Banging the Drum Once More on Form PF

anthony-malakian-waters
Anthony Malakian, deputy editor, BST

Twice more I shall bang the drum slowly on Form PF. Next week, we will have a podcast on the subject. But for today, I'd like to let Tom Fortin, managing director and CIO at BlackRock, enlighten you.

You can read a more detailed description of the challenges surrounding Form PF from my opinion piece that ran in this month's issue of Waters magazine here, but the short-and-sweet of it is that while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet to finalize the rule, the rough deadline for compliance is Jan. 1, 2012—which means firms with more than $1 billion in combined assets under management and leverage are required to have their forms handed in by Jan. 15, 2012.

At this year's Buy-Side Technology North American Summit, which was held on Tuesday in midtown Manhattan, Fortin compared preparing for new Form PF regulations to a fire drill. Fortin says that BlackRock has been working diligently to identify the sources of data needed, how best to pull that content in, generate the report and then how to distribute that information back to the regulators.

"Everyone is supposed to get a Form PF out by January 15; it's going to be hard when you don't get your net asset values (NAVs) back until after that date. From a technology perspective, if you're not ready for it now—meaning the data is available—it’s going to be impossible to make January 15,” he said. "Even if you have the data available, the formatting, and the collection of information from outside vendors—the fund accountants, the prime brokers—to provide and fill in the missing blanks within Form PF is going to be extremely challenging."

In preparing for this new regulation, Fortin says he's learned that pulling together all this data and getting that information turned around in 15 days is a daunting task—both physically and technologically.

"I think it's 50 percent technology and 50 percent just sheer willpower to pull through and get the information to generate the forms," he said.

Some firms are hoping—perhaps praying—that the SEC holds off until April to finalize the rule. I'm just a journalist, but it sounds to me—from listening to smart guys like Fortin—that this is a very bad bet to place.

The Buy-Side Technology Awards 2011: Decisions, Decisions
This year will be my first as a member of the judging panel for the Buy-Side Technology Awards. I'd like to echo my boss Victor Anderson's thoughts that it is quite difficult to choose only one winner for each category.

For me, this is a tremendous opportunity to get a true snapshot of just how quickly the industry is evolving from a technological standpoint. So let me take a moment to thank every one of you who sent in a nomination. It's been an enlightening experience.

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