On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a settlement order with a firm providing digital investment advice that claimed to operate in compliance with Islamic Shari’ah law (the Robo-Adviser). The SEC’s titling of its own press release, “SEC Charges Robo-Adviser with Misleading Clients,” highlights the SEC’s continued focus on both robo-advisers since the Division of Examination’s November 2021 Risk Alert and the accuracy of fund and adviser communications around investment services based on norms, such as Sharia’ah law, and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors since the Division’s April 2021 Risk Alert. Continue Reading Enforcement Settlement With Shari’ah-Compliant Robo-Adviser Highlights SEC Priorities
This is the fourth in my series of posts analyzing the SEC’s recent proposal to require money market funds with floating share prices (“institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing” for pricing periods in which the fund has net redemptions. This post continues the example from the previous post to illustrate how the proposal would address net redemptions exceeding the market impact threshold. Continue Reading An Illustration of Swing Pricing with Market Impact Factors
This is the third in my series of posts analyzing the SEC’s recent proposal to require money market funds with floating share prices (“institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing” for pricing periods in which the fund has net redemptions. This post illustrates how the proposal would operate when market impact factors are not required. Readers should refer to the first post for an explanation of the proposed swing pricing process and the second post for an explanation of how a swing price should be calculated. Continue Reading An Illustration of Swing Pricing without a Market Impact Factor
This is my second attempt at the second in my series of posts analyzing the SEC’s recent proposal to require money market funds with floating share prices (“institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing” for pricing periods in which the fund has net redemptions. I removed some earlier posts because I am less sure how to interpret the proposed definition of a “swing factor.” This post explores the disparity between the proposed definition of a “swing factor” and the discussion of swing pricing in the proposing release. Continue Reading Taking Another Swing at Swing Pricing
On December 15, 2021, the SEC proposed amendments to the regulation (Rule 2a-7) governing money market funds.
The proposed amendments are intended to reduce run risk, mitigate the liquidity externalities transacting investors impose on non-transacting investors, and enhance the resilience of money market funds.”
The proposing release has not yet been published in the Federal Register, so we do not know when the sixty-day comment period will begin.
The most significant proposals would (1) eliminate the power of a money market fund’s board of directors or trustees (its “Board”) to temporarily suspend, or impose liquidity fees on, redemptions and (2) require money market funds with fluctuating net asset values per share (known as “institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing.” This post explains this swing pricing proposal. Continue Reading Swing Pricing for Institutional Money Market Funds—What Is Proposed
This post will bring to a close, for now, our survey of the requirements of new Rule 18f-4, which investment companies must comply with by August 19, 2022. This post considers whether a Chief Compliance or Risk Officer should seek to treat some or all of their funds as Limited Derivatives Users and how that choice, in turn, relates to the decision about whether to treat reverse repurchase agreements as derivatives transactions. But first, we review the compliance procedures required by Rule 18f-4 for (nearly) every fund. We also provide links to compliance checklists provided in earlier posts. Continue Reading Rule 18f-4 Wrap-Up
As with Fund-of-Funds, the release adopting Rule 18f-4 (the “Adopting Release”) devotes a section to sub-advised funds. We again consider three types of funds:
- VaR Funds in which a sub-adviser manages their entire portfolio (“Single Sub-Adviser Funds”);
- VaR Funds in which one or more sub-advisers manage a portion or “sleeve” of their portfolio (“Sleeve Funds”); and
- Sub-advised funds that seek to qualify as Limited Derivatives Users.
The Adopting Release discusses the first two circumstances but is silent on the third. Continue Reading Compliance with Rule 18f-4 by a Sub-Advised Fund
The release adopting Rule 18f-4 (the “Adopting Release”) devotes an entire section to discussing how “a fund that invests in other registered investment companies (‘underlying funds’)” should comply with the value-at-risk (“VaR”) requirements of the rule. This post considers three circumstances in which a fund investing in underlying funds:
- Does not invest in any derivatives transactions (a “Non-User Fund-of-Funds”);
- Allows its derivatives exposure to exceed 10% of its net assets (a “VaR Fund-of-Funds”) ; and
- Limits its derivatives exposure to 10% of its net assets (a “Limited Derivatives User Fund-of-Funds”).
We use the term “Fund-of-Funds” for convenience, meaning to include funds that hold both direct investments and underlying funds in compliance with Rule 12d1-4 or other exemptions. Continue Reading Compliance with Rule 18f-4 by a Fund-of-Funds
In our extensive examination of the requirements for Limited Derivatives Users under Rule 18f‑4(c)(4) we have tried to be conscientious in pointing out matters open to interpretation. While we have not been shy about arguing for interpretations that would reduce a fund’s derivatives exposure and thus ease compliance with these requirements, we acknowledge that these are just our informed opinions. Absent guidance from the SEC staff, chief compliance officers and counsel to fund directors and trustees will need to consider these matters and reach their own conclusions.
This post wraps up our examination of the Limited Derivatives User requirements with a list of these interpretive questions. While we are sure it is incomplete, at least it provides a starting point for consideration. Continue Reading A Limited Derivatives User Punch List
Our last post explained why the Limited Derivatives User provisions of Rule 18f‑4(c)(4) may not “provide [the] objective standard to identify funds that use derivatives in a limited manner” anticipated by the SEC. Inconsistencies in methods of determining the notional amounts of derivatives transactions may cause funds that use such transactions in the same manner and to the same extent to be treated differently under the rule. The previous post also questioned whether requiring Limited Derivatives Users to perform the complex calculations required to determine their derivatives exposure each day might “incur costs and bear compliance burdens that may be disproportionate to the resulting benefits.”
This post points out some alternatives that would address our concerns, although it may be too late to implement one of them. Continue Reading Improving the Limited Derivatives User Provisions of Rule 18f-4