Archive for August, 2014

Azure cuts prices from 1 Nov 2014

August 30th, 2014

In April, Microsoft introduces some new service tiers and phased out some.

This week, announced some price reductions and improved service level availability. The changes are just ahead of general availability of the new tiers in September. Microsoft is cutting prices on the Azure SQL Premium and Standard tiers by 50 percent from previously published pricing.

Basic tier pricing will remain the same as previously published.

Microsoft also is moving Azure SQL Database to hourly billing for the new service tiers, according to a blog post last week about the new changes.

Microsoft will add a new s0 (s-zero) performance level in the Standard service tier as a lower-cost entry point for Standard. The 99.95 percent availability in its service level agreements (SLAs) for the new tiers, will be increased to providing 99.99 percent availability, Microsoft officials said.

The current Web and Business service tiers will be retired in April 2015.

Fo more information on prices see www.microsoft.com/blog/2014/08/26/new-azure-sql-database-service-tiers-generally-available-in-september-with-reduced-pricing-and-enhanced-sla/

DIFC Authority CEO resigns

August 24th, 2014

Jeffrey Singer said on Wednesday that he had resigned as chief executive of the DIFC Authority, which oversees Dubai’s financial free zone, the Dubai International Financial Centre. The resignation is with immediate effect, Singer said. He declined to comment further. Two financial industry sources said the resignation was for personal reasons and that DIFC Gov. Essa Kazim would continue to oversee the zone’s operations while a replacement for Singer was found. Singer was appointed CEO in July 2012, after four years as CEO of the Nasdaq Dubai bourse, the smaller of the emirate’s two stock markets. Before that, he was a senior executive at NASDAQ OMX Group, handling that company’s international development

Founded in 2004, the DIFC his now the Middle East’s top banking center. The number of active registered companies operating within it rose 14 percent to 1,039 last year.

Basel 111 – and money laundering

August 24th, 2014

Basel III is proceeding globally, with tangible differences evident between jurisdictions such as pace of adoption, the degrees of strict compliance to the Basel Committee guidance, and the resulting technical infrastructure challenges banks face. Some countries in the Middle East have accelerated
capital deduction phase-in periods or changed limited deductions to
full deductions.

Basel III largely focuses on the liability side of the balance sheet, and modifies requirements for both the quantity and the quality of loss-absorbing capital.

There new requirements for a leverage ratio, and for liquidity and stable funding requirements (a short-term 30-day liquidity coverage ratio and a 1-year
net stable funding ratio). Basel III requires more high-quality common equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital relative to total Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital, and adds a number of capital buffers which can only be met with CET1 capital. These buffers are above regulatory minimums that range from an additional 2.5% of risk-weighted assets up to 8.5%, and even higher in some regions. Basel III recommends an additional loss-absorbing buffer for global and domestic systemically important banks, which can range up to 3.5% – and depend on a bank’s cross-jurisdictional activity (only for G-SIBs), size, interconnectedness, substitutability, and complexity.

In the EU the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV) which relates to Basel
III creates an additional buffer known as a systemic risk buffer, which is applied to the whole financial sector, and subsets of it, to prevent and to mitigate long-term non-cyclical systemic and macro-prudential risks. EU member states can apply systemic risk buffers of 1% – 3% for all exposures, and up to 5% for domestic exposures, without having to seek prior approval from the European Commission. 6 For banks subject to both a systemically important bank buffer and the
systemic risk buffer, the higher of the two will apply, but if the systemic risk buffer applies to domestic exposures only, they will be combined. Expect similar legislation to follow in this region at some point in the not too distant future.

The Basel III framework includes revisions to risk-weighted assets (RWAs) related to counterparty credit risk, including the treatment of “wrong-way” risk.

Globally,jurisdictions look to be implementing the minimum capital
requirements according to the BCBS schedule (by 2015) or even more
rapidly, with a faster phase-in for some of the largest banks. Many regions will adopt the BCBS phase-in schedule (which begins in 2016), but some Middle Eastern countries may require faster compliance.

The Islamic Financial Services Board’s (IFSB) revised capital requirements for Bassel III could help strengthen the Islamic finance industry, according to a recent Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services report. The report titled ‘Basel III Offers An Opportunity For Islamic Banks To Strengthen Their Capitalization And Liquidity Management,” sets out how Islamic banks will implement Basel III.

A liquidity coverage ratio might address some of the industry’s long-standing weaknesses, particularly the lack of high quality liquid assets (HQLA), said the report. The implementation of Basel III will also test the treatment of profit sharing investment accounts (PSIAs) from liquidity and funding perspective.
PSIA holders are, in theory, obliged to share any losses, but this could increase their volatility and liquidity coverage requirements and reduce their role as stable funding sources, The IFSB is likely to release its guidance note on the parameters and calculation of the liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio in early 2015.

The $300 million settlement between Standard Chartered (SC) and the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), announced on 19 August, again highlights operational and regulatory risks for the bank, says Fitch Ratings.
The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) said the British bank’s internal compliance systems had failed to detect or act on a large number of “potentially high-risk transactions” mostly originating from Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Banking group Standard Chartered is liable to legal action in the UAE after it agreed to close some customers’ UAE accounts in an anti-money laundering settlement with US regulators, the UAE central bank said “because of the material and moral damage which is falling on them”
‘The new punishment came two years after the bank paid US regulators US$667 million to settle charges it violated US sanctions by handling thousands of money transactions involving Iran, Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.

In 2011 Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank, since re-named Noor Bank, halted a business in which it channelled billions of dollars from Iranian oil sales through its accounts, as Washington stepped up sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear plans.

In May last year, the UAE revoked the licences of two local money exchange companies for non-compliance with regulations including rules against money laundering.

Last month The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision last week proposed standards on money laundering risks, which require banks to include AML within their firm-wide risk management process. “Basel’s commitment to AML is fully aligned with its mandate to strengthen the regulation, supervision and practices of banks worldwide, with the purpose of enhancing financial stability,” the committee stated on issuing the proposal for consultation.

AML is a new area for Basel, which usually deals with prudential standards such as the Basel III capital rules. Its efforts are in addition to those of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which issued global AML standards in 2012 and a flurry of practice guidelines last week. Basel supports individual country implementation of FATF standards, and views their proposed standards as supplemental to these, including cross-references back to these in its text.

In Iraq last year political and economic Iraqi circles confirmed the presence of extensive money-laundering operations. Weak monitoring systems and political conflicts of interest, were reasons advanced that prevented the exposure of these operations. Ahmad al-Jabouri, a member of the Integrity Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said in a statement that the amount of money subject to laundering operations are around “20% of Iraq’s investment budget.” Iraq’s 2013 general budget is more than $115 billion, $46 billion of which are investment expenditures. According to Jabouri, money-laundering operations make up $9 billion per year

Synergy Software Systems, Abu Dhabi

August 23rd, 2014

We have always supported clients across the Middle East from our U.A.E. base.

To better support our continually growing client base in Abu Dhabi last month we opened an office there in the city centre.

Sunsystems Training at Synergy Software Systems main offices in Dubai

August 23rd, 2014

Synergy’s specialist SunSystems team of consultants are providing a 10 day advanced training course in the latest 6.1 version of SunSystems, for Ultimate, a Sunsystems ‘partner from Kenya.

Basel III in Oman

August 18th, 2014

Oman is not yet one of the 27 national members of the BCBS.

However, the CBO has called upon Omani banks to comply with Basel III standards and issued guidelines on how to implement compliance to this standard which started phasing in from January 2013 and will continue until December 2018,- i.e.in line with the global timeline set out in Basel III for the implementation of its reforms.

Will Basel III work in Oman, particularly with regards to Islamic financing? It seems so! HE Hamood Sangour Al-Zadjali, Executive President of the CBO, in an interview for the Oman Economic Review in April 2014, discussed Oman’s compliance with international best banking practices and stated:

“We have prescribed minimum regulatory capital for banks at 12 per cent of risk-weighted assets, much higher than that prescribed by the Basel norms. Moreover, the actual capital adequacy ratio is much higher at around 16 per cent. The CBO is well ahead in the implementation of Basel III framework, issued in November 2013. Some of the main features of these final guidelines prescribed by the CBO include: minimum common equity tier 1 ratio has been prescribed at seven per cent of risk weighted assets, while minimum Tier 1 capital ratio has been prescribed at nine per cent of risk weighted assets and the minimum total capital adequacy ratio has been prescribed at 12 per cent of risk weighted assets. All these norms … are in line with the international best practices prescribed by the Basel III.”

Projects and Service industries Dynamics Ax ask Synergy Software Systems for a demo

August 14th, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 for companies in the Services Industries (e.g. Professional Services, Architecture / Engineering / Construction, IT services, Media and Entertainment, Industrial Catering, Event management, Audit, Training, Security Services, Facility Management) etc.

Typical operational management roles and their challenges

• Account Manager: The sales rep is responsible for contacting customers to create a pool of prospects and creating quotes. Once those quotes and prospects have been approved they then need to be converted to projects and customers respectively. Sales reps struggle with managing the sales process and keeping track of the status of each prospect.
• Project Manager: Project managers need to be able to create projects, define project requirements, assign resources, create budgets, and manage time and expenses. Project Managers struggle with being able to manage all of these functions using multiple sources instead of having everything available in a single application.
• Consultant: The consultant is responsible for executing the work and recording the time on specific projects, keeping track of their expenses and managing their availability. They struggle with being able to track these items in a central location and to make that information immediately available to their project managers.

There is need for coordination with HR, Payroll, Finance, Inventory and Asset management, Purchasing, and Customer Service, and cross functional approval workflows. Reporting is needed by project, for a group of projects by customer, lien of business or geography. Estimates, budgets, cost control, forecasts and cost to complete analysis, subcontractors, advances retentions, milestone billing… how many systems does it take? Just one! Microsoft Dynamics Ax is an integrated solution.

Engage clients, simplify service delivery, and expand into new markets—reimagine the project lifecycle to transform your business. Watch how easy it is to achieve profitable, client-centric and on-time delivery with Microsoft Dynamics 2012 AX R3. These short videos will show you how to manage your service business projects end to end.

Execute and collaborate as a team

Role and skill based staffing of projects

Plan with precision

Win the right projects

Manage with Insight

Synergy Software Systems, based in Dubai has been implementing project based solutions for 20 years – at last with Dynamics Ax 2012 R3 we now have a complete solution for Service industries. We demonstrated this at our Dynamics Ax 2012 R3 seminar in Microsoft Gulf offices last month – if you missed it then call Bikram to learn more 00971 43365589

(If you are a construction company then let us also show you how we integrate this with our AEC construction solution to add construction formula estimates, control and BIM even to detailed bar bending design and schedules. for more information call Yuddi 00971 43365589)

Prophix 11, Service Pack 2 is now available – Synergy Software Sytems, Dubai

August 13th, 2014

We are delighted to announce the availability of Prophix 11, Service Pack 2

This is the second major update to Prophix 11 since it was released last September with the introduction of new capabilities to enhance your user experience including: Template Studio, Workflow Manager, Prophix Mobile, and a general interface refresh.

Prophix 11, Service Pack 2, brings further new innovations both to improve your productivity and to make it even easier to manage key performance management processes:

• New Save to Word and PowerPoint documents directly from Template Studio and Report Binders, with scheduled distribution support through Process Manager – Adds an option to specify custom text for the email used to distribute the report binder.
•Adds an option to produce the resulting report binder in Excel format, in addition to the default PDF format
- Adds an option to specify custom text for the email used to distribute the report binder.
- Adds an option to produce the resulting report binder in Excel format, in addition to the default PDF format
• Enhanced table of contents page for exported Excel reports
• New ability to apply custom naming convention to sheets of exported Template reports
• New visual activity progress monitor in Workflow Manager – Includes the option of viewing either a Gantt Chart (as in earlier releases of Prophix 11) or an Activity Flow Diagram (as in Prophix 10).
• Support for security groups with report distributions
• New Template Calculation Process to enhance the modeling experience and automate mass updates of templates containing cell calculations
• Enhanced multi-user update performance e.g. Performance improvements have been made to the save process for models that include complex conditional calculations.
• Includes an option to turn off automatic column resizing, and thereby improves performance for users working with very large data views.
Note:
We recommend that you test updates before you deploy in a production environment.
- All updates are cumulative and include all fixes that were included in the previous Prophix 11 update release.
- Previous builds must be unconfigured and uninstalled prior to installing this build.
- Before you upgrade to Prophix 11 SP2, be aware of the following:
- After upgrading, you cannot revert to a previous version of Prophix
- After upgrading, before Prophix can be used operationally again there are some tasks that an administrator must complete

Prophix is listed in Microsoft’s top 100 partner products

A typical customer quote:
“As our business grows and the corporate structure changes, Prophix has allowed us to put our financial processes in place with access to valid and accurate information. We then use the system to analyze our data in a number of different ways.”
Scott Murray
Controller, Financial Reporting & Internal Control
Porter Airlines Inc.

New Suez Canal

August 13th, 2014

The Egyptian government recently announced a plan to build a new Suez Canal, parallel to the existing 145-year-old passage connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

The project is estimated at $4 billion, for a 72km stretch which is intended to extend the congested Suez port, and to raise Egypt’s international profile as a major trade hub.

Egypt’s tourist industry was severely damaged following the overthrow of President Mubarak in 2011, and there was a subsequent decline in Western aid so the $5 billion in annual revenue from Suez is an very important source of capital for Egypt’s economy.

The canal is achieving record-growth throughout 2014, with an increase in profits and its highest revenue since 1869.

Dubai – virtual tour

August 13th, 2014

Dubai360, the ‘World’s largest’ virtual city tour website is to launch in Dubai
later this year. Users will be able to ‘explore Dubai from anywhere’
Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum through his Instagram and Twitter accounts,

“Soon, we will launch Dubai360.com, the world’s leading immersive virtual city tour. It is a ground breaking website that will enable you to explore Dubai from anywhere in the world.” Sheikh Hamdan posted on Instgram.

The website will present fully interactive 360 degree panoramic time-lapse video showcasing Dubai’s cultural and modern attractions.

IMF staff reports U.A.E. – Basel 111 article 1V consultation

August 12th, 2014

The IMF published a staff report and a selected issues report last month for the 2014 Article IV Consultation with the United Arab Emirates. The IMF reveals that the authorities have stepped up the implementation of Basel III. They :

» Plan to phase in Basel III capital and liquidity standards over 2015–19

» To consult with banks about technical issues such as the definition of high-quality liquid assets, and a simple liquidity rule for smaller banks

Directors took note of the ample liquidity and capital buffers in the banking sector. They:

» Welcomed the recently introduced loan concentration limits

» Encouraged the development of domestic debt markets, which would support banks’ liquidity management in preparation for the introduction of the Basel III liquidity framework

Also see this IMF document: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr14187.pdf
This Staff Report was completed on June 11, 2014 and contains

- An Informational Annex prepared by the IMF.
- A Press Release summarizing the views of the Executive Board as expressed during its
June 26, 2014 discussion of the staff report that concluded the Article IV consultation.
– A Statement by the Executive Director for the United Arab Emirates.

Last month the Central Bank of the U.A.E. announced that the ratio of Emirati employees working at the Bank reached 64% at the end of the first half of 2014. The ratio of Emiratisation by job categories reached 100% within the leadership and Supervisory category, 71 % within the executive category and 44% within the specialised/technical category.

The Central Bank’s management has developed specialised training programmes to improve performance of staff, particularly national employees, in collaboration with leading international training institutions.

Meanwhile, the ratio of Emiratisation at national banks reached 34%, and 21% at non-national banks, with a total Emiratisation ratio of 32%. The Central Bank emphasises on all occasions the need for raising the ratio of Emiratisation in banking and other financial institutions in the U.A.E. and supports the call through its regulations issued in this regard.

Accounting solution – Dubai -ask Synergy Software Systems

August 10th, 2014

Have you outgrown your system?
Great!
Let us help you take your business to the next level.


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Prophix – what’s due this summer? CPM collaboration!

August 9th, 2014

Plans and budgets require inter-department discussions – and collaboration- sales forecasts,, investments, cash flow, HR recruitment, wages, purchase prices, marketing plans, production strategy etc.

Brisbane G20 – FSB – Central Banks and GLAC

August 6th, 2014

The FSB chairman and Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney sent a letter to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors On 4 April 2014 about their plans for the November 2014 G20 summit to be held in Brisbane in November this year.

The letter summarises the priorities for completing reforms by the G20 summit in Brisbane. These are:
- ending too-big-to-fail
- transforming shadow banking
- making derivatives markets safer

Making resolution work in Europe and beyond – the case for going concern loss absorbing capacity was the subject of a recent speech given by Andrew Gracie, Executive Director, Resolution, Bank of England at the Bruegel breakfast panel event, Brussels Thursday 17 July 2014 . see http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2014/speech749.pdf

Some more unusually clear source of information on this topic Basel Committee Post Crisis Reform: “Finishing the job!” /em>
Laurent Clerc Director Financial Stability Banque de France

http://ukalma.org.uk/?wpdmact=process&did=Mjc0LmhvdGxpbms

and this presentation:
The FSB Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regimes Bail-in Framework by Ruth Walters https://www.bfg.pl/sites/default/files/presentation_by_ms._ruth_walters_fsb.pdf

The problem of ‘too big too fail’ of course was discussed as long back as Cannes in 2011.
The FSB will publish a consultation on ‘gone-concern loss-absorbing capacity’ (GLAC), to assess the capacity of G-SIFIs to absorb losses when they fail. The FSB will be seeking agreement at the Brisbane Summit on three issues:
- the criteria that liabilities should meet to be considered as GLAC
- the appropriate amount of GLAC banks should hold
- where this should be held in the banks’ group structure.

An open issue is whether GLAC should be based on risk-weighted assets or on a non-risk-weighted measure. Thee is merit in both approaches. Using a risk-weighted approach would be coherent with Basel III capital requirements; but from an EU perspective, a non-risk weighted concept would be preferable, because this would be compatible with the resolution regime envisaged by the EU’s directive on bank recovery and resolution.

Big firms that straddle national borders present additional problems for regulators:
- Who exactly should take the hit when things go wrong?
- Which regulator should take the lead in sorting it out?
- What happens when different regulators disagree over what to do?
- Whose laws are applied when things go awry?

On the resolution of cross-border banks, the letter states that this must be supported by contractual or statutory approaches for cross-border recognition of resolution actions, including temporary stays on close-out and cross-default rights in financial contracts when a firm enters resolution, and bail-in of debt issued under foreign law. Mike Callaghan, programme director of the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy think-tank in Sydney, Australia, says “that n agreement on resolving complex, cross-border institutions would be “pretty difficult to achieve by Brisbane”.

The FSB’s agenda will also tackle “shadow banking,” where non-regulated firms act much like banks and could pose a risk to the financial system.

FSB members are divided about the amounts of “bail-inable” debt that should be carried, and the form it should take, Japan officials argue that forcing banks to issue a single type of bail-inable bond ignores the fact that its own sector is heavily deposit-funded. Tokyo has already overhauled its resolution regime, and is not eager to do it again. France, too, seems reluctant to add new requirements for bail-inable debt on top of newly introduced EU-specific resolution rules. China ‘s state-owned banking sector seems clear that public money will be used in a crisis, and would see bail-in as a foreign concept. There is also debate about whether any surplus equity that banks are holding should be counted towards GLAC. Some Asian countries argue for this.

The proposals are likely to forward a numerical range for GLAC coupled with a second “pillar”, leaving considerable discretion to the national regulator when dealing with individual institutions.

The new framework will be applied to the list of 29 G-SIFIs after the consultation is completed and a ‘comprehensive’ impact assessment is
finalised.

Dynamics CRM – tips for tablet use.

August 5th, 2014