FINRA and the CFTC each issued recent advisories on commodity-linked exchange traded products. Directed at retail investors and broker-dealers, the advisories each highlighted certain issues unique to commodity-linked exchange traded products that were recently demonstrated by market reactions to fluctuating oil prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisories provided guidance on relevant considerations in connection with oil-linked and commodity-linked exchange traded products. Read the full article here.

The Investor Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office (“IPB”) recently proposed a series of changes to its rules regulating broker-dealers. The proposal would require “finders” in New York to register as broker-dealers and pass broker-dealer examinations. In doing so, IPB would codify its regulation of finders in a manner similar to several other states. Continue Reading New York State Proposes to Regulate “Finders” as Broker-Dealers

On May 15, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission adopted amendments to the national market system plan governing the consolidated audit trail. The release adopts amendments to the CAT NMS Plan to address goals of increasing operational transparency and financial accountability.
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On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an order that required equity exchanges and FINRA to submit a new National Market System (“NMS”) plan with a modernized governance structure for the production of public consolidated equity market data and the dissemination of trade and quote data. As explained in its order, the SEC hopes that a consolidation of equity market data systems will help to eliminate duplicative systems and reduce lags in data dissemination as well as data inaccuracies. Continue Reading SEC Orders Equity Exchanges and FINRA to Modernize Consolidated Market Data

On May 4, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved MEMX LLC (“MEMX”), standing for “Members Exchange,” as a new national securities exchange under Section 6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. According to the MEMX website, the investors in MEMX include global financial institutions, comprised of online retail broker-dealers, global banks and financial services firms, and global market makers. MEMX will operate a fully automated electronic order book, and will not operate a physical trading floor. Similar to other national securities exchanges, only broker-dealer members of MEMX and entities that enter into market access arrangements with members will have access to the MEMX system. As a national securities exchange, MEMX will be a self-regulatory organization and will be responsible for oversight of its members.

Continue Reading SEC Approves MEMX as a new National Securities Exchange

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently provided a long-promised and needed update, in the form of a proposed rule, to guidance on determining the fair value of securities held by registered investment companies. Although the Investment Company Act of 1940 tasks the boards of directors of these funds with determining in good faith the fair value of securities for which market quotations are not readily available, the proposed rule would permit fund boards to assign responsibility for determining the fair value of all, or a portion, of these securities to the fund’s investment advisers (including any sub-advisers).

The proposed rule would also require written policies and procedures for determining fair values, which must address the following:

  • Assessment and management of valuation risks
  • Selection and application of fair value methodologies
  • Periodic testing of such methodologies
  • Oversight of pricing service providers

Finally, the proposed rule would define when market quotations are “readily available” using terminology from Topic 820 of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification and thus align the proposed rule with accounting standards for determining fair value.

In this update, we provide an overview of the proposed rules and the implications for trustees, directors and advisers.

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My previous post tried to explain how Rule 2a-7 limits the “leveraging effects” of “firm commitments” made by money market funds. This post will add some important qualifications, compare the approach taken by Rule 2a-7 to the proposed approach in Rule 18f-4 and discuss the need to reconcile these rules. Continue Reading What Rule 2a-7 Tells Us about Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4

On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint against a company and its chief executive officer (“CEO”) for alleged fraud in connection with the company’s stated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its complaint, the SEC alleged that the company issued two press releases containing false or misleading statements in which the company purported to be negotiating the sale of N95 masks and then made claims that it was in possession of N95 masks. After regulators inquired about these claims, the SEC alleged that the company issued a third press release a month later that it did not have any N95 masks on hand. The complaint asserts that the company’s stock trading volume and stock price increased significantly as a result of the initial press releases. Continue Reading SEC Alleges COVID-19 Related Fraud by a Company after Suspending Trading

This post continues my consideration of why certain “unfunded commitment agreements” should be carved out of the valuation at risk limitations of re-proposed Rule 18f-4. My previous post explained why two of the justifications offered for this carve out do not bear scrutiny. My current view is that the scope of the carve out depends on the third proposed justification: that some commitments may not have “leveraging effects.” This requires an understanding of the leveraging effects regulated by Section 18 of the Investment Company Act.

I will use the example of money market funds to explore “leveraging effects” because (a) it allows me to answer a question raised in the proposing release and (b) it illustrates another means of limiting leverage. Continue Reading Money Market Funds and Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4

The SEC has the authority under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to suspend trading in a given security if it deems it necessary for the public’s interest. It has been exercising its authority to suspend trading with increased frequency for potentially false and misleading statements made in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The following update addresses these developments and their implications.

Click here to read the full update.