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8 Oct 2008

The Group Of Thirty Issues Supervisory Report

The Group of Thirty released a new report, 'The Structure of Financial Supervision: Approaches and Challenges in a Global Marketplace'.

The report was issued after the meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington DC. The Group of Thirty is an international body composed of central bank governors, leading economists, and private financial sector experts,

"The financial turmoil that has unfolded over the last year has tested the ability of regulatory authorities to respond effectively to financial crises. It is evident that a number of countries need to revise and reform financial regulatory structures," said Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Group of Thirty's Board of Trustees.

Volcker underscored that improvement in regulatory approaches is essential at the national and cross-border levels. The G30 report compares and analyses the financial regulatory approaches of 17 jurisdictions, including the UK, the US and Australia, in order to illustrate the implications of the four principal models of supervisory oversight: (1) the Institutional Approach, (2) the Functional Approach, (3) the Integrated Approach, and (4) the Twin Peaks Approach.

The US structure, which falls outside of these four approaches, combines institutional and functional approaches with the added complexity of a number of state level agencies and actors.

Roger W Ferguson, President and CEO of TIAA-CREF, former Vice Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board and the Vice Chairman of the G30 Working Group, said, "As we start to re-examine regulatory structures, the G30 report can play a role by building the fact base that regulators, politicians, and financial market participants will consider."

In March, the US Treasury released its 'Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure', which proposes a major restructuring of financial supervision toward a regulation by objectives approach, in some ways similar to the twin peaks model to supervision and regulation. The UK has already introduced modifications in its highly integrated approach.

In preparing the report, the G30 conducted interviews with key officials in the relevant jurisdictions, as well as practitioners, regulated parties, and those who may have been involved historically in the development of the current regulatory arrangements.

Potential for Hedge Fund Returns Is Still There For Investors - Report

According to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), a poll of 1,300 sophisticated private investors showed that 15% believed that hedge funds offer the potential for strong returns in the current environment. However they are also concerned about their perceived lack of transparency (17%) and riskiness (17%).

Investors are also cautious about hedge funds because they believe that they are not regulated (14%), and are concerned about the reputation for high charges (12%). Some investors also find them confusing (11%) and believe they are only accessible to the wealthy (5%).

Although some sophisticated private investors are wary of hedge funds, 6% of those surveyed are already investing in hedge funds, 5% have invested in the past and 3% are planning to invest in the future. Interestingly, nearly half (46%) of investors believe they may possibly invest in hedge funds in the future whilst only 29% of investors surveyed would never invest in hedge funds.

"Many of these investors' concerns over hedge funds are addressed through the listed hedge fund and fund of hedge funds sectors," Annabel Brodie-Smith, Communications Director of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) said, "The listed structure of closed ended hedge funds and fund of funds means investors have access to a much higher level of transparency. Shares in listed funds are available on the stock market just like any other share so they are available to those of modest means as well as the super wealthy."

"This is a real growth area of the industry with the hedge fund sector making up 65% of the assets raised this year in the investment company sector. However, it is still a young sector, so long-term performance records are not available for the majority. Investors need to do their homework to make sure they select the right fund for them in this diverse sector and if they are unsure they should take independent financial advice," she concluded.

Ian Plenderleith, Chairman of BH Macro, said, "Hedge funds who can maintain the necessary standards of investment expertise and risk management have demonstrated that they can deliver superior returns on a consistent basis. Listed hedge fund vehicles give a wider range of investors access to alternative investment strategies through an avenue they are familiar with. They get the benefit of the regulatory safeguards and disclosure obligations, and the secondary market liquidity that go with stock exchange listing."

Robin Bowie, Chairman of Dexion Capital, said: "When dislocation in financial markets reaches the present level, it provides an ideal environment for hedge funds, which are well-placed to make opportunistic investments where they recognise value and can hedge out the market risk. Some of those positions will be illiquid, which will be unsuitable for most managers of open-ended funds. Closed-ended funds employ ‘permanent capital', raised on the stock exchange, which allow managers to blend liquid and illiquid assets and take advantage of the current mismatch in the markets. In essence, closed-ended funds bring liquidity to illiquid situations."