The BD/IA Regulator

Providing securities regulatory, enforcement and litigation trends for broker-dealers, investment advisers and investment funds

The end of 2018 was notable for two SEC enforcement actions against private equity fund managers for violations of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 arising from improper allocations of expenses, undisclosed conflicts of interest, and insufficient compliance policies and procedures.  The two actions demonstrate the SEC’s continued focus on private equity fund managers’ use of “operating partners” or consultants and the particular issue of how the expenses of such operating partners or consultants are…
FINRA recently published its 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter (“Priorities Letter”) highlighting topics upon which FINRA will focus in the coming year. Unlike letters in prior years, the Priorities Letter focuses primarily on areas that FINRA considers to be material new priorities. Of particular interest to the growing number of companies providing financial services through an online platform is the first materially new priority highlighted by FINRA in its Priorities Letter—online distribution platforms…
In December 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) published its fifth and last risk alert of 2018 on the topic of electronic messaging by personnel of registered investment advisers. In the alert, OCIE focuses its attention on the growing use by advisory personnel of various types of electronic messaging for business-related communications and seeks to provide suggestions to advisory firms on ways firms can continue to meet their…
The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) published its 2019 examination priorities on December 20, 2018. Although OCIE’s published priorities “provide a preview of key areas where OCIE intends to focus its limited resources,” registrants should be aware that OCIE will proactively seek insight into evolving markets “including changes in risks to markets and investors,” and that its examination program will continue to be refined based on its evaluation of such risks. Registered investment advisers,…
Until yesterday, the enforcement actions of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the digital token (aka cryptocurrency) space have primarily focused on the primary issuances of tokens. However, on November 8, 2018, the SEC announced in an order (the “Order”) that it had settled charges against Zachary Coburn, the founder of the digital token exchange EtherDelta, marking the first time that the SEC has brought an enforcement action against an online digital token platform…
On October 12, 2018, the staff of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management issued a no-action letter to the Independent Directors Council (“IDC”) agreeing that the staff will not recommend enforcement if, in lieu of making certain determinations under Rule 10f-3, 17a-7 and 17e-1 (the “Exemptive Rules”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”), a fund’s board instead receives from its Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) a written representation that transactions entered into reliance on…
In a recently settled enforcement matter, the SEC imposed a $1 million penalty on an investment adviser based on findings that the adviser violated the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) and caused violations of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act”). The charges stemmed from inappropriate cross trading and the adviser’s failure to: (i) disclose the resulting favorable treatment of certain advisory clients; (ii) seek to obtain the best price…
On July 17, 2018, the SEC announced that it had entered into a settlement with a broker-dealer charged with failure to preserve certain records and inaccurately recording travel, entertainment, and other expenses. The broker-dealer agreed to pay a $1.25 million penalty to settle the charges. The SEC found that after receiving document requests from the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, the broker-dealer deleted audio files for certain recorded telephone lines that were responsive to the document requests.…
On July 11, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) published a Risk Alert identifying the most common deficiencies that its staff observed in recent examinations of registered investment advisers’ best execution practices. As with prior OCIE Risk Alerts, investment advisers should carefully examine their compliance policies and procedures in light of the issues identified by OCIE and make improvements where necessary. Read our client alert.…
In a July 2018 regulatory notice (Regulatory Notice 18-20, available here: http://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/notice_doc_file_ref/Regulatory-Notice-18-20.pdf), FINRA has requested that members notify it if they engage, or intend to engage, in any activities related to digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies. In addition, until July 31, 2019, FINRA requests that firms notify their point of contact with FINRA, their regulatory coordinators, if they begin to engage in new activities of this type. Relevant activities include, among other things: transactions…