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IOSCO finds shortcomings with hedge fund survey

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Author: James Langton, Investment Executive

Data limitations are preventing global regulators from making an assessment of the possible systemic risks posed by hedge funds, according to a report published Monday. The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has published the results of its latest survey of hedge funds, which aims to gather data from hedge fund managers and advisors about the markets where they operate, their trading activities, leverage, funding and counterparty information. However, the report indicates that the limitations involved in this data collection exercise "prevented definitive conclusions… on the risk to the financial system." IOSCO says that it will continue to promote the collection of comparable hedge fund data among regulators in order to foster an internationally consistent approach to measuring risks and improving data quality and reliability. "This work is an essential building block to develop a more transparent and open global financial system. It is essential that regulators have the full picture of all parts of the market from which to make appropriate policy judgments," said David Wright, IOSCO's secretary general. The survey forms part of IOSCO's efforts to support the G20 initiative to mitigate risk associated with hedge fund trading and the industry's traditional lack of transparency. Notwithstanding its shortcomings in assessing systemic risk, the report does indicate that it found: the most common strategy among active funds is equity oriented, with macro-oriented and multi-strategy funds also popular; and, it shows how leverage is used by firms to increase their market exposure, noting that this data is at the core of the systemic risk analysis that regulators are trying to do. The report also looks at liquidity risk, which is a key measure that regulators use to gauge a fund's propensity to experience financial distress. IOSCO says that the survey indicated that, under current market conditions, "few funds actually need to restrict investor liquidity." IOSCO expects to conduct its next survey with a data collection as of September 2014.