Financial Regulatory Forum

Quasi-partnership model may help big banks mitigate risk

By Henry Engler, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, NOV. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The largest institutions on Wall Street could go a long way towards reducing risky behavior if they changed the way top levels of management are incentivized and compensated, and incorporated elements of a partnership model, says a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Taking a page from Goldman’s bygone management structure, Steven Mandis, now a professor at Columbia University, argues that one needs to think creatively of how to replicate the incentives, and ultimately the behavior, that was at work in the partnership model. (more…)

IA brief: State laws may require firms to re-think social media policies

By Jason Wallace

NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Federal and state privacy legislation aiming to protect against employer access to private social media websites may put the investment industry in a bind — unable to fully supervise social-media and electronic communications used by their representatives.

Broker-dealers and investment advisory firms have been carefully embracing social media over the last few years. Firms have shaped policies and procedures with a balance between the needs and wants of their representatives while still making it possible to supervise and ensure compliance with regulatory regulations and guidance.

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Knight Capital crisis brings new push for rules on trading, technology, structure

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, Aug. 6 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The near-collapse of equity market maker Knight Capital after sending erroneous trades to the New York Stock Exchange last week is the latest in a string of errors causing heavy losses and disrupting markets. While smaller in dollar terms than losses from JPMorgan’s ‘London whale’ or UBS’ rogue trader, it is causing regulators to review firms’ compliance and controls over operational risks, and rules for restructuring of equity markets.

“The apparent trading error by Knight Capital Group reflects the type of event that can raise concerns for investors about our nation’s equity markets,” SEC chairman Mary Schapiro said on Friday. “I have asked SEC staff to accelerate ongoing efforts to propose a rule to require exchanges and other market centers to have specific programs in place to ensure the capacity and integrity of their systems”. (more…)

U.S. brokerage regulator warns of ‘unpleasant surprises’ on ETNs

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, July 11 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the U.S. brokerage regulator, warned investors Tuesday in an alert of the features and risks of exchange-traded notes.

The alert, Exchange-traded notes: avoid unpleasant surprises, listed the risks of certain ETNs and urged investors to carefully investigate before investing in them.  (more…)

Road shows, analysts and jumping the gun: the Facebook IPO

By Helen Parry, additional reporting by Julie Dimauro

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Facebook’s chaotic initial public offering has sparked much speculation and legal action based on the idea that securities laws and regulations over disclosure may have been breached, which would leave Facebook and others involved in the offering process liable to potential regulatory enforcement or civil liability for losses caused to investors.

An analyst at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley cut his revenue forecasts for Facebook in the days before the offering, information that may not have reached many investors before the stock was listed, Reuters has reported. (more…)

Investor group seeks JPMorgan governance changes

By Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – A labor-backed investor group critical of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s corporate governance said the bank has failed to address concerns over its risk oversight and it will try to rally other shareholders for changes after a $2 billion trading loss.

CtW Investment Group, which advises labor pension funds holding what it said are 6 million shares in JPMorgan, has advocated for risk governance changes there for more than a year. The risk policy committee of the bank’s board lacks the expertise to understand risks the bank is taking, such as the complex “London Whale” transactions that led to last week’s loss disclosure, a CtW official said. (more…)

Rolling the Dice: Carlyle filing discloses private equity IPO risks

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (Business Law Currents) - As a turbulent IPO market continues to flail, The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s great private equity houses, is going public. With $153 billion in assets under management (AUM), the guys at Carlyle are no dummies. So when so many companies are pulling back, why go public now? A look at Carlyle’s risk disclosures may yield some clues. The timing of the offering, while superficially curious, may at its core be linked to uncertainty over the partnership’s ability to maneuver in ever-shifting tax and regulatory regimes.

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Fed’s Kohn warns on interest rate risk

By Karey Wutkowski

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan 29 (Reuters) – A senior U.S. Federal Reserve official warned on Friday that the uncertain path of interest rates poses risks for banks inattentive to the match of durations among their assets and liabilities.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn told a conference sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp that the usual uncertainty about interest rates in coming months is compounded in the current situation by the fact that rates are near zero and the Fed has massively expanded the amount of reserves in the banking system.

“Borrowing short and lending long is an inherently risky business strategy,” Kohn said. “Intermediaries need to be sure that as the economy recovers, they aren’t also hit by the interest rate risk that often accompanies this sort of mismatch in asset and liability maturities.”

U.S. SEC bolsters money market fund rules on risk, liquidity

By Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. securities regulators adopted rules aimed at making money market funds a safer investment after the collapse of the Reserve Primary Fund triggered a run on the $3.24 trillion market in 2008.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 4-1 on Wednesday to bolster the funds’ liquidity, limit their riskier investments and to show investors the funds may not always maintain a stable $1 share value.

The fund industry was pleased the new rules were less restrictive than the agency initially proposed last year, but the new rules were likely to come at the expense of some yield.

SCENARIOS-How Obama’s bank reforms could affect banks

NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama is looking at limiting risk-taking at banks.

But his proposals on Thursday were tantalizingly vague. He said he wanted to limit the amount of borrowing that banks can do relative to their peers and limit their trading activities to buying and selling securities to customers.

But it is not clear whether relative borrowing limits will be low enough to force banks to reduce their debt. And the line between buying and selling securities on behalf of customers, and doing so on behalf of the bank, can be blurry.

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