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

Coming to America – California Adopts GDPR-Like Privacy Regulation

After a number of firms struggled last year to get their marketing and information systems into compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), advisers to U.S. clients will soon be facing similar requirements on the home front.  On the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of … Continued

SEC and FINRA 2019 Examination Priorities

The SEC and FINRA have recently released their examination priorities for 2019. These releases provide insight into regulatory priorities and serve as guidance for a firm in evaluating its compliance program. We will discuss topics covered in these releases, including: Protecting retail investors Fees and expenses Disclosure Conflicts of interest Suitability Protecting senior investors Trading … Continued

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

FINRA Rolls Out New Central Registration Depository Functionality; Annual Verification Deadline Nears

FINRA first introduced enhancements to the Central Registration Depository (“CRD”) on October 1, 2018, which were rolled out in support of FINRA’s restructured qualification examination program as well as the adoption of consolidated FINRA registration rules. The new enhancements were intended to also more easily assist member firms with satisfying their reporting and compliance obligations. … Continued

SEC’s Latest Risk Alert Focuses on Electronic Communications

The SEC’s most recent risk alert, “Observations from Investment Adviser Examinations Relating to Electronic Messaging,” issued on December 14, 2019, focuses on the use and maintenance of electronic communications for business purposes. The purpose of the alert is to remind advisers of their obligations related to personal use of electronic messaging and the requirements for … Continued

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