SEC Guidance on Registration of Investment Advisory Affiliates

The SEC’s Division of Investment Management issued a no-action letter on January 18, 2012 that provides guidance for registered investment advisers who have multiple entities in control relationships. The no-action letter affirms prior SEC guidance for investment advisers who have entities that serve as general partners and managing members to private funds and other similar special purpose vehicles (“SPVs”). Additionally, other investment advisers who “conduct a single advisory business” through multiple separate legal entities may use a single registration (i.e. register on a single Form ADV) under certain circumstances.

Affiliates Serving as Fund General Partners, Managing Members and Similar SPVs

Entities that function as fund general partners, fund managing members, and similar SPVs are not required to separately register as an investment adviser, as long as the following conditions are satisfied:

1. The investment adviser to a private fund establishes the SPV to act as the fund’s general partner or managing member;

2. The SPV’s formation documents designate the investment adviser to manage the private fund’s assets;

3. All of the investment advisory activities of the SPV are subject to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”), Advisers Act rules, and SEC examination; and

4. All employees and persons acting on behalf of the registered investment adviser and/or an SPV are subject to supervision and control of the investment adviser.

For SPVs that have independent directors, the independent directors are excepted from the condition that they be under the registered investment adviser’s supervision and control, and thus are not “persons associated with” the registered investment adviser.

Other Investment Advisory Affiliates Under Common Control

Under the SEC’s guidance, a registered investment adviser (the “filing adviser”) can file a single Form ADV on behalf of itself and each entity that is controlled by or under common control with the filing adviser (each, a “relying adviser”) as long as those entities are conducting a single advisory business. Under the no action letter, using a single registration is appropriate under the following circumstances:

1. The filing adviser and each relying adviser advise only private funds and separate account clients that are “qualified clients” (as defined in Rule 205-3 promulgated under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”));

2. Each relying adviser, its employees and the persons acting on its behalf are subject to the filing adviser’s supervision and control;

3. The filing adviser has its principal office and place of business in the United States;

4. The advisory activities of each relying adviser are subject to the Advisers Act and SEC examination;

5. The filing adviser and each relying adviser operate under a single code of ethics and single set of compliance policies and procedures; and

6. The filing adviser discloses in its Form ADV (Miscellaneous Section of Schedule D) that it and its relying advisers are together filing a single Form ADV and each relying adviser is identified by completing a separate Section 1.B, Schedule D, with the notation “relying adviser.”

For more information on whether the above guidance applies to your firm, please contact us directly.

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Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides investment adviser registration and compliance services. Bart Mallon can be reached directly at bmallon@colefrieman.com and by phone at 415-868-5345.

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