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

Evolution of Fiduciary Rules Begins to Take Shape in SEC

On April 18, 2018, the SEC voted to propose several new rules and reforms related to fiduciary standards. The package intends to raise and clarify standards of conduct for broker-dealers and investment advisers, and to provide clarity regarding fees, conflicts and other material matters. It also aims to ensure that the standards can be understood … Continued

Fifth Circuit Weighs In on DOL Fiduciary Rule

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has vacated the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule. In a 2-1 split, the Fifth Circuit’s decision overrules a Dallas District Court’s decision, which had previously upheld the rule. Unfortunately, the decision does little to settle the fate of the beleaguered rule. Although it … Continued

Latest Content

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

The Compliance Professionals Guide to Effective Trade Desk Monitoring

Global regulators continue to enhance their ability to monitor the activities of market participants through a combination of new rules, filing requirements, and upgrades to surveillance technologies. As a result, many market participants, including both buy-and sell-side firms, need to re-assess how they currently monitor the trading desk, and whether new policies and procedures are … 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

Do your Fund Documents Clearly Disclose Receipt of Accelerated Monitoring Fees?

Somewhat more reminiscent of the broken-windows enforcement era, two affiliated private equity advisers managing billions settled with the SEC on charges that they failed to make pre-commitment disclosures in fund governing documents related to accelerated fees received from portfolio companies. Interestingly, according to the Settlement Order, the advisers had made some disclosures in fund documents … 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

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