U.S. Advisor Regulation

Our colleagues Kurt E. Linsenmayer and Cristopher D. Jones just issued an update on the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to change the standards for ERISA plan fiduciaries when evaluating investments or voting proxies. Their article discusses the proposed changes and their implications. The DOL’s proposal stands in stark contrast to the ESG-related rules adopted

Note: The following post originally appeared in Perkins Coie’s Public Chatter blog.

In the making for a long time, the SEC proposed rules yesterday that would change how mutual funds disclose their proxy voting – and would require institutional investors to disclose their say-on-pay voting records for the first time. Here’s the 174-page proposing release.
Continue Reading SEC Proposes Changes to How Funds Disclose How They Voted

The SEC’s Acting Chair, Commissioner Allison Herren Lee, was a vocal critic of the SEC’s approach to environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) matters under former Chair Jay Clayton. She voted against the SEC’s 2020 guidance and amendments to Regulation S-K because they did not go far enough in requiring disclosure from public companies about climate change and diversity metrics, noting that climate risk is a new type of systemic risk of “colossal and potentially irreversible risk of staggering complexity” and arguing that “it’s time to consider how to get investors the diversity information they need to allocate their capital wisely.”  “Consistent, reliable, and comparable disclosures of the risks and opportunities related to sustainability measures, particularly climate risk,” she said, is material information that investors need in their decision-making process.

The Statement on the Review of Climate-Related Disclosure from Commissioner Lee and the ESG Funds Investor Bulletin from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy released last week were thus not surprising. They were also likely only the first in a series of ESG-related actions to come from the SEC.
Continue Reading ESG at the SEC: Hints of More to Come

Last week the SEC adopted rule amendments to the definition of “accredited investor” under Regulation D (“Reg D”) of the Securities Act of 1933. The rule amendments, the SEC says, are intended to modernize a term that has not changed in nearly 40 years and to “more effectively identify institutional and individual investors that have the knowledge and expertise to participate in” today’s “multifaceted and vast private markets.”
Continue Reading Updated SEC Definition Opens Private Markets to (a Handful of) New Investors

On August 26, 2020, the SEC adopted amendments to update the definition of “accredited investor” in Rule 501(a) of the Securities Act, adding new categories of individuals who may qualify as accredited investors based on measures of knowledge, experience, or certifications, and expanding the list of entities that can qualify as accredited investors. The SEC

In an October 2019 update, we highlighted that the SEC’s attention to Rule 12b-1 fees for over 40 years, along with more recent initiatives, enforcement activities, and FAQs suggested that the Commission would likely continue to closely scrutinize investment advisers’ share class selection and related compensation practices at least for the foreseeable future.

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The Investor Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office (“IPB”) recently proposed a series of changes to its rules regulating broker-dealers. The proposal would require “finders” in New York to register as broker-dealers and pass broker-dealer examinations. In doing so, IPB would codify its regulation of finders in a manner similar to several other states.
Continue Reading New York State Proposes to Regulate “Finders” as Broker-Dealers

In a previous post we covered the April 14, 2020 statement from the SEC’s Division of Investment Management encouraging registered funds to assess and, as appropriate, update their prospectus risk disclosures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Dalia Blass, Director of the Division, has joined with the Chairman of the SEC, the PCAOB Chairman and others at the SEC to release a joint public statement discussing how Emerging Market Investments Entail Significant Disclosure, Financial Reporting and Other Risks; Remedies are Limited (the “Statement”).

The Statement highlights challenges that the SEC and the PCAOB continue to observe in emerging markets. Corporate data flow in emerging markets can be significantly limited for political and other reasons, which can impact the valuation and risk assessment of emerging market companies. The Statement reminds investment advisers and registered and private funds of their disclosure obligations generally, and posits key disclosure and other considerations around emerging market investments.
Continue Reading Emerging Markets Risks: Disclosure Considerations for Funds and Advisers

The SEC’s Division of Investment Management has posted Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response FAQs (the “FAQs”), which have been updated through April 14, 2020. The FAQs summarize and provide links to various forms of relief granted by the SEC and the Division to registered investment companies and investment advisers. A list of the questions addressed is provided below.
Continue Reading SEC Provides a Consolidated Reference for COVID-19 Relief for Investment Companies and Advisers

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued a risk alert to explain the focus of its upcoming examinations of broker-dealers when gauging their compliance with Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). In particular, OCIE will focus on reviewing broker-dealers’ policies and procedures relating to Reg BI. 

OCIE’s Reg BI examinations are scheduled to