Compliance 20/20: Insights Into Innovative Compliance Programs

- Charleston, South Carolina

With laser-focused regulators, rapidly evolving technologies and the relentless demands of everyday business, the responsibilities of compliance professionals continue to expand. It’s all too easy to focus on one area of risk or a “hot topic” at the expense of others, leading many to wonder how to keep the entire compliance program in perspective.

Compliance 20/20 will spotlight the elements of a strong compliance program, offering attendees a clear understanding of the spectrum of issues your compliance program should address. You’ll hear from a distinguished panel of speakers including regulators, CCOs, in-house and outside counsel, service providers and other industry experts; and leave with a clear vision of regulatory expectations, your responsibilities, and the resources necessary for today, tomorrow and beyond.

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Ascendant’s conference is dedicated to providing a cutting-edge experience, with progressive solutions and takeaways for attendees to bring back to their firms.


Pre-Conference Registration


Pre-Conference Breakfast


Pre-Conference Workshop 1
Ethical Fitness: A Bootcamp in Ethics Training
Content Track: Ethics

Certain business decisions are not as clear as black vs. white or good vs. bad. Advisers are often faced with two reasonable answers from which to choose, making some decisions hard to determine which is the more ethical path. Employees may wonder which is the more prudent, ethical decision. Selecting the “right answer” comes through constant training, and the ability to identify situations in which ethics plays a key role in the decision-making process. This session will explore such situations through the evaluation and discussion of case studies. Moving beyond behavioral ethics, this session will have a unique keynote presentation introducing meditation as an additional tool in the ethics toolbox. This session qualifies for two hours of continuing education ethics credits for most certifications or licenses.

Pre-Conference Workshop 2
Marketing Bootcamp: How to Whip Advertising Materials into Shape
Content Track: Compliance Program

The SEC’s recent September 2017 Advertising Rule Risk Alert highlights areas for which the regulators will now have little patience during examinations. This workshop will review the guidance and existing rules, and sample examples of deficient marketing materials. Designed to foster expertise on all the SEC’s decades of marketing guidance on adviser marketing and advertising rules, it will engage participants by working through case studies to identify the issues.
The workshop will examine: how misleading performance results can be identified; when a ‘Securities Case-Study’ is not cherry-picking; and how to determine whether your compliance policies and procedures are operating effectively. The discussion will also consider non-traditional marketing platforms such as social media and special issues for private investment funds.


Conference Registration


Conference Kickoff: Welcome and Introduction


Expected Investment Adviser Regulations and Enforcement by 2020 
Content Track: Hot Topics

Presentation by David Tittsworth, Ropes & Gray


Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers


BREAKOUT (1 of 3)
Seeing the Future of Mutual Funds – The Observations and Insights of Avi Nachmany
Content Track: Registered Investment Companies
With over three decades of dedicated and focused mutual fund research experience, Avi Nachmany has been a leading voice for the mutual fund industry’s key developments. He has researched and educated the industry on topics such as distribution trends, share class use, the shift to the fee-for-service distribution model; benchmarking fund advisory fees, breakpoints, etc.; product evolution; Rule 15(c) analytics and considerations; fund liquidity considerations and shareholder retention.

A few years ago, Nachmany forecasted that the global mutual fund industry AUMs might reach $100 trillion by 2030. However, recent trends suggest it may be sooner. He will provide his observations and insights about the transformational changes that are impacting the investment management industry, particularly as they impact registered funds.  He will discuss, among other topics:

  • The Liquidity Rule – “a 99% solution to 1% problem”
  • Mutual fund share class developments
  • Fund Launches and Liquidations
  • Distribution challenges
  • The role of a Fund’s Board

This session will include time for attendee questions following the presentation.

BREAKOUT (2 of 3)
Identifying Conflicts of Interest Facing Private Fund Compliance Programs
Content Track: Private Funds

Private funds, including hedge, private equity and real estate, have unique compliance program challenges  that compliance professionals need to understand to develop and implement a robust compliance program. This can only be accomplished by identifying all conflicts of interest and developing a compliance and supervisory program to mitigate such conflicts. Identifying conflicts enables proper policies and procedures, along with vigorous disclosure that the SEC (and your investors) will be looking for. A broad range of conflicts can impact private fund advisers, including, among others, issues surrounding the use of expert networks, shared office space, investment allocation, the use of side letters, and co-investment vehicle practices.

This Breakout will:

  • Discuss a variety of potential conflicts facing of private funds
  • Highlight some of the key challenges and competing interests apparent in each type of conflict
  • Identify compliance controls and policies to mitigate conflicts and improve  your compliance program

BREAKOUT (3 of 3)
Crossroads – The Roles of Legal and Compliance
Content Track: Hot Topics

While Legal and Compliance roles have some overlap, there are major, and sometimes misunderstood, distinctions between the two job functions. Legal and Compliance positions often require different mindsets, mandates and priorities. This session will help differentiate between these two roles. The panel will cover the role of legal and compliance within an organization, where the roles differ, and “gray areas” where the roles seem to overlap. It will also offer a guide on courses of action to take and considerations necessary when encountering these gray areas. The session will address:

  • The Role of Compliance vs. Legal (e.g., Chief Compliance Officer vs. General Counsel)
  • Wearing multiple hats
  • When to contact legal counsel as CCO
  • CCO liability considerations



Networking Break


BREAKOUT (1 of 3)
The Liquidity Rule – Developing a Compliance Monitoring Program
Content Track: Registered Investment Companies

Much has been written about establishing a Liquidity Risk Management Program for mutual funds, and much of the focus has been on buckets and reporting. This panel will examine compliance with the Liquidity Rule from the post-implementation perspective. The panelists will:

  • Review the Liquidity Rule requirements and Status of Compliance Dates
  • Discuss the role of a Fund’s CCO in overseeing compliance with the Rule
  • Consider the partnership with a Fund’s service provider to administer the Liquidity Risk Management Program

BREAKOUT (2 of 3)
The Challenges of “Marketing” Private Investment Funds
Content Track: Private Funds

Marketing wants to leverage websites, social media, publishers, data rooms and more. Learn what is permitted under the offering rules and how to apply the rules in the media and data age. Attend this session and prevent the firm’s compliance program from being caught in between.

  • How fund managers market their products and names after the Small Jobs Act
  • Maintaining compliance with Rule 506(b)
  • Requirements of an offering pursuant to Rule 506(c)
  • Using websites, social media, and data rooms

BREAKOUT (3 of 3)
Keeping up with the Regulators, Technology Edition
Content Track: Portfolio Management & Trading

It is increasingly critical to map strategic and scalable means to respond to regulatory data management challenges. The SEC and regulators across the globe are employing more data collection, study and analysis. Compliance professionals will hear best practices about what is possible and how it should be managed and organized.

  • SEC and European regulatory data expectations of large advisers
  • Regulatory data usage
  • How to build a unified model for reporting
  • Common challenges overcome
  • Channeling regulatory intelligence into your program
  • Technology’s facilitation of consistency



Welcoming Reception


Rise & Shine Morning Yoga
Kick off another day in beautiful Charleston by connecting your mind and body with early-morning yoga. Taking place in the Ansonborough Room alongside historic King Street, our instructor will guide you through a stress-melting workout designed to ramp up your energy levels. Mats, towels and water will be provided.




Demystifying Cyber Insurance
Content Track: Cybersecurity

Many firms are now considering cyber insurance as a risk management measure. Join the movement and the experts to discuss what cyber insurance coverage really means. Learn what questions to ask about amount and scope of coverage and how to compare policies. There are no silly cyber insurance questions; get the answers necessary for firms to make informed decisions.

Standards of Business Conduct: Overseeing Compliance with Your Code of Ethics
Content Track: Ethics

A code of ethics and other compliance policies set forth the standards of business conduct to which supervised persons must adhere. The challenge can often be monitoring compliance with the policies and assisting supervised persons with understanding their responsibilities. This discussion group will provide an exchange of practices and ideas that others have used to monitor compliance with their Code of Ethics. Topics that may be addressed include:

  • Going beyond checklists and utilizing technology to monitor compliance with standards of business conduct
  • Trust but Verify – verifying employee disclosures through testing
  • Supporting a “culture of compliance” by engaging with employees

Strategies for Communicating a Powerful Compliance Message
Content Track: Career Development

It’s not necessary to watch multiple TED Talks to gain insight into effective speaking. Just join this interactive discussion group which will help foster effective speaking methods when dealing with Senior Management or a Board of Directors. Learn from peers on what has worked in effectively delivering a compliance message. Take home tips for delivering a powerful message that will resonate across the firm. This discussion group will explore these considerations and techniques can be used to talk to all levels of an organization as well as regulators.


Morning Welcome


Meet The Compliance Solution Providers


Practice What You Breach: Incident Response Simulation and Practical Takeaways
Content Track: Cybersecurity

The stress and pressure of dealing with an incident are felt from the C-suite to the front lines. Ransomware and cyber incidents are still on the rise, and time is critical when responding to ensure that legal, compliance, technical, and public relations aspects are quickly but effectively being addressed. The best way to assess readiness is through careful preparation. In this session, we will go through specific incident scenarios that may hit a little close to home to get participants thinking, asking the right questions, and understanding the business and compliance implications of incident response. This session will enable participants to go back to their firms with practical tabletop examples to help iron out the details and identify the weak spots in incident response plans.


Meet The Compliance Solutions Providers


Fiduciary Rule Developments and the Future Impact on Investment Adviser Regulation
Content Track: Hot Topics

The DOL moved first but did not cross the finish line. Chair Clayton has added expanded fiduciary rules to the SEC rulemaking agenda. States also have started to line up with expanded fiduciary rulemaking. This panel will forecast expanded fiduciary rules through 2020, and prepare firms for the fiduciary generation.

  • Chair Clayton’s agenda
  • The Trump administration and the DOL
  • 2017 SEC Examination Priorities covering protection of retail investors
  • Regulatory coordination of fiduciary controls across the Advisers Act Rules, Investment Company Act Rules, and DOL
  • Prohibited Contract Exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract Exemption
  • Elimination or disclosures of conflicts


Networking Break


BREAKOUT (1 of 3)
New Form ADV Filings and The Importance of Accurate Data
Content Track: Hot Topics

The SEC has asked for more data within Form ADV disclosure documents. And while the dust has settled on the first filing utilizing the updated Form ADV Part 1, advisers are probably still thinking about whether they answered all the revised questions correctly. From questions regarding the data included in Item 5 to correct completion of the relying adviser section, all of that and more will be addressed.

BREAKOUT (2 of 3)
Private Fund Fees and Expenses – What Compliance Professionals Need to Know
Content Track: Private Funds

The SEC’s focus on fund fees and expenses continues. It is important for compliance officers to understand how to follow the money to verify that fund clients are being treated appropriately. This panel will look beyond financial statements and discuss:

  • Considerations pertaining to allocation of fees and expenses among clients
  • Identifying conflicts of interest
  • Implementing policies and monitoring controls

BREAKOUT (3 of 3)
Performing Trading Compliance Surveillance
Content Track: Portfolio Management & Trading
In 2015, then-OCIE Director Andrew Bowden told the industry that the SEC developed tools for trade compliance analytics surpassing the industry’s capabilities. Former Director Bowden challenged advisers to improve their game with the notion that if the SEC can do analytics, then advisers will be expected to achieve the same. This session will demonstrate Ascendant’s CSS Trade Compliance AnalyzerTM, and review the SEC’s expectations for compliance trade surveillance.




Coordinating Industry Expertise for Necessary and Effective Rulemaking
Content Track: Compliance Program

David Blass has advocated for the asset management industry before countless domestic and international regulators, and has testified on industry’s behalf before Congress. After a role as General Counsel of ICI and over a decade at the SEC, David returned to private practice where he continues to provide industry thought leadership.
He has written and delivered speeches outlining broker-dealer issues on transaction fees for the private equity industry and rulemaking impacting the asset management industry, including private funds and their advisers and the recent SEC suite of rulemakings targeting asset managers and funds.
Given his expertise in investment adviser regulation, this Special Presentation promises to provide fascinating insights on the process of rulemaking and its far-reaching impact.


Meet The Compliance Solution Providers


Custody Insights: Seeing Past the Guidance to Business Practices
Content Track: Compliance Program

The SEC has continued to provide advisers with guidance on the Custody Rule. Yet, confusion continues over the nuances of this Rule. This session will dive into the various adviser practices that could trigger custody. Ensuring compliance with the annual financial audit or the surprise examination for private funds will be addressed. Receipt of client checks, SLOAs, custodial paperwork, and other advisory practices will be covered and clarified.


Networking Break


BREAKOUT (1 of 3)
Leveraging Service Providers’ Technology and Reporting to Administer a RIC’s Compliance Program
Content Track: Registered Investment Companies

Managing “Big Data” effectively is key to a strong compliance program. Using technology and system resources to monitor and administer a Fund’s compliance program has moved well beyond exception reporting. A Fund’s CCO now has access to data through the Fund’s service providers that assist with overseeing the service provider and administering the Funds’ compliance program. This panel will discuss:

  • The types of technology and data available from service providers
  • Using technology to administer and test a Fund’s policies and procedures
  • Working with a Fund’s service provider to create a winning team
  • Reporting to a Fund’s Board

BREAKOUT (2 of 3)
The Continuing Impact of MiFID II and PRIIPs on U.S. Managers and Advisers
Content Track: Portfolio Management & Trading

The arrival of both MiFID II and PRIIPs in January 2018 has been felt acutely by U.S. managers and advisers – with the unbundling of research fees from trade commissions, mandatory trade & transaction reporting, demonstration of best execution, facilitating end-to-end product governance for EU distributors and delivery of statutory pre-sale documents and data to clients – what should U.S. firms be doing to ensure they can continue to do business in the EU?

  • Soft dollar issues/RPAs/Unbundling
  • How to facilitate product governance
  • New SEC no-action letters
  • How to ensure insurance institutional channels continue to receive flows
  • Mandatory transparency reporting for trades and transactions

BREAKOUT (3 of 3)
Both Sides of Sub-Adviser Due Diligence
Content Track: Compliance Program

Business can be won or lost on the impression firms make to prospective clients and the attention it pays to continuing relationships. Responding to a sub-adviser due diligence request is the first opportunity to create a great impression. Join this panel to learn how to successfully navigate serving as a sub-adviser and what questions to ask when hiring them. The panel will address:

  • Getting to know one another – the initial due diligence process
  • What to consider when responding to requests for information
  • Evaluating the materials and responses received from prospective sub-advisers
  • What ongoing oversight and monitoring entails for a sub-adviser
  • Maintaining records of due diligence oversight


ACM Workshop
This management platform continues to evolve with the speed of business, adding ease to your regular compliance burdens including office monitoring, communication facilitation, meeting regulatory requirements and more. Join us to learn about its many functions and newly added features.


The Governor Thomas Bennett House is one of the most historic homes in Charleston, a National Register property that was built in 1825 and reflects the grandness of Federal-style architecture. Its stunning gardens and stately interiors are the perfect setting for an enchanting evening of enticing cuisine and libations. Guests will meet in the Belmond Charleston Place lobby and be transported back in time via vintage buses. Due to space restrictions, please RSVP to reserve your spot for this truly Southern experience!





Trends in Private Fund Examination
Content Track: Private Funds

This session will discuss the experiences of peers with private fund exams, common Commission findings and the tenor of the exams. Learn what to expect, share your experiences and compare notes with other compliance professionals.

Preparing for A Merger or Acquisition
Content Track: Compliance Program

The advisory industry has seen more and more firms merge together to offer more robust service offerings to investors. Yet there are many compliance and operational challenges upon the merging of advisory practices. Before firms begin a merger, there is also the importance of performing effective due diligence to ensure the acquired firm stands on solid compliance ground. Hear from industry experts that have been traveled this route to understand all the nuisances that are involved in a merger or acquisition.

How to Leverage Technology to Manage Your Compliance Program
Content Track: Career Development

Technology is changing every day and impacting how firms do business and manage their compliance programs. Don’t be left behind! Compliance needs to embrace technology tools to strengthen their forensic and surveillance mechanics. For all firms, even those under budget constraints, this session will engage in group discussion of technology tools for the success of every aspect of your compliance program.


Morning Welcome & Raffle




Safeguarding Privacy and Monitoring the Business Risks of Electronic Data and Communications
Content Track: Cybersecurity

In a maze of acronyms, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees while navigating toward safeguarding data in a compliant manner. What are regulatory expectations for mobile device management (MDM), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and SMS text messaging? Has the firm mapped out a path for how the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) impacts it? This panel will cover the recent regulatory focus on electronic communications by advisory personnel and SEC observations from cybersecurity examinations, as well as practical business risk management considerations for safeguarding data. Emerge with a clearer picture of regulatory obligations concerning data. Takeaway: A GDPR Compliance Toolkit


Networking Break


BREAKOUT (1 of 3)
Touting Your Funds: Marketing Rules for Registered Investment Companies
Content Track: Registered Investment Companies

While some of the rules for marketing and advertising mutual funds and ETFs are the rules from investment adviser advertising, there are differences. Knowing what is—and isn’t— permissible is key to providing guidance to the firm’s marketing team. This session will address:

  • Restrictions on advertising for mutual funds and ETFs
  • Sales Literature: The “Dos” and “Don’ts”
  • Use of Performance in Advertising
  • Working with the Fund’s Distributor

BREAKOUT (2 of 3)
Strategies for Managing and Mitigating Risk Disclosure, Risk Inventory
Content Track: Compliance Program

Anyone who has not been through an SEC exam recently might be surprised and concerned to see a request from the SEC examiners asking for the firm’s inventory of compliance risks that have been identified and used as part of its compliance process as well as documentation that maps the inventory of risks to the firm’s written policies and procedures. Be prepared for this important request by participating in this insightful session.

BREAKOUT (3 of 3)
Custody, Clarified
Content Track: Compliance Program

The Custody Rule, and its associated No-Action Letters, IM Guidance Updates and FAQs, cover a multitude of business activities, relationships and disclosure obligations – everything from SLOAs and Form ADV to trust documents, Investment Management Agreements and client-custodian contracts. With the volumes of information and guidance that have been published, it can be difficult to fully understand all the implications on what’s required to comply. In this session, we’ll review the requirements of the rule, what exceptions and exemptions are available and give practical insights on how firms can implement. Participants will be able to submit questions in advance to be discussed during this breakout session.


Effective Examination Management Techniques
Content Track: Compliance Program

Based on recent experiences, this exam-tested panel will share effective techniques for successful examinations. Beginning with the first phone call through the close of the exam, successive stages provide opportunities to promote, to impress, and to highlight strengths. Learn the best practices for successful exam management.

  • Best practices for document production
  • What to include in an opening presentation
  • Who and how to prepare for interviews with the SEC staff
  • Identifying SEC exam priorities for proactive review with SEC staff
  • Responding to follow-up questions and a deficiency letter

End of Conference

Belmond Charleston Place

205 Meeting Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401

Belmond Charleston Place: Where Southern charm meets timeless elegance. The Belmond exudes 17th-century nobility. You’ll be greeted by a striking bronze, four-horse fountain. The lobby enchants with its Georgian open-arm staircase, Italian marble floors and glistening chandelier. Nestled in the historic district and set back from the street, you will enjoy a rare cosmopolitan serenity. Urban living never felt so good.

Ascendant has reserved a block of hotel rooms at the Belmond Charleston Place for the nights of Sunday, April 15 – Thursday, April 19, 2018. Click here for Room Reservations, call 800-831-3490 or email and refer to Group Code #180415ASCE for the Ascendant Compliance Conference. The room rate of $309/night single or double is offered three days before and three days after the conference based upon availability.

Group Rate Cut-Off: Friday, March 16, 2018 – Make your reservations early

Recommended Airport
Charleston International Airport (CHS). Located 12 miles/30 minutes from the Belmond Charleston Place.

Ground Transportation
Taxi fare from CHS to the hotel is approximately $35. Uber fare from CHS to the hotel run from $19-24/uberx, $31-39/uberxl, $48-62/Premium.

Marquee Limo Company 843-530-3257 and MoJet Limo 843-557-5554 are the hotel’s preferred and recommended provider of transportation services for groups and individual travelers.

The hotel offers an airport shuttle for departures every hour from 6:00am – 2:00pm daily. Reservations can be made with the bell stand after check in. Advanced reservations are required as space is limited. Cost is $20.00 per person and is billed to guest room only.

Check In: 4pm Check Out: 12pm

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Our premier conferences give your company exclusive access to CCOs, operations managers, and senior management from some of the world’s largest financial firms. The majority of our attendees come from firms with assets in excess of 1 billion dollars.

By partnering with us, your company will have high visibility and direct access to these attendees, who offer huge business potential.

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Conference Registration

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Questions? Call us at 860-435-2255, email us, or get in touch via our contact page.

Latest Content

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

Ascendant’s Adam DiPaolo Discusses Hypothetical & Model Performance Marketing Pitfalls

A Jan. 12 article in HFMCompliance titled “Best practice for hedge funds using hypothetical and model performance” outlines best practices for hedge fund managers when using hypothetical performance or model data in marketing efforts, and how managers relying on such data can avoid enforcement actions. Adam DiPaolo, Senior Consultant in Ascendant’s Private Funds group, is quoted in the … 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

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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.