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Alternative Market Briefing

Operational due diligence is a source of alpha

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stephen Brown
Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Stephen Brown is one of the world’s leading hedge fund scholars. He is a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business and was recently interviewed by Greg Despolberch for Opalesque TV. He shares new research that shows operational due diligence can be a form of alpha for funds.

He explains that when he started as a pension fund manager, few investors were focused on operational due diligence when they were looking to get involved in the hedge fund space. When he started to examine this trend he uncovered several macro trends that define how investors approach risk and operational risk in the hedge fund space. His findings show that while investors understand what operational risk is and how it differs from other types of risk, ways of measuring it were lacking.

"There are three major challenges to defining operational risk: number one - its multidimensional characteristic - people, systems can fail in many different ways. Number two is the data - getting information on operational characteristics is difficult. The third and most important issue is the distinction between operational risk and financial risk. My research has clearly shown that operational risk is more predictive of failure than is financial risk. Financial risk is a symptom rather than the disease, and the disease is operational risk," Brown said......................

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