The publication of the SEC’s re-proposed rules for regulating the use of derivatives by investment companies in the Federal Register provides an opportunity to continue our consideration of this proposal. The publication fixes the deadline for comments at March 24, 2020. The proposed classifications of how funds may use derivatives, the taxonomy of these funds if you will, provides a useful starting place for organizing our consideration of re-proposed Rule 18f-4.
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On January 27, 2020, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released observations on cybersecurity and resiliency (the “Observations”). In them, OCIE presented several key cybersecurity issues that industry participants should seek to address such as the construction and implementation of a comprehensive cybersecurity program, the prevention of unauthorized access to systems, the theft of information, responding to cyber incidents, and vendor management. In doing so, OCIE highlighted elements of successful cybersecurity efforts.
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The convergence of several events makes this an appropriate time to reassess the impact of the SEC’s 2014 money market fund reforms (the “Reforms”). First, the SEC has released official money market fund (“money fund”) statistics for October 2019, three years after the effective date of the Reforms. Second, total money fund assets are very near $4 trillion, just over $1 trillion higher than they were before the SEC adopted the reforms in July 2014. Third, prime money fund assets are back over $1 trillion. Finally, former Fed Chairman Volcker, an implacable opponent of money funds, recently passed away.

Money funds have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of zero interest rates, FSOC activism, and Chairman Volcker’s critiques. What else might we discern from the post-Reform state of money funds.


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In my initial post on the SEC’s reproposed rules for regulating the use of derivatives by investment companies (“funds”), I noted favorably that the regulations would extend beyond funds to registered broker/dealers and investment advisers. I think this reflects a more comprehensive, less piecemeal, approach to these proposed rules. I also appreciate the coordination of the Divisions of Investment Management and Trading and Markets in drafting the proposed rules.

There are other praiseworthy aspects of the general approach taken in developing the revised proposals. Chief among these is the SEC’s willingness to take a fresh look at the means of regulating the risks of derivatives usage. Historically, the SEC’s principal means for regulating these risks was to require funds to “segregate” liquid assets to cover a fund’s potential obligations for derivative transactions. The revised proposals would eliminate asset segregation in favor of more direct limits on potential volatility resulting from derivative transactions. Risks posed by payment or delivery obligations would represent just one, no longer paramount, component of a comprehensive risk management program.


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The Wall Street Journal reported on November 21, 2019, that the Federal Reserve is considering whether to begin examining data storage technology service providers (“TSPs”) of the banks that it regulates.  While financial regulators have long scrutinized TSPs generally, this report indicates a new interest by a federal regulator in direct oversight of TSPs, particularly those that provide data storage on media such as the cloud.
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We previously explored the treatment of “leveraged/inverse investment vehicles” under SEC’s reproposal for regulating how funds  use derivatives in compliance with Section 18 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (proposed Rule 18f-4), and related proposed Rule 15l-2 under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 211h-1 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. In this post we consider the options available to retail investors for leveraged trading and whether a more consistent approach may make sense.
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We are still digesting the SEC’s reproposal for regulating how mutual funds, ETFs, closed-end funds and BDCs (“funds”) may use derivatives in compliance with Section 18 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (proposed Rule 18f-4), but one surprising aspect is proposed Rule 15l-2 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. As explained more fully below, Rule 15l-2 would increase the due diligence required before a broker/dealer permits a customer to trade in “leveraged/inverse investment vehicles.” Including this rule in the proposal required the cooperation of both the Trading and Markets and Investment Management Divisions of the SEC. There is even a parallel rule proposed for investment advisers (proposed Rule 211h‑1). This shows that the SEC is taking a more comprehensive view of the SEC’s authority over the use of leverage in securities trading.

Although we find this non-compartmentalized approach heartening, we think that more could be done to fully deploy the SEC’s powers in this area. We even dare to suggest that, having avoided silos within itself, the SEC might try to work with the Fed to better rationalize regulation of leverage in the financial system.


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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.
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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.
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