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Private Equity, Hedge Funds “Make It Rain”

As David Rubenstein of Carlyle Group once succinctly remarked, “If you can make 20 percent of the profits on other people’s money, you are going to make a lot of money if you are good at what you do.” Never have truer words been spoken about the underlying structure and operation of incentives in the financial markets.

Performance-based compensation can be viewed as a call option that permits a fund manager to benefit from a rise in the value of the fund. The purpose is to incentivise managers for absolute returns, rather than simply tracking (and periodically beating) a benchmark like the S&P 500 or the FTSE 100. However, performance fees and carried interest can also have a potentially negative influence on risk-taking. As overall performance of a fund declines, for example, a particularly greedy fund manager may be motivated in the short term to increase the risk of investments to move his call option back “in-the-money”. Steps can be taken, however, to mitigate this risk-taking behaviour.

As mentioned above, in both hedge funds and private equity funds, the fund manager traditionally invests a certain amount of money alongside the limited partners. This is done in order to ensure the interests of all partners are adequately aligned. Absent a significant investment in the fund by the fund manager, the concern of many prospective investors will be that the operation of the carried interest will be to present the general partner with a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario. The co-investment of the fund manager can occur directly through the fund vehicle itself, which would ensure that it participates equally with every investment made by the limited partners, or the general partner may participate in fund investments of its choosing on a case by case basis.

rain

Hedge funds and private equity differ in how the profit share is ultimately paid out to the successful fund manager. This has important consequences to the recipients. The performance component of a fund manager’s remuneration is commonly called a “performance fee” in connection with hedge funds and a “carried interest” in connection with private equity funds. Generally, the structure of a hedge fund’s performance fee is simpler than a private equity fund’s carried interest. The performance fee is typically paid on both realised and unrealised gains, with no clawback for downturns in aggregate performance over the life of the fund.

Where the fund manager serves as a general partner of a partnership, these payments can be structured as an allocation of profits within the partnership, either to the general partner itself or to a special purpose “carried interest partner” acting as a type of limited partner. Structuring as a reallocation, rather than as a fee, can provide far more favourable tax treatment for individual managers. To the extent that the performance component includes unrealised gains, they can be reallocated from the investors to the fund manager without incurring tax until the gain is realised.

Importantly, in the case of private equity, these individuals also have access to a particularly beneficial tax treatment – long-term capital gains. The amounts reallocated would retain their character as capital gains rather than being converted to ordinary income by payment to the fund manager as a fee. Because of a fundamental distinction made in the tax codes of the United States, the United Kingdom and many other developed countries between capital gains and ordinary income, recipients of carried interest pay than at a lower rate than a professional football player, a Hollywood actress or a Fortune 500 executive.

Pushing aside the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric that built up during the 2012 Presidential campaign, the cause of this disparate result if not some obscure loophole buried within the fine print of the tax code. Instead a fundamental distinction has been made, with broad-based bipartisan support, that different income streams should be taxed differently. For example, the United States has a higher rate applicable to personal income (39.6%) and a lower rate of tax for capital gains on investments (15%). As a result, just like the entrepreneur who ultimately sells the technology company that he originally started in his garage, the proceeds from the dale of a portfolio company by a private equity fund is investment proceeds. Both are subject to capital gains tax at 15%.

It is clear that when Will Smith is being paid for his latest blockbuster picture, or David Beckham for another season of kicking a soccer ball, or the chief executive officer of a large hotel chain or software company for leading his or her business for another year, they are earning an income based on the work they are doing on a day-to-day basis. What is not uniformly clear to all observers is whether that is a fair description for what private equity professionals are doing when they purchase, restructure, recapitalize and ultimately sell a business.

Are private equity and hedge fund managers worth the high fees they earn on the money they manage?

Clearly, a large number of US public pension plans, university endowments and charities, family offices and private banks feel they are. Rightly or wrongly, billions of dollars flow into these funds explicitly accepting that fees being charged are proportionate and fair for the services being provided.

The question of what combination of performance fee and management fees best aligns the interest of fund manager and fund is fundamentally a commercial issue. The two concepts are also linked in the minds of fund managers, who have operation costs to cover and employees to pay. Simply put, any attempt to alter one leg of remuneration will impact the fund manager’s position with regard to the other.

In the world of alternative investment funds, the concepts of fees and returns are inextricably linked. Any question raised with regard to one is answered by reference to the other. They are the ying and yang, so to speak, of private equity and hedge funds.

Despite their increasing disagreements over a number of key issues, one point on which both fund managers and investors do agree is their mutual desire to see their funds generate large returns, outperforming by significant margins the returns available in the public markets. As the price for such returns, the fund manager charges – and, according to the business model at work here, is motivated primarily by – a performance fee or “carried interest” from the investors. A portion of the investors profits (for example, 20 per cent) is reallocated over to the fund manager.

This drive for performance immediately distinguishes the sponsor of an alternative investment fund from other traditional asset managers who charge their clients solely on the basis of assets under management. Many mutual funds, for example, must deal with the allegation that they are simply “asset aggregators”, seeking out new money from investors, almost indifferent to the actual investment returns.

Asset-based management fees, however, do have an important role to play in alternative investment funds. A fund manager will charge a fixed fee, payable in cash on either a monthly or a quarterly basis and charged as a percentage of the fund’s size. The management fee has historically provided the fund manager with a modest revenue stream to cover overhead costs pending the receipt of his first payment of carried interest.

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Inside The Numbers: Player Salaries For MLB Were A Record $4.06 Billion For 2014

Maury Brown Maury Brown Contributor Where sports meets business full bio ?

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Recent PostsPopular PostsFull Bio

I am the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, a consulting and analysis firm which includes the The Biz of Baseball. Through the Business of Sports Network, research and analysis has been done for several clubs in MLB and the NBA, as well as work at a pro league level. Not content to work just on the management side, we have done work for several sports agencies. Other written work is at the freelance level for outlets such as Variety Weekly. I can be heard across the country as a radio guest each week, including a regular sports business segment on FOX Sports Radio Portland each Weds. My work has been sourced for analysis and commentary in the NY Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Times, CNN/Money, MarketWatch, Crain’s Business NY, Crain’s Detroit Business, Crain’s Business Chicago, The Deal, the Rocky Mountain News, Fox News, New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated.com, the NY Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Tampa Tribune, Toronto Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sports Review, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, St. Petersburg Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, San Jose Mercury News, the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, Sports Fantasy Monthly magazine, and USA Today Sports Weekly. I look forward to your comments, and can be followed on Twitter via @BizballMaury.

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.


Five Best 4th Of July New-Car Deals

Deal: Up to $2,500 cash back, plus $4,000 bonus cash and $1,000 additional dealer discount. According to NADA Guides, Dodge is offering as much as $7,500 off this capable and stylish fullsize pickup truck’s MSRP for 4th of July fireworks of a different kind. The brand is likely looking to help maintain – and perhaps even improve its sales standing. And that’s not incuding the dealer’s markup which can be whittled down by astute hagglers. God bless America. 

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Gold Narrowly Mixed on Chart Consolidation; Bears Still in Command

Kitco News Kitco News Contributor We write about metals market news. full bio ?

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Recent PostsPopular PostsFull Bio

“Kitco” is a familiar name to many people who visit our world-famous, award-winning website http://www.kitco.com/ With its compelling combination of an online precious metals store, live spot prices, expert market commentaries, up-to-the-minute news and usable market information, our website attracts nearly a million visits every day. Kitco Metals Inc. is also one of the world’s premier retailers of precious metals and a leading supplier of refining services, labware for mineral analysis and precision-crafted devices for high-technology manufacturing processes.

Contact Kitco News The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.


Taiwan Real Estate Billionaire Held Incommunicado In Bribery Probe

High-profile Taiwan real estate billionaire Chao Teng-hsiung has been detained and is being held incommunicado in a bribery probe, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported today.

The Taipei District Court today reversed an earlier decision to release Chao on $166,000 bail  after a high court yesterday rejected the lower court’s action and ordered a second bail hearing, CNA reported.   Chao leads the Farglory Group, one of the island’s largest real estate developers.  Farglory’s flagship business is Farglory Land Development, whose shares trade at the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Chao, a widely recognized face in Taiwan owing in part to his presence over the years in Farglory advertisements,  is suspected of using an intermediary to pay NT$16 million ($532,561) to a Taoyuan county official, Yeh Shih-wen, in connection with a public building bid, CNA said yesterday.  The alleged payment to Yeh was delivered in a wheeled suitcase by retired professor Tsai Jen-hui when the two met at a Japanese restaurant on Thursday in Taipei, according to Sunday’s Taipei Times newspaper, citing unnamed sources.

Tsai earlier picked up the funds from a Farglory office, the newspaper said.   Prosecutors that followed Yeh home found the money during a search on Friday.  Yeh, the deputy magistrate in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan county, said the cash was a loan from Chao and not a bribe.

Chao, Yeh, Tsai and, Wei Chun-hsiung a Farglory executive, have all been taken into custody, CNA reported.

Chao ranked No. 1,005 on the Forbes real-time billionaires list with wealth of $2 billion on Friday.

Chao’s real estate empire extends from Taiwan into the mainland, as well as the Middle East. Farglory Group also is in the insurance and hotel business.  Chao’s mainland business partners include Hong Kong billionaire Hui Wing Mau.

Farglory is currently building a huge, high-profile Taipei Dome stadium next to City Hall in the city’s prestigious Hsinyi district.

Chao was born into poverty on the island’s west coast. The rags-to-riches billionaire learned his initial habits from helping his father perform farm chores and fish.

– Follow me on Twitter @rflannerychina


3 Ways To Jump-Start B2B Sales Productivity

When it comes to B2B sales, volume isn’t the only thing that matters. For individual salespeople, sales teams, and managers, productivity—the ability to use limited time efficiently and effectively—is increasingly crucial to success.

These findings may not be brand-new, but they’re worth revisiting. Not too long ago, Jon Vander Ark—co-author of the book Sales Growth—and his colleagues wrote that CEOs needed to get serious about sales by:

Making sales success a cross-functional team sport.Building a ‘lean’ sales machine that’s continuously experimenting and learning.Cranking up analytics to create greater visibility into what’s working and find opportunities for growth.

shutterstock_113689501

In one interview, Vander Ark gave an example of how small acts to improve the visibility of new, large, potential deals enabled an industrial firm to double their sales. His example illustrates how simple awareness of key situations can trigger contributions and learnings that improve the performance of sales teams.

2. Experiment and Learn

In a related interview with Anthony Iannarino, Vander Ark notes how experimentation with disciplined execution can let important issues trump urgent issues (the inverse of what’s normal). In this case, a European firm concluded it needed to put more effort into Business Development. By creating ‘hunter days’ in which everyone in the firm called on 10 prospects, they went on to generate two months worth of leads in a single day.

Their findings confirm what we’re seeing: when what’s happening in B2B sales is clear for all to see, performance can improve . When it’s clear what’s working and what’s not working, choices about what practices to engage in become obvious. Analytics help. Analytics applied to disciplined, experimental, sales execution help more. Analytics that seed the development of good sales habits help most.

This post originally appeared on the Salesforce.com Blog.

Read more:

5 Experts on What Makes a Great Sales Manager

Free E-Book: Sales Experts Answer Your Toughest Sales Management Questions

John Cousineau is the Founder and CEO of innovative information inc.

View the original article here


Sands China Plays Show Card, Macau Rivals Ready Own Stages

Macau is on the verge of a major outbreak of theaters and arenas, despite a mixed record when it comes to entertainment. Non-gaming revenue barely reaches 10% for any of the six licensees, languishing below 5% for most. Still, Galaxy Entertainment Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Macau and Melco Crown Entertainment say their new Cotai resorts will include arenas, and everyone plans more performance venues. Some experts see entertainment in integrated resorts mainly as a way to generate traffic to the property, expecting that show goers will also visit the casino.

“If the competition believes it is about traffic, good luck to them,” Sands China president and CEO Ed Tracy says. Sands China has enjoyed some of biggest entertainment successes in Macau, such as last November’s Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Riggs boxing match broadcast worldwide and a Rolling Stones concert in March at its flagship Venetian Macao casino resort. It’s also suffered the most visible failure, the shutdown of Zaia, a $150 million Cirque du Soleil show, in 2012, three and a half years into a projected 10 year run. The closure was particularly embarrassing because Melco Crown’s City of Dreams’  House of Dancing Water stage extravaganza opened across the street in 2010 and became an immediate hit. But House of Dancing Water remains the only permanent stage show in Macau, while there are dozens of choices in Las Vegas and a steady stream of shows in two theaters at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, a property of Sands China’s corporate parent Las Vegas Sands Las Vegas Sands.

Sands China CEO Ed Tracy (standing, second from right) rolled out the red carpet for action heroes, but he’s the one unloading a three barrel entertainment strategy in Macau. Sands China CEO Ed Tracy (standing, second from right) rolled out the red carpet for action heroes, but he’s the one unloading a three barrel entertainment strategy in Macau. (Photo credit: Sands China)

Setbacks aside, Sands China aims to lead Macau in entertainment. That drive emanates from research about the desires of Sands’ primary customer base in mainland China, Tracy, who joined the company as president and chief operating officer in 2010 and became CEO a year later, says. The top item Chinese consumers want is shopping for “genuine” luxury goods, which Sands China delivers with 500 outlets at three Cotai malls,. The second item is “high quality entertainment experiences.” When Zaia closed, Sands China converted the space into the 1,500 seat Venetian Theatre to compliment the resort’s 14,000 seat Cotai Arena. Sands Macao on Macau peninsula also has a smaller theater.

Tracy spoke with me following the China premiere screening of The Expendables 3 attended by stars of the film Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger plus UFC mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey, who also appears in the action hero ensemble cast. The screening didn’t generate much traffic; only 1,500 people attended, selected from Sands China’s customer loyalty program, VIP players and community groups. But it fits what Tracy describes as a three pronged strategy in entertainment.

“We’re trying to raise the visibility of Macau, raise the visibility of the brand, and, since we’re in business, make some money,” Tracy explains. Each of those objectives was woven into the Expendables event. Bringing Schwarzenegger and Stallone to Macau, along with a bevy of Hong Kong celebrities, for a full-fledged red carpet event generates plenty of headlines for Macau. So does the UFC fight card, held the following night, and Sands China’s dozens more stage and sporting events annually.

These high profile events, replete with celebrities such as Sands China brand ambassador David Beckham “don’t necessarily drive a lot of traffic, but they create an emotional connection,” Tracy says. “We have seriously raised the visibility of Macau, a stated goal of the Macau government.” Macau still isn’t known for entertainment and glamour, a reputation Las Vegas has enjoyed since the days of the Rat Pack in the 1950s. But Tracy believes perceptions of Macau’s entertainment scene trail reality. “The biggest obstacle to entertainment in Macau is that people don’t know there’s a lot more to do in Macau now than three years ago.”

High profile entertainment events also provide exposure for the Sands China brand without mentioning gaming. Casino advertising is prohibited in mainland China and many other jurisdictions around Asia, so Macau gaming operators have to find creative ways to promote their properties. Advertising shows at a property where everyone knows there’s a casino is a dependable method for skirting such bans.

Another example of entertainment linked promotion is Sands China’s sponsorship of television singing competition The Voice China, which attracted 500 million viewers for its latest season finale. In addition to the normal benefits of association with a television hit, The Voice China stages two live shows each season at Venetian Macao.

Sands China and other operators stand ready to welcome film shooting on their properties, which are far more spectacular than the laughable fake purported to be a Macau casino in the James Bond film Skyfall. Asia’s blockbuster hit of this past lunar new year, From Vegas To Macau with Chow Yun-fat, includes scenes shot at Venetian Macao. Hosting entertainment award shows is also a staple, combining glamour, broadcast reach and venue mentions. Hosting the International Indian Film Awards at Venetian Macao in 2009 bred South Asian interest in Macau and particularly the Venetian, where palak paneer is now a regular on the brunch buffet. IIFA came back for an encore at Venetian last year.

“There’s an entertainment offering for every segment we’re going for,” Mr Tracy says. The DreamWorks Experience at Sands Cotai Central offers a variety of interaction opportunities with studio characters, including a daily parade, photo opportunities and themed meals. Like some of the Asia pop concerts prominent in Sands China’s music offerings, “They’re not necessarily targeting our main demographic, but for their children.”

Sands China didn’t sell tickets for its screening of The Expendables 3, but used it as a reward for top customers, encouraging their future patronage. For other events, be sure to bring your wallet and crying towel. Tickets for the upcoming Pacquaio-Chris Algieri fight range from $110 to $3010. That’s a juicy box office, making it more understandable that other Macau operators want to emulate Sands China.

Aspiring rival impresarios should note that Sands China’s three stages had shows last year for a total of 96 booking dates, or less than one performance for every weekend night. Experts caution that overbuilding may dilute the quality of offerings, but there’s clearly room for more shows and more creative entertainment programming in Macau. “We welcome all challengers,” Mr Tracy says. “The more Macau has, the better for all of us.”

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Motorola Stomps Rivals. World's Biggest Battery Spotted In New Galaxy S5 Killer

Look out iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5, on paper there is a new king in town. Having already turned heads by outgunning its biggest rivals, Motorola’s new ‘Droid Turbo’ smartphone has revealed another exciting piece in the puzzle: it will have the world’s largest phone battery. How big? A massive 3900 milliamp hours (mAh). For context that is significantly larger than any battery seen in rival smartphones or even most phablets:

Leading Smartphones

Apple Apple iPhone 6 – 1810mAhSamsung Galaxy S5 – 2800mAhHTC HTC One M8 – 2600mAhMotorola Moto X – 2300mAhSony Sony Xperia Z3 – 3100mAhLeading Phablets

Apple iPhone 6 Plus – 2915mAhSamsung Galaxy Note 4 – 3220mAhSony Xperia Z Ultra – 3050mAhMotorola Droid Turbo (image courtesy of motofirmware.com) Motorola Droid Turbo (image courtesy of motofirmware.com)

This information comes after Droid-Life discovered the Turbo’s battery on Alibaba-owned retailer Taobao after matching its ‘Motorola EQ40’ reference to the same EQ40 battery reference Motorola tagged in the phone’s FCC filing. This also ties in with language used in the Droid Turbo’s leaked manual (pdf link) which explains that the boundary pushing handset has a “high-capacity long lasting battery”.

Motorola is no stranger to fitting very large batteries in its phones after the Motorola Maxx was sold with a 3500mAh battery (interestingly reference code: EU40) in August 2013. The Maxx was one of its last handsets Motorola released before its Google Google revitalisation and relaunch which has so far produced budget marvel the Moto E, midrange champ the Moto G and the flagship Moto X (my smartphone of the year).

Read more: New Motorola Smartphone Leaves Galaxy S5 And iPhone 6 Outgunned

Leaked Droid Turbo 3900mAh battery (image courtesy of Droid Life) Leaked Droid Turbo 3900mAh battery (image courtesy of Droid Life)

Jaw Dropping Specifications

Furthermore, the upcoming Droid Turbo’s monstrous battery is set to be part of a handset with a truly mouthwatering specifications list. The aforementioned manual confirms it will have:

The first 5.2-inch 2k (2,560 x 1,440) displayA cutting edge Snapdragon 805 chipset with Krait 450 GPUPhablet-matching 3GB of RAM21 megapixel cameraNeedless to say these specifications suggest a good battery is a requirement, rather than an option, but a capacity of 3900mAh has the potential to see it be classed in days instead of hours.

 Let Downs

Disappointments? There are a few. Firstly the manual confirms no microSD support and secondly there is just 32GB of onboard storage, which is low for a handset with such a large camera sensor. Thirdly the Droid Turbo appears to have capacitive rather than onscreen keys, something which will split opinions, and finally the name implied this is a Verizon exclusive – at least initially.

Of course at this point it is important to note that specifications alone are far from the only requirement in making a good smartphone. As I noted in my iPhone 6 review, perhaps the greatest triumph of Apple’s new handset is in how it competes so effectively with Android-based rivals despite having far weaker specifications on paper.

That said what excites about the Droid Turbo is that up to now Motorola has been the Apple of the Android world. It uses virtually stock Android and (in my opinion) currently has the best budget, midrange and premium smartphones available in the Moto E, Moto G and Moto X despite rivals having higher specifications. So what can Motorola achieve when it lets its hair down with the Droid Turbo?

Read more: Motorola Moto X (2014) Review: The Year’s Best Smartphone

Verizon Droid Does Teaser Page Verizon Droid Does Teaser Page

Availability – Two Weeks

Happily we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out. Verizon today relaunched its ‘Droid Does’ website signifying a two week countdown (screengrab above) and, given all the Droid Turbo leaks, it is almost impossible the launch could be for anything else.

With the Motorola-built monstrous Nexus 6 also expected to be announced tomorrow and Lenovo’s takeover of Motorola set to close shortly, this is a company loving its new lease of life.

Update: Android Central now has leaked press images of the handset:

Droid Turbo leaked front images (courtesy of Android Central) Droid Turbo leaked images (courtesy of Android Central)

___

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Gordon Kelly is an experienced freelance technology journalist who has written for Wired, The Next Web, TrustedReviews and the BBC. He can be followed on his Facebook Page

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5 Ways To Avoid Danger Through Communication And Change The World

Eric Schiffer Eric Schiffer Contributor I cover entrepreneurs and leadership. full bio ?

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Recent PostsPopular PostsFull Bio

I am the chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Patriarch Equity, which focuses on early-stage startups, and CEO of DigitalMarketing.com, which provides technology-based marketing to businesses of all sizes. I have founded two companies listed on Inc. magazine’s 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies, SEOP and Reputation Management Consultants. I am the author of the book Emotionally Charged Learning and my latest book, Build, will arrive in the spring of 2014. I contribute to Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., Fast Company, Wired, and am also a frequent commentator and guest for media such as Bloomberg, NBC News, CNN, and Fox News. I am also the host of the upcoming nationally syndicated radio show, “The Eric Schiffer Show,” covering business, celebrity and politics.

Contact Eric Schiffer The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.


Companies Can Seize Competitive Advantage Through Exploiting Value in Data

Nothing in the business world, it seems, is both a curse and a blessing to the same extent as “big data”. Managers know that all that information landing in their inboxes each day is full of valuable insights and essential indicators of the health of the enterprise. The only problem is that there is just so much of it that they are often prevented from benefiting from these nuggets through a confusion over where to start.

It would be understandable if managers just ignored much of the computer-generated information and carried on as before. Maybe some do. However, research published earlier this month by the storage and information management company Iron Mountain and the professional services firm PwC indicates that they do a bit better than that. Managers, says the study, Beyond Good Intentions: The need to move from intention to action to manage information risk, understand that the information has value but are more focused on protecting that value against data breaches or legal action than on using it to gain a competitive advantage over rivals and grow.

The report – the third annual study of how ready companies are to manage and respond to information risk and deal with other data trends – points out that companies acknowledge that information has helped with such areas as decision making, understanding customers and developing revenue. But it adds that the information is underexploited in other respects. For example, fewer than two-thirds of UK businesses are using information to enhance innovation in products or services. Only a fifth use information to increase speed to market, with just over a tenth saying that information had given product or service development cycles a boost. Asked to list their information management priorities, more than 80% of UK businesses put emphasis on avoiding data breaches and legal action and worried about being fined for not complying.

The findings were seized on by Christian Toon, head of information risk at Iron Mountain, as evidence of missed opportunities. “While most firms claim to understand the value of information, they are not using their information to speed the development and launch of better products and services, faster, to more customers, in more markets,” he said. “No organisation would willingly turn down such an opportunity for competitive advantage, which suggests that the problem lies in not knowing how to achieve it.”

This is supported by the finding that, while more than 80% of the UK companies surveyed regarded information as a business asset, only 35% employed data analysts to extract value from the information. This might not have been so surprising in the first two years of the survey, when it focused on European mid-market companies. But this year both bigger and North American businesses have been included. And it appears that neither North American nor big companies are much better in this area than their European and smaller counterparts.

Part of the problem may be that – because it is generated through information technology – the data is frequently seen to be the responsibility of IT departments. Their focus is unsurprisingly on avoiding trouble – that is, securing the data so that there are no awkward breaches or similar problems – rather than on business development. Accordingly, senior executives need to take a broader interest in the results of what can be extensive investments in IT.

But it could be that organizations also need to look at employing different sorts of people. Maybe conventional data analysts are ill-equipped to obtain the most out of what is after all a fairly recently developed business resource. Certainly, there is a growing feeling that facility with IT is not enough to gain necessary insights in this area. For example, Maria Horton, the former US naval officer who founded the Washington DC area-based IT security company EmeSec, recently suggested that the tasks of spotting cyber threats and coming up with effective solutions might benefit from the contribution of people with different perspectives than those usually involved. She was not sure, she said, that becoming more specialised was the right way to go.

Since companies – of all sizes, in all sectors and of all nationalities – do not appear to be succeeding in this area, it must surely be worth exploring a different approach. As Claire Reed, risk assurance partner at PwC, Iron Mountain’s research partner, pointed out: “Your information may be the greatest business asset you have. Your customers have entrusted you with their most personal data – you cannot afford to allow information risk management to be a mere tick-box exercise.”


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