Author Archives: Hedge Fund Lawyer

Hedge Fund Bits and Pieces for March 24, 2017

Happy Friday from rainy San Francisco. As a reminder, there is one week left for investment advisers to complete the annual ADV update.


Notes on cryptocurrency and blockchain – earlier this week Coinbase added a new margin product for leveraged trading in certain leading cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin. We believe that a product like this would be subject to CFTC jurisdiction and certain registration (or exemption) requirements. As we’ve had more discussions with groups in this space over the last couple of weeks we are seeing both the difficulties of running a fund strategy in this space (hard to find banks willing to support crypto managers; lack of audit firms able to audit these strategies) and the possibilities of blockchain technology (potentially uses for compliance in the hedge fund space).  These discussions have come in the wake of significant client interest in this are and our article on bitcoin hedge funds.

Cannabis Investment Management Conference – continuing on our earlier discussion of the rise of investment opportunities in the cannabis space, MedMen and IMN are putting on The Institutional Capital & Cannabis Conference next week in San Jose. The conference will take place on March 28-29 and will include a number of funds and allocators in the cannabis space.

Regulations and Tax – not as much news this week on the regulatory front applicable to hedge funds – we expect to begin hearing more next week (after the Health Care Bill vote) when/if the discussion of tax reform begins. If Trump keeps his word to eliminate the “carried interest loophole”, we may see more discussion of the issue like we did back in 2011 and 2009.

Other Items:

  • SEC Compliance Seminars – the SEC announced compliance seminars in a number of cities. Please see the release here.
  • Connecticut Reminder to Exempt IAs – the Connecticut Department of Banking sent out a regulatory reminder about managers who utilize the Connecticut IA registration exemption (more information in our post about the Connecticut ERA filing) in the state. The release can be found here.
  • SEC Adopts T+2 – the settlement cycle for securities transactions gets shorter by one day on September 5, 2017. We expect to hear more from the brokerage firms about this change in the next couple of months as systems become integrated with the new requirements. The announcement can be found here.


Bart Mallon is a founding partner of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP and focuses his legal practice on the investment management industry. He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Cannabis Hedge Funds

Overview of Private Fund Investment in the Marijuana Industry

After the elections of 2016, eight states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing for the recreational use of marijuana. Many other states have decriminalized the use of marijuana and most allow the use of medical marijuana. From the standpoint of the investment management industry, the expansion of the market for cannabis has created a new category of potential investments. Private investment funds that focus on this industry (so called marijuana or cannabis hedge funds) are still relatively rare but we anticipate that they are in the early stages of developing into a strong sector strategy moving forward. This post is designed to provide an overview of the structure and regulatory considerations for these vehicles.

Structural Considerations

In general, the structure of a cannabis hedge fund will be substantially the same as a standard hedge fund, with some minor items to keep in mind. Structurally, managers will focus on the type of strategy they will deploy, the investment terms for that strategy and whether to use offshore structures.

Hedge Funds or Private Equity Strategy. Each manager in the space will have their own idea of what would make an attractive investment in this space. If a manager is planning to make investments in companies that are publicly traded, then the fund structure will be the same as a traditional hedge fund (more liquidity, annual performance allocation). If a manager is interested in making investments directly into companies that are not publicly traded, then the fund structure will likely be private equity style (no liquidity, distributions only on disposition events). Many managers will find that their industry expertise will help them find attractive opportunities in both spaces and so these managers will most likely do some sort of combination structure—essentially a hedge fund with side pockets.

Fund Terms. Whichever structure is used, the terms are going to be substantially similar to other hedge funds and managers will need to determine what contribution schedule, redemption schedule, leverage amount, if any, and what other investment terms will work for their fund. Because of the industry focus, we’ve seen some groups form advisory boards. We’ve also seen groups who have decided to create SPV structures under the fund to facilitate direct investments, to navigate the regulatory landscape, or to create greater shields from liability.

Onshore / Offshore Structures. Whether to use an offshore structure will be determined mostly by the jurisdiction of investors in the fund. Like a normal private fund, if there are no offshore investors, then a standard domestic fund will usually be sufficient; if there will be offshore investors or if manager intends to use leverage and have IRA or 401k investors, an offshore structure will normally be utilized. If an offshore structure is used, the choice will generally be between the mini-master structure  and the master-feeder structure. In general, the manager will not want to create a standalone offshore structure if they are doing PE-style investments because of the likelihood that such investment would be deemed to be involved in a US trade or business, subject to additional tax planning. In addition to structure, managers will need to decide on offshore counsel and many managers will engage independent directors.  These items will be discussed with counsel during the formation process.

Regulatory and Other Considerations for Marijuana Fund Managers

While structuring of the fund and drafting of the fund documents will be fairly straightforward, there are some other operational issues for cannabis fund managers to keep in mind.

Regulation of Management Company. Like a normal hedge or PE fund manager, the management company to a cannabis fund would be deemed to be an investment adviser because the manager would receive compensation for providing advice regarding investment in securities. As any normal investment adviser, the manager would need to determine whether to register under the state or SEC regimes or whether the manager could utilize an exemption from registration.

Federal Legal Issues. There are two federal laws that impact investment managers in the cannabis industry:

Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – Notwithstanding minor federal action to the contrary (i.e. the “Cole Memos”), marijuana is still deemed to be a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. While unlikely, it is possible that marijuana businesses abiding by state law could be subject to federal action with respect to the manufacturing and dispensing of the product. [Note: the above was accurate during the Obama administration; the Trump administration has indicated that federal action may occur.] Federal sanctions under the CSA are harsh and include jail time and fines.

Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) – Perhaps a bigger issue for the cannabis industry are the issues that arise under the BSA. The BSA provides a framework that banks must follow with respect to certain suspicious activity. Because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, banks are technically required to report the activity of their clients in the cannabis industry to the U.S. Treasury. This sort of red tape, and the potential for liability to the bank for helping to facilitate this activity, makes banks less likely to deal with groups in this space. Although fund managers are a step removed from any growing or selling operations, we have generally found that managers will need to spend time finding a bank that is comfortable with the potential risks of holding the fund’s cash. Ultimately as the industry grows and federal law loosens (if they do), we believe the banking industry will come around. We have recently heard of groups who are trying to work on a bitcoin-type payment system for the cannabis industry.

State Laws. For states that now allow the recreational use of marijuana, there generally are a number of laws and regulations that both operating companies and fund managers must keep in mind. The laws and regulations will generally be implemented by a state regulatory body that will have the power to determine the manner in which leaf-based products (including seeds) are brought to market. Non-leaf based products (such as paraphernalia) generally will be subject to lesser or no scrutiny under state law.

Investment Size. Many private companies in the industry are new and subject to the same kinds of operational risks that apply to businesses in other industries. Additionally, these private companies are small and not yet able to deploy capital from large equity investments. In this way, fund projects tend to be on the smaller side because of capital constraints.

Service Providers. Some groups, especially audit firms, may be reticent to provide services to groups who focus on investments into this sector. As mentioned above, banking may be also be an issue for managers in this space. Some groups also may decide that there are specific issues they need to discuss with cannabis legal counsel.

Valuation. As with any private investment fund that deals with investments into non-publicly traded securities, a cannabis fund with investments in private companies may have to deal with valuation issues of the investments. To a certain degree, many issues can be side-stepped if the manager institutes side pockets, but this will be an area where the manager will want to discuss options with fund counsel as well as fund accountants and auditors.


The marijuana/cannabis industry undoubtedly will become huge over time as more states allow recreational use of marijuana. Although currently still in its infancy, the cannabis industry is poised for significant growth and eventually capital will flow towards managers who focus on this space. While we would have predicted that there would be significantly more private funds focused on this area by now, we anticipate that this will be a strong and growing sector over the coming years as more states legalize the recreational use of the drug and the infrastructure around both companies and assets managers in this space becomes more institutionalized.

Bart Mallon is a founding partner of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP and helped establish one of the first cannabis-focused hedge funds. For more information on this topic, please contact Mr. Mallon directly at 415-868-5345.

IA Annual Form ADV Update for 2017

Investment Adviser Registration Update Due March 31

Under SEC and state regulations, registered investment advisers and exempt reporting advisers (“ERAs”) must file an annual amendment to Form ADV within 90 days of the end of its fiscal year. For most firms this means that the annual updating amendment is due by March 31, 2017.

Process and Major ADV Update Items

The annual update can be completed through the IARD system either (i) internally by the firm’s CCO or (ii) externally by a firm’s compliance consultant or fund attorney. The process generally will entail a review of the current Form ADV, and Form ADV Part 2 if applicable, to make sure that all information is up to date and accurate. In general, once the review process has begun, the update can be completed in a few days depending on the complexity of firm’s operations and the capacity of the updater to make changes in the system. For many firms whose operations have not changed throughout the year, the update should be fairly straight forward – for private fund managers in this situation, the focus mostly will be on the Schedule D, Item 7.B.(1) items (Private Fund Reporting) which include updates to the following items for each fund:

  • Gross asset value of the private fund as of 12/31/16 (essentially RAUM of the fund, described below)
  • Total number of investors
  • % of the fund owned by the advisor and/or its related persons
  • % of the fund that is owned by fund of funds
  • % of the fund that is owned by non-US persons

Private Fund RAUM

The SEC has defined regulatory assets under management (“RAUM”) in Item 5b of the Form ADV instructions (see Form ADV and Filing Instructions for more information).  Generally, RAUM should include the securities portfolios for which a manager provides continuous and regular supervisory or management services as of the date of filing or update of the Form ADV. Unlike AUM, the RAUM calculation requires managers to report assets managed without the deduction of any outstanding indebtedness or other accrued but unpaid liabilities (including accrued fees or expenses) that remain in a client’s account. A fund manager’s RAUM may be higher than its normally reported AUM because it includes:

  • Cash and cash equivalents (i.e., bank deposits, certificates of deposit, bankers acceptances, and similar bank instruments)
  • Long and short positions (on a gross basis)
  • Leverage
  • Margin
  • Family or proprietary accounts
  • Accounts for which the manager receives no compensation for its services
  • Accounts of clients who are not United States persons

RAUM should be calculated based on the current market value of the assets as determined within 90 days prior to the date of filing the Form ADV.  For private funds, the SEC has stated that a manager may rely on the gross assets as reflected on the fund’s balance sheet, and the manager may assess the value of financial instruments under the applicable accounting standards, which is GAAP in this industry.  We urge managers to reach out to their accounting firm if they are unsure about the treatment of any financial instruments for purposes of the RAUM calculation.

Other Items

While it is important to make sure all parts of the Form ADV are accurate and complete, special attention should also be paid to the Part 2 brochures. Some firms also take this opportunity to review their compliance program but given this update requirement and the audit deadline for pooled investment vehicles, the annual compliance review will often be pushed back until later in the year.  While we are quickly coming up to March 31, there is still plenty of time to complete the update and private fund managers should reach out to us if they would like our assistance preparing the amendment for this year.


Bart Mallon provides investment adviser registration and compliance services to investment advisers and private fund managers through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP.   Mr. Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

San Francisco Hedge Fund Events – April 22 and April 23

There are two big events in San Francisco this week.

SF Hedge Fund Networking Group

Meeting April 22 at 4pm at Blanc et Rouge in San Francisco.  For more information, please see the LinkedIn page.

Hedge Funds Care 13th Annual Benefit

The annual Open Your Heart to the Children event featuring the San Francisco 49ers Foundation is on April 22 at 4:30pm.  This year the event will be at the City View space at the Metreon and will feature a number of Bay Area wineries.  For more information on the event and to buy tickets, please go here.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal services to the hedge fund industry.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.


CFTC Issues No-Action Letters for CPO Registration Relief

Hedge Fund General Partner CPO Registration Relief 

In a series of no-action letters issued in March, the CFTC has granted no-action relief from registration as a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) for a general partner of a fund (or a managing member, if the fund is an LLC) that delegates its entire management authority over the fund to another entity – typically an “investment manager” entity – that is under common control with the general partner. Under this relief, the investment manager is required to register as a CPO, but the general partner is relieved from the CPO registration requirement.

Background on CPO Registration

Based on the legal structure of a fund organized as a limited partnership or limited liability company, typically the general partner or managing member (respectively) has the operational authority over the fund that makes CPO registration process necessary. Under the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 (the “Act”), an entity that engages in the following activities on behalf of a fund (a “pool” in CFTC parlance) is generally required to register as a CPO:

“any person engaged in a business that is of the nature of a commodity pool, investment trust, syndicate, or similar form of enterprise, and who, in connection therewith, solicits, accepts, or receives from others, funds, securities, or property, either directly or through capital contributions, the sale of stock or other forms of securities, or otherwise, for the purpose of trading in commodity interests.”  See text here.

In some fund structures, however, the general partner may wish to delegate its CPO responsibilities to an investment manager. This is often (but not exclusively) done in the context where a fund’s performance allocation is paid to the general partner, in order to obtain favorable tax treatment, but the investment manager runs the fund on a day-to-day basis, often receiving management fees as compensation. In this situation, it would be costly and burdensome to register both the general partner and the investment manager as separate CPOs of the fund, so it may be worthwhile to request CFTC no-action relief.

Requirements for No-Action Relief

The CFTC issued four no-action letters outlining the general guidelines for how to take advantage of the CPO registration relief described in this article: CFTC Letter No. 13-17, CFTC Letter No. 13-18, CFTC Letter No. 13-19, and CFTC Letter No. 13-20. Although the facts of each no-action letter differ somewhat, the following basic requirements apply. The general partner and investment manager should be able to make representations to the CFTC with respect to each of the following:

Common Ownership and Control. The general partner entity and the investment manager entity should have the same owners and be subject to the control of the same persons.

Delegation Agreement – All Management Authority. The general partner and investment manager should enter into a “Delegation Agreement” whereby all of the CPO-related authority of the general partner is delegated to the investment manager.

Soliciting Clients and Managing Assets. The general partner must not engage in the solicitation of investors to the fund, and must not manage the property of the fund.

Books and Records. All books and records related to the CPO activities should be maintained at the offices of the investment manager.

CPO Registration. The investment manager must be registered or be in the process of registering as a CPO, and must maintain its registration on an ongoing basis.

Employees and Agents. The general partner must not have any employees or others acting on its behalf, and must not engage in any other activities that would subject it to the Act or the CFTC’s regulations.

Joint & Several Liability. The general partner and investment manager entities must agree to be jointly and severally liable for any violation of the Act or the CFTC’s regulations.

Statutory Disqualification. The general partner cannot be subject to statutory disqualification from CPO registration under section 8a(2) or 8a(3) of the Act.

How to Apply for No-Action Relief

If you wish to apply for the no-action relief described above, you will need to draft a letter to the CFTC to request the relief. This letter should comply with the requirements of CFTC Regulation 140.99. Please reach out to us if you would like any assistance with drafting such a letter.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP acts as legal counsel to the investment management industry.  If you have questions on the above please contact us or call Bart Mallon directly at 415-868-5345.

California Finance Lenders License

California Requirements for Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds Engaged in Lending Businesses

Investment advisers, private equity managers, private fund managers, and other businesses that are engaged in making loans should be aware of whether their activities fall under the purview of the lending laws of any state such that they would be required to obtain a license and comply with certain ongoing regulatory requirements.

Under California law, finance lenders (defined as “any persons who are engaged in the business of making consumer loans or making commercial loans”) and finance brokers (defined as “any persons engaged in the business of negotiating or performing any act as brokers in connection with loans made by a finance lender”) are required to obtain a California Finance Lenders License. Private investment funds, such as hedge funds and private equity funds, that engage in such activities are no exception.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the California Finance Lenders Law (“CFLL”) exempts certain transactions from its licensing requirements. Lenders relying on these exemptions will be able to avoid a lengthy application process with the California Department of Business Oversight and its associated requirements and costs.

New and Existing Exemptions under the California Finance Lenders Law

Effective January 1, 2014, section 22050(e) of the California Financial Code was amended to exempt persons who make five or fewer commercial loans in a 12-month period, provided that the loans are incidental to the business of the person relying upon the exemption. This amendment expanded the previous de minimis exemption for any person making just one commercial loan in a 12-month period. As such, investment advisers, private fund managers, and other members of the investment management industry that occasionally provide commercial loans may take advantage of this expanded safe harbor as long as such loans are incidental to their primary business.

A full list of exemptions is set forth under Sections 22050 – 22065 of the California Financial Code, providing relief from CFLL regulation for other types of transactions and specific entities licensed by other regulatory agencies. Among those exempt are the following:

• Banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations, insurance premium finance agencies, credit unions, small business investment companies, community advantage lenders, California business and industrial development corporations, or licensed pawnbrokers;

• Loans made or arranged by persons licensed as a real estate broker by the state and secured by a lien on real property, or to any licensed real estate broker when making such loan;

• Commercial bridge loans made by a venture capital company to an operating company, subject to certain requirements.

If you are engaged in lending transactions, we encourage you to contact your legal counsel to determine if you are eligible for one of the exemptions under the CFLL.

Licensing and Regulation under the California Finance Lenders Law

Finance lenders unable to avail themselves of an exemption from CFLL regulation will need to submit an application to the California Department of Business Oversight. Currently, the application must include the following attached items:

• Balance sheet

• Surety bond in the amount of $25,000

• Proof of Legal Presence (for sole proprietor applicants)

• California Customer Authorization for Disclosure of Financial Records Form

• Fictitious Business Name Statement (if applicable)

• Certificate of Status or Good Standing in the applicant’s state of formation and in CA

• Partnership Agreement (for general partnership applicants)

• Federal Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number (for sole proprietors)

• Organization Chart for the Applicant

In addition, each individual responsible for the applicant’s lending activities must complete a “Statement of Identity and Questionnaire” and provide fingerprints. The application fee is currently $200 (nonrefundable), plus an investigation fee of $100 and fingerprint processing fees ($20 per California resident; $80 per non-California resident).

It should be noted that the licensing process for residential mortgage providers (mortgage lenders and brokers) is a separate application, filed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System.

Once approved, licensees are subject to periodic regulatory examinations for which they must pay; pay an annual assessment each year; file an Annual Report by March 15 of each year; are subject to statutory books and record requirements; and must maintain a $25,000 surety bond at all times.

If you are subject to licensing would like our assistance with obtaining a California Finance Lenders License, please contact us.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal services to hedge fund and private equity funds.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

NFA May Impose Capital Requirements, Other Restrictions on CPOs and CTAs

NFA Suggests New Rules, Solicits Comments from CPOs and CTAs

The NFA recently issued a Notice to Members that included a Request for Comments on a proposal to subject CPOs and CTAs to new rules. These rules, which include a minimum capital requirement for CPOs and CTAs, would be intended to protect customer funds and ensure that CPOs and CTAs have sufficient assets to operate as a going concern.

The NFA justified the need for these rules by citing 26 Member Responsibility Actions that were taken over the past 3 years, mostly against CPOs and CTAs for misuse of customer funds and/or misstatements of net asset values and performance information. Comments are due to the NFA by April 15, 2014.

Rules Under Consideration

The NFA did not propose any language for the rules in its Request for Comments, nor did the NFA suggest any details on how the rules might be drafted. Instead, the NFA implied what rules are under consideration by posing questions to CPOs and CTAs on the utility of certain rules, and on what standards should be applied to implement them.

CPOs and CTAs

• Capital Requirements. CPOs and CTAs may be required to maintain a minimum amount of capital, and to file periodic reports with the NFA to demonstrate compliance. However, the NFA’s Request for Comments indicates a degree of flexibility. For example, the NFA asked for members who oppose a capital requirement to suggest alternatives for ensuring that CPOs and CTAs have sufficient funds to operate as a going concern.

• Inactive NFA Members. NFA members that are not actively trading futures or commodity interests may have their NFA membership withdrawn, so that the NFA can stop expending regulatory resources on these firms.

CPOs Only

• Gatekeeper for Pool Disbursements. CPOs may need to retain an independent third party to approve pool disbursements (a “gatekeeper”).

• NAV Valuation and Reporting. An independent third party may be required to prepare or verify a CPO’s pool NAV valuations, and such valuations may need to be submitted periodically to the NFA.

• Performance Results. An independent third party may have to prepare or verify a CPO’s pool performance results.

• Verification of Pool Assets. CPOs and the entities actually holding pool assets may both be required to report pool asset amounts to the NFA, so that the NFA can cross-reference the reports for consistency. This could be similar to rules currently in place for futures commission merchants.


The new rules being considered are in the earliest stages of development, but it is clear that the NFA is concerned about the misuse of customer funds and the risks posed by undercapitalized CPOs and CTAs. Any CPOs or CTAs interested in commenting on the rules under consideration should submit their comments to the NFA via email to by April 15, 2014.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal advice to the managed futures industry and works with FCMs, IBs, CPOs, and CTAs.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

SEC Compliance – Custody Issue

Annual Update Guidance on Custody Issue

It is that time of year that registered investment advisers are focusing on the ADV annual updating process.  Occasionally the SEC will provide guidance to managers on common questions applicable to the application or updating process.  Below is a note the SEC sent out to all registered investment advisers regarding the custody issue.  If you have questions on the application of the custody rules to your particular situation, you should discuss with your law firm or compliance consultant.


To: SEC-Registered Investment Advisers,

This email is a reminder that all SEC-registered advisers that have custody of client assets should answer all questions in Item 9 of Part 1A of Form ADV. Each adviser’s answers will vary depending on facts and circumstances.

For example, advisers that have custody solely because they deduct fees from client accounts would respond “no” in Item 9.A. Additionally, these advisers would likely respond “no” in Items 9.B., and 9.D., and they likely would not need to provide information in Items 9.C. or 9.E. However, in Item 9.F., these advisers likely would need to indicate that there is at least one person acting as qualified custodian for their clients in connection with advisory services they provide to clients.

If you have questions, you may reply to this email.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Division of Investment Management
100 F Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20549-8549
Phone | 202.551.6999


Cole-Frieman & Mallon is a boutique law firm which provides regulatory compliance and consulting services to the investment management industry.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

SAIA Panel Event – March 6th

Please see below information on the Seattle Alternative Investment Association event on March 6th.


Please sign up now to attend SAIA’s next panel discussion, which is scheduled for Thursday, March 6, 2014.

This event is called: “The New Investment Regime: Opportunities Arising from the Shake-Up of Wall Street and Regulatory Reform.” The discussion will focus on recent SEC regulatory changes, with a particular emphasis on how investment funds and allocators are adapting to the new landscape.

The panelists will include Gabe Poggi, Portfolio Analyst at EJF Capital LLC and Sanjai Bohnsle, Managing Director at Arrowpoint Partners. The discussion will be moderated by Elli Kavros, Executive Director at Morgan Stanley.

It will be held in the Puget Sound Conference Room at 1918 8th Avenue in downtown Seattle (at the corner of 8th and Virginia). Registration begins at 5:30 and the event begins at 6:15 PM and will run until 7:30-7:45 PM.

Seating is limited, so please register to confirm your attendance. To register, go to and click on “News and Events.” At the Events page, click on “register for this event.” This event is free for SAIA members. Otherwise the single event fee is $75 (paid via PayPal, or collected at the door).

If you have any problems with registration or questions, please send an email to ( Thank you for your time and interest in SAIA and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday, March 6th.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP is a boutique investment management law firm.  Bart Mallon serves on the SAIA board and he can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP End of Year Checklist 2013

Below is our end of the year update and checklist.  Please contact us directly if you would like to be added to the distribution list.


December 4, 2013

Clients, Friends, Associates:

December is the busiest month of the year for most private fund managers. In addition to end of year administrative upkeep, the regulatory landscape has shifted dramatically over the past twelve months. As a result, year-end processes and 2014 planning are particularly important, especially for General Counsels, CCOs and key operations personnel. As we head into 2014, we have put together this checklist to help managers stay on top of the business and regulatory landscape for the coming year.

This overview includes the following:

* Regulatory & Other Changes in 2013
* Adviser Registration & Compliance
* CFTC Regulation
* Annual Compliance & Other Items
* Annual Fund Matters
* Annual Management Company Matters
* Compliance Calendar


Regulatory & Other Changes in 2013:

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”). FATCA will require certain financial institutions to identify and disclose direct and indirect U.S. investors and withhold U.S. income tax on nonresident aliens and foreign corporations, or be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax on payments they receive from U.S. sources (the “FATCA Tax”). FATCA’s implementation deadline was delayed by six months, such that foreign financial institutions (including offshore funds), now have until April 25, 2014 to complete certain steps in order to avoid being subject to the FATCA Tax. Offshore fund managers should contact their tax advisers and compliance counsel to prepare for FATCA compliance and, if required, to register with the IRS before April 25, 2014. In addition, domestic fund managers should work with their tax advisers, administrators and legal counsel to properly address the new account onboarding and due diligence procedures required under FATCA, including updating their offering documents and subscription materials.

General Solicitation Ban Lifted. Earlier this year, the SEC issued long-awaited implementing regulations and other proposed rules relating to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (“JOBS Act”), including most famously (and potentially least well understood), the New Rule 506(c) under Regulation D. New Rule 506(c) became effective on September 23, 2013, and it permits private investment funds to engage in general solicitation and advertising to the public, provided that the funds take “reasonable steps” to verify that all investors are “accredited investors.” Mere reliance on investors’ representations in a questionnaire or subscription agreement (the most common means of establishing accredited status among private investment funds that do not generally solicit) is insufficient. In addition, to rely on the New Rule 506(c), funds must amend their current Form Ds filed with the SEC to indicate that going forward they will rely on Rule 506(c).

Additional Proposed Rules. Beyond the accredited investor verification requirements noted above, the SEC has proposed several additional new rules in connection with Rule 506(c) offerings, including (i) requiring an “advance” Form D filing at least 15 days before generally soliciting; (ii) requiring a “closing amendment” to Form D at the conclusion of the offering; (iii) temporarily requiring funds to submit all general solicitation materials to the SEC in advance of their use; (iv) mandating that certain legends be included on all general solicitation materials; (v) automatically disqualifying an issuer from using Regulation D for one year if it fails to file a Form D; and (vi) increasing the information disclosed on Form D.

CFTC Issues. While the SEC’s New Rule 506(c) permits general solicitation under the conditions set forth above, the CFTC has yet to revise its rules to reflect this change. As such, managers that rely on the CFTC’s Rule 4.13(a)(3) exemption from registration as a CPO, and managers that are registered CPOs operating under the CFTC Rule 4.7 exemption, remain prohibited from marketing to the public in the United States.

Identity Theft “Red Flag” Rules. This year the SEC and CFTC jointly issued final rules (the “Rules”) that went into effect on November 20, 2013 requiring certain investment advisers and other regulated entities to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs. The Rules stipulate that such programs should seek to detect, prevent and mitigate potential identity theft associated with accounts the advisers manage.

Application to Investment Advisers. The Rules are detailed and nuanced in nature, but they should generally only apply to investment advisers to the extent the advisers, pursuant to powers of attorney or other arrangements, are authorized by individual clients to direct payment of such clients’ redemption monies to third parties. For this reason, certain investment advisers are revising their offering documents to narrow the scope of the powers of attorney granted thereunder.

What is Included in a Program? To be compliant with the Rules, any program developed and implemented thereunder must include reasonable policies and procedures to identify relevant “red flags” (any activity indicating the possible existence of identity theft), and detect and respond appropriately to any red flags to prevent and mitigate identity theft. Further, the entity must train its staff to properly implement the program, and oversee service providers’ compliance therewith (by, for example, obtaining certifications from their administrators that the administrator understands, and is complying with, the program).

European Union’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (“AIFMD”). The AIFMD went into effect in July of this year, and generally subjects managers marketing alternative investment funds in the EU to heightened reporting and disclosure obligations. These obligations consist of providing pre-investment and ongoing disclosures to investors, complying with requirements affecting manager remuneration, and preparing annual and regular reports to an EU national regulator. In addition, managers may need to comply with the domestic implementing legislation of the jurisdiction where specifically targeted investors are located.

Certain countries, including the UK, Sweden and Germany (for existing funds as of July 22, 2013), are allowing a one-year transitional period delaying the application of the AIMFD to non-EU managers. Other jurisdictions have adopted much more stringent requirements to restrict marketing efforts by non-EU managers. If you are marketing to EU investors, you should carefully review the directive’s provisions as well as applicable national laws to make sure you comply with all requirements.

Dodd-Frank Protocols. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association’s Dodd-Frank Documentation Initiative aims to facilitate compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act. The Documentation Initiative minimizes the need for bilateral negotiations and reduces disruptions to trading by providing a standard set of amendments, referred to as protocols, to update existing swap documentation. 2013 brought compliance deadlines for two such protocols: the ISDA August 2012 Dodd-Frank Protocol (the “Protocol 1.0”), which had an effective compliance date of May 1, 2013, and the ISDA March 2013 Dodd-Frank Protocol (the “Protocol 2.0”) which had an effective compliance date of July 1, 2013. To indicate participation in Protocol 1.0 and Protocol 2.0, market participants must respond to each Protocol’s questionnaire, submit an adherence letter and pay an adherence fee of $500.00 per Protocol through the online ISDA Amend system. Detailed instructions for (i) Protocol 1.0 can be found here, and (ii) Protocol 2.0 can be found here.

Medicare Tax. As of the beginning of 2013, individuals, estates and trusts are subject to a Medicare tax of 3.8% on “net investment income” (or undistributed “net investment income”, in the case of estates and trusts) for each taxable year. For individuals, the 3.8% tax applies to the lesser of such “net investment income” or the excess of such person’s adjusted gross income (with certain adjustments) over a specified threshold amount. For estates and trusts, the 3.8% tax applies if such entities have undistributed “net investment income” above a certain threshold. Net income and gain attributable to an investment in private investment funds will likely be included in investors’ “net investment income” subject to this Medicare tax. Fund managers should contact their tax advisers and legal counsel to assess whether their corporate structure is ideally configured to reduce the impact of this 3.8% tax.

Adviser Registration & Compliance:

Form ADV Annual Amendment. Registered investment advisers (“RIAs”), or managers filing as exempt reporting advisers (“ERAs”), with the SEC or a state securities authority must file an annual amendment to Form ADV within 90 days of the end of their fiscal year. RIAs must provide a copy of the updated Form ADV Part 2A brochure and Part 2B brochure supplement (or a summary of changes with an offer to provide the complete brochure) to each “client”. Note that for SEC-registered advisers to private investment vehicles, a “client” for purposes of this rule is the vehicle(s) managed by the adviser. State-registered advisers need to examine their state’s rules to determine who constitutes the “client.

Switching to/from SEC Regulation.

SEC Registration. Managers who no longer qualify for SEC registration as of the time of filing the annual amendment must withdraw from SEC registration within 180 days after the end of their fiscal year by filing Form ADV-W. Managers should consult their state securities authorities to determine whether they are required to register in their home states. Managers who are required to register with the SEC as of the date of their annual amendment must register with the SEC within 90 days of filing the annual amendment.

Exempt Reporting Advisers. Managers who no longer meet the definition of an ERA will need to submit a final report as an ERA and apply for registration with the SEC or the relevant state securities authority, if necessary, generally within 90 days after the filing of the annual amendment.

CFTC Regulation: 

Annual Re-Certification of CFTC Exemptions. CPOs and CTAs currently relying on certain exemptions from registration with the CFTC will be required to re-certify their eligibility within 60 days of the calendar year end. CPOs currently relying on CFTC Regulation 4.13(a)(3) will need to evaluate whether the commodity pool is still eligible for the exemption when taking into account the new CFTC regulated products.

CPO and CTA Annual Updates. Registered CPOs and CTAs must prepare and file Annual Questionnaires and Annual Registration Updates with the NFA, as well as submit payment for annual maintenance fees and NFA membership dues. Registered CPOs must also prepare and file their fourth quarter report for each commodity pool (Form CPO-PQR). Further, 2013 saw certain changes in CTA reporting, as the NFA now requires CTAs to file a quarterly Form CTA-PR within 45 days of the end of the quarter (the fourth quarter CTA-PR will be due on February 14, 2014). Unless eligible to claim relief under Regulation 4.7, registered CPOs and CTAs must update their disclosure documents periodically, as they may not use any document dated more than 12 months prior to the date of its intended use. Disclosure documents that are materially inaccurate or incomplete must be promptly corrected and the corrected version must be promptly distributed to pool participants.

Annual Compliance & Other Items:

New Issue Status. On an annual basis, managers need to confirm or reconfirm the eligibility of investors that participate in initial public offerings or new issues, pursuant to both FINRA Rules 5130 and 5131. Most managers reconfirm investors’ eligibility via negative consent, i.e., investors are informed of their status as on file with the manager and are asked to inform the manager of any changes. No response operates as consent to the current status.

ERISA Status. Given the significant problems that can occur from not properly tracking ERISA investors, we recommend that managers also confirm or reconfirm on an annual basis the ERISA status of their investors. This is particularly important for managers that track the underlying percentage of ERISA funds for each investor. This reconfirmation can also be obtained through a negative consent.

Annual Privacy Policy Notice. On an annual basis, a registered investment adviser must also provide its investors with a copy of its privacy policy, even if there are no changes to the policy.

Annual Compliance Review. On an annual basis, the CCO of a registered investment adviser must conduct a review of the adviser’s compliance policies and procedures. This annual compliance review should be in writing and presented to senior management. We recommend that you discuss the annual review with your outside counsel or compliance firm, who can provide guidance about the review process as well as a template for the assessment and documentation. Advisers should be careful that sensitive conversations regarding the annual review are protected by attorney-client privilege. CCOs may also want to consider additions to the compliance program. Advisers that are not registered may still wish to review their procedures and/or implement a compliance program as a best practice.

Trade Errors. Managers should make sure that all trade errors are properly addressed pursuant to the manager’s trade errors polices by the end of the year. Documentation of trade errors should be finalized, and if the manager is required to reimburse any of its funds, it should do so by year-end.

Soft Dollars. Managers that participate in soft dollar programs should make sure that they have addressed any commission balances from the previous year.

Custody Rule Annual Audit. SEC registered advisers must comply with certain custody procedures, including (i) maintaining client funds and securities with a qualified custodian; (ii) having a reasonable basis to believe that the qualified custodian sends an account statement to each advisory client at least quarterly; and (iii) undergoing an annual surprise examination conducted by an independent public accountant.

Advisers to pooled investment vehicles may avoid both the quarterly statements and surprise examination requirements by having audited financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP by an independent public accountant registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Statements must be sent to the fund or, in certain cases, investors in the fund, within 120 days after the fund’s fiscal year end. Managers should review their custody procedures to ensure compliance with the rules. Requirements for state-registrants may differ, and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your custody arrangements.

Schedule 13G/D and Section 16 Filings. Managers who exercise investment discretion over accounts (including funds and separately managed accounts) that are beneficial owners of 5% or more of a registered voting equity security must report these positions on Schedule 13G. Schedule 13G filings are updated annually within 45 days of the end of the year. For managers who are also filing Schedule 13D and/or Section 16 filings, this is an opportune time to review your filings to confirm compliance and anticipate needs for Q1.

Form 13F. A manager must also file a Form 13F if it exercises investment discretion with respect to $100 million or more in certain securities within 45 days after the end of the year in which the manager reaches the $100 million filing threshold. The SEC lists the securities subject to 13F reporting on its website.

Form 13H. Managers who meet the SEC’s large trader thresholds (in general, managers whose transactions in exchange-listed securities equal or exceed two million shares or $20 million during any calendar day, or 20 million shares or $200 million during any calendar month) are required to file an initial Form 13H with the SEC within 10 days of crossing the threshold. Large traders also need to amend Form 13H annually within 45 days of the end of the year. In addition, changes to the information on Form 13H will require interim amendments following the calendar quarter in which the change occurred.

SEC Form D. Form D filings for most funds need to be amended on an annual basis, on or before the anniversary of the initial SEC Form D filing. Form D has changed slightly this year in connection with the lifted ban on general solicitation discussed above. Instead of checking a box to indicate reliance on “Rule 506” there are now separate boxes to indicate reliance on either Rule 506(b) or Rule 506(c). Funds that previously selected “Rule 506” and do not wish to generally solicit will now check the “Rule 506(b)” box. Funds wishing to take advantage of the relaxed rules surrounding general solicitation will check the Rule 506(c) box. Importantly, the SEC has indicated that one offering cannot simultaneously rely on both Rule 506(b) and 506(c), and that once a general solicitation is made, issuers may no longer rely on Rule 506(b). Copies of Form D can be obtained by potential investors via the SEC’s website.

Blue Sky Filings. On an annual basis, a manager should review its blue sky filings for each state to make sure it has met any renewal requirements. States are increasingly imposing late fees or rejecting late filings altogether. Accordingly, it is critical to stay on top of filing deadlines for both new investors and renewals.

IARD Annual Fees. Preliminary annual renewal fees for state registered and SEC registered investment advisers are due by December 13, 2013 (submit payment by December 10 in order for payment to post prior to the deadline).

Pay-to-Play and Lobbyist Rules. SEC rules disqualify investment advisers, their key personnel and placement agents acting on their behalf, from seeking to be engaged by a governmental client if they have made political contributions. State and local governments are following suit, including California, which requires internal sales professionals who meet the definition of “placement agents” (people who act for compensation as finders, solicitors, marketers, consultants, brokers, or other intermediaries in connection with offering or selling investment advisory services to a state public retirement system in California) to register with the state as lobbyists, and comply with California lobbyist reporting and regulatory requirements. Investment professionals (employees who spend at least one-third of their time managing the assets or securities of the manager) are statutorily excluded from California’s “placement agent” definition, and thus do not have to register as lobbyists. Note that managers offering or selling investment advisory services to local government entities have to register as lobbyists in the applicable cities and counties.

State laws on lobbyist registration differ widely, so we recommend reviewing your reporting requirements in the states in which you operate to make sure you are in compliance with the rules.

Form PF. Managers to private funds that are either registered with the SEC or required to be registered with the SEC and have at least $150 million in regulatory AUM began filing Form PF in 2012. Smaller private advisers (fund managers with fewer than $1.5 billion in regulatory AUM) must file Form PF annually within 120 days of their fiscal year end. Larger private advisers (fund managers with $1.5 billion or more in regulatory AUM) must file Form PF within 60 days of the end of each fiscal quarter.

Electronic Schedule K-1s. This year, the IRS authorized partnerships and limited liability companies taxed as partnerships to issue Schedule K-1s to investors solely by electronic means, provided the partnership has received the investor’s affirmative consent. States may have different rules regarding electronic K-1s and partnerships should check with their counsel whether they may still be required to send state K-1s on paper. Partnerships must also provide each investor with specific disclosures that include a description of the hardware and software necessary to access the electronic K-1s, how long the consent is effective and the procedures for withdrawing the consent. If you would like to send K-1s your investors electronically you should discuss your options with your service providers.

Other Fund Matters:

Wash Sales. Managers should carefully manage wash sales for year end. Failure to do so could result in embarrassing book/tax differences for investors. Certain dealers can provide managers with swap strategies to manage wash sales, including Basket Total Return Swaps and Split Strike Forward Conversion. These strategies should be considered carefully to make sure they are consistent with the investment objectives of the fund.

Redemption Management. Managers with significant redemptions at the end of the year should carefully manage the unwinding positions so as to minimize transaction costs in the current year (that could impact performance), and prevent transaction costs from impacting remaining investors in the next year. When closing funds or managed accounts, managers should pay careful attention to the liquidation procedures in the managed account agreement and the fund constituent documents.

NAV Triggers and Waivers. Managers should promptly seek waivers of any applicable termination events set forth in a fund’s ISDA or other counterparty agreement that may be triggered by redemptions, performance or a combination of both at the end of the year (NAV declines are common counterparty agreement termination events).

Fund Expenses. Managers should wrap up all fund expenses for 2013 if they have not already done so. In particular, managers should contact their outside legal counsel to obtain accurate and up to date information about legal expenses for inclusion in the NAV for year-end performance.

Management Company Issues:

Management Company Expenses. Managers who distribute profits on an annual basis should attempt to address management company expenses in the year they are incurred. If ownership or profit percentages are adjusted at the end of the year, a failure to manage expenses could significantly impact the economics of the partnership or the management company.

Employee Reviews. An effective annual review process is important to reduce employment-related litigation and protect the management company in the event of such litigation. Moreover, it is an opportunity to provide context for bonuses, compensation adjustments, employee goals and other employee-facing matters at the firm. It is not too late to put an annual review process in place.

Compensation Planning. In the fund industry, and the financial services industry in general, the end of the year is the appropriate time to make adjustments to compensation programs. Since much of a manager’s revenue is tied to annual income from incentive fees, any changes to the management company structure, affiliated partnerships, or any shadow equity programs should be effective on the first of the year. Make sure that partnership agreements and operating agreements are appropriately updated to reflect such changes.

Insurance. If a manager carries D&O Insurance or other liability insurance, the policy should be reviewed on an annual basis to make sure that the manager has provided notice to the carrier of all claims and all potential claims. Also, newly launched funds should be added to the policy as appropriate.

Compliance Calendar

As you plan your regulatory compliance timeline for the coming months, please keep the following dates in mind:

Deadline                          Filing

November 20, 2013     “Red Flag” Rules effective

December 13, 2013     IARD Preliminary Renewal Statement Due (submit payment by Dec. 10 in order for payment to post by deadline)

February 14, 2014     Fourth Quarter CTA-PR Due

February 14, 2014     Schedule 13G Update Due; Form 13F Due (if applicable); Form 13H Amendment Due

March 1, 2014     Deadline for Re-Certification of CFTC Exemptions

March 3, 2014     Quarterly Form PF Due for Larger Private Advisers (if applicable)

March 31, 2014     Annual ADV Amendments Due

Periodic Filings     Form D and Blue Sky filings should be current

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions regarding your end-of-the-year compliance. We wish you all the best as 2013 comes to a close.


Karl Cole-Frieman & Bart Mallon


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP is a premier boutique investment management law firm, providing top-tier, responsive and cost-effective legal solutions for financial services matters. Headquartered in San Francisco, Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP has an international practice that services both start-up investment managers as well as multi-billion dollar firms. The firm provides a full suite of legal services to the investment management community, including: hedge fund, private equity fund, and venture capital fund formation, adviser registration, counterparty documentation, SEC, CFTC, NFA and FINRA matters, seed deals, hedge fund due diligence, employment and compensation matters, and routine business matters. The firm also publishes the prominent Hedge Fund Law Blog which focuses on legal issues that impact the hedge fund community. For more information please visit us at:

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