Investment Advisers Act

On November 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission extended temporary no-action relief to firms that are regulated in the United States in connection with their efforts to comply with the research provisions of the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II). Under the extension, the SEC staff will not recommend enforcement action

On November 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it voted to propose amendments to modernize the rules under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act) addressing investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors. According to the SEC, the “proposed amendments to the advertising rule (Rule 206(4)-1 under the Advisers Act) would replace the current rule’s broadly drawn limitations with principles-based provisions,” and would permit the use of testimonials, endorsements and third-party ratings, subject to certain conditions. The proposed rule also would include tailored requirements for the presentation of performance results based on an advertisement’s intended audience.
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On October 31, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) filed suit against the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the guidance that the SEC issued in August 2019 regarding the applicability of the federal proxy rules to proxy advisors such as ISS. The SEC’s guidance was previously discussed in the August 23, 2019 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest.
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On July 11, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a Risk Alert to provide investment advisers and other market participants with information concerning many of the most common deficiencies that OCIE staff has found in recent examinations of investment advisers’ compliance with their best execution obligations under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”). The Advisers Act best execution obligation requires an investment adviser to execute securities transactions for clients in such a manner that the client’s total costs, or proceeds in each transaction, are the most favorable under the circumstances taking into consideration the full range and quality of a broker-dealer’s services including, among other things, the value of research provided as well as execution capability, commission rate, financial responsibility, and responsiveness to the investment adviser. Furthermore, an investment adviser should periodically evaluate the execution quality of broker-dealers executing their clients’ transactions.
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On June 5, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management staff (Staff) updated its “Staff Responses to Questions About the Custody Rule” (Custody Rule FAQs). The Custody Rule FAQs address questions regarding Rule 206(4)-2 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the “Custody Rule.” The update to the Custody Rule FAQs specifically addressed concerns regarding the Staff’s February 2017 Guidance Update titled: “Inadvertent Custody: Advisory Contract Versus Custodial Contract Authority” (Guidance Update). The Guidance Update indicated that investment advisers may inadvertently have custody (Inadvertent Custody) of client assets due to provisions in a separate custodial agreement entered into between its advisory client and a qualified custodian that allow the investment adviser to instruct the custodian to disburse, or transfer, client funds or securities.
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On June 12, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management updated its Frequently Asked Questions on Form ADV and IARD. Much of the additional guidance relates to amendments to Part 1A of Form ADV made by the SEC in 2016. Investment advisers will need to comply with these amendments beginning

On April 21, the National Credit Union Administration issued proposed prototype regulations with other financial institution regulatory agencies (Agencies) to likely follow suit. Required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Act), the rule is intended to (1) prohibit incentive-based payment arrangements that the Agencies determine encourage inappropriate risks by certain financial institutions by providing excessive compensation or that could lead to material financial loss; and (2) require those financial institutions to disclose information concerning incentive-based compensation arrangements to the appropriate federal regulator.
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