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 can do better.”

Clayton has instructed the SEC staff to be on high alert for approaches to ICOs that may be contrary to the spirit of our securities laws and the professional obligations of the U.S. securities bar. As an example, he noted, “…there are ICOs where the lawyers involved appear to be, on the one hand, assisting promoters in structuring offerings of products that have many of the key features of a securities offering, but call it an “ICO,” which sounds pretty close to an ‘IPO.’ On the other hand, those lawyers claim the products are not securities, and the promoters proceed without compliance with the securities laws, which deprives investors of the substantive and procedural investor protection requirements of our securities laws.”

He commented these lawyers appear to provide the “it depends” equivocal advice,  rather than counseling their clients that the product they are promoting likely is a security.


During the same speech, Clayton addressed the rules pertaining to security-based swaps still remaining under the Dodd-Frank Act. Clayton said that the SEC is seeking to harmonize its ultimate securities-based swap rules with the CFTC, to increase effectiveness as well as reduce complexity and costs. On this front, Clayton was pleased to report deliberate and constructive engagement with the CFTC is well underway.

Related Content

Latest Content

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.)  

Advertising Issues: SEC and GIPS Performance in the Private Fund Space

Over a year ago, OCIE released the Risk Alert, “The Most Frequent Advertising Rule Compliance Issues Identified in OCIE Examinations of Investment Advisers.” While the alert highlighted several areas where performance advertising is involved, our recent CSS/Ascendant conference panelists in a session entitled “Best Practices for SEC and GIPS Performance in the Private Fund Space” … Continued

Mailing List

Subscribe to the Ascendant Compliance email list for the latest compliance resources, conferences, ComplianceCasts™, and more.

Loading form...

Contact Us

Ascendant works together with clients to identify and assess critical needs through customized plans. If you need assistance with compliance functions, regulatory services, cybersecurity or technology tools, we’d love to speak with you.