Tuesday, October 10 – Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Meritage Resort and Spa, Napa


Compliance Disruptors: Seismic Shifts of the Regulatory Landscape

Ascendant’s conference is dedicated to providing a cutting-edge experience, with progressive solutions and takeaways for attendees to bring back to their firms.


8:30-9:00 Pre-Conference Registration

8:00-9:00 Pre-Conference Breakfast

9:00-11:30 Pre-Conference Workshops (Concurrent)
10:15-10:30 Pre-Conference Break

  • Breaking Down Your Cyber Policies in Plain English (Workshop 1)
    When it comes to developing a comprehensive set of information security policies and procedures, many advisers don’t know where to begin or what should go into these policies. In a regulatory environment where “off-the-shelf” cyber manuals just won’t cut it, and where the SEC expects firms to tailor the procedures appropriately, the task can certainly be daunting.In this session, find out what your cyber policies should cover, what they mean, and how to fit them to your business and operations.

    Bonus Takeaway: A table of contents guide to the cybersecurity policies and procedures you need.

    Added Bonus: Ask a Cyber Expert! Have a question about how a cyber policy may apply to your firm? Bring your questions to the conference and ask our expert panel.

  • Behavioral Ethics and Behavioral Compliance (Workshop 2)
    Are there blind spots in your compliance program? Is the next Bernie Madoff sitting in your organization? Can you identify an unethical person before they act? These are some of the things this session will explore in the context of behavioral ethics. Understand how people actually behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas.
  • Foundations of an Effective Compliance Program: From The Advisers Act to Today’s IM Guidance Alerts (Workshop 3)
    The foundation of the advisory industry was laid over 75 years ago. In the time since, the way advice is provided has changed dramatically. This pre-conference workshop will be a high-level overview of the Advisers Act and the framework of the regulatory environment for RIAs. From the core sections of the Act to regulatory guidance via IM Alerts and No-Action letters, this is a great session for new compliance professionals or those seeking to refresh their fundamental knowledge.
12:00-1:00 Conference Registration

1:00-1:10 Conference Kickoff: Welcome and Introduction

1:15-2:20 KEYNOTE ADDRESS – Norm Champ, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Compliance Disruptors: An Insider’s Look at The SEC and How Disrupting the Norm Impacted the Status Quo

2:25-2:40 Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers

2:45-3:45 New Form ADV Big Data Amendments: Preparing Portfolio and Custodian Information (General Session)
Is your Firm ready for the upcoming Form ADV changes? Beginning in late 2017, Form ADV Part 1As will begin to more closely resemble a Form PF filing. More data is being requested and Part 1 Items are being enhanced to provide more transparency to clients, but more importantly, to provide more details to examination teams.

New information to gather and file:

  • Portfolio Information by Security Type for SMAs
  • More Specific Client Information
  • Custodians Used by Client Accounts
  • Social Media Business Use

This session will focus on the recent amendments and questions that you need to consider. We’ll consider whether your revised ADV disclosure will impact the disclosure in your marketing materials. We’ll also discuss how these amendments are tied to other Investment Advisers Act Rules, such as recordkeeping.

3:45-4:00 Networking Break

4:05-5:05 Breakout Sessions (Concurrent)

  • Creating a Business and Compliance Risk Inventory: Finding the Hidden Risks (Session 1)
    The enacting release of the Compliance Program Rules (IA 206(4)-7 and IC 38a-1) states that investment advisers and investment companies, in designing policies and procedures, “should first identify conflicts and other compliance factors creating risk exposure for the firm and its clients in light of the firm’s particular operations.” Thus creating an inventory of risks applicable to your firm or funds is essential to developing your compliance program. This session will discuss:

    • Who should be involved with creating a risk inventory
    • Subject matter areas that should be included in the inventory
    • How to use information in the inventory to support your compliance program
    • Who should review the inventory and how frequently
  • Regulatory Changes Impacting Registered Investment Companies and Service Providers (Session 2)
    With the adoption of new rules for registered investment companies, the SEC has established more ways to monitor RICs. This session will exam what the new rules mean for RIC compliance programs. We’ll discuss:

    • Investment Company Reporting Modernization
    • Liquidity Risk Management Programs
    • Swing Pricing
    • Partnering with the RICs Service Providers to Comply with New Rule Requirements
    • Form N-Port
    • Leveraging Systems to Gather the Required Data
  • Material Nonpublic Information and the Use of Expert Networks by Private Funds (Session 3)
    The potential misuse of material nonpublic information is generally on the minds of all investment and compliance professionals. Understanding how your firm’s investment and research professionals’ process for obtaining information and interaction with expert networks and political intelligence entities is key to developing effective compliance oversight and controls. Our panel will address:

    • Potential sources of material non-public information
    • Concerns surrounding use of Expert Networks & Political Intelligence Entities
    • Recent SEC insider trading cases
    • Developing effective compliance controls
5:15-7:15 Welcoming Reception
After finishing the opening day’s sessions, Ascendant invites you to join fellow attendees, speakers and exhibitors to mix and mingle over good food, refreshing beverages and great company

8:30-10:30 Bowling
Our welcoming reception isn’t the end of the night’s fun. Join us at the luxe but laid-back Crush Lounge to catch some sports, relax and roll a few strikes.

Next Day

6:00-7:00 Sunrise Yoga On The Vineyard
We designed the Ascendant conference to feed your brain, packing it with vital information and the latest developments in compliance. But we haven’t forgotten the importance of balance in the equation, and how nourishing your body can strengthen your mind. Join us for yoga to refocus, reenergize and jumpstart your day.

7:30-8:30 Breakfast

7:45-8:30 Discussion Groups (Concurrent)

  • How to Leverage Technology to Manage Your Compliance Program (Discussion Group 1)
    Technology is changing every day and impacting how firms do business and manage their compliance programs. Don’t be left behind! Compliance needs to embrace technology tools to strengthen their forensic and surveillance mechanics. Even if you are under budget constraints, this session will present technology tools for every aspect of your compliance program.
  • Proxy Voting Update (Discussion Group 2)
    Benchmark proxy and class action processes, including compliance with Rule 206(4)-6, with your peers in this Breakfast Group. A quick review of 2003 Proxy Rule-making, 2014 guidance on due diligence and expected conflict reviews by advisers, and updates on operational technology. Review today’s top regulatory issues regarding proxy voting and class actions for you to cover in your Annual Compliance Program Review.
  • Cybersecurity: Dissecting Your Cyber Testing Reports (Discussion Group 3)
    Senior management wants to understand the top cybersecurity risks impacting the firm. You’ve conducted vulnerability scanning, penetration testing and phishing testing but what’s next? In this discussion group, panelists will explain how to interpret key business and compliance risks in cyber testing reports. We will focus on understanding critical risks, findings and actionable recommendations, as well as discussing strategies to communicate those risks effectively in layman’s terms to senior management.
8:30-8:35 Morning Welcome

8:35-8:45 Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers

8:45-9:45 SPECIAL PRESENTATION – Richard Marshall, Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP
Compliance in a Dynamic Regulatory Environment

9:45-9:55 Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers

9:55-10:10 Networking Break

10:10-11:10 SEC Enforcement Proceedings: When Routine Exams Go South (General Session)
A routine SEC examination ended with a concerning exit-interview. Suddenly, you realize the examination might not end with a simple deficiency letter. What happens when the letter finally comes and the reality sets in: the SEC’s Division of Enforcement has become involved! This panel will walk you through:

  • The early warning signs that an examination is heading in the wrong direction
  • Wells Notices, subpoenas and beyond
  • How to approach interacting with Enforcement
  • Conducting internal investigations
11:15-12:15 Breakout Sessions (Concurrent)

  • Effective Surveillance of Portfolio Managers’ Activity, Big Data and Trading: Test Like SEC Examiners (Session 1)
    How advisers trade is changing; where advisers’ research is sourced is changing. How can Compliance Professionals adapt forensic testing to the ever-developing trading environment? Learn new ways of analyzing trading and big data to spot anomalies.
    Only once you know where information is sourced from and how it is used can you draft compliance policies to protect your firm and its hard-won reputation.
  • Private Funds: Onboarding New Investors & the Challenges Related to Foreign Investors (Session 2)
    Investors to private funds want transparency and performance results. But it’s the adviser that needs full transparency of who the investor is and what special considerations might be needed. From MFN clauses in Subscription Agreements to AIFMD riders to ensure compliance with EU regulations, private fund compliance professionals need to be prepared. The panel will address what information is needed to comply with AML /OFAC requirements, along with considerations when seeking foreign clients in an evolving EU regulatory environment. Finally, we’ll discuss how your private fund will be impacted by changing DOL regulations.
  • Supervising Branch Offices – What Is the Appropriate Level of Oversight? (Session 3)
    The SEC has stated that a robust process for self-inspection of branch offices is a critical element of a firm’s compliance and supervision process, and a vital part of a comprehensive risk management program. And while many investment advisers have remote offices that provide limited client services, other advisers have multiple remote offices providing detailed investment services to client. This session will explore the responsibility of compliance to oversee branch offices.
12:15-1:15 Lunch

1:15-1:25 Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers


2:30-3:30 Cybersecurity: The Weakest Link (Incident Response Scenarios) (General Session)
A chain is only as strong as its individual links. And sometimes those links can break under pressure. Is there a weakness in your cybersecurity chain which could cause a operational or technical disruption? This session will explore everything from phishing schemes to outright cyber attacks in an engaging simulation that will cover roles, responsibilities, and what to do in the critical first moments.

Compliance Professionals need to know the terminology, but bring your Chief Technology Officer along to better understand how compliance teams and IT can work together in protecting the Firm!

3:30-3:40 Networking Break

3:40-4:35 Breakout Session / Workshop (Concurrent)

  • Where Are We Now – Status of the DOL Fiduciary Rule (Breakout Session)
    Pursuant to a Presidential order, the Department of Labor adopted a final rule that implemented the impartial conduct standard. Further implementation is set for early 2018 but industry participants are already starting to take action. Stay on top of what needs to be done in this expanded area of regulation. Thought Leader Jason Roberts sets it out for those who provide investment recommendations to covered assets including IRAs.
  • Oversight of Key Service Providers to Registered Investment Companies and Private Funds (Workshop)
    Registered Investment Companies and Private Funds are, in essence, their service providers. The service providers include investment advisers, administrators, transfer agents, principal underwriters, distributors and fund accountants. This session will discuss assessing the risks a service provider represents RICs and/or Funds

    • Determining the frequency and scope of due diligence reviews
    • Utilizing service providers’ portals to obtain information
    • Evaluating a service provider’s control environment; and Reporting to the Funds’ Board of Directors or Managing Member
    • Reporting to the Funds’ Board of Directors or Managing Member
4:40-5:30 CFTC and NFA Requirements: Exemption Considerations, Reporting and Portfolio Exposur
This session will offer helpful tips and important information on incorporating CFTC and NFA requirements into your SEC compliance program, including who is required to register, and what changes to expect. Attendees will also discuss recent updates from the regulatory organizations including:

  • Modernization of Recordkeeping Rules, Rule 1.31 amendments
  • CPO and CTA quarterly reporting requirements (Rule 2-46)
  • Enhanced supervisory requirements for Disciplined Firms
  • FAQs: AML, Cybersecurity, Disclosure documents, Supervision, Promotional materials, and more
5:30-6:15 ACM Demo
When we designed ACM, we knew the compliance process was fractured and in need of disruption. This management platform makes it easy to monitor your offices, facilitate communication, meet regulatory requirements, maintain documentation, track workflow and map risk. Sound interesting? Learn about how to make your process more seamless by joining us.

6:30 Reception/Dinner
After a full day of learning, wind down your evening by joining us for delectable dining and stimulating conversation. Pairing sweeping vineyard views with gourmet selections, our dining event promises to instantly transport you to a Tuscan state of mind.

Next Day

7:30-8:30 Breakfast

7:45-8:30 Discussion Groups (Concurrent)

  • Time Management Skills for Busy Compliance Professionals (Discussion Group 1)
    Being pulled in all directions? Drowning in a sea of emails and conference call requests? How does anyone keep up with the regulatory changes in today’s constantly disruptive, work environment. This career development session will address how best to manage your time and ways to become more productive.
  • Additional Considerations for Private Fund Compliance Programs (Discussion Group 2)
    Private funds don’t always fall easily within the four corners of regulatory requirements. Private equity and hedge funds have different concerns than traditional asset managers. have multi-faceted relationships. Join this discussion group to get answers to your questions about these considerations:

    • Allocation of co-investment Opportunities
    • Fees and expense allocation among multiple funds and/or the adviser
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Regulatory filings
    • Accelerated monitoring fees
    • Use of operating advisers
    • Valuation and Performance
  • Registered Investment Company CCO: Responsibilities, Conflicts & Liabilities (Discussion Group 3)
    What does it mean to be the CCO of a registered investment company or family of funds? This session will examine the statutory responsibilities of a Fund’s CCO as well as the expectations that a Fund’s Board may have. We’ll also discuss potential liabilities that a Fund’s CCO may encounter. The panel will consider:

    • The qualifications of a mutual fund CCO
    • Statutory responsibilities
    • Conflicts of Interest when the CCO is CCO of a Fund’s adviser and the Fund
    • Communications with the Fund’s Board of Directors
    • Potential pitfalls and liabilities of a Fund CCO
8:30-8:40 Morning Welcome & Raffle

8:45-10:00 SPECIAL PRESENTATION – Janine Driver
You Can’t Lie To Me How NOT Using Your BS Barometer Accurately Hurts Your Success Without You Knowing It!

During this Interactive Session, you will learn to:

  • Spot Common Body Language “Hot Spots” and accurately decode whether or not someone is holding something back
  • Fine-tune your visual information channel and spot and fix challenging unspoken concerns before you lose opportunities
  • Use the New Body Language to empower your success, your confidence, and explode your ability to see the truth in any situation
  • Master the art of “reading between the lines” and spot subtle language shifts that indicate there’s more to the story by understanding statement analysis
  • Memorize get-to the-truth advanced questioning strategies and dangerously increase your success!
10:00-11:00 General Sessions (Concurrent)

  • Making Sense of the Most Recent Custody Guidance (Session 1)
    We asked for it and we got it — the custody guidance. But are we really any better off? Custody continues to be one of the most challenging areas of a compliance program and the area most scrutinized by the regulators. Understand the three (yes 3!) custody guidance updates released by the SEC and ensure your firm is meeting the mark.

    • Third-party distributions requirements
    • Custodial paperwork considerations
    • Documentating the process
  • Regulatory Reporting for RIAs, Private Fund Advisers, and RIC Managers (Session 2)
    This session offers a current snapshot of required filings and methods for managing them, including the identification of difficult aspects and common problem areas. We’ll go over Forms ADV, 13H, 13F, 13D, 13G, PF, SLT, TIC, SHC, SHL, and more.
11:00-11:15 Networking Break

11:15-12:05 Breakout Sessions (Concurrent)

  • The Annual Review: Preparation, Forensic Testing, Assessing Controls and Reporting (Session 1)
    Have you created the same annual review report year after year? Are you wondering if it’s missing something or could be improved? Have you considered how changes in OCIE’s approach to examinations might be incorporated in your report? This breakout provides best practices on the content, structure and delivery of your required Rule 206(4)-7 Annual Review to breathe new life into it.
  • Working with Senior Investors – Considerations, Challenges and Ways to Identify Diminished Capacity (Session 2)
    All too often, we hear how another elderly investor was taken advantage of by some type of fraudster. Even more frequently, we receive queries asking what they can do about an elderly client they feel is being financially abused by a caregiver or who is suffering from diminished capacity challenges. In this breakout, we provide information on the red flags of diminished capacity, warning signs of elder financial abuse, and guidance on steps registered investment advisers can take to protect senior clients and the RIA’s business.
12:05-1:00 Final Thoughts – Answers to Your Questions about What the Regulators Expect (General Session)

End of Conference

Conference Registration

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Questions? Call us at 860-435-2255, email us, or get in touch via our contact page.