Monthly Archives: August 2014

Category: Corporate Citizenship

Who is Your “Jimmy”?

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photo 3Do me a favor, please. Close your eyes and think of cancer. Think of how it changed your life. Perhaps you battled your own diagnosis. Perhaps it was a friend, family member, or co-worker who was diagnosed. When I close my eyes, I see my life how it was before I lost two friends and my grandfather to cancer, how it was after my mother and my best friend beat breast cancer. A cancer diagnosis is a watershed moment for everyone in the patient’s life.

This is why I choose to donate my time to The Jimmy Fund, an organization helping to fight cancer. All Boston Financial associates receive one volunteer day. Associates have the opportunity to use this volunteer day to give back to an organization that they are passionate about or that they feel  connected to. To me, that organization is The Jimmy Fund.

The Jimmy Fund Mission:

The Jimmy Fund solely supports the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber. Since its founding in 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of community efforts to help save lives and give hope to cancer patients around the world. An official charity of the Boston Red Sox, Pan-Mass Challenge, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, and Variety Children’s Charity of New England, the Jimmy Fund is an American favorite.

Many people who are unfamiliar with the charity ask me, “Who was Jimmy?” In 1948, a young cancer patient appeared on a radio show from his hospital room, surrounded by players from the team then known as the Boston Braves. He was called ‘Jimmy’ to protect his identity. Jimmy wanted a television so he could watch his favorite team’s games while receiving treatment. The donations that poured in to answer his plea started the Jimmy Fund and cemented a tie to Boston baseball that has been strongly supported by players from Ted Williams to David Ortiz. The full story can be found on the Jimmy Fund’s website.

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I think most of us have our own Jimmy. Mine was my friend, Michelle Kennedy. Michelle fought Leukemia twice before passing short of her 21st birthday. She received exceptional care from Dana-Farber during her battle, and she and her family were also supported by the wonderful staff associated with The Jimmy Fund. Not only did they treat her Leukemia, they tried to keep up the spirits of a teenage girl going through her junior year of high school with no hair. They worked to preserve some sense of normalcy in her life, to give her a life beyond her disease. I have tried to support the Jimmy Fund and their mission ever since.

For the past 13 years, the Boston Red Sox, WEEI Radio, and New England Sports Network (NESN) have partnered with the Jimmy Fund in August for a two-day Radio Telethon at Fenway Park. I have taken advantage of my associate volunteer day to participate in the telethon for the last five years. Manning the phone lines, selling merchandise, and counting cash helps me feel like I have contributed just a bit to the resources the next Jimmy will need. More importantly, participating in such a massive effort gives me hope that a cure will be found, that we will strike out cancer for good and see the day when there are no more Jimmys.

Category: Innovation

Ideas Over a Cup of Coffee

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Cup-of-coffee---177501128As a Business and Product Developer I enjoy staying connected to the start-up scene. Much like a song writer gets inspiration from other people’s songs; I get inspiration from other people’s business and product success. Fortunately, Kansas City has a strong and very active start-up community and one activity that I try not to miss each week is 1 Million Cups.

1 Million Cups is a community sponsored and supported event that focuses each week on two local entrepreneurs or start-ups. For 60 minutes every Wednesday two businesses get 6 minutes to “pitch” to a packed house both in person and on live-stream. After the pitch there is 20 minutes for question and answer; this is where the fun, and real benefit, starts.

The audience is a reflection of the purpose and includes small business owners, other entrepreneurs, product developers, marketing professionals, and a myriad of other interested people. There are questions about revenue models. There are questions about marketing strategies. There are questions about operating expenses. There are questions about competition. There are always lots of questions.

What sets 1 Million Cups apart from other “pitch sessions,” is the questions are not venture-capitalist-eating-little-startup type questions; these are entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur-over-a-cup-of-coffee type questions. At the end of the 26 minutes, a facilitator will try to ask of the presenter, “what can the audience, made up of people with various skills and interests, do for you? How can we help you succeed?”

Everyone attending 1 Million Cups is there to promote new business and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a community of people collaborating around ideas and finding ways to share skills and knowledge to succeed. This is the real benefit of 1 Million Cups.

Creating a similar type of community within a big company helps promote the same type of growth and innovation. At Boston Financial our “intrapreneurs” benefit from a network of internal experts and idea champions, who all love coffee and who all follow the mantra; “how can we help you succeed?”

We may be far from having 1 million cups of coffee, but innovation only needs one cup. Want to share a cup?

Category: Compliance

Money Market Reform – What Now?

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Webinar---480890395On August 13th I had the opportunity to participate in a joint Boston Financial/DST Systems webinar on Money Market Reform moderated by Craig Hollis, Chief Compliance Officer for Boston Financial. Joining us from DST was Nick Horvath, Regulatory Solutions Officer. We were pleased to have over 130 clients in attendance, reflecting the significance of these changes and the potential impacts across the industry.

Craig provided background on the evolution of money market reform over the last five years and reiterated the reform’s objective to increase the resiliency of money market funds to economic stress and reduce the risk of runs on the funds. He highlighted some of the concepts from the 2010 proposal, including improved liquidity, higher credit quality and shorter maturity limits. The early proposals also included the requirement for money market funds and their transfer agents to support processing of transactions at a price other than $1.00 per share.

Nick provided an overview of the reform, noting that the final rules are very similar to the earlier proposals by the FSOC and the SEC. The major components are:

  • Floating NAV for institutional money market funds
  • Rounding a floating NAV to the fourth decimal place
  • Liquidity fees and redemption gates
  • Supplemental reforms around transparency, stress testing and diversification

Nick mentioned that Jeff Cook, Director for Regulatory and Compliance at DST, will be publishing a detailed systems and operations focused interpretation of the final rules in the coming days.

After the overview on the regulation, we turned our attention to fund and operational impacts. I spoke to how the reform rules will influence product development and fund rationalization to meet the regulatory requirements and the investment needs of fund shareholders. In order to maintain a stable NAV, funds will be required to adopt and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to restrict beneficial ownership to a natural person. This becomes a bit more complex as you consider, for example, accounts established as retirement plans, college savings plans, Keogh plans, and ordinary trusts. Omnibus accounts present further challenges since funds will need to establish protocols with their intermediaries to ensure fund policies are followed, in order to maintain a retail designation.

Although all money market funds are impacted by the reform to some degree, institutional funds will bear the brunt of the changes due to the floating NAV requirement. Even with the potential for tax relief for reporting gains and losses, some institutional investors may shift to government funds to maintain a stable NAV.

During the session we asked our webcast participants a few questions. First, did they plan to offer an institutional prime money market fund with a floating NAV. 26% said yes, 32% said no, and 42% replied to be determined.

We also asked if they plan on using something other than a $1.00 NAV. 93% said they would be using a $1.00 NAV, 7% indicated using a $100.00 NAV.

The floating NAV for institutional funds also jeopardizes the liquidity feature institutional investors rely on today. We believe there will be a market driven demand to support some form of intraday liquidity. To provide for same day settlement, intraday pricing must occur. This is dependent on the transfer agent reporting activity to the fund accountant so the NAV can be calculated and then returned to the transfer agent to be applied to the appropriate transactions.

We are working collaboratively with DST, State Street and our clients to define the framework of how a floating NAV money market fund would operate and provide same day liquidity. We asked our webcast participants if they were to provide intraday liquidity in a floating NAV money market fund, how many intraday pricing and settlement cycles were they considering. The results are represented in the following chart.

smaller Money Market Perspectives Blog Brian Agnew-2

Nick also presented a high level assessment of the system impacts driven from the regulations.  The most significant of the changes include managing multiple intraday prices and supporting an NAV with 4 decimal places.

This was the first in a series of client webcasts devoted to money market reform. We plan on hosting additional ones to delve deeper into system requirements, tax reporting and operational impacts. What is the impact of money market reform on your firm? Post a comment and share your thoughts.

Category: Client Forum

When in San Francisco…

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bridgeThis year, we’re hosting our annual client forum in San Francisco. San Francisco is a unique city filled with food, art and culture. We’ve put together a list of attractions that are not to be missed. Even if you’re not attending our event, you might want to put some of these items on your “to do” list for a future trip.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most iconic landmark in San Francisco. There are a number of ways for visitors to catch a glimpse of the bridge. Many people enjoy renting bikes to take a trip across the bridge to Sausalito, viewing the bridge from a harbor cruise, or driving across the bridge on the way in or out of town.

Second only to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island is another landmark that San Francisco is famous for. Tours of Alcatraz offer a close-up look at the site of the first U.S.  built fort on the West Coast and the infamous federal penitentiary.

alcatraz

Fisherman’s Wharf is a launching point to a number of other attractions, including bike rentals for a trip across the bridge and tours of Alcatraz. Fisherman’s Wharf is home to PIER 39 where you’ll find waterfront dining, shopping, harbor cruises, and entertainment options. PIER 39 is also where you’ll see the famous sea lions that have inhabited the docks for over 20 years.

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Just a short distance from Fisherman’s Wharf you’ll find Ghirardelli Square. At the Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop you can satisfy your sweet tooth with an authentic hot fudge sundae and pick up a few treats to take back to the office. Ghirardelli Square is also home to a number of other unique shops and dining options.

cable carSan Francisco is a city of ups and downs, meaning it’s very hilly! You’ll definitely get tired walking around, so the popular cable cars are a great transportation option. Cable cars stop at a number of locations around the city so they should be able to get you close to your destination.

If you’re a baseball fan and you have an extra night in the city, you can check one of America’s great ballparks off your list. Head over to AT&T Park to see a San Francisco Giants game. They have home games every afternoon or evening from September 9– September 14.

If you want to make time for some shopping, Union Square is the place to visit. Union Square is one of the largest shopping areas in the U.S. Whether you are looking for a department store or a specialty store you will find it there. There are also plenty of places to refuel with a coffee or quick bite to eat.

Finally, if you’re attending the Client Forum you will have the opportunity to visit the Exploratorium during our evening event. Located on San Francisco’s Pier 15, the Exploratorium is a one of a kind museum with creative, thought-provoking exhibits. It is internationally recognized as the premier museum of science, art, and human perception.

If you have other recommendations we would like to hear them. Leave a comment and let us know your favorite things to do in the city of San Francisco! 

Category: Client Forum

Revisiting the 2013 Client Forum

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Zakim-Bridge---464356607The Boston Financial 2014 Client Forum is just weeks away. We’re excited for a new location, in a new city, and some amazing sessions and speakers.

Before we dive into the 2014 topics and speakers on the Perspectives blog, we thought we would take a look back at the themes of the 2013 Client Forum. Whether you missed last year’s event or just want to revisit the experience, let’s go back to September 2013 at the Intercontinental Boston.

2013 was Boston Financial’s 40th anniversary so it was only fitting to have former Boston Financial leader, and State Street CEO, Jay Hooley talk about where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. We shared takeaways from his keynote in The Next 40 Years.

Big data was a big topic in 2013 so who better to address the topic at the Client Forum than a data scientist. We brought in MIT’s Jameson Toole to provide real world examples and shared a number of his findings in First be a Scientist – A Big Data Approach.

Innovation was another big topic. Scott Kirsner spoke about why innovation is crucial component of success. He illustrated this by comparing the financial services industry to Hollywood. We shared his story in Innovation: Some See Flaws, Others See the Future.

This is just a glimpse of last year’s forum. We can’t wait to reveal what’s to come this year in San Francisco!