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

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

Latest Content

A New View of How Technology Will Change the Emerging Crytpo-Economy

From the top of the world, it’s amazing what you can see.  I recently had the opportunity to travel to the United Arab Emirates to speak in Dubai at the 7th Edition of the Alternative Investment Management Summit. While I was there, I took a few moments to ride to the top of the Burj … Continued

SEC Retail Investor Focus Turns Towards Registered Investment Companies

Earlier this year when the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) announced its 2018 examination priorities, OCIE stated that a core priority was to protect retail investors, including seniors and individuals saving for retirement. OCIE is now continuing this effort by focusing on mutual funds and exchanged-traded funds (together, the “Funds”) as the … Continued

SEC Alerts Investment Advisers to Review Solicitor Arrangements

On October 31, OCIE issued a new Risk Alert for investment advisers with solicitor arrangements. The SEC periodically releases risk alerts to notify the industry of deficiencies they are finding during examinations, and this latest alert puts investment advisers with solicitor arrangements on notice to check their solicitor agreements, policies and procedures, and disclosure documents. … Continued

Pennsylvania Sounds Warning Bell Over Client Credentials and Custody

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (PDOBS) has indicated in recent guidance two concerns related to investment advisers using client credentials to access a custodial account(s). In the letter dated September 25, 2018, PDOBS indicates that the use of client credentials may create custody and is considered to be a dishonest and unethical practice. … Continued

San Diego 2018 Conference Gallery

Ascendant/CSS San Diego Conference Another compliance conference is in the books. We had a great time in San Diego, and we think our attendees did, too. We hope to see you in Miami! (Click on photos to view full size.)  

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