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Subscribe To Our NewsletterJoin our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from us. The bottom line is that you more than delivered on your promise to have the training pay for itself.
To properly conduct review and discussion with vendors and business partners, firms should have a series of questions and discussion points ready.
Continuity Program Activities: This would include ensuring that the vendor or business partner regularly reviews and updates necessary plans and procedures.
Disaster Recovery Systems: During vendor discussions and evaluations, ensure your business partners are identifying the location or locations where data is backed up. Business Continuity Procedures: Firms should discuss comprehensive continuity strategies and procedures with all third-party vendors. Communication Practices: Firms should confirm with vendors or business partners that they have both an internal and external communication plan. Reviewing these four key areas with your vendors at least on an annual basis is important to ensure your continuity extends as areas of your business, including those managed by outsourced third parties. 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.
Many firms create a 10-20-page written information security plan that formalizes the definitions and policies that govern the creation, access, and deletion of confidential information and computing services. Regulatory Risks – Following the right security practices will enable you to achieve clean audits from industry and government regulators. Personal Email – Even if your employee is following all of your processes and practices with work-related email, you could still be vulnerable if her private, personal email is breached or corrupted.
By developing an internal culture of security, the organization does far more than deploy and configure bits and bytes. 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. Communicate – It is important to let your employees know as soon as possible that they will no longer be able to get to work. Technology – Technology has facilitated the ability for an employee to work remotely during a storm, but there are still some considerations to think through. Hunker Down –During severe storms employee safety should be at the top of the priority list. Set Workload Expectations – As an employee, a storm can be disruptive to their normal work day. Updates – As a consistent theme throughout BCP, communication is key, and continued updates will keep the employee centered on their work and allow them to respond to changes quickly such as the reopening of the office building.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Niño conditions occur when abnormally warm waters accumulate in tropical latitudes of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
La Niña conditions occur when cooler-than-average waters accumulate in the central and eastern tropical Pacific and tropical rains shift to the west. The key to a successful business continuity plan lies in understanding the impact a disaster situation could have on a business and creating policies to respond to any such impact. The final critical element of a BCP is ensuring that it is tested and maintained on a regular basis.
Or contact Eze Castle Integration to speak with one of our certified business continuity planners about best practices or to learn about why leading hedge funds rely on Eze Business Continuity Planning Services. We spend a lot of time educating our clients about security best practices and encouraging them to implement comprehensive security policies and procedures to mitigate risk and protect both the firm and its employees.
While companywide policies should reflect long-range expectations and corporate best practices, they should also include tactical recommendations that employees can follow to ensure they are complying with the company’s overall risk strategy. Provide information such as login IDs, passwords, social security numbers, account numbers, etc.
It is no surprise that the investment industry landscape is becoming more and more competitive.
A comprehensive DDQ covers a wide range of topics, from assets under management to audited financial statements and investment strategies.
So, to help you get started, we have compiled the following list of some frequently asked DDQ questions. Does the firm have established, documented service level agreements in place with its technology partners to ensure a stable computing environment? Is the policy regularly reviewed to determine whether the controls are operating as intended? Do the appropriate management officials approve the policy and any changes that may be made?
Does the firm’s IT staff (or technology partner) ensure appropriate access control to applications and sensitive company data?
Is a solution in place to ensure mobile devices and laptops are secure in the event of loss or theft? Has the firm established a dedicated location to retain backup copies of all critical data? Has a secondary working location been established to which employees should report in the event of a disruption or outage?
Is a comprehensive disaster recovery solution in place to provide system redundancy and ensure protection of critical data in the event of a disaster or system failure?
Has the firm determined its crucial recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs)? A component of Disaster Recovery that deals with the restoration of business system software and data, after the operating system environment has been restored or replaced. A pre-identified group of individuals that is reponsible for maintaining and executing the recovery process.
A system of planning for, recovering and maintaining both the IT and business environments within an organisation regardless of the type of interruption. A collection of information on a wide range of areas from recovery assumptions and critical business processes to interdependencies and critical staff that is then analysed to assess impact a disaster may have. The process of restoring and maintaining the data, equipment, applications and other technical resources on which a business depends.
A disaster recovery hot site is a remote physical location where you can maintain copies of all of your critical systems, such as trading applications, data, and documents.
A computer system or application that is essential to the functioning of your business and its processes.
In the context of a primary and secondary site, the primary site contains the original data that cannot be recreated. The RTO is the duration of time and service level within which a business process must be restored after a disruption in order to avoid unacceptable losses.
The RPO is the point in time to which a firm must recover data as defined by the organisation. A system of using multiple sources, devices or connections so that no single point of failure will completely stop the flow of information. The identification and prioritisation of potential business risk and disruptions based on severity and likelihood of occurrence.
The secondary site contains information and applications that are built from the primary repository information. If regular testing is a critical component of an effective DR solution, why do many firms fail to do so?
Here at Eze Castle, we strive to educate our clients on different testing methods so that they find an option that best meets their unique business requirements. As we continue to educate our hedge fund and investment firm clients on disaster recovery testing methods and the available options, we have seen a drastic increase in the number of clients that elect to implement regular testing procedures. A: Users should verify that they have the functionality needed to work successfully from the DR site during a disaster. A: If a firm fails to test its DR systems, they run the risk of the DR site not meeting current business requirements during a disaster.
Q: Will testing our disaster recovery site disrupt our production site (and therefore normal business operations)? Since we frequently work with our hedge fund and alternative investment clients on developing comprehensive business continuity plans (BCPs), we feel it is important to review and test our own BCP procedures on a regular basis to ensure they will meet our most current business needs in the event of a disaster. A BCP table top exercise is an informal brainstorming session used to encourage participation from business leaders and other key employees. Gather the firm’s executive team (and any other individuals within the organization that play a leadership role in the BCP activation process) in a conference room-type setting that is conducive to open discussion and interaction.
To begin, the consultant or group leader should develop a hypothetical disaster scenario to use as an example. Once the scenario has been established, the members of the management team will break down what steps need to be taken (and in what order) to ensure all employees are safe and accounted for, communications are made to all necessary parties and the business remains operational.
A company’s ability to recover quickly from an unexpected disruption is directly associated with the quality of the preparations that have been completed prior to the event. It's also releasing a new menu (with a pair of new burgers), amping up its marketing and hosting qualifying events for a wing-eating tournament and a Hooters Girl swimsuit pageant.
You reached me with the logic of your approach and then delivered what our employees view as the best sales training of their careers. If your firm has a comprehensive business continuity plan in place and you conduct regular BCP tests, you might think your responsibility ends there.
Four critical areas you may want to review include continuity program activities, disaster recovery system details, business continuity procedures, and communication practices.
They should also identify recovery time objectives (RTO) related to that data and compare that desire with the RTO outlined within the existing plan. Service providers should be able to explain how, even in the face of various interruptions, they will continue to provide the contracted level of service stated in the contract.
Additionally, firms should discuss the process that outlines how your fund would be notified if a disruption were to occur with your service. Following the review discussions, your firm's internal continuity team should meet and evaluate any deficiencies noted and determine the comfort level with any identified risks.
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.
That can be everything from a definition of personally identifiable information (PII), a description of user access privileges and roles, or policies regarding USB thumb-drives. It commits to defining and following thoughtful, far-ranging policies to eliminate the needless internal vulnerabilities that often go unrecognized.
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!
For example, what exactly will your employees need to fulfill their functions remotely and are they trained to do so? Therefore, if the storm seems to be impassable it is best to allow employees to work remotely. In the United States, seasonal precipitation impacts are generally opposite those of El Niño. In addition to providing employees with security best practices they should follow, don’t forget to also include a list of actions they should not. Over the past few years, as regulations have changed and investors increasingly seek transparency, hedge funds are spending more time than ever preparing for the due diligence process. As this trend continues, investors are raising their expectations and looking towards hedge funds that display the highest levels in operational excellence. One major area of focus is the hedge fund’s IT and accompanying cybersecurity policies and procedures. Are steps being taken to ensure visitors do not have the ability to observe or access sensitive employee systems and documents?
Have appropriate training and documentation been established and shared with all personnel? In addition to the IT infrastructure, it covers people, facilities, workplaces, equipment, business processes, and more. High availability can be implemented into a firm's IT infrastructure by reducing any single points of failure using redundant components. In working on the Eze Disaster Recovery team, I have heard a variety of reasons from clients as to why this is the case. Current technologies allow IT providers to overcome just about any objection users may have with regards to DR testing. We often find that firms grow, evolve, and change their production environments as they develop and expand their businesses.
At Eze Castle, we typically recommend that users think about their daily workflow when testing to help ensure all critical applications and data are available in the event of an outage. Typically, DR solution agreements will include regular testing as part of the service package, and we strongly recommend all firms take advantage of this component. However, the reality is that many disaster recovery solutions (including Eze Castle’s!) can be tested in a manner that avoids any disruption to the production environment.
Even just a few moments of downtime could be extremely costly, so it is essential that firms implement sound business continuity procedures.
To this end, Lisa Smith - one of our certified business continuity professionals - and her team recently conducted a BCP table top exercise with our management team here at Eze Castle.
Read our complete Manager's Guide to DR and BCP for a comprehensive overview on hedge fund business continuty best practices. Scenarios may include a regional electricity outage, building fire, terrorist attack, violent storm, or the like.
The group should identify realistic and unrealistic expectations and work together to bridge any gaps between leadership and the established BCP plans. Using qualitative research within a constructivist-interpretive paradigm, the researchers sought a deeper understanding of how mining leaders cope during an economic downturn. I came across a lot of posts on the internet about whether or not PPC affects SEO, but none on if SEO actually helps to cut PPC costs?
Many of them are high-functioning, successful professionals and yet you added greatly to their learning. However, if the service providers that you engage with do not also have proper disaster recovery systems and business continuity plans and test said plans regularly, they are exposing your firm to serious risk and may be the weakest link in your continuity or recovery.
This is important as it relates to recovery time, since it will outline at which point after a disaster you are expected to have access to critical systems and data. 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. The bank believes hackers executed a hack that allowed $81 million to be taken from the bank’s foreign exchange account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And the way that starts to happen is through systemic and comprehensive training practices.
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. With these unprecedented levels of snow, New York City was forced to halt public transportation and implemented a mandatory restriction on private transportation as well. One must also consider licensing, infrastructure, security, and employee comfort as working from home will be a change for them.
If essential functions are unable to meet their workload demands from home, then temporary office space with redundant power is always an option. It is always important to review your business continuity plan and make sure employees are aware of their roles if an issue were to occur.
In the coming months, there is expected precipitation in Southern California, extending along the South coast. In today's landscape, however, investors and regulators alike expect and demand that firms implement preparedness plans for disasters and cyber-attacks.
Take a look below and discover a vast range of security tips and tricks from email encryption to proper security measures for protecting computers and mobile devices. One important way to ensure your firm meets these high standards is to complete a due diligence questionnaire (DDQ) that can be shared with potential investors.
At Eze Castle, we frequently assist our hedge fund clients in completing DDQ questions on technology, and we often see the same types of questions popping up.
In addition, a great resource for conducting due diligence on a hedge fund's service providers is the 200 question document published by the Alternative Investment Technology Executives Club (AITEC).
Be sure to read our articles on the difference between DR & BCP and preparing for a worst case scenario. Additionally, we are hearing from a growing number of hedge fund clients whose investors now require them to test their DR solutions and report on the results from those tests. In turn, the DR site needs to evolve and change simultaneously in order to continuously meet business requirements.
Results should be documented and provided back to your DR provider so that they can assist you with resolving any issues that may have arisen during the course of the test. Regular testing helps to capture the ever-changing requirements of a business, so that gaps or issues can be addressed in advance of a disaster.
After this successful meeting, we thought it would be valuable to share some insights on the BCP table top exercise process with our readers to spotlight the importance of this activity.
The group covers all of the actions necessary to ensure employees are safe and accounted for and the business can continue to operate. Be sure to hash out all of the details of the scenario, including a hypothetical date and time, an assessment of the immediate impact of the event and how employees are being affected.
A purposive sample of seven executive mining leaders of different mining houses was interviewed and data was analysed using Atlas.ti. Lastly, it’s also critical that they provide employees with necessary training on these plans, both at the outset of the plan implementation and at least annually.
If RTOs are unclear, you run the risk of being unable to work or access data or information you need, potentially disrupting clients and even violating contracts or regulations. Relay your concerns to the vendor to validate the deficiencies and understand if they are willing and able to take steps and correct them. 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.
It appears that the initial point of entry for the hackers was a spear-phishing email, potentially sent weeks before the fraud took place, which allowed the criminals time to remotely monitor and probe the bank’s networks without detection.
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. Jonas proved to be kind in the fact that the majority of the impact fell on the weekend but many firms can recall more disruptive storms occurring during regular business hours leaving many employees feeling stranded.
Temperatures are also expected to be warmer than average for most of the Northern parts of the country - a welcome gift for places like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. This trend is putting more pressure on firms to participate in regular testing than ever before. By regularly testing their DR sites, firms can ensure all of these needs are met and they will be fully prepared to continue operations should a disaster occur. This requires less coordination with user groups, and therefore has minimal impact on the firm’s daily operations.

A conceptual framework for understanding coping strategies at the individual, group and organisational levels for business leaders during an economic downturn was developed and is discussed here.
If not, you can look for other vendors whose continuity practices reduce or eliminate any risks or concerns you may have.
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. To alleviate the stress incurred during winter storms, we sat down with our own Business Continuity Analyst, Matt Donahue, who creates, writes, and audits hedge fund’s business continuity plans.
As far as specific remote access technologies, Matt recommends Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Citrix or Outlook Web Access (OWA), depending on a user’s specific needs. These tests do not need to be elaborate, for example, a work from home day or a call tree run through might suffice. This study contributed to theory and practice by focusing on coping responses to specific situations within a specific context instead of on general coping strategies. 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.
Matt spoke with us about different BCP scenarios and provided tips to keep your firm operational during the worst of storms. In California - a state tortured with drought in recent years - rain might, at first, seem like a positive. Typically, drought conditions impact vegetation and other natural defenses that hold surface soil and sediment in place, meaning floods and landslides could develop with heavy rains. South Africa's banking system, according to the Head of Research and Policy Development at the South African Reserve Bank, 'was only marginally exposed to the sublime assets that initiated the crisis' (Kahn, 2009:22), with the result that commodity prices continued to increase in the first half of 2008. This drastically decreased the capital available to emerging markets, coupled with a remarkable decline in commodity prices and a plunge in the demand for exports, particularly commodities from emerging markets (Kahn, 2009:22). It must be noted that all figures are seasonally adjusted to reflect real annualised changes from the previous quarter.
As shown in Figure 1 below, this positive growth rate continued in the fourth quarter of 2009.
In order to reach this objective we have organised the paper as follows: first, we present an overview of the context of the study in order to clarify the research problem. We conclude by discussing possible limitations, practical and theoretical managerial implications and suggestions for future research. After a worldwide commodity price boom from 2003 to 2007, commodity prices declined drastically.
A slowdown in global economic activities and the demand for commodities for production purposes, coupled with an increase in supply capacity, led to a decrease in prices. The financial crisis also contributed to the downward price momentum, as investors reduced their holdings of commodity assets (Southern African Resource Watch, 2009:4).
However, historical evidence shows that, when a downturn looms, the first reaction of mining companies is to reduce costs by retrenching workers.
This also proved to be the case during the downturn in 2009, when several mining organisations retrenched workers (Southern African Resource Watch, 2009:21). Mining houses around South Africa were cutting production and capital spending, retrenching employees, and restructuring, putting pressure on employee morale across their organisations, including executives. An economic downturn has a severe impact on consumers, as well as a profound and far-reaching impact on the workplace (Naiman, 2009:49). Workplace morale typically goes into a downward spiral in response to the bombardment of negative information, job losses, fear and insecurity. The research questions for the study presented in this paper are: How do South African business leaders cope during an economic downturn? According to Folkman and Moskowitz (2004: 746), a large amount of coping research is based on Richard Lazarus's 1966 book Psychological stress and the coping process.
Hobfoll, Schwarzer and Chon (1998:181) argue that stress and coping are the most widely studied phenomena in psychology, identifying over 29 000 research articles on stress and coping over the period 1984 to 1998.
A more conservative search by Somerfield and McCrae (2000:621), focusing primarily on coping behaviour and spanning the period 1967 to 1999, still produced 13 744 records. Somerfield and McCrae (2000:624) appeal to researchers to focus on coping responses to specific situations within a specific context, instead of focusing on general coping strategies. Folkman and Moskowitz (2004:768) suggest that new methodologies and new ways of thinking about coping within a specific context will help this field of study to mature. This is because the field holds great potential to explain who flourishes under stress and who does not, and it also has potential when it comes to interventions for helping people cope with stress. In line with this, this paper delineates a strategic coping framework for South African business leaders in the mining context, using more narrative methodologies than are traditionally employed in coping research. According to Urquhart (2007:351), such a process allows the researcher to become aware of the current thinking in the field without taking a position regarding the research to be done.
Thus, part of the literature review was conducted prior to the data collection and data analysis, bearing in mind the reason for delaying a literature review, which is not forcing preconceived ideas onto the data. This is because, first, it is academically honest to do so and, second, it demonstrates how you have built upon it to enable you to see further. The constructivist-interpretive perspective thus assumes that reality is constructed by the people (including the researcher) who participate in this reality. Constructivists acknowledge that their interpretation of the studied phenomenon is in itself a construction (Charmaz, 2006:187). Conger (1998) argues that qualitative research is the cornerstone methodology for understanding the 'how' and 'why' of leadership as opposed to its 'what', 'where' and 'when'.
This selection was made based on the researcher's knowledge of the population, its elements and the purpose of the study (Babbie, 2007:184). Individual leaders (executives) within each company were then selected purposively from the executive committees to form the unit of analysis for this study.
This author refers to 'intensive interviewing' as permitting an in-depth exploration of a particular topic. The aim of this type of interviewing is to obtain 'rich data' or 'thick descriptions' which are focused and detailed, fully revealing participants' views, feelings, intentions and actions, as well as the context and structures of their lives (Charmaz, 2006: 14), in this case, the way in which leaders cope during an economic downturn. According to Schurink (2004:11), field notes are 'written accounts of what researchers hear, see, experience, and think in the course of collecting and reflecting on the data in qualitative research studies'. Roughly two to three hours were spent writing field notes after each interview, including both descriptive and reflective notes, with sections on the research setting, the responses of the interviewee, and personal reflections on the interview. Charmaz (2006:26) holds a similar view, suggesting that researchers devise a few broad, open-ended questions in the form of an interview guide and then use their interview questions to invite detailed discussions on the topic. Although the mining industry (in terms of sales) started to recover, showing a positive trend, the total sales volume remained low during this period (refer to Figure 2).
These two coding actions were not done separately: micro analysis was used in naming concepts in open coding. Table 2 illustrates how core categories were refined from categories (based on open coding). Firstly, there are individual factors, such as being optimistic and confident, thriving on the challenge of the economic downturn and focusing on the future. In addition, the individual's experience, both general and specific, in dealing with an economic downturn and the extent to which the individual depends on (or in this case does not depend on) the organisation for identity also played a role in how leaders managed during the economic downturn. For example, when the core team (referring to the executive team) within which the leaders operated during the downturn was mature, the leaders tended to draw on support from the team. The dynamics within the core team (termed inter-team influencing) may influence both the mood within the team and the overall appraisal of the downturn (positive or negative). In addition, the extent to which leaders influence other team members, combined with the team's maturity, could determine the extent to which leaders use team coping strategies as opposed to individual coping strategies. In the case of a South African mining organisation, the executive committee members are the ultimate authority in the organisation. They are responsible to the shareholders and are on a higher organisational level than that of their counterparts in international mining organisations. South African executive committee members in the international organisations report to the mining organisation's international executive committee. For example, one organisation did not retrench any employees, based on its strong organisational culture of 'looking after each other'. Not only could organisational culture affect the organisational response to the downturn, but it could also influence the proportion of the individual, team and organisational rationalisation coping strategies that leaders use. Leaders saw the effect on the organisation as negative, noting effects such as the loss of contracts, the negative impact on cash flow, a reduced ability to sustain capital projects, increased cost and decreased access to working capital. This list of negative impacts is not exhaustive, but reflects the views of the respondents. Although leaders were aware of the negative effects, they also highlighted the positive effects of the downturn on the organisation.
Firstly, individual stressors are the specific aspects on an individual level that contribute to the leader's stress. Individual level stressors refer, for example, to doubting job security and, closely related, to worrying about financial security, aspects related specifically to the individual leader. Although the stressors (individual and derived) all refer to individual stress, individual stressors did not seem to be the greatest contributors to the individual leaders' stress during an economic downturn, but rather stressors deriving from the distress of others. Derived team stressors created stress experienced by individuals, not on account of themselves, but rather on account of the responsibility they felt for the team. These feelings are closely related to the stress of feeling responsible or to blame for what happens to the organisation and the people working there, but it also expresses a deeper sense of emotional stress experienced by the individual leaders: likening their influence on the organisation and its people to that of someone controlling life and death. Once again, the leaders did not refer to it as an individual stressor, but rather as individual stress (in other words, distress experienced by the person) derived from others' distress for which the leader perceives himself to be (at least partially) responsible.
Note that, although all stressors (individual and derived team and organisational stressors) are individually experienced stressors, they stem from different sources, that is, the individual, team and organisational levels. In the short term, organisations focus on surviving the critical, immediate actions that will ensure that the organisation is able to withstand the downturn. In the long term, the organisation needs to position itself to be ready for the upswing; it needs to have a vision and to ensure that the people in the organisation are prepared to be in business in the long run. This plan of action should be based on facts: the state of the markets and industries, the core of the problem and so forth, focusing on specific problems in the organisation as opposed to the generic threat of the economic downturn. Where organisations carried out retrenchments, respondents focused mostly on their coping with this organisational action.
If organisations did not retrench, respondents were proud of this organisational 'non-action', but often also focused on coping with the threat of retrenchment in the organisation. For example, if retrenchment is an organisational action during the downturn, the leader in the organisation concerned may experience stressors (Arrow E) that differ from those experienced by a leader in an organisation that does not retrench. This therefore influences the coping strategies that the leader might use in order to cope (Arrow F), as well as subsequent organisational responses (Arrow E). Firstly, individual coping strategies refer to strategies that fall within the individual domain or level. This includes religion, the balance between work and life, spousal support in the form of providing a sounding board, or when, for example, a spouse takes over decision-making responsibilities at home, as well as emotional separation in an attempt to depersonalise actions.
This includes, first of all, the mere fact of having a core team and not facing all the challenges alone. Trusting this core team is an important element in team coping, particularly because being part of a core team allows pressure to be shared. In addition, leaders also indicated the importance of trusting the team reporting to them, which enabled these leaders to focus on their own actions during the downturn. However, the findings suggest that, in addition to individual coping strategies, leaders may also use team and organisational rationalisation strategies in order to cope with the stressors during an economic downturn. This methodology also allowed for a more in-depth understanding of the phenomenon being studied in the particular context of an economic downturn, in answer to Somerfield and McCrae (2000:624), who appeal to researchers to focus on coping responses to specific situations within a specific context rather than general coping strategies.
This will allow individuals within the organisation to prepare and act timeously in the event of an economic downturn or any other problem.
Luthans, Youssef and Avolio (2007: 213) propose that what they call positive psychological capital, which includes hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience, is open to development.
These positive psychological capacities correspond to several individual influencing factors that create a predisposition in respect of how organisational leaders cope during an economic downturn, including being optimistic (optimism), being confident in their own capabilities (self-efficacy) and focusing on the future (hope, resilience). In light of this, organisations can develop these capacities to assist them and their leaders in coping with adverse conditions.
According to Duchon and Plowman (2005:809), a workplace can be considered spiritual when it 'recognizes that employees have an inner life that nourishes and is nourished by meaningful work that takes place in the context of community'. The present study has shown that belief systems, an important element of workplace spirituality, according to Hicks (2002:384), can play an important role in coping during an economic downturn. Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2003: 85) found that the degree of individual spirituality influences whether an individual perceives a questionable business practice as ethical or unethical, tying in with what we termed the "value dichotomy" as a derived organisational stressor and the belief that one is "doing the right thing" as an organisational rationalisation coping strategy used by leaders.
In addition, the culture of the organisation and the team should support teamwork and trust.
The timing of the interviews and data collection, during November and December 2009, could have potential bias towards the recall of respondents' thoughts, feelings and behaviour related to coping during the 'heat' of the downturn.
Comparative results may yield further insight into the model and may allow for its expansion. Alternative perspectives in organizational sciences: 'Inquiry from the inside' and 'Inquiry from the outside'. Right from wrong: the influence of spirituality on perceptions of unethical business practices.
Disentangling the stress labyrinth: interpreting the meaning of the term stress as it is studied in health context. Stress and coping research: methodological challenges, theoretical advances, and clinical applications.

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