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

Latest Content

Custody Concerns Continue

You timely filed your Form ADV within 90 days of fiscal year end, but did you properly answer all the questions related to custody? Not surprisingly, the Form remains confusing for many advisers, as does application of the Custody Rule itself. The SEC has issued guidance, letters to the industry, alerts and FAQs, but things … Continued

Blockchain Isn’t Hot Sauce

Guest post by Samson Williams, Partner – Axes & Eggs and Keynote Speaker – Ascendant CSS Spring 2019 Conference  I started telling people that blockchain isn’t hot sauce in mid-2017 to help explain why initial coin offerings (ICOs) were just the latest form of unregulated, online gambling. In November 2017, with Bitcoin nearing a high … Continued

The Importance of Effective ADV Disclosure: Staying Ahead of the Regulators

This ComplianceCast will discuss how firms can mitigate risk by having effective disclosure in their Form ADV Brochure. Our panelists will be CSS Ascendant Senior Consultant Ariana Monchick and Jessica Matelis, Partner at Foley & Lardner and former Senior Counsel at the SEC Division of Enforcement. They will discuss: Required disclosures The types of conflicts … Continued

Regulation Best Interest, Cybersecurity Top Concerns at IAA 2019 Compliance Conference

The Investment Adviser Association (IAA) represents the interests of investment advisers in Washington D.C., and the IAA Investment Adviser Compliance Conference 2019 was a forum for the discussion of future potential rulemaking. Cybersecurity and Fiduciary Rule considerations were headline topics, with custody and marketing right behind. The following is a summary of key issues discussed … Continued

The Challenges of Building a Global Compliance Program

Compliance programs face challenges in balancing global requirements with local exceptions while incorporating the fast pace of regulatory change, addressing critical business needs and obtaining the necessary resources necessary to manage the program. Trends and thinking on the subject were center stage at the recent CSS London event “Looking at the Year Ahead – Global … Continued

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