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 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 SPECIAL PRESENTATION – 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 Event

Next Day

6:00-7:00 Sunrise Yoga
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 Solution Providers

8:45-9:45 SPECIAL PRESENTATION – 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 things might not end with a simple deficiency letter. What happens when the letter finally comes and the reality sets in: Enforcement has become involved! This panel will walk you through the process and all that it involves. From Wells Notices to subpeanas and beyond. Be prepared!

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

  • Supervising Branch Offices – What Is the Appropriate Level of Oversight? (Session 1)
    The SEC has stated that a robust process for self inspecation 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 responsitility of compliance to oversee branch offices.This session will teach you to identify all branch offices, registration requirements and learn effective ways to monitor remote office’s compliance with an organization’s policies.
  • 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 be impacted by changing DOL regulations
  • Conducting a Rule 38a-1 Review of a Registered Investment Company (Session 3)
    Required by Regulation S-ID, long-practiced by institutional managers of managers, and suggested by SEC Risk Guidance, due diligence of service providers must be an essential component of every compliance program. Strong due diligence practices can lead to the detection and prevention of risk. This panel will provide tools to make sure compliance is a leader in the management of risks posed by third-parties.

    • Inventory Service Providers by Type
    • Evaluation of Services and Risks
    • Identification of Mission Critical Service Providers
    • Plan Essential Reviews
    • Case Study: Custodian Due Diligence Best Practices
12:15-1:15 Lunch

1:15-1:25 Meet The Compliance Solution 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 Sessions (Concurrent)

  • Where Are We Now – Status of the DOL Fiduciary Rule (Session 1)
    A Presidential order pushed back the effective date of the DOL Fiduciary Rule and now we are faced with revisions to try to comprehend. If you struggle with understanding how to implement the changes resulting from the DOL rule, then this session is for you.
  • The Annual Review – Preparation, Forensic Testing, Assessing Controls and Reporting (Session 2)
    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 make it shine.
  • Oversight of Key Service Provider to Registered Investment Companies and Private Funds (Session 3)
    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
4:40-5:30 Breakout Sessions (Concurrent)

  • Marketing and Advertising: It’s All about the Fine Print (Session 1)
    Always a topic in deficiency letters, often the subject of enforcement actions. Refresh and update your thinking on marketing/advertising, general solicitations and social media. Delve into marketing, including presentation of performance and use of social media from the perspective of recent OCIE findings and current focus.
  • Valuation, Expenses and Performance Issues that Private Funds Must Address (Session 2)
  • Compliance Considerations Regarding Share Classes and Distribution Practices for Registered Investment Companies (Session 3)
    Investors in RICs have options to select different share classes. Understanding the differences between shares classes is

    • Intermediary Fees (First Eagle)
5:30-6:15 ACM Demos

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 equity and hedge funds have different sets of regulatory concerns than traditional asset managers. Form PF, third-party service providers (prime brokers, administrators, etc.) and other facets that directly impact a private fund manager’s operations involve a different level of oversight. What types of checks and balances are seen as industry practices? How can you set your firm up for success with SEC examiners? This group will discuss these challenges.
  • 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 – 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


  • Custody Obligations for RICs and Private Funds (Session 2)
11:00-11:15 Networking Break

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

  • Ethics – How Do You Imbue an Organization with an Ethical Culture (Session 1)
    As compliance professionals, we wear many hats. One is most likely being the de facto Chief Ethics Officer. This breakout will discuss the challenges we face in ensuring firm employees do not lose their ethical compass and stray from fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities.
  • CFTC and NFA Requirements: Exemption Considerations, Reporting and Portfolio Exposure (Session 2)
    SEC registered advisers with exposure to commodities and futures in their managed portfolios need to evaluate their exposure to the CFTC and NFA. Learning what your firm’s options are and how claiming an exemption, or registering with the CFTC/NFA can impact both your firm’s business practices and compliance program.

    • Overview of the current CFTC and NFA landscape
    • Discuss available exemptions for SEC RIAs
      • 4.13(a)(3)- relief where pool trades a minimal amount of futures
    • 12-38 NO action relief for funds-of-funds
    • Understanding the obligations of exempt CPOs/CTAs
    • 4.7 “Registration lite” relief from certain financial reporting and disclosure document requirements
      • Initial filing requirements
      • On-going filing requirements
      • NFA Bylaw 1101
      • Ethics requirements
    • Ongoing 4.7 Registration requirements

    Learn about NFA concerns that prompt examinations

  • Working with Senior Investors – Considerations, Challenges and Ways to Identify Diminished Capacity (Session 3)
    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.