Archive for February, 2014

Synergy Software Systems Customer alert – SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 -critical upgrade

February 27th, 2014

There is a known issue with SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 . If you have installed Service Pack 1 not part of a slipstream install, then the registry on your SQL server could reach the 2GB limit and crash your SQL Server.

To avoid this issue for Dynamics products it is highly recommended to install at least Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 5 for SQL Server 2012 or above because this version addresses some other issues that impact Dynamics.

SQL Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 6 is the current release.

For those Dynamics customers on SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 or above, AX Cumulative Update 7 is released

There are 2 memory leaks that have been patched that impact Dynamics AX:

I’ve personally seen this at customers with AX 2009 and AX2012.

You can run this query to test for the issue:
select type, sum(pages_in_bytes)/1024.0/1024.00 ‘Mem in MB’, count (*) ‘row count’ from sys.dm_os_memory_objects where type like ‘%MEMOBJ_COMPILE_ADHOC%’
group by type

Read more about this issue at:

As with all Microsoft patches, it should be first applied to your test environment before rolling out into your production systems

So, please plan on patching your SQL servers at your earliest opportunity.

Liquidity and Leverage requirements of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) IV and the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).

February 27th, 2014

Liquidity and Leverage requirements of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) IV and the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).

Related topics discussed in this post include counterparty risk and the adoption of the single Europe wide rule, and implications for banks in this region.

CRD IV introduces standardized EU regulatory reporting in the form of COREP and FINREP.
– COREP applied from 1 January 2014,
– FINREP will be phased in over the second half of 2014.

Recently, chief central bankers in Europe announced an ease in restriction with regards to Basel III regulations, effectively pushing back the liquidity deadline for banks by four years. Key new rules were also introduced as the level of corporate debt for banks widened.

The MENA market will benefit the most from these recent announcements. If MENA banks were to carry out full implementation by 2015, then tight lending would continue and the global recovery would be at a slow pace and thus affect MENA market growth plans as an emerging market. Lending has generally been eased as are trade finance restrictions which will help fuel the current growth seen within the MENA region.

The European Union’s Basel III legislative package known as “CRD IV”, covers prudential rules for: banks, building societies and investment firms. It was formally published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Thursday 27 June 2013. CRD IV will require these institutions to:
– Hold more and better quality capital
– Satisfy new macro-prudential standards including a countercyclical capital buffer and capital buffers for systemically important institutions
– Meet new rules for counterparty credit risk
– Meet new minimum standards for short and long term liquidity in the form of the:
– Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR)
-Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR)
– Meet minimum standards for leverage to act as a backstop to balance sheet growth in the form of the leverage ratio
– Improve risk management governance and make senior management / board members accountable
-Introduce restrictions on variable remuneration


These reporting requirements specify the information firms must report to supervisors in areas such as own funds, large exposures and financial information, as well as defining the XBRL taxonomy through which institutions will be required to submit their COREP and FINREP reports to their national supervisor.

COREP, , increased regulatory reporting requirements for European banks significantly. Under COREP and FINREP banks are required to offer much more granular data in a fully standardized format. The quality and quantity of data disclosures required for COREP will make it necessary for banks to significantly upgrade their reporting framework.

FINREP The framework instructs firms to align the accounting calendar with the calendar year – for firms that use any other timeline for their accounting, this is a major upheaval of internal procedures.

Similar to COREP, FINREP is transmitted using strong>XBRL, which makes it even more crucial that firms investigate the new delivery method.

– Due to Basel III and CRD IV, close monitoring and control are increased over credit and financial institutions’ liquidity.
– The role of senior management to set risk boundaries is more onerous. – New liquidity metrics include liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) and the Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR). The rules on the calculation of the LCR and NSFR are not yet finalised. Regulators are still gathering information to adjust the metrics adequately.

Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR)
This is to ensure both that financial and credit institutions have the assets to handle short-term liquidity disruptions and that companies are able to improve their short-term resilience.

The ratio aims to ensure that in a 30 day period of stress with an LCR maintained at 100%, the company will be capable to withstand the pressure by virtue of having sufficient unencumbered high quality liquidity assets.

When the percentage is lower than 100%, the institution will be subject to regulatory scrutiny and a plan would have to be made to indicate how the institution plans to raise its liquidity buffer to reach the necessary limit.

Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR)
This deals with ratios of both long term assets and long term funding. The NSFR supports both of those measures and will come into practice as of January 2018. Until then, there will be other general rules regarding long term funding for financial institutions from January 2016. The objective behind these rules is for institutions to actively deliberate on their funding profile for the next 2 years.

The remaining issues that concern liquidity, and the LCR and NSFR are expected to be resolved in the following months. The EU is currently completing these to be in line with the international Basel III agreement and is currently on track with their 2015 and 2018 implementations.

A new leverage ratio will be introduced by the CRD IV to protect against the risks often attributed to risk models. The new ratio is calculated by dividing the Tier 1 capital by a measure of the institution’s non-risk weighted assets, including the institution’s on and off balance sheet amounts. The new leverage ratio has not yet been finalised.

During the calibration period a 3% ratio is being considered, which means that Tier 1 capital will not be allowed to be lower than 3% of non-RWAs. Furthermore, institutions will have to adhere to a third prudential metric because distinct from Basel II calculations, on-balance sheet loans and deposits will not be allowed to be netted.

Initially as a Pillar 2 measure, the national regulator may alter the leverage ratio. To set the final ratio, the data gathered from January 2014 will be used. Leverage ratios will be disclosed publically in January 2015 within the European Union and according to Basel III from 2018 onwards in all EU countries, leverage ratios will be a pillar 1 measure.

The amount of capital will no longer be the sole determinant of whether certain banking business can be done. Capital, liquidity and leverage will all have to be taken into serious consideration and decisions may involve sacrificing one in order to strengthen the other.

Finance and credit institutions will have to take into consideration other aspects apart from capital, liquidity and leverage. These include :
1. Single Europe-wide rule book.
The rule book governs all of the EU’s financial institutions and it consists of the CRR together with the EBA’s Binding Technical Standards (BTS). By compiling a single rule book, the EBA’s objective is to reduce the amount of available national discretions which would in turn reduce the number of national divergences.

2. Counterparty Risk
CRD IV includes new regulatory exposure to central counterparties (CCPs) treatments, adjustments in credit values, increased capital charges for OTS derivatives for transactions which are not centrally cleared and wrong-way risk charges.

3. Reduction of the reliance on credit rating agencies
Credit and financial institutions should no longer rely on credit rating agencies to be given an overview of their credit exposure. In order to do this, institutions need to develop their own criteria on which they can rate their own credit exposure.

4. Single Supervisory Mechanism
The aim of the mechanism is to harmonise and strengthen sanctions across the EU resulting in the increase of fines in some EU jurisdictions.

5. Remuneration
The variable bonus payment is now limited to the 100% of the fixed salary amount for risk control, risk-takers and senior management. On the other hand, it may go up to 200% pending shareholders’ consent. 50% of the variable remuneration should be paid in equity-linked products with at least 40% of the variable payment deferred to a maximum of 5 years.

CRD IV will undoubtedly pose challenges in the manner which financial and credit institutions are regulated but it concurrently helps institutions in the EU to comply with Basel III. A change in the way institutions behave and in the economic realities of banking seem inevitable.

The same considerations will apply in the GCC as central banks adopt Basel lll and CRD4 compliance.

The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has taken necessary measures to put Basel III standards in place out of its interest in the significance of international reform packages. Governor Mr. Al Hashel is recorded as stating that the CBK board of directors has approved a minimum capital adequacy ratio of 13 percent with phased out applications; 12 percent in 2014, 12.5 percent in 2015 and 13 percent in 2016.

Qatar Central Bank (QCB) has decided to combine Basel III with proposals put forward specifically for Islamic banking operations by the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB).

Other countries in the Middle East – the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, for instance – have elected to implement Basel III and the IFSB standards separately, to give their banks time to deal with one before the other.

Qatar’s banks are thus dealing with a unique combination of regulatory challenges: to implement a strict interpretation of Basel III across both conventional and Islamic operations whilst at the same time ensuring their Islamic arms comply with the new IFSB guidelines.

Qatari banks that deal with both conventional and Islamic finance will have to establish processes to ensure that the two sets of rules are implemented across two divisions simultaneously. For those banks already specialising in either conventional or Islamic finance, the impact is no less significant. They will have to comply with new regulatory measures around their liquidity ratios. They will also have to implement strategies for stress testing that allow for complex data to be analysed in order to demonstrate compliance with the QCB’s guidance on the Basel III directives.

These requirements will require considerable technology change at many banks to ensure that the required financial and risk data can be accurately gathered, cleansed, analysed and reported to board members and the regulator in the formats required.

The Central Bank of Bahrain website provided guidance on its Basel lll implementation plan in June last year:

Banks have to meet the challenge of creating the optimal structure, systems and controls to demonstrate compliance with these new regulatory requirements. Basel III is not a one-time compliance exercise. Its requirements are expected to evolve further with time.

Banks will benefit from taking a long-term view of regulatory compliance. This means developing a framework for implementing consistent compliance practices and utilising enterprise-wide risk management tools.

This will help to assure on-going compliance as Basel III (and other, related, regulations) change with time.

Dubai Photos

February 27th, 2014

Two recent links to enjoy:

OECD Common Reporting

February 24th, 2014

On 13 February 2014, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), at the request of the G8 and the G20, released a model Competent Authority Agreement (CAA) and Common Reporting Standard (CRS) designed to create a global standard for the automatic exchange of financial account information.

The publication of the CAA and the CRS is a significant step in governments’ efforts to improve cross border tax compliance. This follows a raft of tax compliance legislation such as the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and active campaigns of voluntary disclosures and legal procedures.

The CRS is another global compliance burden for financial institutions and increases the risks and costs of servicing globally mobile wealthy customers – an otherwise attractive customer segment.

The OECD has modelled the CRS on FATCA, which means it may be possible to leverage existing and planned
FATCA processes and systems. However, the data required is different, and the volume of reporting required is likely to be significantly greater under the CRS.

The OECD’s model CRS,is designed to be a standardized approach to identifying and reporting information about taxpayers by financial institutions that will be exchanged with residence jurisdictions.

The common reporting standard will require financial institutions and brokers to report information to their own jurisdiction and this information will in turn be passed on to other relevant countries automatically each year. It is not designed to replace any existing basis or any other means of information exchange, but instead intends to supplement current measures. It applies to financial accounts and sets out the due diligence which financial institutions will need to follow in order to comply
This could mean new customer due diligence procedures being required as early as 2015 with the first reporting being due in 2016. It seems unlikely that all jurisdictions intending to participate will be able to
enter into agreements under the same timeframe. Due to the increased scope and volume of information required by the CRS, financial institutions may need to reconsider their approach to FATCA compliance to accommodate the new standard.

Significant uncertainties remain and commentary is not expected to be released until the summer of 2014.
about the detailed requirements. Financial institutions will want to see competent authorities providing clear guidance to help clients determine their tax residency.

The standard has no direct legal force but it is expected that jurisdictions will follow the model CAA and CRS closely when implementing bilateral agreements.

There is significant political will to implement this standard, with more than 40 jurisdictions signing up for early adoption. The expected timeframe could see jurisdictions seeking to sign agreements in 2014, with new customer due diligence procedures required in 2015 and reporting in 2016.

Many OECD countries may be reluctant to sign up to information exchange with less developed countries which may not have the legal and basic processing capacities to keep the information confidential and to use it only for the purposes for which it’s been collected. The OECD may need to go further, e.g. by providing withholding tax mechanisms to enable less developed countries to collect tax

IE Vulnerabilities 30% or more of internet users at risk

February 17th, 2014

Microsoft late Thursday said that both Internet Explorer 10 and its predecessor, IE9, were under attack by hackers exploiting an unpatched flaw in the browsers. The extension of the vulnerability to IE9 followed confirmation earlier yesterday that active attacks are compromising the newer IE10 and hijacking PCs running the browser.

With both IE9 and IE10 vulnerable and under attack, it means that about a third of all those using Internet Explorer are at risk.
Milpitas, Calif.-based FireEye was the first to spot the attacks, and said that they had been aimed at IE10 as part of a campaign targeting current and former U.S. military personnel when they visited the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) website.

San Diego security company Websense said it had found evidence that the exploit may have been used as early as Jan. 20, or more than three weeks ago.Websense also speculated that those earlier attacks had been aimed at visitors to a French aerospace association’s website. Members of the organization, GIFAS (Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales), include defense and space contractors and subcontractors.

Microsoft’s advice to customers is that they upgrade to IE11 -(not possible for those still running Windows Vista. Most Vista users are likely running IE9, since Microsoft automatically upgraded their copies from IE7 or IE8 to the then-new IE9 in the first half of 2012.

Middle East Bank Regulatory Reporting challenges 2014

February 11th, 2014

Last week we had a hectic round of meeting with banks in Dubai, Oman and Kuwait all faced with increased challenges of delivering timely, accurate, regulatory reports as reporting formats change and new regulations come into force.

There was great interest in BRSAnalytics end to end solution framework which delivers the specific, local format reports and removes the risk, manual effort, and error.

Banking regulation has advanced noticeably since the 2008 financial crisis, with considerable progress achieved in 2013. However, many regulatory details remain unresolved and the banks’ success in adapting to these regulatory changes varies greatly by institution and jurisdiction. 2013 was a pivotal
year for regulatory reform. . The ‘CRD4’ package was finalised, for phased implementation from 1 January 2014. The Basel Committee published a key paper on risk data aggregation and reporting, and the Financial Stability Board published a series of papers on risk governance and continued to focus on systemic institutions and on progress in implementing regulatory reforms.

Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) Governor Dr. Mohammad Al-Hashel said here on Saturday 2 February 2014 that the CBK board of directors has approved the application of the Basel III capital adequacy standards to Kuwaiti banks.

Basel 3 reporting requirements still lacks considerable detail creating further implementation challenges for banks. Basel 3 was to be implemented in the EU from January 2014, through the ‘CRD 4 package’ – the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) and the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD). The CRR largely copies out the core elements of Basel 3 – tighter definitions of capital, greater emphasis on higher quality capital (in particular CET1 capital: equity and retained earnings), higher minimum capital ratios, higher risk weightings on counterparty exposures, the counter-cyclical capital buffer, the leverage ratio, the Liquidity Coverage
Ratio and the Net Stable Funding Ratio.

In addition, the CRD 4 package provides for:
• The imposition of capital surcharges on global and domestic systemically important banks. The Basel Committee announced prospective capital surcharges for 29 G-SIBs, to be phased in from 2016, and attention is now turning to the designation of banks of national systemic importance (D-SIBs);
• An additional systemic risk buffer that member states can apply to all, or a subset, of banks to cover medium-term structural or systemic risks. The UK for example is expected to apply a systemic risk buffer of 3 percent on at least the major UK banks, bringing the minimum CET1 capital ratio up to 10 percent;
• The introduction by European member states or the Commission of more stringent large exposure limits, sector-specific risk weightings, liquidity and disclosure requirements on all, or a subset of, banks.

Uncertainties remain including liquidity, the leverage ratio, and risk-weighted assets.

Bank regulation will drive significant structural change, impacting product and service availability for customers. Regulators’ will require banks to better meet customer needs and to reinvent cultures, and that will impact costs, client pricing and choice.

As banks prepare for extensive risk data reporting rules, many are not yet compliant with Basel Committee principles on reporting and data aggregation. Many Banks have upgraded risk management practices but still lack risk systems or approaches to set risk appetite frameworks, assess risk culture or add business value. Banks are generally moving from the evaluation of regulatory initiatives to implementation, albeit at different
speeds and from different starting points.

Ongoing debates on the leverage ratio, internal models, stress tests, and simplicity versus complexity have made both bankers and regulators very uncertain about where the regulatory reform agenda will come to
rest. This makes it difficult for banks to plan effectively. Banks also want to tell their own story to their
investors, customers and other stakeholders about what risks they take and how they manage those risks.

Another source of great uncertainty, at least for this year is Comprehensive Assessment to be undertaken
by the European Central Bank before it takes on direct supervisory responsibility in November 2014 for the 120 or so major banks in the European banking union and how this will impact on the current regulatory reporting requirements.

Data demands are growing and to ensure that data is fit for purpose is also more difficult with the fragmented systems and processes through which the data flows. Good data provides the basis
for product design, customer service, risk management and business decisions, but many banks remain seriously constrained by their legacy IT and data systems. Meanwhile, bank supervisors are frustrated by the
implications of this for the effectiveness of banks’ risk management. Supervisory intensity in this area is can safely be predicted to get even more intense. This requires bank to rethink their reporting systems and data validation and aggregation and conversion processes.

Banks face major challenges around data management. They need to capture, hold and to use the right data to get much closer to their customers. They have to meet the wide-ranging and exponential increases in
demands from regulators and others for reporting and disclosures. They need to respond to supervisory concerns that banks do not have the right data, systems and IT architecture to enable them to understand,
aggregate and disaggregate, and to effectively manage their risks.

There are new and unforeseeable risks and legislative requirements in data privacy and cybercrime, conflicting national laws and the impact of retrospective investigations in an environment where vast amounts of data
are indefinitely available.

As a recent KPMG report stated ” The emerging regulatory requirements – including structural reform, conduct, governance and the possible emergence of ‘Basel 4’ – are game changing. The banking industry’s existing business models will in large part have to be discarded. There are likely to be losers. The winners
are likely to have been relentless in how they have faced up to and implemented the change required.”

There is a high probability that Basel lll will quickly evolve into a tougher Basel 1V and an agile and robust reporting framework is essential.Key to these challenges are increasing. The consequences are that:
– banks need a higher maturity of data analytics capabilities;
a clear understanding of the ownership, roles and responsibilities for data management (including retention and rationalization and historical audit and version control);
– a clear plan to attack core data quality issues;
– the implementation of more flexible technology solutions with greater sharing/re-use and better handling of unstructured data.
– this will need radically different, powerful, automated and agile management information systems

The Basel Committee published in December 2013 a self-assessment by 30 G-SIBs of their progress in meeting the risk data aggregation and risk reporting principles.
The Basel Committee concluded that banks need in particular to:
• Upgrade significantly their risk IT systems and governance arrangements, with an emphasis on formal and
documented risk data aggregation frameworks, comprehensive data dictionaries that are used consistently
by all group entities, comprehensive policy governing data quality controls, and controls at each stage of the life cycle of data;
• Improve the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and adaptability of their risk data, with less reliance on manual processes, and quality checks on risk data that are as robust as those supporting accounting data; and
• Generate relevant data on a timely basis to meet evolving internal and external risk reporting requirements.

These self-assessment findings are reinforced by the conclusions of the Senior Supervisors Group, published in January 2014, which examined the quality of banks’ large exposures data. The Group found that banks’ progress towards the consistent, timely and accurate reporting of large exposures failed to meet both
supervisory expectations and industry best practice
. Nearly half of the banks reported material non-compliance and many reported that they are facing difficulties in establishing strong data aggregation processes, and are therefore having to resort to extensive manual workarounds.

The Deloitte Centre for Regulatory Strategy has identified the top 10 regulatory changes that will affect banks, insurers and investment managers next year. The themes are included in the Centre’s latest report – ‘Our Outlook for financial markets regulation and supervision’ David Strachan, co-head of the Deloitte Centre for Regulatory Strategy, said:

Six years have passed since the start of the financial crisis. Banks, insurers and other financial services companies are having to deal with a fundamental overhaul of regulation and supervisory approaches – but the sobering fact is that the job is by no means done.
“2014 will be a busy year. Banks will need to implement the new capital and liquidity framework, and the ECB will be intent on establishing a new European supervisory regime. Closer to home, conduct risk in both the wholesale and retail sector will remain at the top of the agenda. Over-arching this, a multitude of new regulations will require banks to re-engineer their legal entity structure and change the way they operate across borders.”

Why Dynamics Ax with Synergy Software Systems means a successful project.

February 9th, 2014

A recent You tube interview with Guy Thomas who led a Global rollout of Dynamics Ax.

see our earlier post:

Synergy has delivered regional deployments several times with its global partners. The GSE project had a tight rollout deadline and the central GSE project team in other areas had its hands full in other regions. We took on the deployment in Egypt and worked closely with Guy’s central team to ensure the site went live in under two months. This also helped the overall project to meet its go live date. The project demonstrated the benefit of a focused scope, strong project management, standardised systems, timely and transparent communication and all round commitment and collaboration from end users, internal consultants and global partners to get the job done.

Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer – screenshots

February 5th, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer is a familiar and easy to use solution that can help accelerate your business with actionable and engaging business insights across your organization. Tailored for specific roles it provides pre-configured business insights and a user experience that can be personalized to fit your needs.

Whether you are in the office or on the go you can discover and interact with your favorite charts and financial reports or collaborate and share insights to help drive decisions more quickly.


•Pre-configured, role tailored experience that you can personalize for your needs helps you find business insights fast.

•Interact with and explore business data from Microsoft Dynamics AX R2, reports with a pre-configured and connected experience.

•Collaborate with others through real-time communication or by sharing a snapshot.

This release includes enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer. The application now supports data from: SQL Server Analysis Services Cubes, SQL Server Reporting Services and Microsoft Dynamics Management Reporter. The application also enables users to connect to a single service point to return data.

Business Analyzer released for Dynamics Ax 2012 – ask Synergy Software Systems

February 2nd, 2014

Watch the video for a brief demo of the capabilities of Business Analyzer for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Business Analyzer is a role tailored app to provide insight into how the company is performing. It provides a dashboard view into charts, KPIs, and Management Reporter reports for Microsoft Dynamics.

Key features for Dynamics AX include:
•The ability to personalize, view and interact with reports and key performance indicators to gain an understanding of how the business is performing; whether in the office or on the go
•Flexibility to add or remove reports from the gallery to surface the most relevant information
•Ability to drill into additional details or pivot on different time periods
•Enable users to pin their favorite Management Reporter reports to their dashboard

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 customers can download the app from the Windows 8 App Store and run it in demo mode. You will need to follow the instructions in the companion apps whitepaper to connect to a live Dynamics AX 2012 R2 instance.

Final Service Packs for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2??

February 1st, 2014

Mainstream support for both SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 is due to end on 8 July 2014,

Will Microsoft release a SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 3 or a SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 4 ?

Organizations often shy away from installing Cumulative Updates, so many customers will run some very old builds of SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2. Plan now for an upgrade.

Note also that your erp application future releases may not be compatible with nor be supported for older unpatched versions.