Category: U.S. Advisor Regulation

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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

Family Offices and the Madness of Crowdsales

Recently, I have had an opportunity to review many “tokens” that can be transferred over the Ethereum blockchain and used for various “smart contracts.” Depending on their facts and circumstances, certain kinds of tokens being sold in so-called “initial coin offerings” were the subject of a recent SEC Section 21(a) report. I have also seen correspondence … 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

SEC Chairman Nominee Jay Clayton Provides Insight on the Future of the SEC (Part 1)

For those eager to learn what direction the SEC will take during the Trump administration, some clues surfaced during the recent nomination hearing of Jay Clayton, President Trump’s pick to head the SEC.  Clayton commented on several important issues confronting the SEC.… Continue Reading

As Fintech Platforms Grow Up, Investment Management Firms Face the ‘Problems of Tomorrow’

Read our new article in The Investment Lawyer to learn more about the legal and regulatory implications of emerging technologies, including blockchain and digital ledger technology, investing in fintech companies, robo-advisers and algorithms, and cybersecurity.… Continue Reading

Segregating Custody of Family Office Assets

Our previous post discussed how a family office registered as an investment adviser (RIA) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act) might underestimate the scope of its custody of family assets for purposes of Rule 206(4)‑2. The problem is that the rule’s definition of custody extends to all funds and securities an RIA … Continue Reading

Custody Pitfalls for Family Offices

The staff of the Division of Investment Management (IM) recently issued a flurry of interpretive guidance regarding when advisers are deemed to have custody of their clients’ funds and securities. The guidance covers transfers among a client’s custodial accounts, standing letters of instruction to a custodian, and inadvertent custody under the client’s custodial agreement. The … Continue Reading

SEC Enforces Campaign Contributions Rule

Yesterday, the SEC announced a number of political contribution-related settlements with investment advisers, both registered and exempt.  As background, Rule 206(4)-5 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 limits the size of political contributions that certain personnel of an investment adviser may make to state and local officials, among other things.  Specifically, limits apply to … 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

SEC Enforcement Staff Touts Year of Firsts and Big Data

Last week, at the Securities Enforcement Forum in Washington, DC, senior staff of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement shed light on risks that asset managers and fund boards should be aware of.  Their comments followed a record enforcement year resulting in more than $4 billion in disgorgement and penalties.  Fueled in part by data collection … Continue Reading

Update for September 1 Fund Subscriptions: New “Qualified Client” Standard

Effective August 15, 2016 for SEC-registered investment advisers, most funds or separate accounts that are subject to a performance fee or allocation need to raise their “qualified client” net worth threshold for new investors, new investments from existing investors, or new separate account agreements, from $2 million to $2.1 million.  Other thresholds (such as the … Continue Reading

Should Failure to Plan Constitute Fraud?

I have spoken for years about the importance of contingency planning for money market funds. So I understand why business continuity and transition planning is a great idea for investment advisers. I’m troubled, however, by the SEC’s recent proposal to require advisers to maintain such plans. My troubles lie more with their means than with … Continue Reading
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