Friday, July 17, 2009

Hedge Fund CFO Headaches

Alternative investment chief financial officers’ five biggest headaches are regulations, transparency, complexity, investor timidity and efficiency, according to a new survey from TKS Solutions.

Tackle even one of those challenges and you’ll set yourself up to move ahead. After all, anyone with a headache automatically loves the co-worker who’s got a bottle Motrin in her desk.

The five most vexing issues for fund CFOs were:

Evolving Regulatory Requirements
A complex regulatory framework has long been a facet of fund life, but this year's abrupt changes have created new challenges for even the most sophisticated shops. Take, for instance, US Form 90.22 (or FBAR) covering both taxable and non-taxable ownership of foreign funds, feeder funds, and tax exempt entities. At least you have until fall to get it done.

Investor Demands for Greater Transparency
Reporting requests are now coming from the capital side and the portfolio front. Thanks to Madoff, investors want to see their ownership percentages in any underlying funds and managed accounts.

Managing Asset Complexity
Has your fund set up side-pocket for non-performing 2008 investments? Managing those along with the main fund may mean an upgrade from spread-sheets to investor accounting software.

Investor Timidity
Hedge funds are offering skittish investors creative liquidity gates. New offerings include: early redemptions with a fee; periodic ability to withdraw partial capital; and/or splitting a single contribution into multiple lock-up schedules.

Operational Efficiency
It may have helped the bottom line to reduce head-count, but it sure didn’t do anything for your workload problems. Brute force deployments of small armies of staff armed with spreadsheets are no longer an option for handling the many complexities of investment partnership and shareholder accounting. Demonstrate your worth by quickly getting up to speed on any new investor accounting systems and updates.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Institute of Management Accountants' 20th annual salary survey showed that despite the economic crisis:
  • the average salary for accounting professionals (among IMA members) actually increased by 2.2 percent in 2008,
  • accounting professionals with an advanced certification (like a Certified Management Accountant or Certified Public Accountant) earned 24 percent more than their non-certified colleagues and
  • respondents ages 19-29 with an advanced certification earned an average of almost $13,000 more than their non-certified colleagues in the same age.

The survey also found that the pay gap between men and women working in the field grew in 2008. “The shocking factor is that the average total compensation for women in 2008 is less than the average salary of men (i.e., without adding the additional compensation) for every age category,” study authors David L. Schroeder and Karl E. Reichardt, CMA said in a commentary about the survey.

Women start out fairly even with their male counterparts, but the longer they stay in the field, the wider the pay gap grows, the survey showed. “The average salary and average total compensation for women in top management decreased 13.6 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, in 2008, while the same figures for top-management men increased 7.5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively,” the authors said.

The survey authors point out that women surveyed were, on average, younger than men (45.5 vs. 48.2), less likely to have advanced degrees (46% vs. 53%) or certifications (63% vs. 72%) and had fewer years in the field (17.5 vs. 20.4), in their current position (5.5 vs. 6.7), and with their current employer (9.6 vs. 10.2), all of which are statistically significant.

The survey also looked at the role certification may play in compensation. Average salary for the 69 percent of respondents who have some kind of certification was $112,068.

The 31 percent of respondents who were not certified reported an average salary of $86,225—a difference of more than $25,000.

In the 2008 survey, CMAs reported higher average salary and total compensation than CPAs in the first two age categories (19–29 and 30–39), while CPAs reported earning more in the remaining three older age categories.

“Those with both certifications have greater average compensation than those with only one certification for all age categories except the 19–29 category. Throughout the 20 years of this study, there has been no uniform pattern when comparing compensation among certifications,” the authors concluded.