Almost three-quarters of asset managers polled in a recent study identified cybersecurity as the biggest risk for asset managers in 2018.
Seventy-three percent of respondents told fintech firm Koger Inc. that cybersecurity was the primary fear, while 67% said a market correction was the biggest threat. Thirty-eight percent cited geopolitical risks while domestic and international economic downturns posed the biggest threat.
"In terms of general risk, cybersecurity emerging as fund managers' top concern is understandable given recent data breaches in other sectors. In fact, 96% of the survey respondents agree that many investment firms could be compelled to cease operations if private e-mails were made public, as has happened in other industries," Ras Sipko, Koger's chief operating officer, said.
The report shows 91% of the asset managers it polled have taken steps to align with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation to maintain privacy standards. The GDPR applies to all firms that do business in EU countries and will take effect in May 2018.
Curiously, only 18% have set company policies to comply with regulations to destroy old client data.
On a brighter industry note, 77% of the 200 hedge fund and private equity pros questioned in January, said regulatory and compliance issues are a receding and, "less of a concern than in the past." But 73% the same group believe that a future administration will likel strengthen regulatory enforcement in the future.
"It's clear from the data that fund managers see the regulatory and enforcement climate as having eased in the U.S., especially compared with that in the U.K. and Europe. Today's environment has led in the short term to somewhat less of a worry about compliance vs. reputational risk, although that scenario could change in the future," Sipko said.
Cryptocurrencies are also front and center in the industry discussions. Sixty-four percent of firms are considering taking on digital currency exposure in the next few years, with roughly half of them doing so within two years. A bit more than a third said they would never deal with the asset class. All expressed concern about reputational and security issues as red flags around Bitcoin and its challengers.