In our previous posts, we reviewed the new Rule 6c-11 (the “ETF Rule”) from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which provides relief to exchange traded funds (“ETFs”). The SEC also issued a complementary exemptive order (the “ETF Exemptive Order”) primarily providing relief to broker-dealers that distribute ETFs. ETFs distribute their shares by issuing a block of shares (known as a “creation unit”) to certain broker-dealers (referred to as “Authorized Participants”) in exchange for a basket of the ETF’s underlying securities. Authorized Participants then sell these ETF shares on exchanges. Only Authorized Participants may redeem the ETF’s shares for the basket of underlying securities (or the cash equivalent) and only in amounts corresponding to a creation unit. This process could cause Authorized Participants and ETFs to run afoul of the provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) discussed below.

In a previous post, we outlined the scope of new Rule 6c-11 (the “ETF Rule”) which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved on September 26, 2019. In this post, we identify some conditions currently required in ETF exemptive orders that were not included in the ETF Rule.

On September 26, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) unanimously approved a long-awaited rule regulating exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”). Previously, ETFs were required to obtain exemptive orders from the SEC, a time consuming and expensive process. New Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “ETF Rule”) streamlines the process for launching some ETFs and standardizes the compliance requirements for existing ETFs.

The ETF Rule goes into effect sixty days after it appears in the Federal Register, which has yet to occur as of this post. One year following its effective date, the SEC will rescind the exemptive orders for any existing ETF that falls within the scope of the ETF Rule.

Periodically, SEC staff issue alerts describing deficiencies observed during exams, as a tool to help advisers improve their compliance programs. the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a Risk Alert identifying common deficiencies in adviser compliance with Rule 206(4)-3 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Cash Solicitation Rule”), and suggesting that deficiencies in this area could indicate that an adviser is struggling with its fiduciary duties to clients under Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Advisers Act.

In our previous post, we provided a simple answer to the following question posed by Director Dalia Blass of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management:

To the extent a fund plans to hold cryptocurrency directly, how would it satisfy the custody requirements of the 1940 Act and relevant rules?”

Our simple answer was to treat cryptocurrencies as “financial assets” under Article 8 of the Uniform Commercial Code. But, as Director Blass knows, this is not the end of the questions relating to custody. Her letter included additional questions, such as:

If the fund may take delivery of cryptocurrencies in settlement, what plans would it have in place to provide for the custody of the cryptocurrency?”

This question relates to a core operation of investment companies: trading.

There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.”—President Reagan

In a January 2018 letter to the ICI and SIFMA, Director Dalia Blass of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management posed the following question, among many others:

To the extent a fund plans to hold cryptocurrency directly, how would it satisfy the custody requirements of the 1940 Act and relevant rules?”

There is a simple answer to this: “Just like our custodian satisfies these requirements with respect to most other financial assets held in our securities account.” But structural differences between cryptocurrencies and more traditional financial assets may make this harder than it sounds.

Welcome back for Part 3 of our discussion of the SEC’s April 18, 2018, fiduciary rulemaking proposal (the “Proposal”). Here, we dive into the SEC’s proposed Form CRS Relationship Summary and its proposed amendments to Form ADV. We also discuss the proposed rulemaking to restrict broker‑dealers’ use of the term “adviser” and variations thereof.

This post continues our discussion of the SEC’s April 18, 2018, fiduciary rulemaking proposal (the “Proposal”). Here we address the Proposed Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers and Request for Comment on Enhancing Investment Adviser Regulation portion of the Proposal which would, in sum, (i) restate advisers’ fiduciary duties under the Advisers Act and (ii) impose a variety of new requirements on advisers similar to those applicable to broker-dealers.

On April 18, 2018, the SEC held an open meeting where it approved the long‑awaited and much-discussed fiduciary rulemaking proposal package. The proposal primarily recommends disclosure- and principles and procedures-based rules, and has garnered three main criticisms: (1) it would establish a “best interest” standard without defining the term; (2) while intending to provide clarity, it would likely generate litigation around the scope of the restated investment adviser fiduciary duty; and (3) it fails to cover how a new “relationship summary” disclosure would function in the robo-adviser context. Part one of this series provides a high‑level overview of the recent history behind the proposal and summarizes its key provisions. Forthcoming posts will discuss the proposal in greater detail and suggest key takeaways for investment advisers.