Articles Posted in Private Funds

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Most 3(c)(1) private equity and hedge funds are impacted; exempt venture capital funds are not impacted.

Effective August 16, 2021, the dollar thresholds specified in the definition of “qualified client” under Rule 205-3 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”) will increase (i) from $2.1 million to $2.2 million (net worth test) and (ii) from $1 million to $1.1 million (assets under management (AUM) test).  Clients that enter into investment advisory agreements (and existing fund investors that make additional fund investments) in reliance on the net worth test prior to the effective date will be “grandfathered” in under the prior net worth threshold.  The increases are made pursuant to a five-year inflation adjustment required by section 205(e) of the Advisers Act (section 419 of the Dodd-Frank Act).  (The most recent prior change was effective August 15, 2016.)

Section 205(a)(1) of the Advisers Act generally restricts an investment adviser from entering into, extending, renewing, or performing any investment advisory contract that provides for compensation to the adviser based on a share of capital gains on, or capital appreciation of, the funds of a client (“performance compensation prohibition”).  Rule 205-3 of the Advisers Act provides a limited exemption from the performance compensation prohibition and permits investment advisers to receive performance-based compensation (incentive allocations, carry, carried interest, performance fee etc.) from “qualified clients.”

After August 16, a “qualified client” is a person that:

(i) has at least $1.1 million in assets under management with the investment adviser immediately after entering into the advisory contract (AUM test); or

(ii) has a net worth (in the case of a natural person client, together with assets held jointly with a spouse) that the investment adviser reasonably believes is in excess of $2.2 million immediately prior to entering into the advisory contract (net worth test).

As a reminder, the value of a natural person’s primary residence must not be included in net worth; indebtedness secured by the person’s primary residence, up to the estimated fair market value of the primary residence at the time the investment advisory contract is entered into, need not be counted as a liability toward net worth (except that debt acquired or a loan amount increased within 60 days before investment or contract execution date must be counted); and indebtedness that is secured by the person’s primary residence in excess of the estimated fair market value of the residence also must be counted as a liability.

A qualified client also includes both a “qualified purchaser” as defined in section 2(a)(51)(A) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), and an investment adviser’s “knowledgeable employees.”  The newly revised definition will, therefore, affect certain private investment funds that rely on Section 3(c)(1) of the Investment Company Act (but not those funds relying on Section 3(c)(7)) and separately managed accounts that charge performance fees.

Advisory clients that established an advisory relationship (signed a contract) before the effective date of the new thresholds will be “grandfathered” in under the prior net worth threshold.  Investors in a private fund are considered, for these purposes, a client of the adviser (fund manager).  Therefore, future investments in a fund by the same investor who first invested in that fund before August 16 also will be grandfathered at the prior dollar thresholds. However, managers of section 3(c)(1) funds should update their subscription agreements and other offering documents to reflect the new qualified client threshold for new investors who first invest after August 16, 2021. In addition, notably, existing investors in a 3(c)(1) fund of funds (investor fund) that first invests in a 3(c)(1) fund (investee fund) after the effectiveness of a new threshold would nevertheless each have to be qualified client under the new thresholds because the investor fund’s investment in the investee fund would count as a new advisory relationship.

Private fund advisers (hedge fund, private equity and venture capital fund managers) that rely on the federal ‘private fund adviser” exemption from investment adviser registration will not be impacted, including with respect to their 3(c)(1) funds. The Adviser’s Act performance compensation prohibition applies only to registered investment advisers but does not apply to investment advisers relying on the federal private fund adviser exemption (so called “exempt reporting advisers”). Certain states (e.g., California, Texas), however, mandate under their state equivalent private fund adviser exemptions that even exempt reporting advisers, other than exempt venture capital fund advisers, only charge a performance fee to qualified clients with respect to their 3(c)(1) funds. Therefore, while private fund advisers that qualify as “venture capital fund advisers” will not be impacted by the new qualified client thresholds, exempt reporting advisers that are private equity or hedge fund managers will have to comply with the qualified client standard in their 3(c)(1) funds under certain state laws.

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Please contact your attorney at Pillsbury’s Investment Funds Group for additional information.

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Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it had finalized reforms under the Investment Advisers Act to modernize rules that govern investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors. The amendments create a single rule that replaces the current advertising and cash solicitation rules. The final rule is designed to comprehensively and efficiently regulate investment advisers’ marketing communications.

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We urge our clients to consult Pillsbury’s comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Center for information regarding Responding to a Global Crisis, Business Interruption, Cybersecurity, Employer Concerns and other general matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recommend the following specific measures to mitigate risks of business interruption and regulatory noncompliance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Registered and Exempt Reporting Firms:

The deadline for the annual update of Form ADV is approaching.  We have previously notified you regarding filing obligations that were due between January 1 and March 1.  Below is a recommended compliance and filing deadline table addressing registered firms’ obligations for the remainder of the calendar year.  Let us know if you need any assistance.

Annual Compliance Deadlines

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This is a reminder about the upcoming annual compliance deadlines that may or may not apply to you.

Please click HERE to open a summary chart of the filing deadlines.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or need assistance with any of these filings.

Sincerely,

Pillsbury IFIM Group

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In a press release issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 20, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2019 Examination Priorities.

This year’s examination priorities, although not exhaustive, are divided into 6 categories:

  1. Compliance and risk at registrants responsible for critical market infrastructure;
  2. Matters of importance to retail investors, including seniors and those saving for retirement;
  3. FINRA and MSRB;
  4. Digital assets;
  5. Cybersecurity; and
  6. Anti-money laundering programs.

Read the OCIE 2019 Examination Priorities in full HERE.

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This is a reminder that the 2019 IARD account renewal obligation for investment advisers (including exempt reporting advisers) starts this November.  An investment adviser must ensure that its IARD account is adequately funded to cover payment of all applicable registration renewal fees and notice filing fees.

Key Dates in the Renewal Process:

November 12, 2018 – Preliminary Renewal Statements which list advisers’ renewal fee amount are available for printing through the IARD system.

December 17, 2018 – Deadline for full payment of Preliminary Renewal Statements.  In order for the payment to be posted to its IARD Renewal account by the December 17 deadline, an investment adviser should submit its preliminary renewal fee to FINRA through the IARD system by December 14, 2018.

December 28, 2018 – January 1, 2019 – IARD system shut down.  The system is generally unavailable during this period.

January 2, 2019 – Final Renewal Statements are available for printing.  Any additional fees that were not included in the Preliminary Renewal Statements will show in the Final Renewal Statements.

January 21, 2019 – Deadline for full payment of Final Renewal Statements.

For more information about the 2019 IARD Account Renewal Program including information on IARD’s Renewal Payment Options and Addresses, please visit http://www.iard.com/renewals.asp

Please contact us if you have questions.

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This alert contains a summary of the primary annual and periodic compliance-related obligations that may apply to investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Advisers”), and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) (collectively with Investment Advisers, “Managers”).[1]  Due to the length of this Alert, we have linked the topics to the Table of Contents and other subtitles for easy click-access.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) New Developments; (iii) 2018 National Exam Program Examination Priorities; (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas; and (v) Securities and Other Forms Filings.

READ MORE . . .

Read this article and additional Pillsbury publications at Pillsbury Insights.

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The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC issued a Risk Alert yesterday providing a list of the most frequently identified compliance issues relating to the Advertising Rule (Rule 206(4)-1) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  These compliance issues were identified as part of the OCIE examination of investment advisers:  misleading performance results, misleading one-on-one presentations, misleading claim of compliance with voluntary performance standards, “cherry-picked” profitable stock selections, misleading selection of recommendations and insufficient/inaccurate compliance policies and procedures.

Compliance with the Advertising Rule has long been, and remains, a favorite focus of the SEC.  In an age of fundraising challenges, investment advisers must balance the pressing need of appealing to prospective clients with adherence to precise regulatory standards.  Each marketing piece should go through rigorous internal review and sign-off procedures and, as necessary, outside counsel evaluation.  Investment advisers are urged to pay special attention to any form of performance or track record marketing.

Click here for the full Risk Alert. Contact your Pillsbury attorney for additional assistance.

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On June 9, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) regulation updating the definition of “fiduciary” for purposes of ERISA became effective, along with a series of new and updated prohibited transaction exemptions.  The DOL regulation expands the types of activities that can give rise to fiduciary status, and applies not only to plans subject to ERISA but also to self-directed IRAs.  While the DOL is still reviewing whether changes should be made to the regulation to reduce the regulatory burden, and both the DOL and Congress are considering more drastic action such as full repeal, for the time being the regulation is in effect.

A broad reading of the definition of “fiduciary” under the new rule could cause investment fund managers to become fiduciaries to ERISA and IRA investors in their funds, and to prospective investors, regardless whether a fund they manage is a “plan assets” fund.  Fund managers may need to take action now, notifying benefit plan investors, obtaining representations and/or amending subscription applications.

Private investment funds that limit ERISA plan and IRA investments to below 25% of each class of equity interests (or that qualify as a Venture Capital Operating Company (VCOC) or a Real Estate Operating Company (REOC)) are still exempt from ERISA with respect to most of their activities—their investment transactions and compensation arrangements are exempt from ERISA’s fiduciary rules and from the prohibited transaction restrictions of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.  However, under the new DOL regulation, certain types of marketing and outreach activities to new and current benefit plan investors could be viewed as “recommendations” to invest in (or continue investing in) a fund, and thus may become subject to the new fiduciary rules.

Not every marketing or outreach activity will give rise to fiduciary status, and an exemption is available for communications with financially sophisticated plan fiduciaries.  Please contact us to discuss how you can qualify for an exemption from fiduciary status and/or take necessary other action with respect to IRA and ERISA investors.

For more detailed information about the DOL fiduciary rule, please read our Alert.