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

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission granted effectiveness to the registration statement of a client of Perkins Coie, which is the first known registered investment company structured as a Maryland Benefit Corporation. As interest in socially responsible 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, beyond just the pecuniary interests of shareholders.

On March 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a relief order (the “Order”) granting temporary short-term lending and borrowing flexibility to open-end funds and insurance company separate accounts (each, a “fund”) to assist such funds in dealing with market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order temporarily permits a fund to borrow from its affiliated persons. It also expands such fund’s flexibility for lending or borrowing under an existing interfund lending exemptive order (“IFL Order”); a fund without an IFL Order will be permitted to participate in an interfund lending arrangement under similar conditions. Lastly, a fund may temporarily engage in borrowing or lending arrangements that may deviate from its fundamental investment policies. The Order covers transactions involving second-tier affiliated persons as well (first and second tier affiliated persons are referred to as “fund affiliates”).

This temporary relief is in effect until at least June 30, 2020. After the effective period, funds will have two weeks to cease activities carried out in reliance on the Order, once the SEC issues a public notice terminating the Order. Before relying on this temporary relief, a fund will need to comply with the various conditions in the Order.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting market liquidity issues impacting regulated investment companies, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management (the “Division”) recently issued a no-action letter (the “No-Action Letter”) providing temporary relief from the prohibitions of Section 17(a) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”) to open-end funds that are not exchange-traded funds or money market funds (“mutual funds”). The Division issued the No-Action Letter to address concerns of short term “market dislocation” involving debt securities and mutual funds’ need to increase liquidity to satisfy shareholder redemption requests. This post summarizes the conditions to this relief.

I. DERIVATIVES ISSUES

1. Inventory “relationship level” considerations in legal documentation that governs your derivatives trading relationships (ISDA Master Agreements, Futures Customer Agreements, Master Securities Forward Transaction Agreements, etc.)

a. Example: Decline in Net Asset Value Provisions (Common in ISDAs)

i. Identify the trigger decline levels and time frames at which transactions under the agreement can be terminated (25% over a 1-month period – is that measured on a rolling basis or by reference to the prior month’s end?)

ii. Confirm whether all or only some transactions can be terminated (typically, it is all transactions)

iii. Identify the notice requirements that apply when a threshold is crossed

iv. Identify whether the agreement includes a “fish or cut bait clause” that restricts the ability of the other party to designate the termination of the transactions under the trading agreement

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.

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced enforcement actions against two robo-advisers, Wealthfront Advisors LLC (“Wealthfront”) and Hedgeable Inc. (“Hedgeable”), for making false statements about investment products and publishing misleading advertising. “Robo-advisers” are investment advisers that provide automated, software-based portfolio management services. In a press release related to these actions, the Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit stated that “[t]echnology is rapidly changing the way investment advisers are able to advertise and deliver their services to clients … [but] [r]egardless of their format … all advisers must take seriously their obligations to comply with the securities laws, which were put in place to protect investors.” These enforcement actions, the first by the SEC against robo-advisers, highlight the nuanced risks and requirements for robo-advisers under U.S. securities laws.

The following post gives an overview of the portfolio holding disclosure requirements contained in proposed Rule 6c-11 (“ETF Rule”). As further set forth below, the SEC is proposing full transparency of portfolio holdings and is not proposing to permit non-transparent or partially transparent ETFs (although they did request comment on the subject).

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed a new rule for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”). Proposed Rule 6c-11 (the “Proposed Rule”) would impose a more streamlined process for new ETFs, and create more standardized compliance requirements for existing ETFs. This is the first in a series of posts on the new Proposed Rule, its requirements, and next steps for the Proposed Rule.