March 6, 2014
Hedge Fund Investors and Operational Due Diligence Professionals Continue to Question Director Independence and Credibility - Corgentum Webinar Survey Shows
The effectiveness of hedge fund board of directors continues to be a contentious issue among hedge funds and their investors. As part of the first installment of Corgentum's 2014 Webinar series, a survey was conducted among investors and operational due diligence analysts seeking to gauge current opinions about boards and related operational due diligence trends with regards to fund governance. It is noteworthy that this study included operational due diligence analysts as well as investors, since it is often left to the operational due diligence process to sort out whether a director is qualified and effective in their role.
While many investors are quick to criticize the role of hedge fund directors, the survey results show that they are either not researching them at all or under researching them during the due diligence process. Specifically, only 39% of the group stated that they interviewed fund directors, and only 18% performed background investigations on them. Other key survey findings include:
- 63% of respondents stated that the most important director function was to act as an watchdog on behalf of investors
- 73% of those surveyed feel directors do not serve a useful function
- 76% feel directors do not provide true independent oversight of funds
- Building on the findings of the Weavering case, 71% of investors and ODD analysts felt that directors should be held personally liable if a fund fails for operational reasons.
Additionally, approximately 31% felt the number of fund directorship positions should ideally be capped at 15 directorships as compared to 24% that thought the number of directorships should be capped at nine. These findings rebuke former industry survey data that suggested investors had a high tolerance for more board positions. Furthermore, it contradicts the reality that many investors accept, where many directors sit on different boards well in excess of these caps.
If you would like receive notifications about upcoming webinars and surveys fill out the form on our contact page.
February 25, 2014
Corgentum to Present On Private Equity Operational Risks at Investment Education Symposium
The attention paid to private equity through the operational due diligence process continues to grow in importance. Compared to a few years ago many investors now have mandatory operational due diligence program before investing in private equity funds.
To address these trends, Corgentum's Jason Scharfman will be presenting on operational due diligence trends in private equity at the 10th Annual Investment Education Symposium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The panel will take place on Thursday February 27 beginning at 2:45pm. At the panel, the topics that Mr. Scharfman plans to address are anticipated to inlcude:
- Recent trends in private equity operational due diligence
- How investors, including trustee's and family offices, can develop a private equity operational due diligence program
- How investors should evaluate the recent SEC focus on private equity
February 14, 2014
Do Cyber Attacks On Bitcoin's Pose Information Security and Operational Due Diligence Risks For Investors and Hedge Funds? Corgentum Discusses the Challenges With Reuters
At first glance many investors might not think that bitcoins and cyber attacks have much to do with operational due diligence. However all fund managers, including hedge funds and private equity funds, are information based organizations. In todays world, this include a reliance on technology to perform a number of critical processes ranging from manage their business and executing trades to booking and reconciling those trades. Part of the growing universe of securities, investors and hedge funds invest in are bitcoins. While this currently represents a niche play compared to the overall scheme of other hedge fund investments (i.e.-stocks, bonds, options etc.) such investments are currently being made.
If investors are allocating to hedge funds that have the ability to invest in bitcoins there are a number of operational due diligence questions that should be raised. Due to the digital nature of this currency, the criminal element involved is the use of bitcoins and the lack of financial regulation in this area it presents a number of unique operational due diligence challenges for investors to consider. Putting the investment merits of such bitcoin investments aside, from a risk management perspective investors should be increasingly concerned about the information security risks facing bitcoin investments.
To comment on this trend Jason Scharfman Managing Partner at Corgentum Consulting, recently sat down with Reuters to discuss these risks. In an article titled, Cyber attack on bitcoin a big warning to currency's users, Mr. Scharfman comments on the information security concerns presented by recent digital attacks against bitcoing exchanges. He also commented bitcoins liquidity and the increasing regulatory scrutiny facing bitcoins. The full article can be read on the Reuters webiste.
To learn more about how Corgentum works with investors to evaluate information technology and security risks and hedge funds send us a note via our contact page.
February 07, 2014
Corgentum Discusses the SEC's Analysis of Alternative Investment Valuation With The Wall Street Journal
Valuation continues to be an area of focus among investors and regulators alike. Specifically, the discretionary aspect of illiquid valuations of positions held by hedge funds and private equity is of increasing concern to the SEC. A recent Wall Street Journal Article, SEC Looking at How Alternative Funds Value Investments : Regulators say some unscrupulous managers inflate the value of illiquid holdings , outlined this trend of increasing valuation scrutiny.
Among the numerous examples of this enhanced illiquid valuation oversight, the article cites the recent allegations against Yorkville Advisors LLC as part of the government's Aberrational Performance Inquiry Initiative. In that case, the SEC alleged in part that the firm deviated from the fund manager's stated valuation policies. In the article, Corgentum Consulting Managing Partner Jason Scharfman also outlines some of the valuation red flags pension plans and other investors should be aware of.
" In their offering documents, funds may disclose such items as whether there are limits on the amount of the portfolio that managers themselves may price; who is on the valuation committee; whether the fund administrator has interaction with the committee; and the administrator's role and valuation approach. Investors should compare what they read with information they learn from other documents and conversations with the manager and administrator. If I know a manager is pricing 10% of a book himself, I don't want to see that jump up to 40%, " he says.
Mr. Scharfman also comments on the role of FASB valuation levels and the increasing role operational due diligence consultants such as Corgentum, play in assisting investors evaluate fund manager valuation policies and procedures.
The full article can be read on the Wall Street Journal website.
February 07, 2014
Corgentum Study Highlights Family Office Operational Due Diligence Risks With COO Connect
Family offices continue to face operational due diligence challenges compared to their institutional counterparts. At a recent Institute for Private Investors conference, Corgentum Consulting Managing Partner Jason Scharfman commented on these challenges and provided family offices and high net-worth individuals with an outline of techniques they can use to enhance their existing ODD functions. At this conference Mr. Scharfman also presented some of the highlights from Corgentum's recent family office operational due diligence survey.
The Corgentum study, Family Office Study: Taking Aim At Hedge Fund Operational Risk , found that family offices had fallen behind in the field of operational due diligence but are making improvements in their ODD programs to catch up to institutional investors. Continuing to highlight this trend, COO Connect cited the study in a recent article entitled, Family offices warned on operational due diligence shortcomings
Corgentum works with many different types of investors including family offices and high net worth individuals to help improve the quality of their operational due diligence reviews. To learn more about Corgentum's operational due diligence services for family offices please contact us today.
January 23, 2014
Corgentum Announces 2014 Webinar Series With Performing Operational Due Diligence on Hedge Fund Offshore Directors on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 10:30am EDT
Corgentum Consulting announced today that it will host a series of quarterly webinars throughout 2014.
The first installment in the 2014 webinar series , Performing Operational Due Diligence on Hedge Fund Offshore Directors , will feature speakers Jason Scharfman (Managing Partner, Corgentum Consulting) and John Ackerley, Director, Carne Global Financial Services (Cayman) Limited
This webinar will provide investors and operational due diligence analysts with insights into the unique challenges presented in analyzing a hedge fund's offshore board of directors. Other topics covered during the webinar will include:
- Investor’s challenges with analyzing professional directorship firms
- Analyzing director liability and multiple directorships
- Understanding the responsibilities and challenges facing offshore fund directors
To announce the webinar, Corgentum has issued a press release which can be read here.
January 21, 2014
Corgentum Releases January 2014 Edition of Operational Due Diligence Insights
Corgentum Consulting has released the January 2014 edition of its quarterly newsletter Operational Due Diligence Insights.
Artciles in this issue include:
- Regulatory Focus - Was Form PF a Failure?
- Business Continuity Corner - Does BCP/DR Functionality Breedn Complacency?
- Private Equity - Will PE Firms Be in the SEC's Crosshairs in 2014?
- Accounting Spotlight: Does the Source of Audits Really Matter?
- Service Providers - Administrator, Valuation, Validation or Verification?
To subscribe to be notified of future issues of Operational Due Diligence Insights please signup for our mailing list at our contact page.
January 6, 2014
Corgentum to Present on Operational Due Diligence Challenges Facing Family Offices at IPI Winter Forum
Family offices and ultra-high net worth ("UNHW") individual continue to face challenges when it comes to operational due diligence. Echoing this sentiment, Corgentum's previous research has shown that these groups have traditionally lagged behind other investor segments in focusing on operational due diligence, for hedge funds and private equity in particular.
This is somewhat concerning, as these groups are often one of the primary segments that can be targeted for small capital investments into potential small to mid-size frauds. The good news the research has shown, is that family offices and UNHW have in general, begun to recognize these deficiencies and refocus on operational risk.
Corgentum Consulting has partnered with the Institute For Private Investors to address these concerns more directly with this investor segment. Leading this effort, Corgentum Consulting Managing Partner Jason Scharfman will host a session entitled, Operational Due Diligence for Hedge Funds and Private Equity: Examining the Grey Areas and Securing the Same Protections as Institutional Investors at the upcoming 14th Annual IPI Winter Forum
Topics expected to be covered during the session include:
- Techniques for developing a robust family office operational due diligence program
- How family offices / UNHW can partner with specialized ODD consultants to increase scope and depth of ODD coverage
- Approaches for family offices to analyze the ODD work of fund of funds or other allocators they make work with
For more details on this IPI members only session, please visit the IPI events page.