It’s countdown time! From compliance control room, to COVID-19, to holiday hijinks, to infamous inside-traders, here are your top-performing StarBlogs of 2020
While most people around the world were probably happy to see 2020 disappear into the rearview mirror—or the shredder, as the case may be—any new year can bring some feelings of trepidation. New Year’s resolutions that need to be carried out. New work or family challenges that lie directly ahead. “New” seems to be the operative word here, and new can be scary. So we’re here today to give you something cozy and familiar: the best of the old. Here are the 10 top-performing StarBlogs of 2020. From compliance control room, to COVID-19, to holiday hijinks, to infamous inside-traders, these are the stories that most piqued your interest. Maybe 2020 wasn’t all bad, then. So link out to a blog or two—or three—and relax and enjoy.
10. 360-DEGREE CONFLICT SEARCH: STAR’S CONTROL ROOM SOFTWARE JUST GOT BETTER
Coming in at Number 10 is our in-depth look at the latest iteration of Star’s control room software—Compliance Control Room. The first iteration of this industry game-changer came out in fall of 2019. One year later, Compliance Control Room 2.0 hit the streets with a brand new bit of functionality—360-Degree Conflict Search. In this September 14 blog we sat down with Star’s resident control room expert and Director Of Product Strategy & Marketing Tim Ward to learn all about it—how it came to be, and how it increases team efficiency, reduces firm risk, and makes compliance even simpler for enterprise financial firms across the globe.
Read this tenth most popular StarBlog of 2020 in its entirety here.
9. TIPPER X: 5 MORE TAKEAWAYS ON INSIDER TRADING FROM A FORMER INSIDE TRADER
Tipper X—also known as Tom Hardin—is the most productive cooperating witness in the FBI’s 2007-2012 insider-trading sting operation, which targeted the hedge fund industry and which eventually led to more than 80 guilty pleas and convictions. Tom himself was caught inside trading at his small hedge fund by the Bureau and agreed to become an informant. His story in and of itself is fascinating, but more importantly for finance and compliance professionals it serves as a cautionary tale about the pressures and pitfalls of life as a professional trader. Today, Tom makes his living speaking on conduct risk, ethics-and-compliance issues, and, of course, insider trading. He spoke at length on his experiences at Star’s Fall Forum.
8. THE OCC AUTHORIZES CRYPTOCURRENCY CUSTODY SERVICES
Coming in at Number 8 is our November 2 look at an interpretive letter—#1170 to be precise—released by the Office Of The Comptroller Of The Currency. The OCC charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations in the Unites States. Interpretive Letter #1170 addresses the authority of a national bank to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers: now concluding a national bank may indeed provide cryptocurrency custody services on behalf of customers. This is a significant change in policy direction on the part of the US government, and indicative of how cryptocurrencies are increasingly being viewed, i.e., as less of an outright oddity and potentially dangerous disruptor of fiat currencies, and more of a neutral, mainstream player in the global game of money flows, trade, and related banking services.
Get the full story on Interpretive Letter #1170 here.
7. WHY WFH IS MAKING THE FCA NERVOUS AND WHAT FIRMS CAN DO ABOUT IT
WFH = Work From Home. Sound familiar? This June 8 blog came as the first wave of the coronavirus was in full swing around the globe, and government-mandated lockdowns meant large swaths of the developed world’s workforces were doing their jobs entirely remotely. In the realm of financial services, this development struck fear into the hearts of regulators, who worried that all this work-from-home would result in increased market abuse. In Market Watch 63, the Financial Conduct Authority laid out its concerns on this subject for all to read. It was a not-so-gentle reminder that—despite the ongoing public health concerns and resulting lockdowns—market integrity was as important as ever. We here at StarBlog would venture to say that this remains the case. In this seventh most popular StarBlog of 2020, we hit the highlights of what the FCA had to say and offered up some Star software solutions to help keep you and your firm on the regulator's good side.
Read this still very relevant blog in its entirety here.
6. THE FCA THROWS A SPOTLIGHT ON PERSONAL ACCOUNT DEALING
From a regulatory perspective, personal account dealing, or PAD, doesn't get the kind of attention that professional trading does. It's rogue traders blowing billion dollar holes in their banks' bottom lines—classic inside traders—that get the most attention. But market abuse is market abuse, and employees trading inappropriately on their own is not only a violation of the law but can also cause serious reputational damage for firms. This November 8 blog doesn’t directly reference the effect the coronavirus and remote work might be having on risk surrounding PAD, but the timing of this warning shot is likely more than just pure coincidence.
Get the full story on FCA thinking on PAD here.
5. FCA MARKET ABUSE UPDATE: TAKEAWAYS FROM A RECENT INDUSTRY TALK
Hot on the heels of our look at FCA thinking on PAD is our look at a notable speech given by the FCA’s Director Of Market Oversight—Julie Hoggett—on insider trading challenges as related to COVID-19. The speech was given on October 12 at the City Financial Global Event. The subject was market abuse: in particular how the pandemic has changed the way market abuse risk can manifest and therefore how the manner of surveilling for it must also change. The blog covered highlights from the speech, including; the need to shift firm focus and effort; how what constitutes insider information is subject to change; and why good firm culture is more critical than ever. We also offered suggestions on how tech can help firms better manage risk in the era of coronavirus.
Get the full story on this important FCA market abuse update here.
4. THE HOLIDAYS AT HOME: HOW STAR STAFF ARE CELEBRATING THIS YEAR
Clearly you, our devoted StarBlog readership, paid attention right to the last. Our holiday blog, published December 14, didn't waste a day shooting up the charts. This hard-hitting, investigative blog answered such critical questions as, which Star director holds a competitive stuffing challenge each year? Which director’s solution to beating the COVID-19 blues is to play holiday music louder and double-up on lights? And why did one singularly creative Star employee ever—ever—think that getting an Elf On The Shelf was a good idea?
Answers to all these important questions and more can be found in their full holiday glory here.
3. PAY-TO-PLAY: THE SEC CRACKDOWN AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Talk about staying power. This blog goes all the way back to March 2018. In it, we cover the Advisers Act Rule 206(4)-5, which addresses what’s known informally as “pay-to-play.” Pay-to-play's most famous cultural touchpoint may be the payola scandals of yore, with music executives literally paying disc jockeys to play certain records. In the field of finance, pay-to-play gets at the issue of individuals or firms contributing money to candidates or office holders in the hopes of being awarded advisory business for public pension plans and other government investment accounts. Rule 206(4)-5 was issued by the SEC in 2010, but still garners attention.
Learn more about this important rule and how Star tech can help you adhere to it here.
2. NEW E-BOOK: THE CONTROL ROOM HANDBOOK
Coming in at Number 2 is our sneak peek at Star’s latest and most ambitious written publication to date—The Control Room Handbook. Subtitled Who Needs One, How To Build One, Why The Future Is Now, this comprehensive e-book delivers just that—taking readers step-by-step through the control room design and development process. The Control Room Handbook was co-authored by Steve Brown—a control room veteran with 25 years of capital markets experience—and was written to inform readers’ thinking on subjects like whether or not your firm needs a control room, how to determine scope and mandate, optimizing a control room through the latest tech, and the future of the control room in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.
Read the blog in its entirety and get your hands on your own FREE copy here.
1. COMPLIANCE CONTROL ROOM: WHAT IS IT AND WHO NEEDS IT?
Apparently, readers couldn’t get enough of this basic primer (and beyond) on the control room function, published on May 13. Fall of 2020 was slated for the launch of our second iteration of our control room software—Compliance Control Room—and in May we were trying to start a buildup of reader interest in the subject overall. This top blog offered an overview of what control rooms are, how software can help firms better manage them and reduce risk, and an interview with Star’s first Compliance Control Room client.
Read the winning blog in its entirety here. Thanks for joining us for this countdown and have a Happy New Year!