Category: U.S. Advisor Regulation

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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

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

SEC Staff Puts a Bow on Gifts from Christmas 2015 Legislation

Late last fall, Congress faced a serious crisis in trying to pass a comprehensive transportation bill, designated as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.  Amendments to various Federal securities and banking laws were added to the FAST Act during the reconciliation process. These amendments had not been the subjects of serious hearings in either … Continue Reading

Will the Department of Labor (DOL) Add to the Fiduciary Murk?

A recent Majority Staff Report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs raises some concerns. Some of my concerns relate to the state of our federal government. (Should congressional staff spend time composing philippics against an executive department? Does the prospect of exposure of inter-agency emails have a chilling effect on communications? Why … Continue Reading

Federalism, Regulatory Assets under Management (“RAUM”), and Voluntary Registration with the SEC as an Investment Adviser — Part Three

Parts One and Two of this series identified the serious consequences of registering as an investment adviser with the SEC when you don’t have the regulatory assets under management (“RAUM”) required for registration by the Investment Advisers Act. This part discusses the problem of calculating RAUM when you manage portfolios that mix securities and derivatives. … Continue Reading

Welcoming “Finders” in from the Cold in California

As of January 1, 2016, a person defined as a “finder” will become exempt from the broker-dealer provisions of the California Securities Law of 1968, as amended. Under that law, the Commissioner of Business Oversight regulates the activities of broker-dealers. Assembly Bill No. 667, Section 25206.1 will exempt a “finder” from registration with the Commissioner … Continue Reading

Can a Family Office Client Ever Cease to be a “Client;” Can a Non-Family Third Party Ever Become a “Client” of a Family Office?

The Family Office Rule states that a family office cannot have any clients other than family clients. The term “family client” is defined in paragraph (d)(4) of the Family Office Rule to include any family member, any key employee, certain non-profit organizations, certain irrevocable and revocable trusts, and certain wholly-owned companies, all as set forth … Continue Reading

Federalism, Regulatory Assets under Management (“RAUM”), and Voluntary Registration with the SEC as an Investment Adviser — Part Two

My initial post examined the risk of miscalculating regulatory assets under management (“RAUM”) for purposes of registering with the SEC as an investment adviser. This post shows that the SEC is highly motivated to bring reasonably punitive enforcement proceedings against investment advisers that “voluntarily” register with the SEC instead of with the appropriate state.… Continue Reading

Federalism, Regulatory Assets under Management (“RAUM”), and Voluntary Registration with the SEC as an Investment Adviser — Part One

As a matter of Federalism, Congress cannot require the several states to adopt laws regulating investment advisers, but it can prohibit “small” investment advisers from registering with the SEC unless they have a sufficient amount of RAUM. For the last two decades, Congress has been slowly but continuously removing “small” investment advisers from the SEC’s … Continue Reading

SEC Division of IM Issues Guidance Update on Personal Securities Transactions

On June 26th, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management issued IM Guidance Update No. 2015-03 titled, “Personal Securities Transactions Reports by Registered Investment Advisers: Securities Held In Accounts Over Which Reporting Persons Had No Information or Control.”  As its name suggests, the update deals with the reporting exception in subsection (b)(3)(i) of … Continue Reading

Investment Advisers Act Compliance Developments in 2015

The year 2015 is shaping up to have an unusual focus on the center of that string of relationships tracing the path from end-investor to asset class — that is, the nuts and bolts of asset management “operations.”  Click here to read my recent article about key operations-oriented compliance developments for investment advisers in 2015.… Continue Reading
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