and procedures to keep them operational at all times. During the due diligence process, they often ask to see systems at work, the processes through which data is transmitted and stored, and how testing procedures work.
Explain the designs and processes of your operations, particularly when it comes to your technology. If you do not have an in-house IT staff, you can ask your technology service provider to do this for you. You will score points with investors if you are up front about everything and don’t attempt to hide anything. Hire a consultant to help you with this – it is the single easiest way to prepare for a real investor review.
Test your disaster recovery system frequently (at least twice annually), and show the results to investors. Investors want to see that funds are serious and that they value operations and technology as vital aspects to their businesses. It does not begin when an investor comes in for a meeting and end when they walk out the door. Not only must emerging managers evaluate traditional deployment strategies, but consider current factors influencing the financial landscape. There was quite a bit of content discussed during the 1-hour event, so we’ve pulled out some key takeaways.
Target those who have a history of being receptive to founder share class and who may offer lower management and performance fees. Recognize where the private cloud has an edge: high-touch, industry-specific service and support, scalability and application integration, and security and compliance.
Value is derived from knowledge of the application, knowledge of business, and having a dedicated support team. The NFA's Interpretive Notice to NFA Compliance Rules 2-9, 2-36 and 2-49 entitled Information Systems Security Programs requires Member firms to adopt and enforce written policies and procedures to secure customer data and access to their electronic systems. Executive-level participation and annual review of the information security program is expected. NFA expects to devote appropriate resources, such as providing additional guidance, to assist Members as they develop and implement their ISSPs. Don't forget to visit Hedge IT on Thursday as we reveal the last of our key considerations for starting a hedge fund.
Hedge funds, private equity firms and registered investment advisers now operate in a world where they are beholden to regulatory bodies with growing expectations and requirements.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which redefined the registration requirements for hedge funds, also set forth new reporting requirements and standards for safeguards. With the prevalence of cyber threats and attacks, the SEC’s Office of Compliance and Examinations (OCIE) has incorporated cybersecurity into its examination targets. Firms can add users nearly instantly – a welcome benefit for startups looking to ramp up quickly.
You can do this by conducting employee awareness training to keep all users informed and educated about the cyber environment and the threats that may arise. And be sure to come back to Hedge IT later this week when we'll be sharing an excerpt from our brand new whitepaper on the same topic! Significant benefits offered via RMS have caused a ripple effect of soaring adoption rates across the global investment industry.
From meeting and call notes, to audits and analyst reports, the demand for readily accessible information is ever burgeoning.
Additionally, RMS helps managers stay on top of priorities and ensure deliverables are met through task management tools. Customized reports offer real-time insights into a firm’s operations, improving analysis of interactions, portfolios, relationships and pipeline activities. The multitude of built-in features within a tailored RMS ensure consistency across an organization and provide a leg-up against competing standard solutions. With over 20 years of sales and sales management experience, Jaime is responsible for leading the company’s business development and marketing initiatives.
As a result, firms are challenged to understand what level of cybersecurity readiness will be deemed sufficient to meet regulatory obligations given their AUM. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Global Megatrends in Cybersecurity, sponsored by Raytheon, 25% of respondents in a study say C-level executives currently view cybersecurity as a competitive advantage, versus 59% who say it will be a competitive advantage three years from now. In an industry historically known for protecting its information, recent regulatory developments may foster a change in how firms think about sharing information. Across the hedge fund and alternative investment industry, firms are devising new strategies and implementing plans to drive growth and increase returns. If we can assume that firms used 2015 to shore up security practices and have, at minimum, established a baseline for protecting firm assets with firewalls, password protections and penetration testing, we can expect 2016 to take cyber preparedness to the next level in the form of advanced features and analytics including phishing and social engineering tests, designed to increase the level of preparedness held by firm employees. In 2016, hedge funds and investment firms will need to develop comprehensive marketing strategies in order to elevate their brands, attract new investors and retain capital. Several prominent former hedge fund managers returned outside money in recent years and began operating as family office firms, most notably Steve Cohen and George Soros. Instances of social engineering are often what trip up employees – think phishing and spear-phishing schemes. Anytime an investment firm works with a third-party provider, it’s important to understand what risks become present and how firms can manage said risks.
Our two-part Checklist for Launching a Hedge Fund in 2015 shared insights from both Eze Castle Integration and our partners at Marcum LLP on the legal, technology and cybersecurity priorities for new hedge fund startups.
Our August 2015 Hedge Fund Insiders Series featured fresh articles from contributors including Haynes and Boone LLP, Wells Fargo Prime Services, and Willis Group Holdings Ltd.
Even hedge fund managers, traditionally very secretive, are joining LinkedIn, so we outlined a few tips to ensure LinkedIn activity is top notch. During the discussion, Stuart Levi of Skadden reminded attendees that the SEC has clearly defined (and communicated) its cybersecurity expectations. The impact of cybersecurity incidents can range from financial to technological to reputational. Once access levels are defined and implemented, they must be reviewed at least annually (biannually or quarterly is better!) to ensure adherence firm wide. But the risk a hedge fund undertakes when outsourcing a function of its business to a third party is enormous. The Financial Services: Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) is one such group enabling information sharing. Examiners also expect to see that assessments and associated policies are specific to a firm’s business. Examiners may request details on how a firm manages user rights and what supporting technologies are in place.
The Alert states that examiners may ask firms to outline how they evaluate, audit and assess vendors and how that diligence links with the firm’s ongoing risk assessment process. The reality is that a firm’s security strategy will only work if employees are properly trained on it. A larger goal should be to change the culture of your organization to focus on the importance of security and get buy-in from end users to serve as an added layer of defense against security threats. They knew they would be subject to the community rated small group plans and that their new rates would become effective with their first renewal on or after January 1, 2016.
Maya joined Ambrose in 2005 as an HR Associate and has leveraged her growing expertise in client service, benefits, and strategic HR to improve the service offering to the Alternative Asset space. Advisers should implement a cybersecurity strategy through written policies and procedures and training that provides guidance to the adviser’s officers and employees concerning applicable threats and measures to prevent, detect and respond to such threats and to monitor compliance with cybersecurity policies and procedures.
Advisers should consider performing due diligence on their third-party vendors to confirm whether they have sufficient cybersecurity protective measures in place. But as the hedge fund industry has evolved over the last several years, so has the need and desire for operational excellence.


You can also compile a comprehensive presentation or simply have an open question and answer session with your potential investors. Due diligence is an ongoing process that can continue to improve and evolve as investors and fund managers open the lines of communication and maintain an open dialogue. Prepare an institutional set of documents up front if you are looking to attract institutional money versus high net money.
They include risk assessment, governance, training, access control, vendor management, and information sharing. Additionally, firms must provide employees training during the onboarding processes as well as periodically during employment. For example, system safeguards such as data protection, disaster recovery measures and email archiving are requirements under Dodd-Frank. Having released two extensive questionnaires and several risk alerts focused on security, the SEC has made it clear to investment firms that they will be investigating the practices employed at firms and increasing expectations for the future.
Startups have a variety of options when it comes to settling on their technology infrastructure. Users can gain access to email, file services and applications from virtually anywhere, and built-in disaster recovery provides confidence that everything is protected from the inside out. Users should understand how security threats may present themselves (phishing schemes, social engineering, etc.) as well as how they can become cybersecurity assets to your firm. Successfully operating a new startup beyond the first year is a feat many managers struggle to accomplish, therefore it's critical for emerging managers to gain a full understanding of the industry that awaits them and the hurdles they should expect to face. In this article we’ll examine how adopting a research management solution could benefit your firm.
Storing information within multiple programs and folders not only welcomes disorder and the opportunity for digression in the workplace, but also increases costs and wastes valuable time.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted rules that require firms to document company finances, policies, procedures, etc. These features work in harmony to streamline investor relationship management and accelerate workflows, allowing managers to allocate more time towards nurturing relationships and growing business. Through powerful reporting capabilities, mangers are able to evaluate data at a granular level, make more informed investment decisions and pave the pathway for success. Companies that lack a RMS may be left in the dark of inefficiencies and missed deliverables, which could lead to bigger issues down the road. Prior to joining Ledgex, Jaime was head of global sales for research management software company Code:Red (acquired by FactSet), where he successfully helped grow the business to a global client base and expanded its footprint from Boston to offices in New York, London, Europe and Asia. Highlighting the importance of information sharing, on December 19, 2015, after years of failing to enact cyber threat information-sharing legislation, Congress passed the controversial Cybersecurity Information-Sharing Act of 2015.
In 2016, we expect the following industry trends will play a role in shaping many of the decisions hedge funds and other investment management firms make. With cyber-attacks increasing in sophistication, firms will need to spend time in 2016 working with managed providers and internal IT teams to continue the education process and identify strategies to outsmart hackers. Whether via traditional marketing campaign tactics such as pitch presentations, websites and CRM systems or more modern avenues such as social media, firms would be wise to think through their objectives, plans, and communication methods before outreaching to potential investors. And while there are less regulatory pressures and expectations to meet as a family office entity, security measures should remain enterprise-level, and we expect to see family offices investing heavily in cyber preparedness policies and systems.
He recapped the following six areas advisers must have covered to demonstrate preparedness to regulators. Today management must understand their firm’s security posture and be able to outline the safeguards that are in place to minimize risk.
It’s not about not trusting your employees, but more so about not trusting the technology behind those employees. Successfully managing risk associated with third-party service provider relationships is a full-time job, especially for financial services firms working with dozens of various parties. In this area, examiners may question how security patches are prioritized and handled based on prioritization. Currently, in many states the small group market encompasses firms with 50 or fewer employees. New York State currently prohibits insurance rate variations based on the demographic characteristics of the firm. The compliance program of an adviser could address cybersecurity risk as it relates to identity theft, data protection, fraud, business continuity, as well as other disruptions in service.
Advisers may also consider outsourcing certain cybersecurity risk and protection functions to third-party providers. She advises clients regarding matters which include design, structure and operation of investment portfolios, distribution and marketing issues and commodities and futures issues. Hedge funds should continue to take the time to understand where the real risks are within their businesses and work to instill confidence with their investors. Regardless of the assets your firm is launching with, you will be expected to have sophisticated and comprehensive policies and procedures in place from day one to combat cyber threats. With the birth of cloud technology, firms can save on upfront capital expenditures and host their infrastructure in the cloud – providing flexibility within those startup budgets.
A reputable cloud services provider not only provides world-class infrastructure and resiliency; it also assumes responsibility for the management and daily maintenance of your cloud environment. Investors also have high expectations, and before they will even consider allocating money to your firm, they want to understand what protections you’ve put in place to protect their assets.
This prehistoric method of aggregating data has been replaced with advanced RMS, a much more viable, flexible and comprehensive solution. RMS enables managers to easily search the repository and export queried data with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Additionally, firms may be overlooked by potential investors due to a deficiency of RMS adoption when compared to software equipped third-party providers. Jaime attended Syracuse University where he earned a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Economics. As of June 30, 2015, per ITRC data, in 2015 the banking industry experienced an increase of 85% versus 2014 data for the same period. However, regulators may also be looking at whether enforcement action is warranted if the AAM failed to implement appropriate security measures that would have prevented the attack from occurring.
The less data employees can get to, the less damage can be done via an internal breach or external hack. The second area dives deeper into data loss prevention (DLP), asking firms how they monitor the flow of files and data, particularly large attachments or uploads.
But for policies that renew in 2016, this market will be expanded to include companies with up to 100 full-time employees.
Maya holds a BA from Brandeis University, where she majored in International Business and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. It is important not only to have policies and procedures in place, but to periodically confirm that these policies and procedures are being implemented. Shelley also assists clients with seed investments, the formation of managed account platforms and the organization of joint ventures. Disaster recovery, business continuity planning and cybersecurity preparedness should all be viewed as full business exercises, not solely technology ones.
Be sure to enable your firm’s processes to comply with SEC recommendations including risk assessments, infrastructure practices, policy documentation, etc. With hackers savvier than ever and financial firms as known targets, it’s critical that firms establish a comprehensive approach to security to not only meet investor and regulatory demands but also to protect firm assets and mitigate business risk. Hosting a firm’s data within a user-friendly, central repository simplifies processes, optimizes productivity and uncovers new business opportunities. Enhancing the efficacy of the due diligence process, a robust RMS will manage, amass and report on both quantitative and qualitative due diligence data. When it comes to the future of your firm, driving growth and expansion through the measureable benefits of a research management platform drastically outweigh the costs of missed opportunities. Firms can no longer act in silos, but must share information with industry peers (including competitors) to protect the entire sector.
We believe this will result, on average, in significantly higher healthcare premiums – especially if the firm has a relatively young average age composition, as so many New York financial firms do. Advisers should consider educating clients about how to reduce exposure to cybersecurity threats to their accounts.
She advises investment advisory clients regarding investment products and services, SEC, FINRA and CFTC regulatory and compliance matters, as well as trading issues and employment matters. If not forthcoming, you may open up your firm to serious regulatory and criminal prosecution. Your cloud services provider should act as your trusted technology adviser and, as such, give you the flexibility and time you need to focus on your investment priorities without worrying about security updates and patch controls. Cyber-attacks carried out on the financial community have almost doubled in 2015, and industry experts believe these numbers will continue to increase unless adequate precautions and prevention measures are taken. AAMs can expect to see investors placing greater emphasis on cybersecurity as a part of its due diligence and regulators focusing on cybersecurity in their routine regulatory exams.
While both options present benefits, the latter assimilates seamlessly with an investment firm’s daily workflows, terminology and diverse range of data. An ideal RMS will also offer customization, accessibility and integrate with other applications, such as Outlook.



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