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VBK+CO formed joint venture with O’Connor Davies

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VBK+CO grows its footprint by expanding its Fund Administration practice with New York based, PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP

Geneva March 1, 2016 – VBK+CO, a fast growing third party fund administration company, announced today that it has formed a joint venture with O’Connor Davies Administration, LLC, a subsidiary of PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP headquartered in New York, United States of America. The move adds significant experience in the family offices, endowments and private foundations sector to the VBK+CO team, which already provides a robust fund administration and compliance offering. PKF O’Connor Davies’ knowledge and expertise will increase VBK+CO’s footprint and solidify the firm as an important player in the investment fund industry.

Luc Vuurmans, Managing Director of VBK+CO said “We are very excited about our new opportunities with PKF O’Connor Davies, we now offer on a truly global scale, unequaled experience and professionals in alternative assets, administration, compliance, accounting and financial statement assembly.”

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Strong Gains Swiss Fund Market

The Swiss Funds & Asset Management Association SFAMA issued the following media release:

Fund Market Statistics – July 2015

Strong gains once more on the Swiss fund market

Basel, 20 August 2015 – In July 2015, the volume of assets placed in the investment funds covered by the statistics compiled by Swiss Fund Data AG and Morningstar stood at some CHF 894 billion, an increase of around CHF 25 billion or 2.8% month-on-month. The net inflows totaled CHF 3.5 billion.

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News on UCITS

Sales of UCITS posted net outflows of EUR17 billion in June, compared to net inflows of EUR36 billion in May, according to the latest investment funds factsheet from the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA). 

This turnaround in net flows can be attributed to large net withdrawals from money market funds during the month.

Long-term UCITS (UCITS excluding money market funds) registered reduced net inflows of EUR18 billion, down from EUR51 billion in May.

Bond funds experienced a turnaround in net flows posting outflows of EUR7 billion, compared to net inflows of EUR9 billion in May.

Mountains

AIFMD – Switzerland’s Efforts have been positively acknowledged by ESMA

The Swiss Funds & Asset Management Association (“SFAMA”) advised its members on August 4, 2015 as follows:

On 30 July 2015 ESMA published its Advice in relation to the application of the AIFMD passport to non-EU AIFMs and AIFs (ESMA Advice) and its Opinion on the functioning of the passport for EU AIFMs and the national private placement regimes (ESMA Opinion).

ESMA Advice

In opting for a country-by-country assessment of the potential extension of the marketing passport, ESMA was of the view that there was only a sufficient level of information available on six jurisdictions; namely the US, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Singapore.

ESMA concluded that no obstacles exist to the extension of the passport to Guernsey and Jersey, while Switzerland will remove any remaining obstacles with the enactment of pending legislation. No definitive view has been reached on the other three jurisdictions (Hong Kong, Singapore and USA) due to concerns related to competition, regulatory issues and a lack of sufficient evidence to properly assess the relevant criteria.

Therefore, ESMA advises the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission that there will be no significant obstacles impeding the potential application of the AIFMD passport to Switzerland, upon the enactment of the amendments to SESTA including the provisions on cooperation. The new version of SESTA adopted by the Parliament in June is due to enter into force on 1 January 2016.

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VBK+CO: ISAE3402

In February 2015 VBK+CO obtained an unqualified (ISAE) 3402 Type II Certification.

VBK+CO have been awarded the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3402 Type II Certification for internal controls and effective functioning over a defined period of time relating to fund accounting, investor relations services and the related IT controls.

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VBK+CO: ISAE 3402 / SSAE 16 Certification

ISAE 3402 / SSAE 16

International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) No. 3402 is a standard issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16 is a standard issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The scope of the ISAE 3402 standard is: “to provide a report for use by user entities and their auditors on the controls at a service organization that provides a service to user entities that is likely to be relevant to user entities’ internal control as it relates to financial reporting” (IAASB).

SSAE 16 was built upon the ISAE 3402 framework and the standards are essentially the same with a number of deviations. At VBK+CO, as a global service organization, we find it important to comply with both standards. VBK+CO received an unqualified Type I certification issued by Deloitte Risk Services BV.

We are currently in the Type II testing period and we anticipate to obtain full Type II certification, based on calendar year 2014, early 2015. We will update this blog to keep you posted of the latest developments.

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BVI: VBK+CO Fund Services (BVI) obtains Investment Business License

We continue to see a need from both Latin America and U.S.-based fund managers for offshore administrative services. To meet with this demand and to provide a solution in the same time zone out of one of the leading jurisdictions for funds, VBK+CO successfully applied for an Investment Business License in the British Virgin Islands to provide fund administration services to mutual funds. The BVI Financial Services Commission issued the license to VBK+CO Fund Services (BVI) Ltd. on June 18, 2014.

Mr. Phillip Fenty and Mr. Luc Vuurmans serve as board members of VBK+CO Fund Services (BVI) Ltd.

  • Phillip Fenty is a citizen of the British Virgin Islands and a local business owner. Having worked for many years for Barclays Bank and an accounting firm now belonging to the BDO group of companies, Phillip is experienced both in banking and accounting. He was appointed as a member of the inaugural Board of Commissioners of the B.V.I. Financial Services Commission and continues to serve in that capacity.
  • Luc Vuurmans is a managing partner of VBK+CO and has over 25 years of experience in the provision of administrative services for investment funds. Luc’s complete resume can be found on our website (www.vbkservices.com/our-team/).

In addition to providing administration services from the Netherlands, where VBK+CO Fund Services (Netherlands) B.V. is regulated and supervised by the Dutch Central Bank, we are pleased that we are now able offer to our clients an additional solution from the British Virgin Islands.

 

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NL: Amsterdam Investor Forum 2014

The Amsterdam Investor Forum 2014 – Wednesday 12 February 2014 – Organized by ABN AMRO Clearing (www.abnamroclearing.com)

ABN AMRO hosted and organized the third Amsterdam Investor Forum at the ABN AMRO’s head office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The event focused on the opportunities and challenges currently facing the alternative investment industry. It also provided a strategic meeting place for institutional investors and (alternative) investment managers. VBK+CO attended the event and enjoyed the high caliber of speakers and panelists.

Highlights of the Event:

Panel discussion I

Seed Investors: A short introduction….what are they looking for nowadays?

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FATF: Report on Virtual Currencies (June 2014)

Virtual currencies are attracting more and more attention. Last week the FATF released a report on virtual currencies. Since we receive queries on virtual currencies regularly this report will be off interest other visitors of our site as well.

Over the last years virtual currencies (with Bitcoin attracting the most attention recently) have developed into a payment method with ever growing global acceptance. Virtual currencies offer an innovative, cheap and flexible method of payment. As with all innovations in the financial industry, the virtual currencies pose a challenge to regulators and tax departments (for example see Notice 2014-21 issued by the IRS) around the world, not sure on how to deal with this new payment method.  Responses to the virtual currency vary, where some countries embracing this new technology and others limiting or restricting its legitimate use.

We receive most questions on the AML impact of accepting / investing in virtual currencies and clearly so did the FATF. Consequently the FATF conducted research into the characteristics of virtual currencies to make a preliminary assessment of the ML/TF risk associated with this payment method. An important step in assessing the risks and developing an appropriate response, is to have a clear understanding of the various types of virtual currencies and how they are controlled and used.

FATF Report

The FATF released a their report: Virtual Currencies; Key Definitions and Potential AML/CFT Risks

The FATF also recognize the benefits of virtual currencies such as:

  • increased payment efficiency and lower transaction costs
  • facilitate international payments (regardless of opening hours of financial institutions)
  • have the potential to provide payment services to populations that do not have access or limited access to regular banking services

At the same time the FATF identifies potential AML risks associated with virtual currencies:

  • the anonymity provided by the trade in virtual currencies on the internet
  • the limited identification and verification of participants
  • the lack of clarity regarding the responsibility for AML compliance / supervision / enforcement for transactions
  • the lack of a central oversight body

The report provides a (i) brief introduction to virtual currencies (ii) explanation of the difference between convertible / non-convertible currencies (iii) explanation of centralized / non-centralized currencies and the second part of the report contains law enforcement examples of money laundering offences involving virtual currencies to demonstrate how this payment method has already been abused for money laundering purposes.

For those of you wondering what virtual currencies are all about and want to understand the risks a bit better the report makes interesting reading. We are following the development with great interest as we are of the opinion the virtual currencies are here to stay. We are all faced with the challenges that come with new technology and innovation in this area.

Rock

UK: FCA thematic review of AML and ABC of Asset Managers

The FCA Thematic Review of anti-money laundering and anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls in asset management companies was published recently. The FCA assessed 22 firms including wealth and asset management firms, fund administrators, and platform firms.

The FCA Thematic Review focused on:

  • AML systems and controls (including account opening, transaction monitoring, and suspicious activity reporting to mitigate money laundering risks)
  • ABC systems and controls (including the use of business introducers, third party payments and gifts/entertainment arrangements).