Can You Cure a Hedge Fund CFO's Headache?

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The biggest headaches facing chief financial officers of alternative investment firms are regulations, transparency, complexity, investor timidity and efficiency, according to a new survey from New York-based TKS Solutions, which produces accounting software solutions.

If you aspire to moving up, tackle even one of these challenges and you'll set yourself up for the next rung. After all, anyone with a headache automatically loves the co-worker who's got a bottle of aspirin 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 Bernard Madoff, investors want to see their ownership percentages in any underlying funds and managed accounts.

Managing Asset Complexity: Has your fund set up a 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. Do you know any CFOs who love getting involved in the intricacies of software selection and implementation? Neither do we.

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 headcount, but it sure didn't do anything for anyone's workload. Brute force deployments of small armies of staff armed with spreadsheets are no longer an option for handling the complexities of investment partnership and shareholder accounting. Demonstrate your worth by getting up to speed on any new investor accounting systems and updates.

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