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Despite significant improvements in the global economic landscape since the financial crisis, 2014 was marked by significant geopolitical events, which have taken their toll on financial markets. In the UK, both the Scottish referendum and predictions of a close general election outcome in May 2015 created an uncertain political environment. At a European level, markets have been faced with continuing tensions in Eastern Europe, as well as the ongoing sovereign debt issues. The collapse of oil prices, the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East have also had a significant impact on the global economy.
The activities of the financial services industry remain squarely in the public and regulatory eye, and the consequences of this focus are manifest in ongoing regulatory attention around the globe. Regulators are continuing to seek to address perceived systemic risks and preserve market stability through regulation.
It is not only regulators who continue to place additional demands on the financial services industry in the wake of the financial crisis; the need to rebuild trust has led investors to call for greater transparency around investments and risk management from those managing their funds. Investors and regulators’ demands for greater clarity on fees and commissions charged by fund managers for services provided also remain a constant presence.
This continues to be a period of change and uncertainty for the asset management industry, as funds and managers act to comply with regulatory developments and investor requirements and adapt to the changing geopolitical landscape. Although the challenges of regulatory scrutiny and difficult market conditions remain, a return of risk appetite has also evidenced itself. The industry is not in the clear but, prone as it is to innovation and ingenuity, it seems well placed to navigate this challenging and rapidly shifting environment. The world of asset management is increasingly complex, but it is hoped that the fourth edition of The Asset Management Review will a useful and practical companion as we face the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.