In our extensive examination of the requirements for Limited Derivatives Users under Rule 18f‑4(c)(4) we have tried to be conscientious in pointing out matters open to interpretation. While we have not been shy about arguing for interpretations that would reduce a fund’s derivatives exposure and thus ease compliance with these requirements, we acknowledge that these are just our informed opinions. Absent guidance from the SEC staff, chief compliance officers and counsel to fund directors and trustees will need to consider these matters and reach their own conclusions.

This post wraps up our examination of the Limited Derivatives User requirements with a list of these interpretive questions. While we are sure it is incomplete, at least it provides a starting point for consideration. Continue Reading A Limited Derivatives User Punch List

Our last post explained why the Limited Derivatives User provisions of Rule 18f‑4(c)(4) may not “provide [the] objective standard to identify funds that use derivatives in a limited manner” anticipated by the SEC. Inconsistencies in methods of determining the notional amounts of derivatives transactions may cause funds that use such transactions in the same manner and to the same extent to be treated differently under the rule. The previous post also questioned whether requiring Limited Derivatives Users to perform the complex calculations required to determine their derivatives exposure each day might “incur costs and bear compliance burdens that may be disproportionate to the resulting benefits.”

This post points out some alternatives that would address our concerns, although it may be too late to implement one of them. Continue Reading Improving the Limited Derivatives User Provisions of Rule 18f-4

Our colleagues Kurt E. Linsenmayer and Cristopher D. Jones just issued an update on the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to change the standards for ERISA plan fiduciaries when evaluating investments or voting proxies. Their article discusses the proposed changes and their implications. The DOL’s proposal stands in stark contrast to the ESG-related rules adopted under the prior administration. Those rules, which were never enforced, could have severely hampered the access of retirement plan investors to certain types of ESG strategies by: (i) preventing ERISA retirement plan accounts from investing based on “non-pecuniary” factors in ESG strategies if doing so would sacrifice returns or increase risks for participants, and (ii) prohibiting retirement plan fiduciaries from voting on shareholder resolutions with no direct economic impact on a plan.

Humankind Investments LLC was awarded the “Newcomer ESG/Impact ETF of the Year”  by Fund Intelligence at the 2021 Mutual Fund Industry and ETF Awards Ceremony. Humankind’s innovative ETF is the first registered investment company to be structured as a Maryland benefit corporation. As interest in ESG investing continues to grow, it is possible to utilize a governance model that commits an entity through state law organizational documents to pursue broader public benefits. Read our original blog post to learn more.

This post continues our assessment of whether the Limited Derivative User requirements of Rule 18f-4(c)(4) effectively and efficiently accomplish the SEC’s aim of providing “an objective standard to identify funds that use derivatives in a limited manner.” Here we question whether the “gross notional amount” of a derivatives transaction measures the means and consequences, rather than the extent, of its use. Continue Reading Assessing the Limited Derivatives User Requirements of Rule 18f-4—Notional Amounts

Our last series of posts on Rule 18f-4 have struggled to understand how its Limited Derivatives User requirements are supposed to work. We have done the best we could to explain the process for calculating a fund’s derivatives exposure, including determining the gross notional amount of derivatives transactions and adjustments thereto, excluding closed-out positions and currency and interest-rate derivatives entered into for hedging purposes, and applying the “10% buffer” for these hedges. In this series of posts, we shift our perspective to assessing whether these requirements effectively and efficiently accomplish the SEC’s objectives. Continue Reading Assessing the Limited Derivatives User Requirements of Rule 18f-4—Costs

Note: The following post originally appeared in Perkins Coie’s Public Chatter blog.

In the making for a long time, the SEC proposed rules yesterday that would change how mutual funds disclose their proxy voting – and would require institutional investors to disclose their say-on-pay voting records for the first time. Here’s the 174-page proposing release. Continue Reading SEC Proposes Changes to How Funds Disclose How They Voted

As has been our practice in this series on new Rule 18f-4, we end our survey of its Limited Derivatives User requirements with a compliance checklist. This checklist reiterates much of our earlier post on Derivatives Exposure: Why It Matters And How To Calculate It, but provides more details and includes required policies and procedures and steps required if a fund exceeds the 10% limit on its derivatives exposure. Given the length of the checklist and the difficulty in controlling the format of printed copies of this blog, we are providing the compliance checklist through a link to a PDF.

This post will address another ambiguity in the “10% buffer” Rule 18f-4 provides for excluding the notional amount of derivative transactions that hedge currency or interest rate risks (“Hedging Derivatives”) when calculating the Derivatives Exposure of a Limited Derivatives User. The ambiguity is whether, once the notional amount of a Hedging Derivative exceeds the 10% buffer, a fund should add back to its Derivatives Exposure (a) the entire notional amount of the Hedging Derivative or (b) only the notional amount in excess of the 10% buffer. We chose answer (b) in our post on The 10% Buffer and Changes in Hedged Investments. This post explains why. Continue Reading Hedging Derivatives under Rule 18f-4: Not an “All or None” Exclusion

This post continues our examination of the “10% buffer” for Hedging Derivatives, which refers to the amount by which the notional amounts of Hedging Derivatives can exceed the value, par or principal amount of the hedged equity and fixed-income investments. In this post we consider whether funds should apply the 10% buffer to Hedging Derivatives in the aggregate or on a “hedge-by-hedge” basis. Continue Reading Rule 18f-4: One 10% Buffer or Many?