The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on August 25, 2015 which, among other things, would add SEC-registered investment advisers to the “financial institutions” regulated under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). This represents another step by the U.S. government to expand the professions and industries deemed anti-money laundering (AML) gatekeepers. Covered investment advisers will face new AML program, reporting and record-keeping requirements, with implications for hedge, private equity and other funds; money managers; and public or private real estate funds.
FinCEN has long expressed an interest in regulating investment advisers, which it believes may be vulnerable to or may obscure money laundering and terrorist financing. Should the rule become final, SEC-registered investment advisers would be included in the regulatory definition of “financial institution” and, as a consequence, required to establish and implement appropriately comprehensive written AML programs and comply with a variety of reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the BSA. Investment advisers that already implemented AML programs would need to evaluate them to ensure they comply with BSA requirements.
Who are Covered “Investment Advisers”?
Investment advisers provide advisory services, such as portfolio management, financial planning, and pension consulting, to many different types of clients, including institutions, private funds and other pooled investment vehicles, pension plans, trusts, foundations and mutual funds. According to the proposed rule, an “investment adviser” would be defined as “[a]ny person who is registered or required to register with the SEC under section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3(a)).”
The definition would cover all investment advisers, including subadvisers, subject to Federal regulation which, generally speaking, would include advisers that have $100 million or more in assets under management. This includes investment advisers engaging in activities with publicly or privately offered real estate funds. Small- and medium-sized investment advisers that are state-registered and other investment advisers that are exempt from SEC registration requirements would not be captured by the proposed rule. FinCEN indicated, however, that future rulemaking may include those types of advisers.