Category: Registered Investment Companies

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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

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

Distribution in Guise Settlement Orders Reinforce Need for Better Compliance, Contracting, and Disclosure Practices (Part 2)

This post continues our discussion of the settlement orders that the SEC recently entered into with investment advisory firms based in Chicago (the “First Order”) and Maryland (the “Second Order”).  These cases illustrate that the SEC remains focused on mutual fund distribution issues and teach some hard lessons about the importance of compliance oversight, contracting, and … Continue Reading

Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 3)

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. Section 848 of the pending Financial Choice Act 2017 would attempt to accelerate the process of obtaining exemptive orders by forcing the SEC … Continue Reading

Distribution in Guise Settlement Orders Reinforce Need for Better Compliance, Contracting, and Disclosure Practices (Part 1)

In two back-to-back enforcement cases arising from the SEC’s now four-year old distribution sweep exam, a Chicago-based mutual fund adviser has agreed to a $4.5 million civil money penalty and a Maryland-based firm has agreed to pay disgorgement of $17.8 million plus $3.8 million in interest and a $1 million penalty.  Both cases reinforce the … Continue Reading

Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 2)

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. Section 848 of the pending Financial Choice Act 2017 would attempt to accelerate the process of obtaining exemptive orders by forcing the SEC … Continue Reading

Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 1)

Most observers of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“1940 Act”) would agree that, (i) without the exemptive authority in Section 6(c), Section 17(b), and in other provisions in the 1940 Act and (ii) without the manner in which the SEC and its staff have used that authority, the 1940 Act would have become obsolete … Continue Reading

“Odd Lots” and Valuation Déjà Vu–Part 2

In the first part of this post, I explained how trading odd lot MBS can create the same valuation issue as trading PIPEs. I also touched on some important differences between MBS and PIPEs. In this part, I’ll examine why these differences may make the valuation of odd lot MBS more problematic than the valuation … Continue Reading

“Odd Lots” and Valuation Déjà Vu–Part 1

The SEC’s recent settlement (the “Order”) with Pacific Investment Management Company (“PIMCO”) reflects a new twist on an old issue: buying securities at bargain prices and then marking them up when calculating NAVs. The SEC first addressed this issue in 1969 in the context of what we now refer to as “PIPEs.” The first part … Continue Reading

SEC Staff and Chair Talk Examination Priorities (For the Time Being At Least)

Speaking at a compliance workshop sponsored by the Investment Adviser Association held in Atlanta on November 10, 2016, Bill Royer, Associate Director of the SEC examination program in the Atlanta Regional Office of the SEC laid out the priorities that he expected the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination (OCIE) to focus on in … Continue Reading

Release 10666 and the Problem of Swaps

 In an earlier post, I noted that Release No. IC-10666 was issued before interest rate swaps were invented. This may have been unfortunate, because swaps present unique challenges to Release 10666’s approach to asset segregation. I believe that difficulty with applying Release 10666 to swaps has contributed to inconsistency in the segregation requirements for different derivatives. Swaps: … Continue Reading

Should Asset Segregation Do Double Duty?

I’ve been discussing comments on the SEC’s proposed Rule 18f-4 in light of the SEC’s initial regulation of derivatives in Release No. IC-10666 (“Release 10666”). As explained in my first post, the objectives of the proposed rule include limiting the “speculative character” of funds that use derivatives and assuring they have sufficient assets to cover … Continue Reading

10666 and All That

[Click here for the obscure title reference.] Release No. IC-10666 (“Release 10666”), issued in 1979 under the direction of my partner Marty Lybecker, was the starting point for the SEC’s regulation of derivatives under Section 18 of the Investment Company Act. This release would provide the basis for proposed Rule 18f‑4’s regulation of “financial commitment transactions.” Many … Continue Reading

Could the Use of Derivatives Create a “Toxic Brew?”

This post continues my consideration of some conceptual questions underlying the SEC’s proposed Rule 18f-4. The following comment on the proposal caught my attention: Congress is stating [in Section 1(b) of the Investment Company Act] that there is a problem when leverage unduly increases the “speculative character” (what we now call risk) of the investments. This … Continue Reading

Limitations on the Limitation of Leverage in Investment Companies

A CLE presentation gave me an excuse to read many of the comment letters regarding the SEC’s proposed Rule 18f-4, which would regulate the amount of “senior security transactions” in which an investment company could engage. I filed a personal comment letter responding to the SEC’s initial concept release in 2011. The proposed rule and … Continue Reading

Are There Still Such Things as Restricted Securities? —Part One

Rule 6-03(f) of Regulation S-X requires investment companies to make specific disclosures regarding any investments in “restricted securities,” defined as “securities which cannot be offered for public sale without first being registered under the Securities Act of 1933 [the “1933 Act”].” The recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expands the ability to sell … Continue Reading

Fund Boards and Advisers Called to Action by SEC “Distribution in Guise” Update – Part Two

This post continues my discussion of the IM Guidance Update released on January 6, 2016, in which the SEC staff urges boards to consider the following factors in meeting the staff’s expectations of boards, vis-à-vis Rule 12b-1 and Rule 38a-1, in overseeing the use of fund assets to cover what the staff has dubbed “Sub-Accounting … Continue Reading

Fund Boards and Advisers Called to Action by SEC “Distribution in Guise” Update – Part One

Since the SEC’s mutual fund distribution sweep examination began in 2013, the industry has become increasingly focused on the various types of payments made to intermediaries selling fund shares and providing services to shareholders.  Fund assets may, of course, be used to compensate intermediaries for marketing and other distribution-related costs, including “shelf space” on sales … Continue Reading

Two Regulatory Implications of the SEC’s Crowdfunding Release

On October 30th, the SEC adopted their Crowdfunding rules and the adopting release became available on October 31st, commonly referred to as Halloween.  There are two interesting regulatory decisions in that 686 page release, both of which could be described with one or the other of the customary child’s cautionary warning when you answer your front … Continue Reading

Liquidity: An Afterthought to the Investment Company Act

SEC Commissioner Kara Stein gave a thoughtful speech at the Brookings Institution the other day, identifying some urgent questions regarding mutual fund regulation. I am simpatico with many of the views expressed in her speech. But I cringed when she referred to liquidity as “a foundational principle of the Investment Company Act since its inception.” Far … Continue Reading
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