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

Do your Fund Documents Clearly Disclose Receipt of Accelerated Monitoring Fees?

Somewhat more reminiscent of the broken-windows enforcement era, two affiliated private equity advisers managing billions settled with the SEC on charges that they failed to make pre-commitment disclosures in fund governing documents related to accelerated fees received from portfolio companies. Interestingly, according to the Settlement Order, the advisers had made some disclosures in fund documents … 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

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

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

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

Schedule 13D/13F Clarity on ETF Issues

Do I need to file a 13D or 13G if my client accounts hold in excess of 5% of an ETF? Generally, no. The SEC has granted no-action relief to ETFs with respect to compliance with Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act. Section 13(d) was designed to require disclosure when holders begin to accumulate … Continued

Latest Content

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

SEC OCIE Issues 2019 Examination Priorities

Well ahead of the New Year, the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2019 examination priorities. In keeping with OCIE’s four “pillars” of promoting compliance, preventing fraud, identifying and monitoring risk, and informing policy, the Dec. 20 release provides a preview of key areas where OCIE intends to focus its limited … Continued

Highlights of 2018: Predictions for 2019

Our annual year-end review covers investment adviser compliance highlights from 2018, and makes 2019 predictions. We will highlight enforcement actions and SEC risk alerts for retail advisers, private fund managers, and institutional wealth managers. Using these as road markers, our predictions are designed to lead reasonable and effective compliance program development. Evaluate 2018 Compliance and … Continued

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

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