SEC Reopened After 35-Day Government Shutdown

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton announced on Saturday, January 26 that with an agreement reached to end the government shutdown, the “Commission has resumed normal staffing levels and is returning to normal operations.” In total, about 94% of the commission’s approximately 4,400 employees had been furloughed during the 35-day shutdown, according to its operations plan. In a … Continued

It Takes a Village – Preparing for a Regulatory Exam

Advanced planning for a regulatory exam remains a vital step in ensuring the compliance team is prepared when the exam teams comes knocking. At the recent Ascendant/CSS fall conference in San Diego, Allison Fraser moderated the conference’s capstone session on the topic, joined by Bryan Bennett, the Associate Regional Director in the examination program in … Continued

When Policies, Procedures and Testing Protocols Aren’t Enough…

The Compliance Program Rule continues to be a powerful tool for SEC enforcement, recently used by the SEC to address trading away in wrap accounts, misappropriation of retail client assets, and the misuse of an omnibus account. Advisory firms had written policies and procedures and testing protocols, but they were not good enough; are yours? … Continued

How Do You Supervise for SEC Pay-to-Play Violations?

If you wanted more information about the contours of the SEC’s Pay-to-Play Rule, or how the SEC may enforce it, three recent Settlement Orders against large investment advisers for “over de minimis” political contributions provide some insight regarding one of the prohibitions: Contributions by Covered Associates to certain Government Officials over the specified Exception amount (capitalized words are terms in the … Continued

With New Risk Alert, SEC Doubles Down on Best Execution

On July 11, 2018, the SEC issued a Risk Alert outlining commonly found compliance issues related to best execution by investment advisers. Advisers have an obligation to seek best execution of client transactions, taking into consideration quantitative factors such as execution quality and commission rate, as well as more qualitative factors such as the value … Continued

SEC Deficiency Letters Require Swift Action

On the topic of SEC Deficiency Letters, if you have received one, you must promptly take corrective action. The SEC will not tolerate inappropriate delay. The SEC recently imposed an $8 million civil penalty on an adviser who, among other things, failed to promptly take corrective action in its Form ADV filing, following receipt of … Continued

Relief at Last – New Guidance on Inadvertent Custody

The SEC quietly provided additional guidance to the industry about inadvertent custody in supplemental responses to the Custody Rule FAQs. In Question II.11 and II.12, the SEC stated that it would not recommend enforcement against an adviser that does not have a copy of a client’s custodial agreement, and does not know or have reason … Continued

SEC Creates Bogus ICO Site to Teach About Cryptocurrency Fraud

On May 16, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy launched an educational website meant to demonstrate a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO). The website, HoweyCoins.com mimics a bogus coin offering touting a too-good-to-be-true investment opportunity. The website features several of the features common to fraudulent offerings, including promises of guaranteed returns, complex … Continued

Get ready for Form ADV, Part 3: Form CRS

Are you ready for Form ADV Part 3? As if the last annual updating amendment filing was not tedious enough with all the additional information related to separately managed accounts, the process will further evolve with the SEC’s proposal for a Form ADV Part 3, also referred to as Form CRS. But don’t worry, it … Continued

For Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, a Reckoning is Coming

 NOTE: Ascendant Director of Cyber IT Services E.J. Yerzak recently spoke at the AIM Summit in Abu Dhabi, a conference that targets alternative investment managers. The following is a brief summary of his key comments during his two sessions, “Primer on Crypto Currency, Distributed Ledger Technology and ICO’s,” and “Legal & Regulatory Insights/AML – Blockchain” … Continued

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Takeaways and Tips Related to SEC Risk Alert on Regulation S-P

On April 16, 2019, the SEC released a Risk Alert providing a list of compliance issues related to Regulation S-P, the primary SEC rule regarding privacy notices and safeguard policies of investment advisers and broker-dealers. As with other risk alerts, these were deficiencies noted by OCIE in regulatory examinations. Though the deficiencies were fairly common … Continued

How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer

Being a Compliance Officer is no easy task. Administering a compliance program, implementing controls to help protect clients and the firm, and staying on top of new regulations is only part of the job. Compliance Officers are also expected to be flexible and pro-business. So how do you do it all? How can you be … Continued

Mitigating the Risk of Insider Trading

One of the biggest risks affecting investment advisers is the potential that material non-public information (“MNPI”) may be misused, leading to a charge of insider trading. Advisers should implement controls to mitigate these risks. Steven Stone of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Salvatore Cincinelli of the FBI and David Chaves of Tone at the Top … Continued

Compliance 2.0 – Being a Strategic Partner in Your Firm

Compliance as a profession continues to evolve. With Enron, Bernie Madoff and numerous other failures paving the way for rulemaking across industries and nations, the days of drawing a short straw, getting drafted into a compliance role and operating in isolation outside of the business are – or should be – ancient history. Since the … Continued

Big Data Part III: Preparing for the Future of Global Regulatory Governance

United States and European Union reporting requirements imposed on investment managers have exploded since the Global Financial Crisis and, with the imminent arrival of SFTR in Europe, it seems poised to expand again. The challenge of reporting trades, transactions and contracts in multiple jurisdictions requires firms to embrace technology as regulators continue to look to … Continued

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