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Cole Frieman & Mallon 2018 End of Year Update

Below is our quarterly newsletter. If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please contact us.

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December 15, 2017

Clients, Friends, Associates:

Holiday celebrations bring welcomed joy and excitement to the busiest time of year for most investment managers.  As we prepare for a new year, we also reflect on an eventful 2017 year that included the emergence of a new asset class, a steady upswing in the stock market, and proposed legislation to revise the United States tax code. Regardless of all of the changes to the investment management space, year-end administrative upkeep and 2018 planning are always particularly important, especially for General Counsels, Chief Compliance Officers (“CCO”), and key operations personnel. As we head into 2018, we have put together this checklist and update to help managers stay on top of the business and regulatory landscape for the coming year.

This update includes the following:

  • Cryptocurrency Leadership
  • Annual Compliance & Other Items
  • Annual Fund Matters
  • Annual Management Company Matters
  • Regulatory & Other Changes in 2016
  • Compliance Calendar

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Cryptocurrency Leadership:

This year digital assets and cryptocurrencies have emerged in force as a separate and distinct asset class. An increased interest in this asset class from fund managers, financial institutions and various government leaders and regulators throughout the world has led to an exponential growth of cryptocurrency investments, the CFTC’s approval of two exchanges to trade Bitcoin futures contracts has increased attention on the asset class.

For SEC registered investment advisers who are adding cryptocurrencies to their fund investment programs and for cryptocurrency focused fund managers who may be relying on SEC exemptions from registration, the need to understand the regulatory implication of certain practices is of utmost importance. Specifically, managers face uncertainty regarding the application of the qualified custodian requirement under Rule 206(4)-2 (“Custody Rule”) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”).  Under the Custody Rule, if a registered investment adviser has custody of “client funds or securities”, then it must maintain those client assets with a qualified custodian (generally a bank, broker-dealer, FCM or other financial institution), subject to certain exceptions. Currently we know of only one qualified custodian capable of holding certain cryptocurrencies or digital assets. Our firm participated in a meeting with the SEC in November about custody issues for cryptocurrency managers and continues to engage with the SEC on this issue as well as work with the SEC and other service providers in this space to help lead the way to comply with SEC rules and regulations.

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Annual Compliance & Other Items:

Annual Privacy Policy Notice. On an annual basis, registered investment advisers (“RIAs”) are required to provide natural person clients with a copy of the firm’s privacy policy if (i) the RIA has disclosed nonpublic personal information other than in the connection with servicing consumer accounts or administering financial products; or (ii) the firm’s privacy policy has changed.

Annual Compliance Review. On an annual basis, the CCO of an RIA 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 firms discuss the annual review with their 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.

Form ADV Annual Amendment. 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. For most managers, the Form ADV amendment would be due on March 31, 2018. This year, because March 31st is a Saturday and March 30th is a market holiday, annual amendments to the Form ADV shall be filed no later than the business day following the 90-day deadline (April 2, 2018). 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 includes the vehicle(s) managed by the adviser, and not the underlying investors. State-registered advisers need to examine their state’s rules to determine who constitutes a “client”.

Switching to/from SEC Regulation.

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

Custody Rule Annual Audit.

SEC Registered IA. SEC registered investment advisers (“SEC RIAs”) 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.

SEC RIAs to pooled investment vehicles may avoid both the quarterly statement and surprise examination requirements by having audited financial statements prepared for each pooled investment vehicle in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles by an independent public accountant registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”). 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.

California Registered IA. California registered investment advisers (“CA RIAs”) that manage pooled investment vehicles and are deemed to have custody of client assets must, among other things, (i) provide notice of such custody on the Form ADV; (ii) maintain client assets with a qualified custodian; (iii) engage an independent party to act in the best interest of investors to review fees, expenses, and withdrawals; and (iv) retain an independent certified public accountant to conduct surprise examinations of assets. CA RIAs to pooled investment vehicles may avoid the independent party and surprise examinations requirements by having audited financial statements prepared by an independent public accountant registered with the PCAOB and distributing such audited financial statements to all limited partners (or members or other beneficial owners) of the pooled investment vehicle, and to the Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight (“DBO”).

Other State Registered IA. Advisers registered in other states should consult with legal counsel about those states’ custody requirements.

California Minimum Net Worth Requirement and Financial Reports.

RIAs with Custody. Every CA RIA that has custody of client funds or securities must maintain at all times a minimum net worth of $35,000. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the minimum net worth is $10,000 for a CA RIA (i) deemed to have custody solely because it acts as general partner of a limited partnership, or a comparable position for another type of pooled investment vehicle; and (ii) that otherwise complies with the California custody rule described above (such advisers, the “GP RIAs”).

RIAs with Discretion. Every CA RIA that has discretionary authority over client funds or securities, whether or not they have custody, must maintain at all times a minimum net worth of $10,000.

Financial Reports. Every CA RIA that either has custody of, or discretionary authority over, client funds or securities must file an annual financial report with the DBO within 90 days after the adviser’s fiscal year end. The annual financial report must contain a balance sheet, income statement, supporting schedule, and a verification form. These financial statements must be audited by an independent certified public accountant or independent public accountant if the adviser has custody and is not a GP RIA.

Annual Re-Certification of CFTC Exemptions. Commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisers (“CTAs”) currently relying on certain exemptions from registration with the CFTC are required to re-certify their eligibility within 60 days of the calendar year-end. CPOs and CTAs currently relying on relevant exemptions will need to evaluate whether they remain eligible to rely on such exemptions.

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 on Form CPO-PQR, while CTAs must file their fourth quarter report on Form CTA-PR. 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 corrected promptly, and the corrected version must be distributed promptly to pool participants.

Trade Errors. Managers should make sure that all trade errors are properly addressed pursuant to the manager’s trade errors policies 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 or other clients, 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.

Schedule 13G/D and Section 16 Filings. Managers who exercise investment discretion over accounts (including funds and separately managed accounts (“SMAs”)) that are beneficial owners of 5% or more of a registered voting equity security must report these positions on Schedule 13D or 13G. Passive investors are generally eligible to file the short form Schedule 13G, which is updated annually within 45 days of the end of the year. Schedule 13D is required when a manager is ineligible to file Schedule 13G and is due 10 days after acquisition of more than 5% beneficial ownership of a registered voting equity security. For managers who are also making Section 16 filings, this is an opportune time to review your filings to confirm compliance and anticipate needs for the first quarter.

Section 16 filings are required for “corporate insiders” (including beneficial owners of 10% or more of a registered voting equity security). An initial Form 3 is due within 10 days after becoming an “insider”; Form 4 reports ownership changes and is due by the end of the second business day after an ownership change; and Form 5 reports any transactions that should have been reported earlier on a Form 4 or were eligible for deferred reporting and is due within 45 days after the end of each fiscal year.

Form 13F. A manager must file a Form 13F if it exercises investment discretion with respect to $100 million or more in certain “Section 13F 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.

Form PF. Managers to private funds that are either registered with the SEC or required to be registered with the SEC and who have at least $150 million in regulatory assets under management (“RAUM”) must file Form PF. Smaller private advisers (fund managers with less than $1.5 billion in RAUM) 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 RAUM) must file Form PF within 60 days of the end of each fiscal quarter.

SEC Form D. Form D filings for most funds need to be amended on an annual basis, on or before the anniversary of the most recently filed Form D. Copies of Form D is publicly available on the SEC’s EDGAR 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. Several states impose late fees or reject late filings altogether. Accordingly, it is critical to stay on top of filing deadlines for both new investors and renewals. We also recommend that managers review blue sky filing submission requirements. Many states now permit blue sky filings to be filed electronically through the Electronic Filing Depository (“EFD”) system, and certain states will now only accept filings through EFD.

IARD Annual Fees. Preliminary annual renewal fees for state-registered and SEC-registered investment advisers are due on December 18, 2017. If you have not already done so, you should submit full payment into your Renewal Account by E-Bill, check or wire now.

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 have similar rules, 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. Note that managers offering or selling investment advisory services to local government entities must 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.

Annual Fund Matters:

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 investor eligibility via negative consent (i.e. investors are informed of their status on file with the manager and are asked to inform the manager of any changes). A failure to respond by any investor operates as consent to the current status.

ERISA Status. Given the significant problems that can occur from not properly tracking ERISA investors in private funds, we recommend that managers confirm or reconfirm on an annual basis the ERISA status of their investors. This is particularly important for managers who may be deemed a fiduciary under the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Fiduciary Rule (as further discussed below).

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 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 fund constituent documents and the managed account agreement.

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 2017 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.

Electronic Schedule K-1s. The IRS authorizes 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 to your investors electronically, you should discuss your options with your service providers.

“Bad Actor” Recertification Requirement. A security offering cannot rely on the Rule 506 safe harbor from SEC registration if the issuer or its “covered persons” are “bad actors”. Fund managers must determine whether they are subject to the bad actor disqualification any time they are offering or selling securities in reliance on Rule 506. The SEC has advised that an issuer may reasonably rely on a covered person’s agreement to provide notice of a potential or actual bad actor triggering event pursuant to contractual covenants, bylaw requirements or undertakings in a questionnaire or certification. If an offering is continuous, delayed or long-lived, however, issuers must update their factual inquiry periodically through bring-down of representations, questionnaires, and certifications, negative consent letters, periodic re-checking of public databases and other steps, depending on the circumstances. Fund managers should consult with counsel to determine how frequently such an update is required. As a matter of practice, most fund managers should perform such an update at least annually.

U.S. FATCA. Funds should monitor their compliance with U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) U.S. FATCA reports are due to the IRS on March 31, 2018 or September 30, 2018, depending on where the fund is domiciled. Reports may be required by an earlier date for jurisdictions that are parties to intergovernmental agreements (“IGAs”) with the U.S. Additionally, the U.S. may require that reports be submitted through the appropriate local tax authority in the applicable IGA jurisdiction, rather than the IRS. Given the varying U.S. FATCA requirements applicable to different jurisdictions, managers should review and confirm the specific U.S. FATCA reporting requirements that may apply. As a reminder for this year, we strongly encourage managers to file the required reports and notifications, even if they already missed previous deadlines. Applicable jurisdictions may be increasing enforcement and monitoring of FATCA reporting and imposing penalties for each day late.

CRS. Funds should also monitor their compliance with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”). All “Financial Institutions” in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands are required to register with the respective jurisdiction’s Tax Information Authority and submit returns to the applicable CRS reporting system by May 31, 2018. Managers to funds domiciled in other jurisdictions should also confirm whether any CRS reporting will be required in such jurisdictions. CRS reporting must be completed with the CRS XML v1.0 or a manual entry form on the  Automatic Exchange of Information portal.  We recommend managers contact their tax advisors to stay on top of the U.S. FATCA and CRS requirements and avoid potential penalties.

Annual Management Company Matters:

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 the risk of 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 ensure that the manager has provided notice to the carrier of all claims and all potential claims. Newly launched funds should also be added to the policy as appropriate.

Other Tax Considerations. Fund managers should assess their overall tax position and consider several steps to optimize tax liability. Managers should also be aware of self-employment taxes, which can be minimized by structuring the investment manager as a limited partnership. Managers can take several steps to optimize their tax liability, including: (i) changing the incentive fee to an incentive allocation; (ii) use of stock-settled stock appreciation rights; (iii) if appropriate, terminating swaps and realizing net losses; (iv) making a Section 481(a) election under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”); (v) making a Section 475 election under the Code; and (vi) making charitable contributions. Managers should consult legal and tax professionals to evaluate these options.

Regulatory & Other Changes in 2017:

SEC Updates.

SEC Adopts Form ADV Amendments. On July 1, 2017, a technical amendment to Form ADV and ADV-W was implemented to reflect a new Wyoming Law that now requires investment advisers with $25 million to $100 million in RAUM and a principal place of business in Wyoming to register with the state as an investment adviser instead of the SEC.

On October 1, 2017, additional SEC amendments to Form ADV went into effect, which will apply to both RIAs and ERAs. Among other technical amendments, the new Form ADV requires investment advisers to provide detailed information with regard to their separately managed accounts SMAs, including aggregate level reporting of asset types across an adviser’s SMAs and reporting of custodian information under certain circumstances. Investment advisers that utilize borrowing or derivatives on behalf of SMAs will also need to report the RAUM attributable to various levels of gross notional exposure and corresponding borrowings and derivatives exposure. The SEC noted that advisers may not need to report this SMA information until its annual amendment. The SEC concurrently adopted an amendment to the books and records rule (Rule 204-2 under the Advisers Act), requiring RIAs to keep records of documentation necessary to demonstrate the performance or rate of return calculation distributed to any person as well as all written performance-related communications received or sent by the RIA. Advisers who have questions on any changes to the new Form ADV should contact their compliance groups.

SEC Action Against Outsourced CCO. On August 15, 2017, the SEC reached a settlement with an outsourced CCO and his consulting firm, which offered compliance consulting and outsourced CCO services to investment advisory firms. The outsourced CCO served as CCO for two registered investment advisers (collectively, “Registrants”). The SEC found the Registrants either filed their Form ADV annual amendments late or not at all, and the outsourced CCO relied on and did not confirm estimates provided by the Registrants’ CIO. It was established that the RAUM and number of advisory accounts reported on the Form ADV was greatly overstated. The SEC held that the outsourced CCO violated the Advisers Act by failing to amend the Form ADV annually and willfully submitting a false statement. The SEC suspended the outsourced CCO from association or affiliation with any investment advisers for one year and ordered him to pay a $30,000 civil penalty. Outsourced compliance persons solely relying on internal estimates of RAUM and number of advisory contracts, without further confirmation, should be aware of the risk of filing false reports and potential SEC enforcement actions.

CFTC and NFA Updates.

CFTC Amendments to Recordkeeping Requirements. On August 28, 2017, amendments to Regulation 1.31 allow the manner and form of recordkeeping to be technology-neutral (i.e. not requiring or endorsing any specific record retention system or technology, and not limiting retention to any format).

Digital Asset Updates.

CFTC Grants Permission for Bitcoin Futures Trading. On December 1, 2017, the CFTC issued a statement granting permission to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (“CME”) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange Inc. (“CBOE”) to list Bitcoin futures contracts on the respective exchanges. Less than two weeks after the release of CFTC’s statement, Bitcoin futures contracts trading began on the CBOE futures exchange on December 10, 2017. Early reports suggest a strong interest in Bitcoin futures contracts set to expire in early 2018. CME is set to begin Bitcoin futures contracts trading next week.

CFTC Grants SEF and DCO Registration to LedgerX. The CFTC granted LedgerX registration status as both a swap execution facility (“SEF”) and a  derivative clearing organization. Now that the exchange is live, LedgerX is the first CFTC-approved exchange to facilitate and clear options on digital assets. Previously, the CFTC granted SEF registration to TeraExchange, which offers forwards and swaps on Bitcoin. LedgerX offers physically-settled and day-ahead swaps on Bitcoin to U.S.-based eligible contract participants and has a fully-collateralized clearing model where customers must post collateral to cover maximum potential losses prior to trading.

Other Updates.

DOL Implements Fiduciary Rule. On June 9, 2017, the DOL partially implemented its amended fiduciary rule (the “Fiduciary Rule”), which expands the definition of a “fiduciary” to apply to anyone that makes a “recommendation” as to the value, disposition or management of securities or other investment property for a fee or other compensation, to an employee benefit plan or a tax-favored retirement savings account such as an individual retirement account (“IRA”) (collectively “covered account”) will be deemed to be providing investment advice and, thus, a “fiduciary”, unless an exception applies. Fund managers with investments from covered accounts or that wish to accept contributions from covered accounts will need to consider whether their current business activities and communications with investors could constitute a recommendation, including a suggestion that such investors invest in the fund. The Fiduciary Rule provides an exception for activity that would otherwise violate prohibited transaction rules, which is applicable to investments made by plan investors who are represented by a qualified independent fiduciary acting on the investor’s behalf in an arms’ length transaction (typically for larger plans). The Fiduciary Rule also contemplates a Best Interest Contract (“BIC”) Exemption, which permits investment advisers to retail retirement investors to continue their current fee practices, including receiving variable compensation, without violating prohibited transactions rules, subject to certain safeguards. Managers with questions regarding the applicability of these exemptions should discuss with counsel.

Two New California Employment Laws Limit Inquiries into Certain Information During the Hiring Process. In October, California Governor Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill No. 168 and Assembly Bill No. 1008, restricting certain information a California employer may inquire about and consider during its hiring process. Assembly Bill No. 168 restricts employers from requiring prospective employees to disclose salary history. An employer may not inquire or rely on such information when deciding whether to extend an offer to a job applicant or deciding an amount to offer to a job applicant. Assembly Bill No. 1008 restricts California employers with five or more employees from including, inquiring and considering information about an employee applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer has been extended to a job applicant. Assembly Bill No. 1008 further provides certain requirements an employer must comply with after such information has been legally acquired and is taken into consideration when deciding whether to hire a job applicant, as well as certain procedures to comply with when deciding a job applicant is not suitable for the position. Both laws become effective January 1, 2018. With respect to California employees, you should review before year end, your job application, offer letter template, and compliance manual if they contain questions regarding salary or criminal history.

MSRB Establishes Continuing Education Requirements for Municipal Advisors. Beginning January 1, 2018, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) will implement amendments requiring municipal advisors to maintain a continuing education program in place for “covered persons”. The amendment will require an annual analysis to evaluate training needs, develop a written training plan, and implement training in response to the needs evaluated. The amendments promote compliance with the firms record-keeping policies regarding the continuing education program. Municipal advisors will have until December 31, 2018 to comply with the new requirements.

SIPC and FINRA Adopt Streamlined Reporting Process. As of September 1, 2017, investment advisory firms who are members of both the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) now only need to file one annual report to both agencies through FINRA’s reporting portal. This will ease the reporting burden as well as cut down on compliance costs, for firms.

SEC Provides Guidance to Address MiFID II. On October 26, 2017, the SEC issued three no-action relief letters to provide guidance on the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”). Effective January 3, 2018, MiFID II most notably introduces the requirement for UK broker-dealers to “unbundle” investment research from trading commissions, requiring distinct pricing for each of the services rendered. The first no-action letter provides that for the first 30 months from when MiFID II becomes effective, U.S. broker-dealers will not be considered an investment adviser upon accepting payments from an investment manager. The second no-action letter states that broker-dealers may continue to rely on the safe harbor under Section 28(e) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, for payments made from client assets made alongside payments for execution to an executing broker-dealer. The final no-action letter addresses MiFID II’s various payment arrangements surrounding research activities and provides that an investment adviser may aggregate client orders, although research payments may differ for each client.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Impact on Hedge Funds. In late 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee passed companion legislation in an attempt to reform the US tax system. One of the proposed revisions included in H.R. 1 or the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (“Tax Act”) is a reduction in the tax rate for a pass-through entity’s “capital percentage” business income. The applicable tax rate would be 25%, with the non-professional services entity’s “capital percentage” business income capped at 30%, and the remaining amount of income characterized as “labor”.

Offshore Updates.

Cayman and BVI Update Beneficial Ownership Regimes. Amendments to the Cayman Islands beneficial ownership laws went into effect on July 1, 2017, which require certain entities, including exempted funds, to take reasonable steps to identify their beneficial owners (generally persons holding more than 25% interests in such an entity). Of interest to fund managers, the following types of funds are exempted from the scope of these amendments: funds that are regulated by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, that employ a Cayman regulated administrator, or funds that are managed by an adviser regulated in an approved jurisdiction, such as a state or SEC RIA. The British Virgin Islands (the “BVI”) also implemented amendments to its beneficial ownership regime effective July 1, 2017, which requires registered agents of non-exempt BVI companies, such as unregulated private funds, to input beneficial ownership information into a platform called the BOSS (Beneficial Ownership Secure Search) System. The BOSS System is accessible only to select regulators and fulfills BVI commitments to the United Kingdom under the UK Exchange of Notes Agreement.

U.K. Transitions from U.K. FATCA to CRS. The U.K. transitioned from U.K. FATCA to CRS on July 1, 2017, and now joins more than 85 countries, including the Cayman Islands and the BVI, in the automatic exchange of information between participating countries. The full list of signatory countries is available here. Similar to U.S. FATCA, CRS sets forth a standard by which signatory countries can more easily and automatically exchange certain reportable tax information. We recommend that managers consult their tax advisors to determine whether they are subject to any CRS reporting requirements.

Cayman Islands Introduces New AML Regulations. New Cayman Islands AML regulations came into effect on October 2, 2017. The new regulations expand AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/ countering the financing of terrorism) obligations to unregulated investment entities and  additional  financial  vehicles,  which  are  seen  to  align  more  closely  with  the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and global practice. In a shift to a risk- based approach to AML regulations, there will be two separate due diligence procedures depending on the risk assessment of investors. Certain investors that are deemed to be high-risk, such as politically exposed persons, will be required to go through a more extensive verification process, while low-risk investors will be able to submit to a simplified due diligence process. If you have any questions, we recommend that you reach out to your administrator or offshore counsel.

New PRIIPs Disclosure Requirements for EEA Retail Investors. Regulation (EU) No 1286/2014 (“Regulation”), effective January 1, 2018, requires manufacturers of Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (“PRIIPs”) to make available Key Information Documents (“KIDs”) to “retail investors” (generally any investor that does not meet the “professional client” status) in member states of the European Union and the Economic European Area (collectively, “EEA”). If a PRIIP manufacturer, such as a fund manager, accepts additional investments or a new investment from an EEA retail investor on or after January 1, 2018, it must comply with the Regulation’s technical requirements pertaining to KIDs. “Retail investors” under the Regulation can include investors such as high net worth individuals, who are not traditionally considered retail investors. Fund managers should consider the applicability of the Regulation given the types of EEA investors they may be marketing to, and managers who wish to forego complying with the Regulation should not accept investments from EEA retail investors and implement additional procedures to ensure such investors are not marketed to or admitted in the fund.  Fund managers with questions regarding the Regulation should discuss with counsel.

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

Deadline – Filing

  • December 18, 2017 –  IARD Preliminary Renewal Statement payments due (submit early to ensure processing by deadline)
  • December 26, 2017 – Last day to submit form filings via IARD prior to year-end
  • December 31, 2017 – Review RAUM to determine 2018 Form PF filing requirement
  • January 15, 2018 – Quarterly Form PF due for large liquidity fund advisers (if applicable)
  • January 31, 2018 – “Annex IV” AIFMD filing
  • February 15, 2018–  Form 13F due
  • February 15, 2018 – Annual Schedule 13G updates due
  • February 15, 2018 – Annual Form 13H updates due
  • February 28, 2018 – Deadline for re-certification of CFTC exemptions
  • March 1, 2018 – Quarterly Form PF due for larger hedge fund advisers (if applicable)
  • April 2, 2018 – Annual ADV amendments due (for December 31st fiscal year end)
  • April 2, 2018 – Annual Financial Reports due for CA RIAs (if applicable)
  • April 18, 2018 – FBAR deadline for certain individuals with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, one or more foreign financial accounts
  • April 29, 2018 – Annual Form PF due for all other advisers (other than large liquidity fund advisers and large hedge fund advisers)
  • Periodic – Form D and blue sky filings should be current
  • Periodic – Fund managers should perform “Bad Actor” certifications annually

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Bart Mallon is a founding partner of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP.  Mr. Mallon can be reached 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.

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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.

SEC Compliance Manual Violations Mean Enforcement Action for Investment Adviser

Manager Subject to Enforcement Action for Compliance Manual and Books and Records Violations

The SEC recently announced a settlement with a former federally registered Investment Adviser that will, among other things, bar the firm and its sole owner from the financial services industry for two years. Citing violations of the Investment Advisers Act, perhaps the SEC’s most impactful charge involved lack of compliance with Rule 206(4)-7, which requires a firm to adopt and implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violations of the Advisers Act and its rules.

Background

The respondent, Barthelemy Group LLC (“the firm”) and its sole owner and adviser Evens Barthelemy, was a SEC registered adviser from 2009-2011. Mr. Barthelemy formed the firm in 2009 after having worked as a registered representative for two broker-dealers since 2000. In 2011, the firm withdrew its SEC registration after the SEC found that it did not meet the multi-state exemption nor did it have the required amount of assets under management ($25 million at the time). Since then, the firm has been registered in New York and New Jersey.

Summary of Violations

Compliance Failures

The SEC found that the firm did not institute written policies and procedures in accordance with Adviser Act Rule 206(4)-7. That rule requires advisers to adopt written policies and procedures that are designed to prevent violation (by the principal and all supervised persons) of the Act and SEC rules related to it. The settlement order noted that Mr. Barthelemy prepared the firm’s compliance manual in 2010 but that he had “largely adopted it verbatim from a 2009 version he obtained from his prior employment at a registered broker-dealer”. Given that the broker-dealer did not engage in the advisory business, the SEC found that the firm’s compliance manual violated Rule 206(4)-7, noting that the manual referred to the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 but made no reference to the Advisers Act. In the same vein, the manual referred to duties of suitability and fairness but never mentioned the fiduciary duty that advisers owe their clients. The firm’s manual also referenced commission-based compensation and broker-dealer filings, none of which are relevant to comply with Rule 206(4)-7. Finally, the SEC found that the firm did not undertake an annual review of the adequacy of the compliance manual.

Books and Records Failures

The firm was found to be non-compliant with Rule 204-2(a) which requires advisers to make and keep true, accurate and current certain books and records relating to the advisory business. Specifically, the SEC stated that the firm did not have copies of the written acknowledgements of the firm’s code of ethics. Additionally, in connect with Rule 204-3 which requires delivery of a firm’s Form ADV to clients or prospective clients, the firm did not have records of such delivery also required by Rule 204-2(a).

Overstating Assets Under Management on Form ADV

The SEC found that the firm was not eligible for SEC registration under both the multi-state exemption or by meeting the minimum threshold test ($25 million at the time). The now rescinded multi-state exemption permitted those advisers subject to regulation by thirty or more states, to register with the SEC. However, the SEC found that the firm was subject to at most three states’ regulatory regimes. In addition, the SEC found that the firm managed nowhere near the $26.5 million it claimed, but rather the total was around $2.6 million. This misrepresentation violated Section 207 of the Act, which makes it unlawful for any person to willfully make untrue statements of material fact in a registration statement. In addition, this conduct violated Section 203A of the Act, which prohibits SEC registration as an adviser unless the firm meets a relevant exemption.

Penalties

Given the adviser’s inability to pay, no civil penalty was asserted. However, the following penalties were instituted:

  • The firm must furnish a copy of the SEC order to each existing client;
  • The firm must post a copy of the order on its website for a period of two years;
  • Certify evidence in writing of the steps taken to comply with all violations of the Act and its rules;
  • Mr. Barthelemy is barred from employment in the financial services industry for a period of two years; and
  • Mr. Barthelemy is censured.

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Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal services to the investment management industry. The firm provides regulatory and compliance support and other legal services to hedge fund managers. The firm can be reached here and Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Family Office Definition

SEC Releases New Rule on Family Offices for IA Registration Exclusion

The Dodd-Frank Act created a new “family office” exclusion from the definition of investment adviser because the private advisor exemption was repealed.  While Congress believed that family offices should not be subject to the SEC registration requirements, it did grant authority to the SEC to define what constitutes a “family office”.  On June 22, 2011 the SEC issued a final rule which narrowly defined a family office to essentially include only an office which represents a single family that does not exceed 10 generations.  The new regulation takes effect on August 29, 2011 and those companies which do not fall within the new family office definition will be required to register with the SEC by March 30, 2012.

Family Office Definition

The term “family office” means a company that :

  • provides investment advice only to certain “family clients”;
  • is wholly owned by the “family clients” and controlled by family members or family entities; and
  • does not hold itself out to the public as an investment adviser.

The term “family clients” includes:

  • current and former family members,
  • certain employees of the family office (and, under certain circumstances, former employees),
  • charities funded exclusively by family clients,
  • estates of current and former family members or key employees,
  • trusts existing for the sole current benefit of family clients,
  • revocable trusts funded solely by family clients,
  • certain key employee trusts, and
  • companies wholly owned exclusively by and operated for the sole benefit of, family clients.

The term “family member” includes:

  • all lineal descendants of a common ancestor (who may be living or deceased)*
  • current spouses or spousal equivalents of those descendants
  • former spouses or spousal equivalents of those descendants

* The common ancestor cannot be more than 10 generations removed from the youngest generation of family members.  For an example of how this works, please see this ancestor diagram.

Notably, the exclusion does not extend to family offices serving multiple families.

Also, it is important to note that family offices are excluded from the definition of investment adviser as opposed to being exempted from registration requirements.  Previously family offices would have been exempt from registration because of the private adviser exemption.

Grandfathering Provision & Exemptive Orders

The Dodd-Frank Act included a grandfathering provision that precluded the SEC from excluding certain persons from the definition of “family office” solely because those persons provide investment advice to certain clients and provided that advice prior to January 1, 2010. The SEC’s rule incorporated that grandfathering provision such that employees of a family officer who are accredited investors (as defined by Regulation D) and companies controlled by a family member are permitted clients of a family office.

A family office that previously received a SEC exemptive order under section 202(a)(11)(G) of the Advisers Act will be able to continue to rely on the exemptive order and will thus not be required to register as an investment adviser.

Our Thoughts

The family office definition may have received more attention recently than it normally would have because of the Soros news.  However, it seems more important that the new rule does not include in the definition those groups which provide advisory services to more than one family.  This means that groups traditionally deemed to be family offices (albeit that services were provided to multiple families) will need to register with the SEC by March 30, 2012.  While we encourage managers to begin the registration process as soon as possible, we believe that managers will not begin the process en mass until the fourth quarter of 2011 and into the first quarter of 2012.

The full rule is reprinted below.

The full adopting release can be found here: IA-3220 – Final Family Office Rule.

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§ 275.202(a)(11)(G)-1 Family offices.

(a) Exclusion. A family office, as defined in this section, shall not be considered to be an investment adviser for purpose of the Act.

(b) Family office. A family office is a company (including its directors, partners, members, managers, trustees, and employees acting within the scope of their position or employment) that:

(1) Has no clients other than family clients; provided that if a person that is not a family client becomes a client of the family office as a result of the death of a family member or key employee or other involuntary transfer from a family member or key employee, that person shall be deemed to be a family client for purposes of this section 275.202(a)(11)(G)-1 for one year following the completion of the transfer of legal title to the assets resulting from the involuntary event;

(2) Is wholly owned by family clients and is exclusively controlled (directly or indirectly) by one or more family members and/or family entities; and

(3) Does not hold itself out to the public as an investment adviser.

(c) Grandfathering. A family office as defined in paragraph (a) above shall not exclude any person, who was not registered or required to be registered under the Act on January 1, 2010, solely because such person provides investment advice to, and was engaged before January 1, 2010 in providing investment advice to:

(1) Natural persons who, at the time of their applicable investment, are officers, directors, or employees of the family office who have invested with the family office before January 1, 2010 and are accredited investors, as defined in Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933;

(2) Any company owned exclusively and controlled by one or more family members; or

(3) Any investment adviser registered under the Act that provides investment advice to the family office and who identifies investment opportunities to the family office, and invests in such transactions on substantially the same terms as the family office invests, but does not invest in other funds advised by the family office, and whose assets as to which the family office directly or indirectly provides investment advice represents, in the aggregate, not more than 5 percent of the value of the total assets as to which the family office provides investment advice; provided that a family office that would not be a family office but for this subsection (c) shall be deemed to be an investment adviser for purposes of paragraphs (1), (2) and (4) of section 206 of the Act.

(d) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(1) Affiliated Family Office means a family office wholly owned by family clients of another family office and that is controlled (directly or indirectly) by one or more family members of such other family office and/or family entities affiliated with such other family office and has no clients other than family clients of such other family office.

(2) Control means the power to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of a company, unless such power is solely the result of being an officer of such company.

(3) Executive officer means the president, any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division or function (such as administration or finance), any other officer who performs a policy-making function, or any other person who performs similar policy-making functions, for the family office.

(4) Family client means:

(i) Any family member;

(ii) Any former family member;

(iii) Any key employee;

(iv) Any former key employee, provided that upon the end of such individual’s employment by the family office, the former key employee shall not receive investment advice from the family office (or invest additional assets with a family office-advised trust, foundation or entity) other than with respect to assets advised (directly or indirectly) by the family office immediately prior to the end of such individual’s employment, except that a former key employee shall be permitted to receive investment advice from the family office with respect to additional investments that the former key employee was contractually obligated to make, and that relate to a family-office advised investment existing, in each case prior to the time the person became a former key employee.

(v) Any non-profit organization, charitable foundation, charitable trust (including charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts whose only current

beneficiaries are other family clients and charitable or non-profit organizations), or other charitable organization, in each case for which all the funding such foundation, trust or organization holds came exclusively from one or more other family clients;

(vi) Any estate of a family member, former family member, key employee, or, subject to the condition contained in paragraph (d)(4)(iv) of this section, former key employee;

(vii) Any irrevocable trust in which one or more other family clients are the only current beneficiaries;

(viii) Any irrevocable trust funded exclusively by one or more other family clients in which other family clients and non-profit organizations, charitable foundations, charitable trusts, or other charitable organizations are the only current beneficiaries;

(ix) Any revocable trust of which one or more other family clients are the sole grantor;

(x) Any trust of which: (A) each trustee or other person authorized to make decisions with respect to the trust is a key employee; and (B) each settlor or other person who has contributed assets to the trust is a key employee or the key employee’s current and/or former spouse or spousal equivalent who, at the time of contribution, holds a joint, community property, or other similar shared ownership interest with the key employee; or

(xi) Any company wholly owned (directly or indirectly) exclusively by, and operated for the sole benefit of, one or more other family clients; provided that if any such entity is a pooled investment vehicle, it is excepted from the definition of “investment company” under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

(5) Family entity means any of the trusts, estates, companies or other entities set forth in paragraphs (v), (vi), (vii), (viii), (ix), or (xi) of subsection (d)(4) of this section, but excluding key employees and their trusts from the definition of family client solely for purposes of this definition.

(6) Family member means all lineal descendants (including by adoption, stepchildren, foster children, and individuals that were a minor when another family member became a legal guardian of that individual) of a common ancestor (who may be living or deceased), and such lineal descendants’ spouses or spousal equivalents; provided that the common ancestor is no more than 10 generations removed from the youngest generation of family members.

(7) Former family member means a spouse, spousal equivalent, or stepchild that was a family member but is no longer a family member due to a divorce or other similar event.

(8) Key employee means any natural person (including any key employee’s spouse or spouse equivalent who holds a joint, community property, or other similar shared ownership interest with that key employee) who is an executive officer, director, trustee, general partner, or person serving in a similar capacity of the family office or its affiliated family office or any employee of the family office or its affiliated family office (other than an employee performing solely clerical, secretarial, or administrative functions with regard to the family office) who, in connection with his or her regular functions or duties, participates in the investment activities of the family office or affiliated family office, provided that such employee has been performing such functions and duties for or on behalf of the family office or affiliated family office, or substantially similar functions or duties for or on behalf of another company, for at least 12 months.

(9) Spousal equivalent means a cohabitant occupying a relationship generally equivalent to that of a spouse.

(e) Transition.

(1) Any company existing on July 21, 2011 that would qualify as a family office under this section but for it having as a client one or more non-profit organizations, charitable foundations, charitable trusts, or other charitable organizations that have received funding from one or more individuals or companies that are not family clients shall be deemed to be a family office under this section until December 31, 2013, provided that such non-profit or charitable organization(s) do not accept any additional funding from any non-family client after August 31, 2011 (other than funding received prior to December 31, 2013 and provided in fulfillment of any pledge made prior to August 31, 2011).

(2) Any company engaged in the business of providing investment advice, directly or indirectly, primarily to members of a single family on July 21, 2011, and that is not registered under the Act in reliance on section 203(b)(3) of this title on July 20, 2011, is exempt from registration as an investment adviser under this title until March 30, 2012, provided that the company:

(i) During the course of the preceding twelve months, has had fewer than fifteen clients; and

(ii) Neither holds itself out generally to the public as an investment adviser nor acts as an investment adviser to any investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a), or a company which has elected to be a business development company pursuant to section 54 of that Act (15 U.S.C. 80a-54) and has not withdrawn its election.

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Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP is a hedge fund law firm which provides investment adviser registration and compliance services to hedge fund managers and other members of the investment management community such as family offices.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345; Karl Cole-Frieman can be reached at 415-352-2300.

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2011 Final Renewal Statement for Registered Investment Advisers

As we noted previously, registered investment advisory firms and firm representatives must renew their registration annually by paying a fee to FINRA.  In November FINRA issued a Preliminary Renewal Statement for each registered IA firm which stated the amount of renewal fees which were due by December 13, 2010.

While most firms should have by now paid the preliminary statement, each firm can now review their Final Renewal Statement.  The final statement is now available through the IARD system and reflects the firm’s and representatives’ final registration status as of December 31, 2010.  The final statement also reflects any adjustments as a result of registration approvals or terminations since the preliminary statement was issued. Firms and representatives should check their final statement to ensure all renewal fees are paid in full.  If 40 mg levitra the firm has any amounts due, payment should be made by February 4, 2011.

Below is information on how to access your Final Renewal Statement.

Accessing Your Final Renewal Statement

To check your firm’s Final Renewal Statement, follow these instructions:

  1. Log onto IARD here.
  2. Enter your firm’s ID and password.
  3. Review and accept the terms and conditions.
  4. Under the “Accounting” tab at the top of the page, select “Renewal Account.”
  5. Under the “Renewal Statement” link in the “Accounting” section, you can retrieve the Final Renewal Statement, which will state “Paid in Full” or “Amount Due.”

If an amount is due, the balance must be received by FINRA and posted to the Renewal Account by February 4, 2011.  Any renewal overpayments should have automatically been transferred to your Daily Account.

Additional information about the Final Renewal Statement can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding your renewal statement or any other investment adviser registration issue, please feel free to contact Mallon P.C. for more information.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the hedge fund law blog and provides hedge fund compliance services to hedge fund managers through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Investment Adviser and IA Representative Registration Renewal

If your firm is registered as an investment adviser (IA) then you have probably received notice to renew your firm’s registration for 2011.  If you have not received the notice or have not paid the renewal fees, the following provides an overview of the process.

Background

IA firms and IA representatives (RA) should be aware that registrations expire annually on December 31.  In order for an IA firm to maintain their active registrations and/or notice filing statuses and for RAs to maintain active registration statuses, the IA firms must pay applicable renewal fees annually.  The IARD Renewal Program facilitates the annual renewal process.  Generally, a Preliminary Renewal Statement will be made available via the IARD system during the latter half of November.  The Preliminary Renewal Statement will include an amount that must be paid to FINRA by December 13, 2010.  Online payments made via E-Pay should be made by December 9, 2010 in order for the funds to be posted by December 13, 2010.

Submitting Payment

The Preliminary Renewal Statement will be available online generally during the latter half of November.  This year, it was made available on November 15, 2010.  IA firms can access this statement via IARD by following these steps:

  1. Log onto IARD at (https://accountmgmt.finra.org/auth/ews_logon.jsp?CTAuthMode=BASIC&login_form_location_basic).
  2. Enter your firm’s ID and password.
  3. Review and accept the terms and conditions.
  4. Under the “Accounting” tab at the top of the page, select “Renewal Account.”
  5. One the left column, select “Renewal Statement.”
  6. The bottom of the page provides an itemized list of all applicable fees.

Payment by Check

If you choose to submit payment by check, print the statement and mail it, along with the check to the following address:

U.S. Mail:

FINRA
P.O. Box 7777-8705
Philadelphia, PA 19175-8705

(Note: this P.O. Box address will not accept courier or overnight deliveries.)

Express Delivery:

FINRA
8705
Mellon Bank Room 3490
701 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1532

(240) 386-4848

The check should be made payable to: FINRA.  Be sure to write your CRD Number and the word “Renewal” on the face of the check.

Payment via CRD/IARD E-Pay

Payment can also be submitted online via CRD/IARD E-Pay.  To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the E-Pay website.
  2. Enter your login and password.
  3. On the left column under “Payments,” click “Pay my accounts.”
  4. Select the account and click “Continue.”
  5. Enter the total Payment Amount and check “Renewal” under Account Type.  female viagra alternative Then enter the payment method and click “continue.”
  6. Review the information and click “Make Payment.”
  7. Log out and the money should post within about 2 days.

Automatic Daily Account-to-Renewal Account Transfer

If your firms has sufficient funds in the Daily Account to cover the total renewal amount, FINRA will automatically process the renewal payment by the payment deadline.

Other Payment Methods

Wire payments sent by 2 p.m. (ET), should post the next business day.  Wire payments sent after 2  p.m., ET, may take up to 2 business days to post.  Instructions for initiating a wire can be found here.

Confirming Payment

After payment is submitted, you will be able to retrieve your firm’s online Final Renewal Statement on IARD on or after January 3, 2011.  These statements will reflect the final registration status of the IA firm and RAs.  To do so, follow the instructions above to log onto IARD.  Under the “Renewal Statement” link in the “Accounting” section, you can retrieve the Final Renewal Statement, which will state “Paid in Full” or “Amount Due.”  If an amount is due, the balance must be paid by February 4, 2011.

More information about the Renewal Program can be found on the IARD website.  FINRA has also posted a bulletin on the 2011 IARD Renewal Program, available here.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. is a hedge fund attorney and provides investment adviser registration and renewal services through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

SEC Proposes "Family Office" Definition

In Section 409 of Dodd-Frank Act, Congress required the SEC to define “family office” for the purpose of exempting such groups from the registration requirements under the Advisers Act.  Section 409 provides that any definition the SEC adopts should be “consistent with the previous exemptive policy” of the SEC and recognize “the range of organizational, management, and employment structures and arrangements employed by family offices.”

The public will have the ability to comment on the SEC’s proposed rule until November 18, 2010.  After that time the SEC will take public comments into consideration and then promulgate a final rule sometime thereafter.

The SEC notice can be found here and we have also provided a link to the full Proposed Family Office Rule.

The proposed definition is reprinted below in full.

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§ 275.202(a)(11)(G)-1 Family offices.

(a) Exclusion. A family office, as defined in this section, shall not be considered to be an investment adviser for purpose of the Act.

(b) Family office. A family office is a company (including its directors, partners, trustees, and employees acting within the scope of their position or employment) that:

(1) Has no clients other than family clients; provided that if a person that is not a family client becomes a client of the family office as a result of the death of a family member or key employee or other involuntary transfer from a family member or key employee, that person shall be deemed to cialis price in canada be a family client for purposes of this section 275.202(a)(11)(G)-1 for four months following the transfer of assets resulting from the involuntary event;

(2) Is wholly owned and controlled (directly or indirectly) by family members; and

(3) Does not hold itself out to the public as an investment adviser.

(c) Grandfathering. A family office as defined in paragraph (a) above shall not exclude any person, who was not registered or required to be registered under the Act on January 1, 2010, solely because such person provides investment advice to, and was engaged before January 1, 2010 in providing investment advice to:

(1) Natural persons who, at the time of their applicable investment, are officers, directors, or employees of the family office who have invested with the family office before January 1, 2010 and are accredited investors, as defined in Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933;

(2) Any company owned exclusively and controlled by one or more family members; or

(3) Any investment adviser registered under the Act that provides investment advice to the family office and who identifies investment opportunities to the family office, and invests in such transactions on substantially the same terms as the family office invests, but does not invest in other funds advised by the family office, and whose assets as to which the family office directly or indirectly provides investment advice represents, in the aggregate, not more than 5 percent of the value of the total assets as to which the family office provides investment advice; provided that a family office that would not be a family office but for this subsection (c) shall be deemed to be an investment adviser for purposes of paragraphs (1), (2) and (4) of section 206 of the Act.

(d) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(1) Control means the power to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of a company, unless such power is solely the result of being an officer of such company.

(2) Family client means:

(i) Any family member;

(ii) Any key employee;

(iii) Any charitable foundation, charitable organization, or charitable trust, in each case established and funded exclusively by one or more family members or former family members;

(iv) Any trust or estate existing for the sole benefit of one or more family clients;

(v) Any limited liability company, partnership, corporation, or other entity wholly owned and controlled (directly or indirectly) exclusively by, and operated for the sole benefit of, one or more family clients; provided that if any such entity is a pooled investment vehicle, it is excepted from the definition of “investment company” under the Investment Company Act of 1940;

(vi) Any former family member, provided that from and after becoming a former family member the individual shall not receive investment advice from the family office (or invest additional assets with a family office-advised trust, foundation or entity) other than with respect to assets advised (directly or indirectly) by the family office immediately prior to the time that the individual became a former family member, except that a former family member shall be permitted to receive investment advice from the family office with respect to additional investments that the former family member was contractually obligated to make, and that relate to a family-office advised investment existing, in each case prior to the time the person became a former family member; or

(vii) Any former key employee, provided that upon the end of such individual’s employment by the family office, the former key employee shall not receive investment advice from the family office (or invest additional assets with a family office-advised trust, foundation or entity) other than with respect to assets advised (directly or indirectly) by the family office immediately prior to the end of such individual’s employment, except that a former key employee shall be permitted to receive investment advice from the family office with respect to additional investments that the former key employee was contractually obligated to make, and that relate to a family-office advised investment existing, in each case prior to the time the person became a former key employee.

(3) Family member means:

(i) the founders, their lineal descendants (including by adoption and stepchildren), and such lineal descendants’ spouses or spousal equivalents;

(ii) the parents of the founders; and

(iii) the siblings of the founders and such siblings’ spouses or spousal equivalents and their lineal descendants (including by adoption and stepchildren) and such lineal descendants’ spouses or spousal equivalents.

(4) Former family member means a spouse, spousal equivalent, or stepchild that was a family member but is no longer a family member due to a divorce or other similar event.

(5) Founders means the natural person and his or her spouse or spousal equivalent for whose benefit the family office was established and any subsequent spouse of such individuals.

(6) Key employee means any natural person (including any person who holds a joint, community property, or other similar shared ownership interest with that person’s spouse or spousal equivalent) who is an executive officer, director, trustee, general partner, or person serving in a similar capacity of the family office or any employee of the family office (other than an employee performing solely clerical, secretarial, or administrative functions with regard to the family office) who, in connection with his or her regular functions or duties, participates in the investment activities of the family office, provided that such employee has been performing such functions and duties for or on behalf of the family office, or substantially similar functions or duties for or on behalf of another company, for at least 12 months.

(7) Spousal equivalent means a cohabitant occupying a relationship generally equivalent to that of a spouse.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the hedge fund law blog and provides registration and compliance services to hedge fund managers through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP, a hedge fund law firm.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

California Adopts New Part 2 of Form ADV

At the end of July, the SEC adopted amendments to Form ADV Part 2 and the related rules.  The amended Form ADV Part 2 will be used by SEC-registered advisers to meet their disclosure obligations and generally describe the adviser’s services, fees, and strategies.

On September 1, 2010, the California Department of Corporations followed suit and announced its adoption of the new Part 2 as well, effective October 12, 2010 (see California ADV Part 2 Announcement).  This effective date corresponds with the effective date of the SEC’s rule changes.  The Department’s decision will help bring consistency between state and SEC investment adviser registration requirements.

New ADV Part 2

The amended Form ADV Part 2 consists of three parts:

  • the “Firm Brochure” (Part 2A),
  • a Wrap Fee Program Brochure (Part 2A, Appendix 1), and
  • the “Brochure Supplement (Part 2B).

Every investment adviser must complete the Firm Brochure and the Brochure Supplement.  The Firm Brochure, which is filed electronically with the SEC on the IARD system, will include information about the adviser and its business. The Brochure Supplement, which is a brief disclosure document about certain personnel of the adviser, will be provided to clients but not filed with the SEC.

In addition, the new Part 2 will no longer be in the check-the-box format.  Instead, it will take the form of a narrative brochure written in plain English–the purpose of which is to provide clients with a more clear disclosure of the adviser’s business practices, conflicts of interest, and background.

Compliance Dates

Effective October 12, 2010,  for California registered investment advisers, the relevant compliance dates for the new ADV Part 2 are:

  • As of January 1, 2011 all new investment adviser applicants will have to file, through the IARD, the new Part 2 of Form ADV as part of their application.
  • As of January 1, 2011 all licensed investment advisers will need to incorporate the new Part 2 of Form ADV with their next filing of an amendment to Form ADV, or their annual updating amendment to Form ADV.
  • Between October 12, 2010 and January 1, 2011 applicants and current licensed investment advisers filing amendments to their Part II of Form ADV may use either the current Part II or the new Part 2.

With this change, investment advisers should review and become familiar with the new Part 2.  Advisers that are currently registered with the California Securities Regulation Division will have to incorporate the new Part 2 when they file amendments to Form ADV and also when they file the required annual update.  For most advisers with a December 31, 2010 year-end, the deadline for the annual update will be March 31, 2011.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and provides investment adviser registration and compliance services through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Form ADV Part 2 and State Registration

A couple of weeks ago the SEC announced that they approved certain updates for Form ADV Part 2 .  While these forms will be required for managers who are subject to registration with the SEC (under the new rules, those managers with either $100 or $150 million of assets under management depending on the circumstance), the states are still determining how they are going to handle new Part 2.  We have done a preliminary investigation by calling a number of the more popular states and found that most states are planning to implement new Part 2, but are not sure when the requirement will be finalized.  From our research, Texas is the only state that has set a date for implementation of new Part 2.

The list of states is below.  We will continue to update this list.

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  • Arizona – will require but not sure starting when
  • California – will require but not sure when
  • Colorado – will require but not sure starting when
  • Connecticut – discussing now and will have a decision at the end of the month
  • Illinois – will require but not sure starting when
  • Massachusetts – will require but not sure starting when
  • Texas – will require starting 01/11

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and hedge fund compliance services to all types of investment managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

SEC Approves ADV Part II Update

New Form to Require More Disclosure

On July 21, the SEC approved changes to the Form ADV Part II which are designed to provide more and better information to investors.  Currently Part II (and Schedule F which qualifies much of the information on Part II) contains a series of check the box options and also provides much of the same information which is also provided on Form ADV.  The changed proposed below will go into effect 60 days from the publication in the Federal Register which means that most advisers will need to have the new Part II in place by the first quarter of 2011.  In addition to traditional investment advisers, the new Part II disclosure requirements will also be applicable to hedge fund managers who are subject to registration after the passage of the Dodd-Frank reform bill.

The proposed major changes include the following:

  • Increased narrative – currently Part II and Schedule F are composed of a series of check the box answers describing an adviser’s business.  The SEC wants to move towards more of a narrative, “plain English” approach to disclosure which will be “clear and concise”.
  • Discussion of advisory business and fee structure – more disclosure will be required about the advisor’s business and the fee structure.  Increased disclosure will be required about expenses like brokerage and custody fees.
  • Performance fee discussion – the big issue is that if a manager charges performance fees to some accounts and not others, the manager will need to explain the conflicts of interest which are involved.
  • Discussion of investment methodology and risk factors – the manager will be required to explain the material risks involved in the investment program.
  • Disciplinary information – all disciplinary information material to the adviser’s business will need to be disclosed.  If there is new disciplinary disclosures which become necessary after the relationship has been established, the adviser will need to promptly update the client.
  • Supplements – the adviser will need to provide supplements to the client regarding the specific person who will be providing investment advice to the client.  This supplement will include information about the person’s education, business experience, disciplinary history, etc.

After the changes become effective, both hedge fund managers and other investment advisers will need to update their forms and also update their compliance manuals and policies and procedures.  Managers should also note that the information included in Part II will be publicly available online.

While we completely agree with appropriate and easy to understand disclosure, some of the proposed changes may have the unintended effect of creating brochures which are so long and comprehensive that investors will simply not read them.  For example, we have discussed “prospectus creep” and there is the possibility for this to happen with the Part II -especially with respect to risk disclosures.  Managers and lawyers will certainly err on the side of over-disclosure instead of under-disclosure when faced with a potential risk factor which may or may not be “material” in the eyes of the SEC (see, especially, the Goldman case).

What we see with the supplements is essentially a first step towards developing a self-regulatory organization (SRO) to oversee investment advisers.  FINRA has shown a willingness to take on this responsibility and it has become an even greater likelihood as the SEC is tasked with greater responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank bill.  While we believe that a SRO can relieve much of the regulatory burden of a government agency (see the NFA), we must note that all SROs have their own issues and this must be weighed against the increased costs (both in time and money) to investment advisers.

Text of Chairman Shapiro’s speech can be found here.
SEC News Release can be found here.

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and hedge fund compliance services to all types of investment managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.