Grexit: the admin angle

AristotleWith a 50% probability of a Grexit, fund firms should be asking their tech and admin providers about the technical implications for portfolio administration and accounting.

The technical consequences can vary depending on whether a fund invests in Greece, or provides investment to Greek clients.

In the former case, an Athens-listed equity may change from euro to drachma and a new currency will need adding to accounting systems; but fundamentally, an equity is still an equity. For bonds and derivatives, the workload depends on what issuers and counterparties do post-Grexit, such as breach contracts by closing old agreements and opening new ones.

Simcorp, an investment software and services provider, highlighted these and other issues in a recent client note focusing on the potential technological challenges of a Grexit. With further proposals from Greece under scrutiny from Eurozone finance ministers, many ratings agencies now give Grexit a 50% probability, Simcorp says.

Currency would be a key concern in responding to the fallout of a Grexit, Simcorp says. When servicing a Greek client, simply changing a portfolio currency from euro to drachma for auditing purposes is not an option. This is because auditors insist that the “past must be documented true and fair” and means, therefore, fund management firms must duplicate whole portfolio structures in the new currency and move open positions from old to new, converting portfolio currencies in the process.

The tech aspects may be limited in a best-case scenario. For example, bonds may continue to run in euros, with no breaches.

But, as with the investment implications of a Grexit, the technical aspects of portfolio management will be in unchartered territory, too.

If Greece leaves the euro, then all the resources spent on systems automation by fund managers in recent years may feel like money well spent.

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