Archive for March, 2015

Fitch Affirms Sura Asset Management S.A. at ‘BBB+’; Outlook Stable

NEW YORK–(Business Wire)–Fitch Ratings has affirmed Sura Asset Management S.A.’s (SUAM) Issuer
Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘BBB+’. The Rating Outlook is Stable. Fitch
has also affirmed the rating for SUAM Finance BV’s guaranteed bonds at
‘BBB+’. A complete list of rating actions follows at the end of this
press release.



SUAM’s ratings reflect its strong credit profile based on its leading
regional franchise, consistent performance, strong operating
environment, diversified, stable earnings, sound leverage and debt
service ratios, ample expertise and sound risk management. Also, the
rating incorporates the expansion of the company on a mostly regulated
business in the region and the challenges to diversify its revenue
source from regulated to non-regulated businesses. While Fitch
acknowledges SUAM’s importance to its parent (Grupo de Inversiones
Suramericana; rated ‘BBB-/ROP’ by Fitch) the potential support from its
parent was not considered for these ratings.

SUAM’s credit profile is strong enough to warrant one of the highest
ratings in Colombia; the rating is not considered to be constrained by
the country ceiling as it benefits from a relatively strong, stable and
growing stream of revenues from countries with a higher country ceiling.
Even when the main operating companies are regulated in their home
country, there is still significant flexibility to transfer resources
between entities, while the business generated within Colombia is
relatively small compared to SUAM’s total business volume. Nevertheless,
SUAM’s ratings could not conceivably be very far from those of its
parent given its clear corporate identity and the importance of
reputation and trust in the financial services and asset management

Leading Regional Franchise: SURA Asset Management (SUAM) is the leading
mandatory pension fund manager (MPFM) in Latin America with presence in
six countries (including the region’s top four MPFM markets), a 23%
market share, a customer base of over 17 million people and over $114
billion of assets under management (AUM) at December 2014.

Consistent Performance: SUAM maintained a sound performance during 2014
based on the stability of its core business and a continued growth of
its voluntary business. While results in individual countries were
generally up, the consolidated net income declined due to the impact of
the conversion to USD. NI would have grown in excess of 20% at fixed
exchange rates. Nevertheless, profitability remained sound at 2.5% ROAA
at December 2014.

Strong Operating Environment: Five out of the six countries where SUAM
operates are investment grade and 83% of its EBITDA is generated in
countries with a country ceiling of A- or better. Economic growth
prospects in most of these countries remain positive ? albeit slower
than in the past decade ? and are coupled with improved labor markets
and raising salaries and per capita income. Moreover, demographic trends
signal the need for individual savings pension plans and there is
political consensus and stability on MPFMs regulation.

Diversified, Stable Earnings: SUAM’s revenues are growing steadily as
contributions are mandatory and fees stable. Additional products (life
insurance, wealth management) provide some diversification but the bulk
of SUAM’s revenues stems from the mandatory business (90% of its EBITDA)
and has shown remarkable stability. In addition, a real-life stress on
its business in Mexico weakened the revenue stream but the company
remained profitable.

Sound Leverage/ Debt Service Ratios: SUAM’s debt is concentrated at the
headquarter level, with a comfortable maturity structure, and is
moderate when compared to the entity’s EBITDA. Leverage (debt/EBITDA)
and debt service (EBITDA/Interest Expenses) ratios – adjusted to
consider expected dividends only – would remain below 3x and above 6x
respectively in 2014-2015; both metrics bode well compared to similar

Ample Expertise: In spite of being a relatively young company, SUAM
benefits from the long track record and expertise of its preceding
companies as it acquired ING’s MPFM business. SUAM made additional
acquisitions and controls the third largest player in the region’s
oldest MPFM market (Chile). Fitch believes SUAM’s substantial presence
in the most mature market creates a unique perspective and insight on
the industry and its future development.

Sound Risk Management: SUAM’s sound investment policies allow the
company to perform at par or better than its peers. At YE13, two thirds
of the funds managed by SUAM’s subsidiaries outperformed their
benchmarks. SUAM’s risk management policies as well as its expertise and
regional reach appear adequate to maintain the company’s sound
competitive position and moderate, healthy growth.

SUAM Finance BV Senior Guaranteed Bonds

SUAM Finance BV’s senior guaranteed bond issuance maturing on April 2024
is rated BBB+ as it is guaranteed by Sura Asset Management S.A., as well
as by the holding companies of its operating subsidiaries.



Sustained Growth, Stable Environment: SUAM’s ratings could benefit from
continued growth and sustained performance, amid stable economic and
regulatory environments, coupled with improved adjusted leverage (less
than 2.5x) and debt service ratios (above 8.0x).

Subpar Performance: Should SUAM’s performance decline below the industry
average, so as to erode its credit metrics (debt to adjusted EBITDA
above 3.5x or Adjusted EBITDA/interest expense below 6x), its ratings
could be pressured downwards. In addition, an adverse change in
regulation or dismal economic performance in its key markets could
affect its ratings negatively. Finally, although not Fitch’s base case,
a severe deterioration of its parent’s credit profile would weigh on its
ratings as a contagion effect cannot be ruled out.

SUAM Finance BV Senior Guaranteed Bonds

SUAM Finance BV’s Senior Guaranteed Bonds’ rating would move in line
with that of Sura Asset Management.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings:


–Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB+’;
Outlook Stable;

–Short-Term Foreign Currency IDR at ‘F2’;

–Long-Term Local Currency IDR at ‘BBB+’; Outlook Stable;

–Short-Term Local Currency IDR at ‘F2’.

SUAM Finance BV

–Senior Guaranteed Bonds at ‘BBB+’.

Additional informaAdditional information is available at ‘‘.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

–‘Global Non-Bank Financial Institutions Rating Criteria’ (Mar. 20,

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Global Non-Bank Financial Institutions Rating Criteria

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status


Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Diego Alcazar, +1-212-908-0396
Ratings, Inc.
33 Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004
Abraham Martinez, +56-2-2499-3317
Franklin Santarelli, +1-212-908-0739
Media Relations, New York
Elizabeth Fogerty,


Friday, March 27th, 2015 EN No Comments

Utahn used Mormon ties to rip off investors, court papers allege

Jacob Keith Cooper, the Washington man who owns Total Wealth Management, did not return messages seeking comment, and a phone number listed in his name had been disconnected. He is representing himself in the lawsuit.

A number of alleged victims in the San Diego area are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On a Total Wealth web page, Cooper touts his two-year Mormon mission in New England and boasts that he is an Eagle Scout.

Attorney Mia Severson, who represents a number of investors, said Cooper’s actions have left many retirees without their savings and wondering monthly how they will make ends meet.

“What’s worse,” she wrote in an email, “Jacob Cooper used his Mormon affiliation to induce fellow Mormons in San Diego to invest. He robbed them of their money using their trust in a fellow Mormon — a perverse use of the religion.”

The Wealth Management receiver, Kristen A. Janulewicz, an Irvine, Calif., accountant, said in her initial report to a federal judge that Cooper had revenue-sharing arrangements and collected management and other fees from companies in which he had placed investor monies but which were insolvent, appeared to be losing money or “had unusual affiliations” with him.

Janulewicz was appointed to take control of and investigate the companies after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Total Wealth Management, Cooper and others last month in federal court in California for allegedly misleading investors and breaching their legal duties to them.

Based on a preliminary probe, the receiver reported that a number of investments made by Total Wealth entities were in suspect companies that were or became insolvent or did not appear to have the income to make interest, commissions or fees that they paid. The report seems to suggest those payments came instead from investor monies.

Janulewicz declined comment, said receivership attorney Joshua del Castillo, noting that the findings were preliminary and the investigation was continuing.

The report points out that Total Wealth put more than $30 million into an entity called Private Placement Capital Notes II LLC, which operates a resort in South Carolina called Melrose on the Beach and owns a mining company in Utah called Good Earth Minerals LLC, which was to develop calcium sulfate mines.

The resort requires many repairs and the mining company substantial additional investment before it can start mining, while a Private Placement Capital official told the receiver it has little operating cash. Despite the cash shortage, it apparently paid 12.5 percent interest in 2013 and some of 2014, raising “a significant question” of where that money came from and suggests prospects for recovering funds “are highly uncertain,” according to the report.

Private Placement paid Total Wealth about $1.3 million in fees from October 2009 to September 2104, of which about $1 million went to Pinnacle Wealth Group, Cooper’s consulting company, the report said.

Cooper in a court filing lists his Washington home as worth $1.1 million with $600,000 still owed on it.

In another example of fees, the receiver says a Total Wealth company called Aegis Retail Group paid $124,242 from 2011 through 2012.

Yet, according to the report, “records reflect that the Aegis entities had substantial losses and were essentially insolvent during all relevant periods, meaning the fees paid could otherwise have mitigated investors’ losses.”

Another company, LJL Secured High Yield Income Fund 1 LLC, made revenue-sharing payments even after its investors had lost 20 percent to 50 percent of their investments, the report said.

Cooper’s companies also placed investor monies in Life’s Good Inc., which a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled was a Ponzi-like scheme. Its principal, Robert Stinson, who had a previous conviction, was sentenced to 33 years in prison, according to the receiver’s report.




Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 EN No Comments

Private equity begins to entice ordinary investors

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 EN No Comments

UBS Reshuffles Regional Directors


UBS Wealth Management Americas promoted two complex directors to oversee advisors in the New York metropolitan area and southwest regions.

Todd Locicero has been named Metro regional director and Ron Meraz has been named Southwest regional director, effective immediately.

Locicero is taking over from Ron Ferrelli, who is retiring. Locicero and his family will be relocating to New York City from Los Angeles, where he served as the private wealth management complex director.

During his time there, Locicero doubled the size of the private wealth management business while gathering significant net new money and new clients. He also served as co-chair of the Branch Manager Advisor Council for the past three years.

Locicero joined UBS in September 2010 from Morgan Stanley, where he was regional manager for the firm’s private wealth management office in Los Angeles.

“Todd’s experience fits perfectly with our ambition to be to firm of choice for high-net worth and ultra-high-net worth clients and the financial advisors who serve them,” Jason Chandler, head of UBS Wealth Management Americas for the eastern U.S., said in a statement Monday. Locicero will report to Chandler.

In the Southwest region, Meraz will be stepping in as regional director after Randy Grossblatt decided to return to being a financial advisor.

Meraz has served as the complex director for Orange County since he joined from Merrill Lynch 2008. Since then, the Orange County complex has thrived, winning the “complex of the year” honor in 2014. Additionally, Meraz received the Edward J. Connelly Award in 2013 in recognition of service to his community and the firm.

“Ron has a proven track record of leadership and accomplishment that together with his commitment to the Southwest region it makes him the perfect leader to continue our strategy of being client-focused and advisor centric, while serving high-net worth and ultra-high-net worth clients,” Bill Carroll, head of UBS Wealth Management Americas for the western U.S., said in a statement Monday. Meraz will report to Carroll.

Prior to joining UBS, Meraz was the head of the office of diversity at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, where he also served as a financial advisor and complex director.

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015 EN No Comments

CommInsure appoints head of annuities

CommInsure is pleased to announce the appointment of George Lytas to a new position of Head of Annuities for its Superannuation Investments business.

Mr Lytas brings over 20 years’ experience to CommInsure, most recently as Acting Head of General Insurance for BT Financial Group. Prior to joining BT in 2011, George spent five years in ING’s Wealth Management business in several roles including Head of Product Development where he led a team responsible for the development of retirement income and investment solutions for the Australian market. George has also held senior roles with AMP, Colonial and the Royal SunAlliance Group.

Greg Ballard, General Manager of Superannuation and Investments, CommInsure, said, “We are delighted to appoint George to help drive growth of our Annuities business. George brings a wealth of knowledge in the development of retirement income solutions for the Australian market. He joins our business at a pivotal time in the industry where there is increasing demand for guaranteed retirement income products, such as annuities, which can help provide adequate savings in retirement.”

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 EN No Comments

Sovereign wealth funds start to leak oil

Norway’s $850bn oil fund has performed a remarkable impression of the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the past decade. It snapped up 1.3 per cent of the world’s equity market capitalisation and 0.9 per cent of the fixed income market, as well as dabbling in property, as its assets surged sevenfold. So any substantial change to the fund, or to the wider $7.1tn sovereign wealth fund sector, matters to markets. With $4.3tn of that $7.1tn dependent on revenue streams from oil and gas, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, a slump in the oil price from $115 a barrel in June 2014 to $57 now, might be regarded as constituting a material change.

Although it is still early days, this change is starting to show up in some of the more transparent funds.

Transfers into the Norwegian oil fund are likely to plummet from NKr147bn ($18bn) last year to just NKr25bn this year, according to forecasts from the ministry of finance and the central bank.

Flows could conceivably turn negative for the first time since the fund was established in 1990, if oil prices weaken further or the government, which is allowed to use petroleum revenues equivalent to 4 per cent of the fund’s value to help balance its budget, chooses to do so.

This situation has already been reached by the $52.8bn Alaska Permanent Fund. Last year it received $779m in mineral revenue, a fall of 7 per cent from 2013, but doubled its payout to the state government to $1.27bn. In Alaska’s case, however, this dividend is mechanistically calculated based on the fund’s income over the previous five years.

Russia’s twin SWFs, its Reserve and National Wealth funds, have fared worse still. Their combined assets slid by $25bn to $152bn since September as Moscow drew on the funds to prop up the country’s economy. Many believe these funds will be run down much further, although the country is probably a bit of an outlier.

“We are already seeing some [oil exporters] reacting by diverting some of the money away from their sovereign wealth funds,” says Massimiliano Castelli, head of strategy for sovereign institutions at UBS, the bank.

“In the Gulf, some countries will have to pump money into their economies to fill the fiscal gap.”

Given that the slide in oil prices has, broadly, been a transfer from actors with a low marginal propensity to consume to those with a higher propensity, net selling of financial assets might be expected, in the short term at least.

At this stage, few are expecting a repeat of 2008-09, when falling markets reduced the aggregate value of the world’s SWFs by $150bn to $4tn, according to figures quoted by Deutsche Asset Wealth Management, even though flows remained positive.

Patrick Thomson, head of sovereigns at JPMorgan Asset Management, the largest active manager for SWFs, says only specialised fiscal stabilisation funds, expressly designed to smooth out government finances, were likely to experience net outflows. Other oil-fired funds were likely to see a slower pace of asset accumulation instead.

Asoka W?hrmann, chief investment officer at Deutsche AWM, goes a little further, arguing that, for resource-based funds in aggregate, the pace of growth of assets was likely to fall “sharply”.

Moreover, “some specific [funds] might see some outflows”, potentially even the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Riyadh’s central bank, which manages $757bn (according to SWFI estimates) of foreign holdings.

“For some months, maybe one year, they could see outflows in my opinion. I cannot remember this situation occurring before,” Mr W?hrmann says.

Mr Castelli is more downbeat on asset growth. Although 40 per cent of SWFs are not driven by resource revenues, more than half of this money belongs to China, which has just under $1.5bn (according to SWFI estimates) spread across three vehicles.

But even Mr Castelli does not expect a significant impact on asset prices. He argues that the flows from developed world quantitative easing more than offset any slowdown in buying by SWFs.

Moreover, the lower oil price is likely to raise China’s current account surplus, the source of money for its funds.

Mr Castelli believes the ructions may have some impact on financial markets. The uncertainty may encourage oil-based funds to hold more liquid assets, rather than direct investments in private markets that could involve locking money in for as long as 10 years.

He says there has already been some movement towards money market funds, which are highly liquid and avoid the negative interest rates now payable on some large bank deposits.

If some funds start cutting positions, the impact could be somewhat greater in emerging markets. Many SWFs have an allocation of 20-25 per cent to these markets, particularly Middle Eastern ones, which is higher than most institutional investors.

“The Gulf has been very active in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Lebanon. A few billion flowing out of these markets might be more noticeable,” says Mr Castelli.

Others are more sanguine. Mr Thomson says he spoke to officials from “many” SWFs during January’s World Economic Forum at Davos and they were not planning to alter their investment strategies in the wake of the oil price decline.

Jukka Pihlman, global head of central banks and sovereign wealth funds at Standard Chartered and a former adviser to SWFs at the International Monetary Fund, adds that the stabilisation funds most likely to be selling assets tend to have a lot of liquid holdings, such as public equities and debt, which are easy to sell.

“I have not heard of anyone needing to eat into their long-term portfolios, such as private equity and real estate assets,” he says.

A bigger question might be the impact on the broader macroeconomic backdrop if oil prices were to stay at current levels for a significant period. “The most intriguing question is about the long-term accumulation of sovereign wealth,” says Mr Castelli. “The rapid accumulation of assets has been a major feature of the past 15 years. Are we moving into a period where it will stagnate or even fall?

“If so, what does this mean in terms of the savings/investment imbalance that has been one of the main problems [for the world economy]?”

Texans like to boast that “everything is bigger” in their state, but in the world of sovereign wealth funds, a concept they pioneered, they are now veritable small fry.

The Texas Permanent School Fund, established with a $2m handout from the state legislature in 1854, is widely held to be the oldest SWF, or publicly owned investment fund, in the world.

The Lone Star State’s oil riches may have allowed the fund’s assets to surge to $37.7bn since, but this is only enough to place it 28th in the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute’s latest global rankings.

Instead, countries such as Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, with lashings of oil and gas and, to date, little to spend the gushing revenues on, have amassed far larger wealth funds.

More recently, serial current account surplus countries such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore have joined them by putting the foreign exchange reserves of their central banks to work in the markets.

Sovereign wealth funds continue to grow in number.

A host of African and Latin American countries joined the party in recent years, typically funded by royalties from oil or other minerals, such as copper in the case of Chile or diamonds in that of Botswana.


Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 EN No Comments

Robot advisers hit Wall Street

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 EN No Comments

Julius Baer acquisition of DSP Merrill Lynch’s India ops gets CCI nod

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the proposed acquisition of DSP Merrill Lynch’s (DSPML) wealth management business in India by the Zurich-based Julius Baer (JB) Group. The commission’s order came after DSPML and JB executed a local purchase agreement (LPA) in January, as part of the acquisition of DSP’s wealth management and lending businesses and trust services in the country.

As per the agreement, the proposed combination “involves a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent steps”, which involves acquisition of 100% shares of Merrill Lynch Wealth Advisors (MLWA) by JB and transfer of the wealth management lending business of DSP Merrill Lynch Capital to Bank of America Securities (India) (BASIL) followed by the transfer of 100% share capital of BASIL to MLWA.

JB is a Swiss private banking group which manages assets worth $297 billion through its presence in more than 20 countries.

In 2012, Bank of America Corp agreed to sell its overseas wealth management operations to JB through a part-cash and part-equity deal. The merger is expected to be complete with transfer of Merrill Lynch’s businesses in France and India to JB.

The CCI observed that DSPML and JB are not engaged directly or indirectly in providing similar services in India. It also concluded DSPML holds insignificant market share in the domestic market.

Since JB has no presence in India, “the proposed combination is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India in any of the relevant market(s)”, the order said.


Saturday, March 21st, 2015 EN No Comments

Swampscott Resident Named a ‘Five Star Wealth Manager’

David Brodsky of Swampscott has been named a “Five Star Wealth Manager” by Boston magazine.

According to a press release:

GW Wade, LLC, an independent, fee-based financial advisory firm, is pleased to announce its ranking among the elite of financial advisors in the Boston area. In the February edition of Boston Magazine, 13 GW Wade advisors [including Brodsky] are recognized with the 2015 Five Star Wealth Manager Award.

The Five Star Wealth Manager designation is given to select wealth managers in 45 market throughout the U.S. and Canada. The purpose of the award is to differentiate those wealth managers who excel in client retention and satisfaction.

David Brodsky joined GW Wade in 2000 specializing in tax and estate planning, financial

counseling and investment management. He is a Principal of the firm. Prior to joining GW

Wade, David was a Tax Specialist in the Boston office of KPMG LLP.David is a graduate of Boston University Law School (JD), Northeastern University (MBA MS) and James Madison University (BBA). He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, General Securities Representative (Series 7) and Securities Agent Investment Advisor Representative (Series 66).

David is an active member in his community. He is a Board Member at Congregation Shirat

Hayam in Swampscott, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Photo credit: GW Wade LLC


Saturday, March 21st, 2015 EN No Comments

Buy Wipro, may move to Rs 720: Anu Jain

Anu Jain of IIFL Private Wealth Management told CNBC-TV18, “Wipro definitely looks like a buy. It is coming to the zones and kind of retracing from there but I think that is one of the stocks where at current market price, I am comfortable buying. I think my long-term targets would be much higher but for three-six months Rs 720, which is about roughly about 10 percent move from here, that looks good.”

CSR without compulsion will have more substance: economist

CSR without compulsion will have more substance: economist

We will have a few tricks up our sleeves: Maxwell

We will have a few tricks up our sleeves: Maxwell

She further added, “ Lupin has done a move, if you see the whole pharmaceutical index the way it closed, there was a slight profit taking which came in. I was looking at the index, CNX-pharma at 1,225 has a resistance, it has attended that level twice in the last seven sessions and cannot come back from there. But it has made healthy gains and so whether it was Lupin or whether it was any of the other pharmaceutical stocks which had profit taking, it is very healthy. So given that around those Rs 1,850-1,865 zones, Lupin would be a good level to buy because the support levels are now closer to Rs 1,800-1,820. So I would buy around those Rs 1,850 — 1-2 percentage more if it corrects would be good to buy. I think medium-term targets are about Rs 2,075, slightly longer-term we are getting chart levels of Rs 2,200 so would look for 2-3 percent correction to get into those levels.”

“On the other side if you are looking for value buys, stocks which have corrected as I was just saying that the banks have corrected. So closer to Rs 310-312 ICICI Bank looks good. I would probably look at things like SBI also which is again at the 200 day moving average closer to Rs 277, probably Rs 260-265 levels which I am saying couple of percentage points more — these will definitely give you good returns in the long-term and if you are not going to pick them up and panic then it is always better to pick up stocks and panic for the longer-term. For trading zone also I think signals will change around those levels because I doubt that you are going to see a breakdown of Rs 266 on SBI . So the risk return is in the favour for a trader who goes long at those levels,” she added.

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Saturday, March 21st, 2015 EN No Comments