In recognition of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Division of Investment Management (the “Division”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) will require interested persons to submit written hearing requests for filed exemptive applications by sending an e-mail to the SEC’s Secretary at Secretarys-Office@sec.gov rather than sending a request to the SEC by physical mail. The Division will reflect this e-mail requirement in forthcoming notices. In addition, the Division is offering applicants the option to provide an e-mail address to be included in the SEC’s notice of their application so that interested persons may serve applicants by e-mail (instead of by mail or personally).
Continue Reading The Division of Investment Management Responds to COVID-19’s Impact on Requests for Hearings on Exemptive Applications

On March 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a relief order (the “Order”) granting temporary short-term lending and borrowing flexibility to open-end funds and insurance company separate accounts (each, a “fund”) to assist such funds in dealing with market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order temporarily permits a fund to borrow from its affiliated persons. It also expands such fund’s flexibility for lending or borrowing under an existing interfund lending exemptive order (“IFL Order”); a fund without an IFL Order will be permitted to participate in an interfund lending arrangement under similar conditions. Lastly, a fund may temporarily engage in borrowing or lending arrangements that may deviate from its fundamental investment policies. The Order covers transactions involving second-tier affiliated persons as well (first and second tier affiliated persons are referred to as “fund affiliates”).

This temporary relief is in effect until at least June 30, 2020. After the effective period, funds will have two weeks to cease activities carried out in reliance on the Order, once the SEC issues a public notice terminating the Order. Before relying on this temporary relief, a fund will need to comply with the various conditions in the Order.
Continue Reading SEC Grants Mutual Funds Short-Term Borrowing/Lending Relief in Response to COVID-19

In our previous posts, we reviewed the new Rule 6c-11 (the “ETF Rule”) from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which provides relief to exchange traded funds (“ETFs”). The SEC also issued a complementary exemptive order (the “ETF Exemptive Order”) primarily providing relief to broker-dealers that distribute ETFs. ETFs distribute their shares by issuing a block of shares (known as a “creation unit”) to certain broker-dealers (referred to as “Authorized Participants”) in exchange for a basket of the ETF’s underlying securities. Authorized Participants then sell these ETF shares on exchanges. Only Authorized Participants may redeem the ETF’s shares for the basket of underlying securities (or the cash equivalent) and only in amounts corresponding to a creation unit. This process could cause Authorized Participants and ETFs to run afoul of the provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) discussed below.
Continue Reading The SEC Issues its Long-Awaited ETF Rule (Part 3) – The ETF Exemptive Order

In a previous post, we outlined the scope of new Rule 6c-11 (the “ETF Rule”) which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved on September 26, 2019. In this post, we identify some conditions currently required in ETF exemptive orders that were not included in the ETF Rule.
Continue Reading The SEC Issues its Long-Awaited ETF Rule (Part 2) – What was Omitted

On September 26, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) unanimously approved a long-awaited rule regulating exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”). Previously, ETFs were required to obtain exemptive orders from the SEC, a time consuming and expensive process. New Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “ETF Rule”) streamlines the process for launching some ETFs and standardizes the compliance requirements for existing ETFs.

The ETF Rule goes into effect sixty days after it appears in the Federal Register, which has yet to occur as of this post. One year following its effective date, the SEC will rescind the exemptive orders for any existing ETF that falls within the scope of the ETF Rule.
Continue Reading The SEC Issues its Long-Awaited ETF Rule (Part 1) – What Made the Cut

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 (the “1940 Act”). My first three posts discussed the current exemptive process and some of its significant shortcomings. This post discusses the changes to the process proposed in Section 848 of the pending Financial Choice Act of 2017 and why these proposed changes would undermine investor protections provided by the 1940 Act. It is difficult to overstate what bad public policy Section 848 represents.


Continue Reading Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 4)

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 Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 3)

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 Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 2)

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 Section 848 of the Financial Choice Act 2017: Unwise at any Speed (Part 1)