Category: Compliance

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OCIE Announces Risk-Based Exam Initiatives for Mutual Funds—Part 2

My first post discussed the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination’s (“OCIE’s”) recent Risk Alert (the “Alert”) and specific fund categories in its crosshairs. This post will cover the three remaining fund categories and general examination issues identified by OCIE in the Alert.… Continue Reading

OCIE Announces Risk-Based Exam Initiatives for Mutual Funds—Part 1

Recently, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert (the “Alert”) identifying six categories of mutual funds and mutual fund advisers it plans to examine: (i) index funds tracking custom-built indexes; (ii) smaller and thinly-traded exchange traded funds (“ETFs”); (iii) funds with aberrational underperformance relative to their peers; (iv) funds with higher allocations to securitized … Continue Reading

2018 Recap: Tokens, Coins, Cryptocurrencies, and Other Digital Assets under the Federal Securities Laws

This post continues my recap of where things stand regarding the treatment of tokens, coins, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets under the federal securities laws. My prior post discussed actions and statements made by the SEC in 2017. This post reviews significant enforcement actions and statements this year prior to the recent Coburn enforcement action.… Continue Reading

2017 Recap: Tokens, Coins, Cryptocurrencies, and Other Digital Assets under the Federal Securities Laws – Facts and Circumstances

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) recent action against a digital trading platform illustrates the continued uncertainty surrounding the treatment of tokens, coins, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets under the federal securities laws. Senior SEC officials have expressed concern that a significant amount of activity in this industry may not comply with federal securities laws … Continue Reading

EtherDelta Founder Sanctioned for Operating an Unregistered Securities Exchange

On November 8, the SEC announced an enforcement action charging the founder of a digital “token” trading platform for operating as an unregistered national securities exchange. The SEC has previously brought enforcement actions relating to unregistered broker-dealers and unregistered ICOs, including some of the tokens traded on EtherDelta. Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Warns About Cash Solicitation Rule Compliance

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 … Continue Reading

ETF Proposed Rule: Portfolio Holding Transparency

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).… Continue Reading

Why Blockchain Custody Is So Difficult—Paths Forward?

In the first post on this topic, we provided a simple answer to a question posed by the Director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management (the “Division”): 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 … Continue Reading

Why Blockchain Custody Is So Difficult—A Hard Part

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 … Continue Reading

PROPOSED ETF RULE: AN OVERVIEW

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, … Continue Reading

Why Blockchain Custody Is So Difficult—The Simple Part

“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 … Continue Reading

Best Interest or Disinterest—How Should We Label the Duties of an Investment Adviser?

At lunch with my broker the other day (my tab naturally), I asked the waiter for a hamburger and soda, but my broker interjected and told him to bring me a kale salad, no dressing, and a carrot and beet smoothie. “I’m supposed to look after your best interest,” my broker said, “and you’re clearly … Continue Reading

The SEC’s Fiduciary Rule Proposal — Implications for Investment Advisers (Part 4)

Welcome back for Part 4, the final installment in our discussion of the SEC’s April 18, 2018 fiduciary rulemaking proposal (the “Proposal”). We will summarize the SEC’s proposed Regulation Best Interest (“Regulation BI”), which seeks to create a “best interest” fiduciary duty standard for broker‑dealer relationships with retail customers. We will then delve into some … Continue Reading

The SEC’s Fiduciary Rule Proposal — Implications for Investment Advisers (Part 3)

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.… Continue Reading

The SEC’s Fiduciary Rule Proposal — Implications for Investment Advisers (Part 2)

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 … Continue Reading

The SEC’s Fiduciary Rule Proposal – Implications for Investment Advisers (Part 1)

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 … Continue Reading

Ask and Ye Shall Receive: OCIE’s 2018 Examination Priorities – Part 1 of 2

Industry professionals have noted that the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination (“OCIE”) was tardy in releasing their priorities list, although recent speeches from SEC officials have provided a preview of the issues in OCIE’s crosshairs. The full priority list was released on February 7. The SEC’s examination priorities identify practices, products and services … Continue Reading

SEC Investment Management, Rulemaking and Enforcement Staff Outline Road Ahead

This post summarizes significant statements made by the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at the December 7, 2017, ICI Securities Law Developments Conference. In her keynote address to the Conference, the Director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management (the “Division”), Dalia Blass, revealed that the Division plans to take a fresh … Continue Reading

SEC Offers More Guidance on Cybersecurity Best Practices and Pitfalls – Part 2 of 2

This post continues our discussion of the Risk Alert released on August 7, 2017, by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) regarding conclusions drawn from its yearlong review of the cybersecurity practices of 75 asset management firms and funds.  The sweep, deemed OCIE’s Cybersecurity 2 Initiative, covered broker-dealer, investment adviser, and investment … Continue Reading

SEC Offers More Guidance on Cybersecurity Best Practices and Pitfalls – Part 1 of 2

On August 7, 2017, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) released a Risk Alert summarizing its conclusions from a year-long review of the cybersecurity practices of a 75 firms — including broker-dealers, investment advisers and investment companies.  The sweep, OCIE’s Cybersecurity 2 Initiative, ran from September 2015 to June 2016 and covered … Continue Reading

The Financial Choice Act Aims to Help Angel Investors

The proper treatment of angel investing groups under the Federal securities laws can be a vexing question. If it were appropriate to describe the angel investing group as a “company” as defined in Section 2(a)(8) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, and if the “company” were appropriately viewed as issuing interests or shares, then … Continue Reading

Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Conclusion)

This series of posts has examined the misguided efforts of the House Financial Services Committee to reform the existing process for issuing exemptive orders pursuant to Section 6(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). The previous posts discussed the problems with the current process and why Section 848 of the pending … Continue Reading

Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 4)

This series of posts examines the misguided efforts of the House Financial Services Committee to reform the existing process for issuing exemptive orders pursuant to Section 6(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). My first three posts discussed the current exemptive process and some of its significant shortcomings. This post discusses the … Continue Reading
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