A new research paper by Deloitte LLC: "How Hedge Funds Are Becoming the Ultimate Networked Enterprise," focuses on how hedge fund methods of interacting with prime brokers and third-party administrators needs to be rethought in order to remain profitable as the roles of prime brokers and third-party administrators evolve.
"As investors demand increased transparency and operational risk management, hedge funds are faced with redefining their relationships with prime brokers and third-party administrators," Cary Stier, Deloitte's U.S. Asset Management Services leader explained.
"While attraction and retention of capital remains a top priority for fund managers, in today's market performance isn't the only bull's-eye a fund has to hit to accomplish these goals. Investors want assurance that the fund's operating model has taken into consideration the events of the last year and has adjusted accordingly. At the same time, prime brokers, administrators and custodians are looking for new ways to serve managers," said Adam Broun, Deloitte's Asset Management Services Consulting leader.
The report outlines five areas of focus for both prime brokers and third-party administrators:
Build the Middle-Office that Fits your Operating Strategy
Hedge funds need to determine their optimal operating strategy and factor in roles various service providers will play in providing necessary capabilities. Although most large firms will build their own middle-office, service offerings from fund administrators and custody players will prove to be compelling from both a cost and capability standpoint. Managing the network of service providers will require additional capabilities that the hedge funds will need to build and staff in-house.
Add Horsepower to Your Collateral Management
The multiprime model will only increase the need for improved collateral management. Some hedge funds will benefit by outsourcing to enterprise collateral management service providers or implementing vendor solutions to efficiently manage their collateral across various parties. In addition to spreading collateral across parties, independent valuation of illiquid assets, zero over-collateralization and optimal collateral composition will be the key focus areas.
Plan Risk Management
Risk management will see a balance of focus between market risk for investment strategies and counterparty risk. In a multiprime model, a single broker's risk report will show only a partial picture of the risk profile. Risk management will need to be a central function that aggregates positions across all providers. Take this opportunity to separate risk management from investment management.
Choose the Right Mix of Prime Brokers
The choice of prime brokers should be guided by aligning the fund manager's needs to the prime
broker's capabilities -- balance sheet strength, execution platform, geographic presence, flexible financing/margining options and product coverage.
Get the Most From Your Third-Party Administrator
Third-party administrators can help hedge funds outsource several middle- and back-office functions. With the increased complexity of the middle- and back-office, hedge funds should at least understand the range of services available from their administrators.
Implications for Prime Brokers
Prime brokers are experiencing a major shift in their business model. Their focus on developing deep relationships with a few hedge fund clients is no longer working in a multiprime environment, where risk diversification and access to capital is taking center stage. As lending stays constrained, prime brokers will be required to improve capabilities to deal with new clients and existing capabilities may lose favor among the hedge funds adopting the multiprime model.
Implications for Third-Party Administrators
Third-party administrators are being challenged by handling increased product complexities, technology scalability and international growth. While hedge funds outsource middle-offices and evaluate ways to reduce costs, third-party administrators will need to cut costs and potentially look into moving their back offices to cost-effective locations. Some may offer prime broker-like services to improve profitability and further increase competition in the market or go global; others will more closely align with custodians or consolidate for scale.