In Andrew Cross and my series on Rule 18f-4, we noted that the SEC was rescinding Release 10666 and related no-action letters as of the compliance date for the rule (August 19, 2022). The release adopting 18f-4 also promised that the Division of Investment Management would review prior guidance and reconcile the guidance to the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post continues our assessment of whether the Limited Derivative User requirements of Rule 18f-4(c)(4) effectively and efficiently accomplish the SEC’s aim of providing “an objective standard to identify funds that use derivatives in a limited manner.” Here we question whether the “gross notional amount” of a derivatives transaction measures the means and consequences, rather than the extent, of its use.
Our last series of posts on Rule 18f-4 have struggled to understand how its Limited Derivatives User requirements are supposed to work. We have done the best we could to explain the process for calculating a fund’s derivatives exposure, including determining the gross notional amount of derivatives transactions and adjustments thereto, excluding closed-out positions and currency and interest-rate derivatives entered into for hedging purposes, and applying the “10% buffer” for these hedges. In this series of posts, we shift our perspective to assessing whether these requirements effectively and efficiently accomplish the SEC’s objectives.
As has been our practice in this series on new Rule 18f-4, we end our survey of its Limited Derivatives User requirements with a compliance checklist. This checklist reiterates much of our earlier post on Derivatives Exposure: Why It Matters And How To Calculate It, but provides more details and includes required…
This post will address another ambiguity in the “10% buffer” Rule 18f-4 provides for excluding the notional amount of derivative transactions that hedge currency or interest rate risks (“Hedging Derivatives”) when calculating the Derivatives Exposure of a Limited Derivatives User. The ambiguity is whether, once the notional amount of a Hedging Derivative exceeds the 10% buffer, a fund should add back to its Derivatives Exposure (a) the entire notional amount of the Hedging Derivative or (b) only the notional amount in excess of the 10% buffer. We chose answer (b) in our post on The 10% Buffer and Changes in Hedged Investments. This post explains why.