Articles Tagged with Investment Companies

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On January 11, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC announced its 2016 Examination Priorities (“Priorities”). To promote compliance, prevent fraud and identify market risk, OCIE examines investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, municipal advisors, transfer agents, clearing agencies, and other regulated entities. In 2016, OCIE will continue to rely on the SEC’s sophisticated data analytics tools to identify potential illegal activity.

This year, private fund advisers should pay attention to the following OCIE Priorities:

  • Side-by-side management of performance-based and asset-based fee accounts: controls and disclosure related to fees and expenses
  • Cybersecurity: testing and assessments of firms’ implementation of procedures and controls
  • High frequency trading: excessive or inappropriate trading
  • Liquidity controls: potentially illiquid fixed income securities – focus on controls over market risk management, valuation, liquidity management, trading activities
  • Marketing / Advertisements: new, complex, and high risk products, including potential breaches of fiduciary obligations
  • Compliance controls: focus on repeat offenders and those with disciplined employees

Highlights for other market participants:

  • Never-Before-Examined Investment Advisers and Investment Companies: focused, risk-based examinations will continue
  • Broker-Dealers:
    • Marketing / Advertisements: new, complex, and high risk products and related sales practices, including potential suitability issues
    • Fee selection / Reverse Churning: multiple fee arrangements – recommendations of account types, including suitability, fees charged, services provided, and disclosures
    • Market Manipulation: pump and dump; OTC quotes; excessive trading
    • Cybersecurity: testing and assessments of firms’ implementation of procedures and controls
    • Anti-Money Laundering: missed SARs filings; adequacy of independent testing; terrorist financing risks
    • Registered representatives in branch offices – focus on inappropriate trading
    • Retirement Accounts: suitability, conflicts of interest, supervision and compliance controls, and marketing and disclosure practices
  • Public Pension Advisers: pay to play, gifts and entertainment
  • Mutual Funds and ETFs: liquidity controls – potentially illiquid fixed income securities
  • Immigrant Investor Program: Regulation D and other private placement compliance

For additional details, visit the SEC’s Examination Priorities for 2016. Please call an Investment Funds and Investment Management Attorney to discuss your firm’s risk areas.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today proposed rules, forms and amendments to modernize and enhance the reporting and disclosure of information by investment advisers and investment companies.

Investment advisers. The investment adviser proposed rules would amend the investment adviser registration and reporting form (Form ADV), and Investment Advisers Act Rule 204-2. On Form ADV, the proposed rules would require investment advisers to provide additional information for the SEC and investors to better understand the risk profile of individual advisers and the industry. Investment advisers would be required to report, among other things, detailed information about their separately managed accounts, including assets under management and types of assets held in the accounts. The proposed amendments to Investment Advisers Act Rule 204-2 would require advisers to maintain records of performance calculations and communications related to performance.

Investment companies. The investment company proposed rules would enhance data reporting for mutual funds, ETFs and other registered investment companies.  The proposals would require a new monthly portfolio reporting form (Form N-PORT) and a new annual reporting form (Form N-CEN) that would require census-type information.  The information would be reported in a structured data format, which would allow the SEC and the public to better analyze the information.  The proposals would also require enhanced and standardized disclosures in financial statements, and would permit mutual funds and other investment companies to provide shareholder reports by making them accessible on a website.

Highlights of the investment adviser and investment company proposals are available HERE.

The SEC is requesting for comments which should be submitted to be received within 60 days from publication of the proposed rules in the Federal Register.

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In a February 2015 Guidance Update, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management (“SEC”), provided guidance on the acceptance of gifts or entertainment by fund advisory personnel under Section 17(e)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Act”). Section 17(e)(1) provides that any affiliated person of a registered investment company, or any affiliated person of such person acting as agent, is prohibited from receiving any compensation, outside of regular salary or wages, for the purchase or sale of any property to or for the registered company or any controlled company thereof. The SEC has found that gifts or entertainment meet the definition of “compensation” as it is used in Section 17(e)(1), and proof of any intended or actual influence is not required. Pursuant to Rule 38a-1 of the Act, a fund must implement written policies and procedure designed to prevent the fund and its service providers from violating securities laws. The Guidance Update suggests that the policies and procedures concerning the receipt of gifts or entertainment should be included in the fund’s compliance policies and procedures, though it defers to the fund to determine whether there should be an outright ban, or a type of pre-clearance to determine if the gift or entertainment would violate Section 17(e)(1).