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

OCIE Examined 15% of RIAs in 2017

In 2017, the SEC examined 2,114 investment advisers, approximately 15 percent of the 14,000+ registered investment advisers, the SEC confirmed in its Fiscal Year 2019 Congressional Budget Justification Annual Performance Plan. In the same report, the SEC said the staff will continue to improve its efforts of RIAs, noting that nearly 35 percent of all … Continued

SEC’s Exam Priorities Offer Insight Into National Exam Program

On February 7, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued their 2018 Examination Priorities (see Ascendant’s summary here). In addition to defining their examination priorities for the year, the OCIE staff offered some insight into the National Exam Program.  Specifically, they defined the following five principles in executing their exam priorities: … Continued

SEC Updates: ICO Gatekeeper Standards, SEC/CFTC Swap Rules

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had some stern advice for market professionals, especially gatekeepers, who he said need to act responsibly and hold themselves to high standards. Speaking via videoconference during Securities Regulation Institute’s recent annual conference, he said, “To be blunt, from what I have seen recently, particularly in the initial coin offering (“ICO”) space, they … Continued

Clayton: SEC, CFTC to Harmonize Swap Rules; ICO Gatekeepers Must Do Better

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton indicated at the Securities Regulation Institute conference January 22, 2018 that the SEC is seeking to harmonize their ultimate securities-based swap rules with the CFTC, to increase effectiveness as well as reduce complexity and costs. He said he is pleased to report deliberate and constructive engagement with the CFTC is well … Continued

DOL Rule Extension to Overlap with SEC Consideration of Fiduciary Standards

Following the Department of Labor’s November 27, 2017 announcement of an 18-month extension to the existing Fiduciary Rule transition period, the industry will enter a period of further study for proper standards for disclosure or elimination of conflicted compensation arrangements. That’s a mouthful right there. The Obama administration’s March 31, 2017 implementation of various new prohibited … Continued

New Remedy Coming for SEC’s Custody Rule?

The SEC’s Custody Rule continues to be a common source of confusion and a landmine for noncompliance. Custodial paperwork has caused huge headaches for investment advisers, who are not a party to the agreement and may not even have a copy of the custodial new account paperwork. The issue with existing guidance is that it … Continued

SEC Issues MiFID II No-Action Relief

Some industry anxiety was assuaged on October 26 with three no-action letters that offer relief for some US regulated broker-dealers and investment advisers regarding European MiFID II regulations. The letters followed consultation with the European authorities, and are designed to address concerns that investors could lose access to valuable research. MiFID II is a series of regulations … Continued

Firms Encouraged Not to Overlook Oct. 1 Books and Records Changes

While changes to Form ADV on October 1, 2017 have been well-publicized, we encourage firms not to overlook the other changes to Books and Records requirements put forth in the SEC’s final rule release, effective October 1, 2017. The changes to the Rule relate to the retention of documents regarding the calculation of performance data. Rule … 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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