EFG Hermes Asset Management has received a number of prestigious regional awards in 2014 for its ability to deliver consistently superior returns across a broad and diverse product spectrum that encompasses sector, sub-sector, single-country and regional funds
23 June 2014
(Cairo, Egypt) — As the winner in five different categories in the recently announced Thomson Reuters / Zawya MENA Asset Management Awards, EFG Hermes Asset Management, one of the region’s largest and most diverse asset management houses, has clearly demonstrated its ability to outperform its peers.
With USD 2.8 billion in AUM and growing, the division is recognized as the top-performer in the field regionally. In Egypt, its five conventional equity funds beat their competitors’ average two-year return (as of 31 December 2013) by nearly 10 points. Its Egyptian Islamic equity funds have performed similarly, and the division has taken home regional and global industry awards for its track records in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
“Staying atop the leaderboard is often more challenging than getting there in the first place,” said Amr Seif, Head of EFG Hermes Asset Management. “It’s all about remaining a consistent top performer and growing at the same time.We’re doing this in a number of ways. We serve a broad range of investors, and we are always on the lookout for investment themes to develop into.”
At the Thomson Reuters MENA Asset Management Awards 2014 the EFG Hermes MEDA Fund, which achieved a return of 45.8%, received the Zawya Fund Award for being the Top Performing MENA Equity Fund in 2013.
Commenting on the Division’s ability to garner such an impressive number of regional and country-specific awards this year Seif said, “We have a fairly unconventional approach to asset management. Rather than being risk-averse, we hold that risk-taking is what we do. We like risk and encourage it — that’s how returns are made. While we do this, of course, we strive to balance the risk-return equation and rather than looking for predictability we look to identify the risks and hence pick the outperforming stocks.”
At the June 1, 2014 Thomson Reuters MENA Asset Management Awards ceremony, the division’s Banque du Caire Fund I was named Zawya’s Top Performing Equity Fund in Egypt in 2013, and the Credit Agricole Egypt Fund III was named Top Performing Money Market Fund in Egypt in 2013.
The division’s Saudi Equity Fund — which achieved a 48.8% Net Total Return — was recognized at the Thomson Reuters event as Zawya’s Top-Performing Equity Fund in Saudi Arabia in 2013. Also this year, the division was named Best Asset Manager Saudi Arabia and Best Asset Manager UAE at the Global Banking & Finance Awards 2014. Meanwhile, Al Waseela Fund (F Class) was named Zawya’s Top Performing Equity fund in Qatar in 2013.
At Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards 2014, EFG Hermes’ Al Baraka Fund was recognized as the Best Islamic Equity Fund over both two-year and one-year periods in the Global Islamic Category.
Others of the division’s Egypt funds have been consistently ranked in the top three in equity and money markets, as well as in the top two in Qatar.
EFG Hermes-managed money market funds have performed especially well, outperforming other non-EFG Hermes funds by an annual average of almost 30 basis points since 2006. As of the end of May 2014, the funds were atop this year’s league tables with a 0.57% annualized return rate, placing the firm’s five managed money market funds at the top of their peer groups in 2014.
“Even as we actively maintain our responsiveness to our current market, we are gradually widening the universe of what we view as interesting or investable. This is obviously in developing markets with characteristics similar to ours, primarily in Africa,” said Seif. “We have relatively large analytical resources that, in addition to the fund managers who actually manage the funds, are covering a very wide universe that spans from Morocco to Oman with the capacity to cover more markets. I’m a firm believer that products absolutely must follow the research effort, not vice versa.”
“In a nutshell, this is our investment story, and the formula for our success, even in these very challenging waters. I am confident about the strength of the firm and the quality of our team. My role is to nurture what we have and ensure that we maintain growth and remain a consistent top performer.”
The table, overleaf, shows the complete list of awards and rankings achieved by the EFG Hermes Asset Management division this year.
|Organization||Award||Fund / Division||Period|
MENA Fund Manager Performance Awards 2014
|Asset Manager of the Year||EFG Hermes Asset Management Division||2013 for the second year in a row and third time in four years|
|Best Money Market Fund||Arab Investment Bank Money Market Fund||2013|
|Best Hedge Fund||The MENA Opportunities Fund||2013|
|Best Qatar Equity Fund||Al Waseela Fund (F Class)||2013|
|Global Banking & Finance Awards 2014|
|Best Asset Manager Saudi Arabia 2014||EFG Hermes Asset Management Division||2014|
|Best Asset Manager UAE||EFG Hermes Asset Management Division||2014|
|Thomson Reuters MENA Asset Management Awards 2014|
|Zawya Fund Award:
Top performing MENA Equity fund in 2013
|EFG Hermes MEDA Fund||2013|
|Zawya Fund Award: Top performing Equity fund in Egypt in 2013||Banque du Caire Fund I||2013|
|Zawya Fund Award: Top performing Equity fund in Qatar in 2013||Al Waseela Fund (F Class)||2013|
|Zawya Fund Award: Top performing Equity fund in Saudi Arabia in 2013||EFG Hermes Saudi Arabia Equity Fund||2013|
|Zawya Fund Award: Top performing Money Market fund in Egypt in 2013||Credit Agricole Egypt Fund III||2013|
About EFG Hermes Asset Management
EFG Hermes Asset Management is the leading asset manager in the Arab world with c. USD 2.8 billion in assets under management. The team of 29 experienced professionals across three countries manages 17 country-specific and nine regionally dedicated funds, making it the largest and oldest investment manager in the region.
The Division is a market pioneer that manages a diversified portfolio of high-performance funds including both institutional funds and dedicated portfolios, offering traditional and alternative investment solutions including equity, fixed income, money market, indexed, capital guaranteed, as well as Shariah-compliant (Islamic) funds and portfolios with a distinguished track record that dates back 17 years. Clients include institutional investors, family offices, as well as high-net worth individuals.
About EFG Hermes
Established in 1984, EFG Hermes, the leading investment bank in the Arab world, draws on 30 years of experience to serve as the preeminent investment bank in the region to provide a comprehensive spectrum of financial services including Investment Banking, Asset Management, Securities Brokerage, Research and Private Equity. Additionally, EFG Hermes owns a 63.7% majority stake in the Lebanese commercial bank Crédit Libanais.
Through its operations in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with more than 800 employees of 25 nationalities, EFG Hermes serves a considerable and diversified client base from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, Africa and the United States. Our clients include governments, corporations, financial institutions, high net worth clients and individual customers.
For further information about EFG Hermes, please visitwww.efghermes.comand stay connected with us:
Note on Forward-Looking Statements
In this press release, EFG Hermes may make forward looking statements, including, for example, statements about management’s expectations, strategic objectives, growth opportunities and business prospects. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts but instead represent only EFG Hermes’ belief regarding future events, many of which, by their nature are inherently uncertain and are beyond management’s control and include among others, financial market volatility; actions and initiatives taken by current and potential competitors; general economic conditions and the effect of current, pending and future legislation, regulations and regulatory actions. Accordingly, the readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made.
TCI: A time of critical importance
By Fabrice Desnos, head of Northern Europe Region, Euler Hermes, the world’s leading trade credit insurer, outlines the importance of less publicised measures for the journey ahead.
After months of lockdown, Europe is shifting towards rebuilding economies and resuming trade. Amongst the multibillion-euro stimulus packages provided by governments to businesses to help them resume their engines of growth, the cooperation between the state and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters has perhaps missed the headlines. However, this cooperation will be vital when navigating the uncertain road ahead.
Covid-19 has created a global economic crisis of unprecedented scale and speed. Consequently, we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of support from national governments. Far-reaching fiscal intervention, job retention and business interruption loan schemes are providing a lifeline for businesses that have suffered reductions in turnovers to support national lockdowns.
However, it’s becoming clear the worst is still to come. The unintended consequence of government support measures is delaying the inevitable fallout in trade and commerce. Euler Hermes is already seeing increase in claims for late payments and expects this trend to accelerate as government support measures are progressively removed.
The Covid-19 crisis will have long lasting and sometimes irreversible effects on a number of sectors. It has accelerated transformations that were already underway and had radically changed the landscape for a number of businesses. This means we are seeing a growing number of “zombie” companies, currently under life support, but whose business models are no longer adapted for the post-crisis world. All factors which add up to what is best described as a corporate insolvency “time bomb”.
The effects of the crisis are already visible. In the second quarter of 2020, 147 large companies (those with a turnover above €50 million) failed; up from 77 in the first quarter, and compared to 163 for the whole of the first half of 2019. Retail, services, energy and automotive were the most impacted sectors this year, with the hotspots in retail and services in Western Europe and North America, energy in North America, and automotive in Western Europe
We expect this trend to accelerate and predict a +35% rise in corporate insolvencies globally by the end of 2021. European economies will be among the hardest hit. For example, Spain (+41%) and Italy (+27%) will see the most significant increases – alongside the UK (+43%), which will also feel the impact of Brexit – compared to France (+25%) or Germany (+12%).
Companies are restarting trade, often providing open credit to their clients. However, there can be no credit if there is no confidence. It is increasingly difficult for companies to identify which of their clients will emerge from the crisis from those that won’t, and whether or when they will be paid. In the immediate post-lockdown period, without visibility and confidence, the risk was that inter-company credit could evaporate, placing an additional liquidity strain on the companies that depend on it. This, in turn, would significantly put at risk the speed and extent of the economic recovery.
In recent months, Euler Hermes has co-operated with government agencies, trade associations and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters to create state support for intercompany trade, notably in France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. All with the same goal: to allow companies to trade with each other in confidence.
By providing additional reinsurance capacity to the trade credit insurers, governments help them continue to provide cover to their clients at pre-crisis levels.
The beneficiaries are the thousands of businesses – clients of credit insurers and their buyers – that depend upon intercompany trade as a source of financing. Over 70% of Euler Hermes policyholders are SMEs, which are the lifeblood of our economies and major providers of jobs. These agreements are not without costs or constraints for the insurers, but the industry has chosen to place the interests of its clients and of the economy ahead of other considerations, mindful of the important role credit insurance and inter-company trade will play in the recovery.
Taking the UK as an example, trade credit insurers provide cover for more than £171billion of intercompany transactions, covering 13,000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers. The government has put in place a temporary scheme of £10billion to enable trade credit insurers, including Euler Hermes, to continue supporting businesses at risk due to the impact of coronavirus. This landmark agreement represents an important alliance between the public and private sectors to support trade and prevent the domino effect that payment defaults can create within critical supply chains.
But, as with all of the other government support measures, these schemes will not exist in the long term. It is already time for credit insurers and their clients to plan ahead, and prepare for a new normal in which the level and cost of credit risk will be heightened and where identifying the right counterparts, diversifying and insuring credit risk will be of paramount importance for businesses.
Trade credit insurance plays an understated role in the economy but is critical to its health. In normal circumstances, it tends to go unnoticed because it is doing its job. Government support schemes helped maintain confidence between companies and their customers in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.
However, as government support measures are progressively removed, this crisis will have a lasting impact. Accelerating transformations, leading to an increasing number of company restructurings and, in all likelihood, increasing the level of credit risk. To succeed in the post-crisis environment, bbusinesses have to move fast from resilience to adaptation. They have to adopt bold measures to protect their businesses against future crises (or another wave of this pandemic), minimize risk, and drive future growth. By maintaining trust to trade, with or without government support, credit insurance will have an increasing role to play in this.
What Does the FinCEN File Leak Tell Us?
By Ted Sausen, Subject Matter Expert, NICE Actimize
On September 20, 2020, just four days after the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a much-anticipated Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the financial industry was shaken and their stock prices saw significant declines when the markets opened on Monday. So what caused this? Buzzfeed News in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released what is now being tagged the FinCEN files. These files and summarized reports describe over 200,000 transactions with a total over $2 trillion USD that has been reported to FinCEN as being suspicious in nature from the time periods 1999 to 2017. Buzzfeed obtained over 2,100 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and over 2,600 confidential documents financial institutions had filed with FinCEN over that span of time.
Similar such leaks have occurred previously, such as the Panama Papers in 2016 where over 11 million documents containing personal financial information on over 200,000 entities that belonged to a Panamanian law firm. This was followed up a year and a half later by the Paradise Papers in 2017. This leak contained even more documents and contained the names of more than 120,000 persons and entities. There are three factors that make the FinCEN Files leak significantly different than those mentioned. First, they are highly confidential documents leaked from a government agency. Secondly, they weren’t leaked from a single source. The leaked documents came from nearly 90 financial institutions facilitating financial transactions in more than 150 countries. Lastly, some high-profile names were released in this leak; however, the focus of this leak centered more around the transactions themselves and the financial institutions involved, not necessarily the names of individuals involved.
FinCEN Files and the Impact
What does this mean for the financial institutions? As mentioned above, many experienced a negative impact to their stocks. The next biggest impact is their reputation. Leaders of the highlighted institutions do not enjoy having potential shortcomings in their operations be exposed, nor do customers of those institutions appreciate seeing the institution managing their funds being published adversely in the media.
Where did the financial institutions go wrong? Based on the information, it is actually hard to say where they went wrong, or even ‘if’ they went wrong. Financial institutions are obligated to monitor transactional activity, both inbound and outbound, for suspicious or unusual behavior, especially those that could appear to be illicit activities related to money laundering. If such behavior is identified, the financial institution is required to complete a Suspicious Activity Report, or a SAR, and file it with FinCEN. The SAR contains all relevant information such as the parties involved, transaction(s), account(s), and details describing why the activity is deemed to be suspicious. In some cases, financial institutions will file a SAR if there is no direct suspicion; however, there also was not a logical explanation found either.
So what deems certain activities to be suspicious and how do financial institutions detect them? Most financial institutions have sophisticated solutions in place that monitor transactions over a period of time, and determine typical behavioral patterns for that client, and that client compared to their peers. If any activity falls disproportionately beyond those norms, the financial institution is notified, and an investigation is conducted. Because of the nature of this detection, incorporating multiple transactions, and comparing it to historical “norms”, it is very difficult to stop a transaction related to money laundering real-time. It is not uncommon for a transaction or series of transactions to occur and later be identified as suspicious, and a SAR is filed after the transaction has been completed.
FinCEN Files: Who’s at Fault?
Going back to my original question, was there any wrong doing? In this case, they were doing exactly what they were required to do. When suspicion was identified, SARs were filed. There are two things that are important to note. Suspicion does not equate to guilt, and individual financial institutions have a very limited view as to the overall flow of funds. They have visibility of where funds are coming from, or where they are going to; however, they don’t have an overall picture of the original source, or the final destination. The area where financial institutions may have fault is if multiple suspicions or probable guilt is found, but they fail to take appropriate action. According to Buzzfeed News, instances of transactions to or from sanctioned parties occurred, and known suspicious activity was allowed to continue after it was discovered.
How do we do better? First and foremost, FinCEN needs to identify the source of the leak and fix it immediately. This is very sensitive data. Even within a financial institution, this information is only exposed to individuals with a high-level clearance on a need-to-know basis. This leak may result in relationship strains with some of the banks’ customers. Some people already have a fear of being watched or tracked, and releasing publicly that all these reports are being filed from financial institutions to the federal government won’t make that any better – especially if their financial institution was highlighted as one of those filing the most reports. Next, there has been more discussion around real-time AML. Many experts are still working on defining what that truly means, especially when some activities deal with multiple transactions over a period of time; however, there is definitely a place for certain money laundering transactions to be held in real time.
Lastly, the ability to share information between financial institutions more easily will go a long way in fighting financial crime overall. For those of you who are AML professionals, you may be thinking we already have such a mechanism in place with 314b. However, the feedback I have received is that it does not do an adequate job. It’s voluntary and getting responses to requests can be a challenge. Financial institutions need a consortium to effectively communicate with each other, while being able to exchange critical data needed for financial institutions to see the complete picture of financial transactions and all associated activities. That, combined with some type of feedback loop from law enforcement indicating which SARs are “useful” versus which are either “inadequate” or “unnecessary” will allow institutions to focus on those where criminal activity is really occurring.
We will continue to post updates as we learn more.
How can financial services firms keep pace with escalating requirements?
By Tim FitzGerald, UK Banking & Financial Services Sales Manager, InterSystems
Financial services firms are currently coming up against a number of critical challenges, ranging from market volatility, most recently influenced by COVID-19, to the introduction of regulations, such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB). However, these issues are being compounded as many financial institutions find it increasingly difficult to get a handle on the vast volumes of data that they have at their disposal. This is no surprise given that IDC has projected that by 2025, the global “datasphere” will have grown to a staggering 175 zettabytes of data – more than five times the amount of data generated in 2018. As an industry that has typically only invested in new technology when regulations deem it necessary, many traditional banks are now operating using legacy systems and applications that haven’t been designed or built to interoperate. Consequently, banks are struggling to leverage data to achieve business goals and to gain a clear picture of their organisation and processes in order to comply with regulatory requirements. These challenges have been more prevalent during the pandemic as financial services firms were forced to adapt their operations to radical changes in customer behaviour and increased demand for digital services – all while working largely remotely themselves.
As more stringent regulations come in to play and financial services firms look to keep pace with escalating requirements from regulators, consumer demand for more online services, and the ever-evolving nature of the industry and world at large, it’s vital they do two things. Firstly, they must begin to invest in the technology and processes that will allow them to more easily manage the data that traditional banks have been collecting and storing for upwards of 50 years. Secondly, they must innovate. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic will have been a catalyst for both actions. However, the hard work has only just begun.
Traditionally, due to tight budgets and no overarching regulatory imperative to change, financial institutions haven’t done enough to address their overreliance on disconnected legacy systems. Even when faced with the new wave of regulation that was implemented in the wake of the 2008 banking crash, financial services organisations generally only had to invest in different applications on an ad hoc basis to meet each individual regulation. However, as new regulations require the analysis of larger data sets within smaller processing windows, breaking down any and all data siloes is essential and this will require financial institutions that are still reliant on legacy systems to implement new technologies to meet the regulatory stipulations.
With this in mind, solutions which offer high-quality data analytics and enhanced integration will be key to the success of financial institutions and crucial to eliminate data silos. This will enable organisations to achieve a faster and more accurate analysis of real-time and historical data no matter where they are accessing the data from within smaller processing windows to keep pace with regulatory requirements, while also benefiting from low infrastructure costs.
This technology will also play a huge part in helping financial institutions scale their online operations to meet demand from customers for digital services. According to PNC Bank, during the pandemic, it saw online sales jump from 25% to 75%. Therefore, having data platforms that are able to handle surges in online activity is becoming increasingly important.
Real-time analysis of data
While the precise solution financial services institutions need will differ based on the organisation, broadly speaking, the more data they are storing on legacy solutions, the more they are going to require an updated data platform that can handle real-time analytics. Even organisations that have fewer legacy systems are still likely to require solutions that deliver enhanced interoperability to help provide a real-time view across the business and enable them to meet the pressing regulatory requirements they face. Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that moving transactional data to a data warehouse, data lake, or any other silo will never deliver real-time analytics, therefore, businesses making risk decisions based on this and thinking it is real-time is completely inappropriate.
As such, financial services firms require a data platform that can ingest real-time transactional data, as well as from a variety of other sources of historical and reference data, normalise it, and make sense of it. The ability to process transactions at scale in real-time and simultaneously run analytics using transactional real-time data and large sets of non-real-time data, such as reference data, is a crucial capability for various business requirements. For example, powering mission-critical trading platforms that cannot slow down or drop trades, even as volumes spike.
Not only will having access to real-time data enable financial institutions to meet evolving regulatory requirements, but it will also allow them to make faster and more accurate decisions for their organisation andcustomers. With many financial services firms operating on a global basis, this is vital to help them keep up not only with evolving regulations but also changing circumstances in different markets in light of the pandemic. This data can also help them understand how to become more agile, help their employees become productive while working remotely, and how to build up operational resilience. These insights will also be vital as financial institutions need to consider the likelihood of subsequent waves of the virus, allowing them to gain a better understanding of what has and hasn’t worked for their business so far.
The financial services sector is fast-paced and ever-changing. With the launch of more digital-only banks, traditional institutions need to innovate to avoid being left behind, with COVID-19 only highlighting this further. With more than a third (35%) of customers increasing their use of online banking during this period, it is those banks and financial services firms with a solid online offering that have been best placed to answer this demand. As financial institutions cater to changing customer requirements, both now and in the future, implementing new technology that provides access to data in real-time will help them to uncover the fresh insights needed to develop new and transformative products and services for their customers. In turn, this will enable them to realise new revenue streams and potentially capture a bigger slice of the market. For instance, access to data will help banks better understand the needs of their customers during periods of upheaval, as well as under normal circumstance, which will allow them to target them with the specific services they may need during each of these periods to not only help their customers through difficult times but also to ensure the growth of their business. As financial institutions not only look to keep pace with but also gain an advantage over their competitors, using data to fuel excellent customer experiences will be essential to success.
With the current economic uncertainty and market volatility, it’s critical that financial services are able to meet the changing requirements coming from all angles. With COVID-19 likely to be the biggest catalyst for financial institutions to digitally transform, they will be better able to cater to rapidly evolving landscapes and prepare for continued periods of remote working. As they look to achieve this, replacing legacy systems with innovative and agile technology solutions will be crucial to ensure they can gain the accurate and complete view of their enterprise data they need to comply with new and changing regulations, and better meet the needs of consumers in an increasingly digital landscape, whether they are located in an office or working remotely.
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