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 to grant or deny an exemptive application within a fixed time frame. My first post discussed the current process of obtaining an exemptive order. This post examines a problem overlooked by proposed Section 848, perhaps due to the Committee’s limited understanding of the exemptive process. Continue Reading
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 importance of compliance oversight, contracting, and disclosure around distribution and sub-transfer agency (“sub-TA”) payments. This post will review the findings in each case (which the firms neither admitted nor denied). A subsequent post will recommend steps to mitigate the risk of improper distribution payments. Continue Reading
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 to grant or deny an exemptive application within a fixed time frame. My prior post discussed the current process of obtaining an exemptive order. This post examines the problem at which Section 848 appears to be aimed. A later post will explain why it misses its mark. Continue Reading
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 insofar as it would not have been possible to adapt it to some of the most popular financial products developed during the last 40 years. It is also true that the process for obtaining exemptive orders is far from perfect and has proven to be frustrating on more than one occasion. Presumably, these frustrations motivated a proposed “reform” to the exemptive application process as part of the pending Financial Choice Act 2017. Specifically, Section 848 would attempt to accelerate the process of obtaining exemptions by forcing the SEC to grant or deny an exemptive application within a fixed time frame. This proposal: (a) does not reflect a sophisticated understanding of the process it seeks to change and, therefore, (b) fails to identify the actual problems with the process, so that Section 848 would almost certainly (c) result in superficial changes at best and at worst seriously undermine the protections the 1940 Act provides to shareholders of investment companies. This series of posts will consider each of these points, before recommending more appropriate changes to the processes of obtaining exemptions. Continue Reading
This post continues our summary of the testimony of Jay Clayton, President Trump’s pick to head the SEC, at his recent nomination hearing before the Senate. Clayton commented on several important issues confronting the SEC. Continue Reading
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
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.
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 has the power to withdraw, even those not held for investment. This post considers how a family office with sufficient personnel to independently staff its RIA can limit the scope of funds and securities subject to Rule 206(4)‑2. Continue Reading
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 guidance does not affect family offices exempted from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act) by Rule 202(a)(11)(G)‑1. The guidance also does not address issues commonly faced by family offices that must register under the Advisers Act.
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 contributions to officials or candidates (such as a Governor or State Treasurer) who can influence the investment decisions of public institutional investors (such as state employee pension plans) that are clients of the adviser or invest in the adviser’s funds. If the relevant contribution threshold is breached, an adviser is prohibited from accepting compensation from the specific public investor for a two-year period. A quick summary of the settlements appears in the table below. Continue Reading