Archive for January, 2015

Cyber criminals target investment platforms

London: When you entrust your money to a fund supermarket, wealth manager or another financial services firm, you hope for healthy returns and minimal investment disasters. But behind the scenes, the companies that handle your money are fighting to keep your assets and data safe from targeted hacks.
“It’s one of the things that keeps our members awake at night,” says Liz Field, chief executive of the Wealth Management Association.
As long as the internet has existed, companies have been subject to a barrage of hack attempts, many of them indiscriminate: simple malware, sometimes contained in “phishing” emails, seeks openings wherever it can.
But the UK has undergone a rapid rise in targeted attacks, in which criminals try — with a high degree of human involvement — to access specific information or assets. This can range from customer details that will be sold on to enable fraud, to trading information for use on the markets, or material that could embarrass companies if published in a Sony-style hack.
A focus of attack
Some 81 per cent of large organisations and 60 per cent of small businesses found their digital defences had been breached in the past year, according to UK government data released in 2014. 
Financial companies are at the sharp end, not just because of the money they manage but because of the sensitive personal data they hold. The risks have grown as services that initially lagged behind the digital revolution, such as accounts held by fund and pension customers, move fully online.
“The information that the firms we represent have is the information that is of greatest interest to cyber criminals because it’s where the money is. They are a focus of attack,” says John Barrass, deputy chief executive of the WMA.
Retail banks are among the highest-profile targets of hackers, and face constant assaults, but specialist firms handling investments can also be tempting to the discerning criminal, says Michael Soppitt, a director at Parker Fitzgerald, a financial services management consultancy.
“The average value of an account at an investment management firm is significantly higher than at a retail bank, and high-value customers’ information is more saleable,” he says.
His company is aware of 13 major breaches at fund management companies over the past year. And he says that hackers have also become more adept at finding weak spots in the many types of companies — technology platforms, advisers, custodian banks — involved in the financial products supply chain.
Data breaches reported to the Information Commissioner by financial advisers, wealth managers and asset managers more than doubled to 31 in the year to the end of June 2014, from 14 a year earlier, according to figures gathered by RPC, a law firm which advises victims of breaches. But Alex Hamer, a partner at RPC, acknowledges that these numbers probably represent a fraction of the real total.
“At the moment there is no compulsory notification regime, so whether a breach is notified will be a commercial decision for the institution concerned,” says Hamer.
Ernest Hilbert, head of cyber investigations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the security firm Kroll, is more blunt. “They are woefully underreported,” he says. “The real numbers are probably in the thousands.”
Similar questions hang over whether companies are informing customers whose data has been compromised — partly because they may not even have detected the breach, especially if a genuine login is being used.
“Most companies today don’t have either the capability to discover a targeted attack or the well-tested response plans to recover from it,” says Greg Day, chief technology officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the leading cyber security company FireEye.
Even when an attack is detected, “it can be hard to identify exactly what the impact of a breach has been”, says Jonathan Burdett, a director in IT risk and cyber security at PwC.
Criminal supply chain
While the public image of a hacker was once that of a lone nerd or idealist — in Soppitt’s words, “a geek in their garage” — companies are now up against organised criminal gangs who trade in various markets for illicit information. Criminals may breach a company’s defences and then sell access to others.
“There is a supply chain in the cyber crime world,” says Burdett. “User IDs and passwords are sold on the ‘dark web’, allowing people to procure and trade identities. Those are then used to perpetrate identity fraud and theft, and the proceeds are used in other criminal activities further down the line.”
Virtually every targeted attack starts with hackers taking over an account belonging to either a customer or a member of staff, says Hilbert. 
This can be done through a variety of means: malware hidden in a download, which then records a user’s keystrokes; “spear-phishing” emails, which target particular companies or people, using fake identities; spoofed web pages or Wi-Fi hot spots used to harvest logins; or phone calls purporting to be from a bank or other company. In some cases, rogue employees have chosen to share or sell information.
Once inside the system, a hacker may seek routes into other linked companies — say, using a wealth manager to try to access a custodian bank — or they may simply sit inside the system, harvesting information for what can amount to years. 
A survey by Mandiant, which is owned by FireEye, last year found that breaches took an average of 229 days to be discovered.
In rarer cases, hackers may opt to steal money directly: Kroll has seen 50 cases worldwide of financial losses resulting from accounts being taken over, including at wealth management and fund management firms.
Since no company can be totally impervious to attack, rival groups are engaged in something of an “arms race” on digital security, says David Moffat, group executive at International Financial Data Services (IFDS), which provides administration and technology services to financial firms. “Everyone wants to be more difficult to burgle than the guy next door,” he says.
Mitigating effects of attacks
Accepting that some breaches will be inevitable, companies are also devoting more resources to disaster recovery, says Day. Where once they might have spent 80 per cent of their budgets on prevention, that is now closer to 30 per cent, with the rest devoted to detecting attacks and mitigating their effects.
In the UK, because of the weaker reporting requirements, we seldom hear about individual hacking cases. In the US, where reporting requirements are much stronger, news reports of data breaches are frequent.
This month, Morgan Stanley said that up to 10 per cent of its wealth management clients had their account information stolen by an employee who may have been trying to sell it.
New European regulations, set to take effect in 2017, will introduce much bigger penalties for failing to report data breaches, meaning the public will be much more likely to hear when they occur. It will also move the spotlight on to companies that fail to deal with their vulnerabilities, and those whose weak defences may in turn expose other firms.
“Companies are really going to have to hustle to get this done,” says Hilbert.

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Saturday, January 31st, 2015 EN No Comments

Oil Prices Likely To Recover To $67-72 By End-2015 – UBS

UBS Wealth Management says the short-term outlook for oil remains bleak, but gains are expected in the second half of 2015.


The price of crude oil is forecast to remain low in the short-term, although the outlook is anticipated to strengthen in the second half of 2015, according to the latest research from UBS Wealth Management.

Oil prices, which are currently hovering around the $48 per barrel mark, are expected to reach between $67-72 per barrel by the end of 2015, UBS said.

Crude prices are down almost 60 per cent compared to a high of $115 in June and have dropped between 12-15 per cent since the start of 2015, mainly on the back of increased shale oil supply from the US and falling demand.

“Investors are being urged to avoid direct exposure to oil, with the lack of supply adjustments from OPEC keeping oil prices lower and providing backdrop for further price extremes over the next three months,” the report said.

It indicated that over the first half of 2015, oversupply is expected to hit between 1–1.5million barrels per day (bpd).

On Wednesday, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that domestic crude oil stocks had risen by almost nine million barrels week-on-week to nearly 407 million, the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1982.

Although the oil market is rebalancing, as seen by the curtailments in capital spending, there will be a lag in the impact on supply, the report said.

Mark Haefele, global chief investment officer, UBS Wealth Management, said: “The outlook for oil in the first half this year remains negative, amid the lack of immediate supply adjustments in an oversupplied market.

“That said, with non-OPEC supply growth decelerating and demand for oil improving in the second half of 2015, we expect oil prices to rise and trade around the $70 dollar per barrel mark as we head in to 2016.”

The report suggests there is a 25 per cent probability that Brent and West Texas crude oil prices could stay below $40 per barrel over the next six months.

The bank’s 12-month forecasts, which still signal a recovery in crude oil prices, are lower than previous estimates, at $72 per barrel and $67 per barrel respectively for Brent and West Texas crude.


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Saturday, January 31st, 2015 EN No Comments

Saturday Papers: Qatar Airways buys 10% stake in BA-owner IAG

Stephen Russell, manager of the Lazard Emerging Markets Core Equity fund, explains the benefits of taking an unconstrained approach to emerging markets.

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Saturday, January 31st, 2015 EN No Comments

National social security fund investment up 11.43% in 2014

The annual return of the national Social Security Fund stood at 11.43 percent in 2014, the fund’s vice-chairman said at the China Wealth Management 50 Forum on Friday.

“The fund’s total asset scale has exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan ($240 billion),” said Wang Zhongmin, vice-chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, adding that last year’s absolute return reached 139 billion yuan.

Private equity and alternative investments accounted for about 13 percent of the portfolio, said Wang.

“The investment return last year outgrew the inflation rate and GDP growth,” concluded Wang.

China’s 2014 economic growth slowed down to 7.4 percent, and the country’s consumer prices grew 2 percent from one year earlier.

Wang said the fund’s annual return in the past 14 years since its founding averaged 8.5 percent.

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Friday, January 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

McBrearty Capital Management observes 15th anniversary


Jim McBrearty 


Martin McBrearty 


Rachel J. Hacker

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015 12:00 am

McBrearty Capital Management observes 15th anniversary

From Staff Reports

TheDailyTimes.com

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McBrearty Capital Management Inc., a Knoxville-based wealth management firm founded by a Blount County businessman, is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Jim McBrearty began the business managing $25 million in assets and it has grown to manage over $150 million in assets.

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Friday, January 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

Inside the Mind of the Seller

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National LINC 2015

Financial media will say that the average number of deals in the RIA industry is about 47 a year. It’s really more like 1,000 deals happening every year, said Daniel Seivert, CEO and managing partner at ECHELON Partners. But buyers beware: A lot of sellers have difficulty giving up their business, panelists said during a session at TD Ameritrade’s national LINC conference in San Diego, Calif. on Thursday.

“I think the biggest challenge that sellers have is selling the business,” said Matt Brinker, senior vice president at United Capital. “We are, at our core, entrepreneurs. This notion of a transaction is a sense of a perception of giving up autonomy, your freedom and the controls of running your business.

“If there isn’t a clear articulation of what the relationship looks like in advance, you’re going to lose their time, their attention and their energy to pursue this with you.”

But a buyer could also be wasting their time, if the other advisor isn’t, in fact, serious about selling their business.

“With sellers, oftentimes they love having open houses,” Brinker said. “And they’ll invite you into the house, and they have no intention of selling the business. They love the dance; they love to get, effectively, a free valuation; they love to parade you through the offices and let the support staff and the team see that there are people who are interested in the business. It helps rationalize why they have certain equity valuations internally. So it’s very important for would-be buyers to assess early and often whether or not you have a seller who’s actually engaged to sell the business, or do they like the dance?”

To prevent this from happening, United Capital, a strategic acquirer of RIA firms based in Newport Beach, Calif., will make sure that the seller is putting in an equivalent amount of effort through the process that indicates their interest in doing a deal.

“Otherwise, you’re going to spend your time, kissing a lot of frogs and doing a lot of dances, and that can be incredibly expensive and laborious,” Brinker said.

Matt Cooper, president of Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, said you can’t just cast a wide net, and you have to make sure the other person is as interested in a deal as you are. Then, it takes six months to a year to get to know them. Beacon Pointe then has an eight to 10-week transition plan.

Before United Capital does a deal, the firm spends some time to make sure the RIA is culturally aligned, which Brinker argues is the most important aspect. They also spend time evaluating why they’re doing the acquisition, and identifying how the client, growth prospects, and equity they own will be better off because of the deal.

“It’s a numbers game in the sense that you do need to kiss a lot of frogs to finally get to a marriage,” said Lenny Chang, managing director Focus Financial Partners. “You also have to have a pretty rigorous process and a discipline around that process.”

Institutional buyers, such as Focus Financial, only account for about 5 to 10 percent of industry deals, Seivert said, whereas the vast majority of deals are done between individual advisors. 

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Friday, January 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

Barclays – a local presence with a global offering

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“I think what makes us stand out from other wealth managers in the area is our ability to leverage the depth and breadth of the wider Barclays organisation, but to always deliver on a local level, with the specific requirements of our Welsh clients in mind,” said Eileen Cronin, who manages the Wealth and Investment Management business in Wales.

“This doesn’t just mean bringing together the best thinking, advice and solutions from across the global bank to support our local clients’ financial needs, but it’s also being part of the local community – we employ local people, support charitable initiatives in the area and, above all, are committed to local clients.”

This local focus is particularly important when it comes to their market-leading offering for charities.

Ian Chesham, who heads up the team of dedicated charity specialists in the office, sees this as one of Barclays’ most important differentiators. “Quite often charities have to go to London to find the right wealth manager to look after their money, but what we can offer right here in Cardiff is the full portfolio of services for charities, meaning that they don’t have to leave Wales to get the service they need. That’s something we’re really proud of and are committed to building on in 2015.”

Another focus for 2015 will be continuing to develop the business as the wealth management industry evolves.

“Our clients are changing as wealth is increasingly created by entrepreneurship, which we know from our own research is burgeoning in Wales,” said Eileen Cronin.

“We were one of the first to see that the wealth management landscape was changing and so we’ve repositioned our business accordingly to fully meet the needs of our clients. This is also true when it comes to digital innovations such as our voice biometrics system, innovations that will continue to be a focus for 2015.”

Barclays uses market-leading insights to make sure their advice and solutions help realise their clients’ unique ambitions. With access to the expertise of the wider Barclays organisation, and working closely with the Personal and Corporate banking teams, wealth managers in Cardiff can offer the full suite of services, from investment advice to banking services and guidance on philanthropic giving.

Investments can fall in value as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

New board to play key asset management role


New board to play key asset management role

MANAMA, 1 hours, 42 minutes
ago

The Bahrain Asset Managers Association (Bama) has appointed its first board.

This includes the appointment of J Equity Partners chief executive Dr Ahmed Al Jawhary as chairman and Alpine Wealth Management managing partner Munther Al Kooheji as vice-chairman, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Joining them on the board are industry veterans PineBridge Investments Mena chief executive and alternative investments co-head Talal Alzain, Tadhamon Capital chief executive Ahmed Sultan amd The Family Office Company deputy chief executive Adel Al Mangrou.

Appointees to the board represent Bama’s founding member firms and were elected to serve for a three-year term.

The five-member board will oversee the activities of the association and its efforts to help grow and promote the kingdom’s asset management industry, which includes both Islamic and conventional financial institutions, specialised in asset management.

Bama’s primary activity will be to develop and maintain close working relationships with all relevant industry and related bodies including regulators, decision-makers and legislators, professional development organisations, and regional and global peers.

Key among its objectives will be advocating on behalf of members, working to positively influence and shape regulations governing the sector and helping asset managers to enhance operational, professional and ethical standards across the industry to ensure full alignment with global best practices.

“With the support of our founding members and the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), we have established an organisation that aims to play an active role in shaping the future of the asset management industry through collaboration, consultation and the representation of our members on a local, regional and international basis,” Dr Al Jawhary said.

The establishment of Bama was officially announced in May last year by the CBB, under whose supervision it now operates.

It will now commence with the induction of additional member firms with invitations being extended to all investment firms and other financial institutions licenced by the CBB.

Bama is also in the process of announcing a calendar of events and activities for the year.

This includes a series of round-table sessions with its international and regional affiliates and counterparts and sector specific forums to be hosted by the association.

It will also participate in major banking and financial conferences both in the region and globally in effort to promote the sector, build awareness and effectively introduce and position the organisation.

The association was established in May last year and its founding members comprised five leading asset management firms: Alpine Wealth Management, J Equity Partners, PineBridge Investments, Tadhamon Capital and The Family Office Company. – TradeArabia News Service

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

Grid Scale Energy Storage System Market in the APAC Region 2015-2019 …


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Grid Scale Energy Storage System Market in the APAC Region 2015-2019 – New Report Available

New Defense market report from TechNavio: “Grid Scale Energy Storage System Market in the APAC Region 2015-2019”

[ClickPress, Fri Jan 23 2015] Grid energy storage is a technique used for the large-scale storage of electricity through a power grid. Such electricity storage is required when the amount of electricity generated is greater than the demand. The surplus electricity saved in energy storage systems is supplied to customers when the demand is higher than the generation. Grid storage is a mechanism of storing electricity during the off-peak period and supplying the stored electricity during the peak period. Grid scale energy storage systems helps during power shortages, power blackouts, or during high demand for power supply. These technologies mainly include pumped-hydro storage systems, advanced batteries, flywheel, and other evolving technologies such as CAES.

Full Report Details at
http://www.fastmr.com/prod/941647_grid_scale_energy_storage_system_market_in_the.aspx?afid=301

TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Grid Scale Energy Storage System in APAC Market to grow at a CAGR of 37.4 percent over the period 2014-2019.

Covered in this Report

TechNavio’s report, Grid Scale Energy Storage System in APAC Market 2015-2019, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the Grid Scale Energy Storage System in APAC market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report includes the segmentation of grid scale energy storage system on the basis of type of technology. It also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

Key Vendors

* AES
* MWH Global
* NGK Insulators
* SustainX
* ZBB Energy

Other Prominent Vendors

* ABB
* Alstom
* EOS Energy Storage
* SC Electric Company

Market Driver

* Need to Reduce Power Blackouts
* For a full, detailed list, view our report

Market Challenge

* Inability of Power Utilities to Upgrade Systems in Power Grids
* For a full, detailed list, view our report

Market Trend

* Growing Demand for Decentralized Power Generation
* For a full, detailed list, view our report

Key Questions Answered in this Report

* What will the market size be in 2018 and what will the growth rate be?
* What are the key market trends?
* What is driving this market?
* What are the challenges to market growth?
* Who are the key vendors in this market space?
* What are the market opportunities and threats faced by the key vendors?
* What are the strengths and weaknesses of the key vendors?

Research methodology is based on extensive primary and secondary research. Primary research includes in-depth interviews with industry experts, vendors, resellers and customers. Secondary research includes Technavio Platform, industry publications, company reports, news articles, analyst reports, trade associations and the data published by Government agencies.

Companies Mentioned in this Report: AES, MWH Global, NGK Insulators, SustainX, ZBB Energy, ABB, Alstom, EOS Energy Storage, SC Electric Company

About Fast Market Research

Fast Market Research is a leading distributor of market research and business information. Representing the world’s top research publishers and analysts, we provide quick and easy access to the best competitive intelligence available. Our unbiased, expert staff is always available to help you find the right research to fit your requirements and your budget.

For more information about these or related research reports, please visit our website at http://www.fastmr.com or call us at 1.800.844.8156.

You may also be interested in these related reports:

Video Surveillance Market – Global Trends Forecasts to 2013 – 2020
State Grid Corporation of China – Alternative Energy – Deals and Alliances Profile
Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System (FEES) – Alternative Energy – Deals and Alliances Profile
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) – Alternative Energy – Deals and Alliances Profile
Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System (EXH) – Power – Deals and Alliances Profile



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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

Yellow Brick Road recognises branch excellence at the National Conference …

placeholder-from-the-industryYellow Brick Road Wealth Management (ASX: YBR) has proudly announced the company’s branch award winners at its 2015 National Conference in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Two branches received the award for “Top Branch of the Year” for their contribution to the business over the past 18 months. After taking out the sole “Branch of the Year” title the past two years, Yellow Brick Road Frankston won “Top Branch – Transactions” and the Sydney CBD branch took the title of “Top Branch – Revenue.” Yellow Brick Road Frankston also took the title of “Mortgage Branch of the Year.”

Other major winners included Yellow Brick Road West End which was awarded “Advice Branch of the Year” and Branch Principal Suzy Butterworth who took out the “Wealth Manager of the Year” award. “Wealth Manager of the Year” is given to the person who topped the network across both advice and mortgages.

Yellow Brick Road Chief Executive Officer Matt Lawler, said: “The 2015 award winners have worked tirelessly over the past year to help every day Australians around the country achieve their financial hopes and dreams. Living and breathing the mission of Yellow Brick Road, these branches always work to ensure their clients are taken care of across all their financial needs. They are leaders in the Yellow Brick Road network and are making a big impact within the communities where they live and work.”

Yellow Brick Road Executive Chairman Mark Bouris also inducted three branches into the elite “Chairman’s Club”, which was created in 2011 to recognise standout branches and their achievements both from a business perspective and for their leadership roles. This year’s inductees were Suzy Butterworth from Yellow Brick Road West End and two representatives from Yellow Brick Road Frankston – David Brewster and Phil Elliott.

“This past year has been momentous for both the standalone Yellow Brick Road business and the group as a whole,” Mark Bouris said. “We have expanded our distribution footprint to cover all states and territories (excluding Tasmania) and have further enhanced our ability to give clients the products, services and advice they need – from the purchase of their first home right through to their retirement planning. Our award winners epitomise our mission to provide all Australians with quality financial advice and the calibre of people we attract continues to get more and more impressive, which makes these awards increasingly difficult to win. I would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners, nominees and the entire network for their contributions, and I look forward to watching our network continue to push the traditional boundaries of the financial services sector, as well as themselves, to give their clients the best possible outcomes for the future.

See the following page for a full list of award winners.

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 EN No Comments