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Compliance Corner

Confronting the CCO Liability Trend and Mitigating the Risk
For the past several years we have seen an increase in the amount of SEC enforcement actions against CCOs. During SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White’s tenure two high profile cases sparked a conversation centering on CCO liability. The risk of personal liability continues to be a concern for CCOs under Chairman Clayton’s administration. Both SEC administrations have placed an importance on the protection of investors, the deterrence of violations, and increasing transparency. These priorities have led to rules, regulations and enforcement actions that have resulted in increased responsibilities for advisory firms and their CCOs. Here we take a look at several landmark cases involving CCO liability and explore the factors that lead to personal culpability for CCOs. In the Matter of BlackRock Advisors, LLC (April 20, 2015), the firm was charged with failing to disclose information about outside business activities as well as failing to adopt policies and procedures to
Summary of 2017Q2 Private Fund Statistics
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. Form PF went into effect in 2012 and provides risk exposure statistics including, but not limited to the type and size of assets held by private firms. Since October 2015 the SEC’s Division of Investment Management Analytics Office has published quarterly data and statistics related to private funds as reported on Form ADV and Form PF by SEC-registered investment advisers. Unregistered advisors, exempt reporting advisors and
2017 – The Year of SEC Exams
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. Now that the holidays are behind us and we look forward to a promising new year, I find myself marveling at the year we had and proud of the results we achieved. We were busy on-boarding many new clients and continuing to manage and update the compliance programs for our existing clients. Meanwhile, the OCIE was busy trying to meet its goal of examining 40% of
Amendments to Form ADV are Now Effective
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. The amendments to Form ADV became effective on October 1st. Unless you registered with the SEC on or after October 1st or have had a material change requiring an “other-than-annual” amendment since that date, you have not yet seen the following on the amended Form ADV. 1. Separately Managed Accounts Prior to the amendments, investment advisors disclosed information on their pooled investment vehicles and the amount
CABs Now Subject to Pay-To-Play Rules
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. In August 2016 the SEC approved FINRA rules for a new category of advisers known as “Capital-Acquisition Brokers” or “CABs”. CABs are firms that engage in a limited range of activities, essentially advising companies and private equity funds on capital raising and corporate restructuring, and acting as placement agents for sales of unregistered securities to institutional investors under limited conditions. But, unlike full-service brokers, CABs are
SEC Issues Advertising Risk Alert
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. In September 2017, the OCIE issued a Risk Alert notifying advisors of the most common deficiencies related to the Advertising Rule. Interestingly, all the deficiencies identified involved misleading performance advertising. The takeaways from the Risk Alert are detailed below. Misleading Performance Results. The Staff observed advisers that presented performance results without deducting advisory fees. The Staff also found that advisers used advertisements that compared results to
The Rise of Text Messaging for Business Purposes
Text messaging. We’re all doing it. It’s not only easy to do, but also a highly effective and efficient way to communicate. According to a survey conducted by Smarsh, a firm specializing in cloud-based archiving solutions, text messaging is the most requested channel for business use by employees in financial firms, up over 20 percent from last year. The increasing number of professionals using text messaging for business purposes has caught the attention of regulators and raises compliance and supervision concerns. During 2016 SEC examinations, twenty-one percent of firms examined were required to provide their mobile device communications policy. Drafting a Policy Surprisingly, more than one-third (36 percent) of the firms allowing text messaging for business purposes lack a written policy governing its use and almost half (48 percent) lack an archiving solution. The first step towards laying a foundation for text message compliance is to have a policy governing
New Disclosures for Form ADV
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. Beginning on October 1, 2017, investment advisers will be expected to comply with the various new disclosures required on the Form ADV. Earlier this summer, the SEC released additional guidance for investment advisers and compliance professionals in the form of frequently asked questions (“FAQ”) to help answer any remaining questions advisers may have on how to comply with the new amendments to Form ADV. We have
Preparing for SEC Examinations
About our Contributors ICS Group is a regulatory compliance consulting firm specializing in providing compliance support to the financial services and insurance industries. We help our clients comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Our clients include: registered investment advisers, private equity funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, broker-dealers, insurance companies and state pension plans. Our team of highly experienced compliance professionals know from first-hand experience what regulators are looking for, the industry standards that apply, and how to develop and implement cost-effective business-oriented solutions. Over the past few months several ICSGroup clients have had their very first SEC examination. We’ve noticed some noteworthy trends in the types of issues that the regulators are most concerned. Being aware of these issues will enable you to be more prepared for the inevitable SEC exam and help you avoid being cited for a compliance deficiency. What We’ve Noticed Here we have compiled a
Valuations as a Private Equity Risk
While accounting standards, valuation frameworks and industry guidelines have been moving towards standardization of valuation principles, private equity (“PE”) fund managers still have substantial freedom when valuing their portfolio companies. For example, there is inevitable temptations to present interim performance numbers in a particularly favorable light when raising a follow-on fund or limiting write-downs during down markets. On the other hand, there may be general incentives to smooth returns by using conservative values in normal or good times to avoid a negative surprise to investors when assets are ultimately sold. Recent academic studies have shown that some advisers do in fact inflate valuations during periods of fundraising. The first large scale study on this topic by Tim Jenkinson, et al. stated: “We find that valuations of remaining portfolio companies, and therefore reported returns, are inflated during fundraising, with a gradual reversal once the follow-on fund has been closed. This finding