Tag Archives: investment advisor registration

Hedge Fund Manager Registration to Cost Taxpayers $140 Million (at least)

CBO Calculates Cost of House Hedge Fund Bill

This past week the Congressional Budge Office (“CBO”) released a cost estimate of H.R. 3818, the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009.  In a number of private conversations I have had about hedge fund registration over the last 9-12 months one of the issues that was continually raised was appropriate funding for the SEC.  As we have seen recently (most notably from the Inspector General’s Madoff report), the SEC’s budget is not large enough to adequately fulfill their investor protection mandate.  Adding hedge fund registration would obviously further burden the cash-strapped agency (for more see Schumer Proposal to Double SEC Budget).  According to the CBO, and based on the SEC’s estimates that it will need to add 150 employees, the estimated outlays over four years will be equal to $140 million.

However, taxpayers should understand that this assumes that registration will only be required for those managers with at least $150 million in assets under management.   At the $150 million AUM level, the CBO expects that 1,300 hedge fund managers would be required to register.  The current draft of the Senate hedge fund registration bill calls for managers with $100 million in AUM to register – lowering the AUM exemption threshold will increase the amount of managers required to register.  Additionally, there are outstanding political issues.  First, it is unclear whether the final bill will require private equity fund managers and venture capital fund managers to register – we do not necessarily understand the arguably arbitrary carve-out for these industries.  Second, it is clear that a majority of the state securities commissions are unable and unwilling to be responsible for overseeing managers with up to $100 million in assets.  Hedge fund managers who would subject to state oversight would rightly want to be subject to SEC oversight (which does not say much for many state securities commissions).  These issues will continue to be addressed during the political sausage-making process.

Of additional interest – the CBO estimates that hedge fund registration is likely to cost around $30,000 per each SEC registrant which is welcome news to investment adviser compliance consultants and hedge fund lawyers!

For full report, please see full CBO Hedge Fund Cost Estimate.

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Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and provides hedge fund manager registration service through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Investment Adviser Representative Registration Requirement

Employees of Registered IAs Must Generally be Registered

State-registered investment advisory firms need to make sure that their employees who are deemed to be “investment advisory representatives” are appropriately registered. This means that any employee (or owner) of the IA firm who provides investment advice or who has supervisory authority will generally need to be registered with the state as a representative of the firm. In order to register, the applicant will need to have certain qualifications and generally the series 65 will be sufficient for these purposes.

There are consequences for not properly registering employees as investment advisor representatives. In an earlier article on whether IA firms can have silent owners, we discussed the fact that many state administrators have the power to censure or fine IA firms if they do not follow the registration rules. I recently stumbled across an example of a state taking such an action.

In the attached Disciplinary Order, the Texas State Securities Board (“Board”) concluded that the “unregistered employee” of the registered investment advisory firm provided investment advice to IA clients for compensation and that the IA firm failed to maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to ensure compliance with the Texas Securities Act and Board Rules. The Board reprimanded the IA firm and also ordered an administrative fine of $5,000. The firm was required to comply with the Act and Board Rules moving forward.

The two important take-aways from this order are:

  1. Always make sure employees are registered or clearly exempt from registration, and
  2. Always ensure that you have an up-to-date compliance program that helps to ensure that the firm will operate within all applicable laws and regulations.

We always recommend that registered IA firms discuss any registration and compliance related matters with an experienced investment management attorney with detailed knowledge of the laws of the state where the firm is registered.

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs Hedge Fund Law Blog.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or if you have questions about your investment advisor compliance program, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-868-5345.

Proposed Hedge Fund Registration Bill Now Excludes VC Funds

Venture Capital Funds May Not Have to Register with Hedge Funds

While hedge funds have reluctantly resigned to the likely fate of SEC registration (see MFA Supports Registration), the venture capital community has been fighting hard to remain unregistered.  On this front, the VC community enjoyed a victory last week as Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA) proposed an amendment to the Obama administration’s Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 (“PFIARA”).  The new proposed bill provides an exemption from registration for certain managers to “venture capital funds” as that term will be defined by the SEC.  The following section provides the full wording of the new exemption and I end this posts with some of my thoughts on this exemption.

Venture Capital Fund Registration Exemption

The following section has replaced the previous section 6 (which now becomes section 7).  Besides this change the PFIARA remains the same.

SEC. 6. EXEMPTION OF AND REPORTING BY VENTURE CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.

Section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘‘(l) EXEMPTION OF AND REPORTING BY VENTURE  CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.—The Commission shall identify and define the term ‘venture capital fund’ and shall provide an adviser to such a fund an exemption from the registration requirements under this section. The Commission shall require such advisers to maintain such records and provide to the Commission such annual or other reports as the Commission determines necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.’’.

Discussion of the Exemption

From a political perspective, I am actually pretty surprised that this was added to the bill.  First, I find it interesting that a bill named the “Private Fund” registration act (not “Hedge Fund” registration act) would then exempt certain private funds.  Second, it is curious that the drafter left it to the SEC to create a definition of “venture capital fund” – it will be interesting to see how the SEC interprets this Congressional mandate.  Finally, it is also curious that VC funds are specifically exempted and potentially not private equity funds.  Generally VC funds are regarded as a type of private equity fund – presumably the SEC could fix this by creating a very broad definition for “venture capital funds” which would also include private equity.  Unfortunately this puts the SEC in a difficult position as they will now have to deal with the politics of creating definitions.

We will keep you up to date on this and other bills. Please also remember that this current version of the bill is subject to future change.

For the full proposed bill, please see: Hedge Fund Registration Bill – No VC Registration

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10/1/09: Kanjorski Releases Financial Reform Drafts on Investor Protection, Private Advisor Registration

Capital Markets Chairman Addresses Key Pieces of Financial Regulatory Reform Through Comprehensive Bills and Administration Input

WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today released discussion drafts of three pieces of legislation aimed at tackling key parts of reforming the regulatory structure of the U.S. financial services industry.  The draft bills include the Investor Protection Act, the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act, and the Federal Insurance Office Act.

Chairman Kanjorski introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year and in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office, which was backed by the Obama Administration and included in its proposals for financial services regulatory reform.  Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, joined as an original co-sponsor of the 2009 bill when it was first introduced.  Chairman Kanjorski also worked to revise and significantly enhance the Investor Protection Act and the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposed by the Obama Administration this summer.

“Today, we take another step forward in overhauling the regulatory structure of the financial services industry,” said Chairman Kanjorski.  “With these three bills we will address many of the shortcomings and loopholes laid bare by the current financial crisis.  The Investor Protection Act will better protect investors and increase the funding and enforcement powers of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  We must ensure that investor confidence continues to increase for the betterment of our financial system.

“Additionally, we need to ensure that everyone who swims in our capital markets has an annual pool pass.  The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act will force many more financial providers to register with the SEC.  Many financial firms skirt government oversight and get away like bandits, but now the advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, and other private pools of capital would become subject to more scrutiny by the SEC.

“Finally, bipartisan legislation which I first introduced in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office to fill a gap in the federal government’s knowledge base on financial activities.  For several years, including in this Congress, I have worked to advance bipartisan legislation to address this issue, and I am pleased that the Administration also understands the need for this office and welcome the refinements they suggested to my bill.”

Summaries of the three legislative discussion drafts follow:

Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act

Everyone Registers. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. By mandating the registration of private advisers to hedge funds and other private pools of capital, regulators will better understand exactly how those entities operate and whether their actions pose a threat to the financial system as a whole.

Better Regulatory Information. New recordkeeping and disclosure requirements for private advisers will give regulators the information needed to evaluate both individual firms and entire market segments that have until this time largely escaped any meaningful regulation, without posing undue burdens on those industries.

Level the Playing Field. The advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, single-family offices, and other private pools of capital will have to obey some basic ground rules in order to continue to play in our capital markets. Regulators will have authority to examine the records of these previously secretive investment advisers.

http://kanjorski.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1627&Itemid=1

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THE NATIONAL VENTURE CAPITAL ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS VENTURE CAPITAL EXEMPTION LANGUAGE IN DRAFT OF PRIVATE FUND INVESTMENT ADVISERS REGISTRATION ACT

Washington D.C., October 1, 2009 —

The following statement is attributed to Mark G. Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association:

“The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) applauds the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposal announced today by Representative Paul Kanjorski (DPA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee. We are extremely appreciative of the work done in drafting this legislation by the Subcommittee and Members of the full Committee under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank (DMA). This proposal recognizes that venture capital firms do not pose systemic financial risk and that requiring them to register under the Advisers Act would place an undue burden on the venture industry and the entrepreneurial community. The venture capital industry supports a level of transparency which gives policy makers ongoing comfort in assessing risk. The NVCA is committed to working with Congress, the SEC and the Administration on the most effective implementation of this proposal.

We look forward to sharing specific thoughts with Members of the Committee on Tuesday, October 6 when NVCA Chairman Terry McGuire is scheduled to testify at the hearing, “Capital Markets Regulatory Reform: Strengthening Investor Protection, Enhancing Oversight of Private Pools of Capital, and Creating a National Insurance Office.” The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) represents more than 400 venture capital firms in the United States. NVCA’s mission is to foster greater understanding of the importance of venture capital to the U.S. economy and support entrepreneurial activity and innovation. According to a 2009 Global Insight study, venture-backed companies accounted for 12.1 million jobs and $2.9 trillion in revenue in the United States in 2006.

The NVCA represents the public policy interests of the venture capital community, strives to maintain high professional standards, provides reliable industry data, sponsors professional development, and facilitates interaction among its members. For more information about the NVCA, please visit www.nvca.org.

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/financialsvcs_dem/discussion_draft_of_the_private_fund_investment_advisors_registration_act.pdf

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Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

IA Compliance Fall Conference 2009

Over the past few months I have written extensively about the new regulatory environment and the likelihood that many hedge fund managers will need to register with the SEC within the next year or so (assuming that Congress passes one of many proposed registration bills).  Anticipating this requirement, my team and I at Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP have been preparing for registrations and as part of that preparation I am attending the IA Compliance Fall Conference today at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

The conferne is designed to provide lawyers and compliance professionals with more context on how firms need to deal with compliance issues in this hype-sensitive environment.  Today’s conference hosts a number of renowned speakers, including top SEC officials:

  • John Walsh – SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspectrions and Examinations
  • Gene Gohlke – OCIE’s Associate Director
  • Andrew Donohue – director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management

There are a number of items on the adgenda which I am particularly excited to hear about and discuss with my colleagues including some of the hot-button issues and recent reports from SEC examinations.  I will be taking notes throughout the event and will be writing blog posts about the conference in the coming days.  I will also be providing more information on Mallon P.C.’s investment adviser registration and compliance services for hedge fund managers.

Other attendees include representatives from: The Carlyle Group; Westover Capital Advisors, LLC; Oppenheimer Funds, Inc; State Street; Penbrook Management, LLC; Trilogy Capital; Bridgewater Associates; AXA Investment Managers; Strategic Value Partners, LLC; Pershing Square Capital Management; Guggenheim Advisors, LLC; Lone Pine Capital; Parkway Advisors; Vicis Capital LLC; The Swathmore Group; Abbott Capital Management, LLC; Redwood Investments; Tocqueville Asset Management; RNK Capital LLC among others.

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Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to start a hedge fund. Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund, or if you have questions about investment adviser registration with the SEC or state securities commission, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.

Investment Adviser Registration Filing Tips

How to get an IA application approved quickly

Occasionally we find the opportunity to comment on other blog posts from other legal professions within and outside of the investment management industry.  A legal blogger who I regularly follow is David Feldman from the Reverse Mergers & SPAC Blog.  David is the expert in the reverse mergers field and has authored the authoritative text Reverse Mergers: Taking a Company Public Without an IPO (Bloomberg Press).  In his post yesterday, Speeding a Self-Filing, he discusses some tips that are designed to help self-filers get through the registration process as quickly as possible.  The points are well-received and I would like to take the opportunity to discuss a couple of the points as they relate to the investment adviser registration process with the various state securities commissions.  [Note: unlike other types of regulatory filings with the SEC, a SEC investment advisor registration is fairly quick and relatively straightforward.  Managers should be aware, however, that the SEC is likely to do a quick examination within the first couple of months after a hedge fund manager registers with the SEC.  Usually this is to make sure the advisor is broadly aware of the compliance issues involved with being registered with the SEC.]

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Tip 1

Respond quickly to comments: Management is busy, so are the lawyers and accountants. Nevertheless, one part of the process in your control is how fast you get back to the SEC when they have comments. If you care about getting the self-filing done quickly, drop everything and get the response done as soon as possible.

HFLB thoughts: it is the rare case when a state investment advisor registration gets approved without some sort of comment or inquiry from the securities commission.  Depending on the state, the inquiry can be more or less detailed and probing.  In most cases, however, once an inquiry is provided to the applicant, registration is likely to be right around the corner.  Accordingly, once an inquiry is provided to the manager, the manager and the lawyer should work to get a response drafted immediately.

Tip 2

Don’t argue on comments you will probably give in on later: Often a company or accountant will say, well, we think they will very likely not give us any room on our response, but let’s try and see what happens. If you care about the speed of the process, it is usually not worth challenging comments if your advisers believe there is virtually no chance of success.

HFLB thoughts: we would also like to add that if the regulators are asking for something that does not materially affect the investment program or the manner in which the management company will operate, the manager might be better off acquiescing instead of fighting.  I have had groups fight with regulators on principles only to later abandon the fight for practicality.  There is definitely an element of picking your battles wisely.

Tip 3

Always be respectful: The SEC is an important and powerful government agency. Almost everyone I have worked with there are highly intelligent and well-meaning folks. But their focus sometimes jibes with that of companies they are seeking to regulate for the protection of investors. Make sure you are always respectful and responsive to the SEC. Not only do they deserve it, but belligerence is just as likely to lead to more ire from them than positive results.

HFLB thoughts: this is an extremely important point.  Regulators are charged with a tough and important job and it does not help anyone to be anything less than absolutely respectful.

Many of the above comments apply equally as well for those groups who are registering with other regulatory bodies such as the CFTC (as a CPO or a CTA) and who need to go through the NFA disclosure document review process.

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Please contact us if you have any questions about investment advisor registration or if you would like information on starting a hedge fund. Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice, Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP, is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund, or if you have questions about investment adviser registration with the SEC or state securities commission, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.

SEC Supports Private Funds Transparency Act of 2009

Testimony Concerning Regulating Hedge Funds and Other Private Investment Pools

The SEC released a testimony from Andrew J. Donohue before the U.S. Senate about the regulation of hedge funds and other private investment pools.  According to Mr. Donohue’s statement, securities laws have not kept pace with the growth market and thus the SEC has very little oversight authority over these advisors and private funds with regards to conducting compliance examinations, obtaining material information, etc primarily because these requirements only apply to those advisors  and entities registered with the SEC.  Because advisors to private funds have the option to ‘opt out’ of registration, they can easily bypass any monitoring and oversight. The Commission strongly supports the enforcement of the new Private Funds Transparency Act of 2009,* which attempts to close this regulatory gap by requiring advisors to private funds to register under the Advisers Act if they have at least $30 million of assets under management.  The Commission also notes that in order to be effective, the new regulatory reform should acknowledge the differences in the business models pursued by different types of private fund advisers and should address in a proportionate manner the risks to investors and the markets raised by each.

The various compliance requirements on advisors to private funds as set forth by this new legislation is outlined in the testimony, reprinted in full below.

*Note: this testimony was given the same day that the Treasury announced the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 which is very similar to the Private Funds Transparency Act of 2009.

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Testimony Concerning Regulating Hedge Funds and Other Private Investment Pools
by Andrew J. Donohue
Director, Division of Investment Management
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Before the Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
July 15, 2009

Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Bunning and Members of the Subcommittee:

I. Introduction

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. My name is Andrew Donohue, and I am the Director of the Division of Investment Management at the Securities and Exchange Commission. I am pleased to testify on behalf of the Commission about regulating hedge funds and other private investment pools.1

Over the past two decades, private funds, including hedge, private equity and venture capital funds, have grown to play an increasingly significant role in our capital markets both as a source of capital and the investment vehicle of choice for many institutional investors. We estimate that advisers to hedge funds have almost $1.4 trillion under management. Since many hedge funds are very active and often leveraged traders, this amount understates their impact on our trading markets. Hedge funds reportedly account for 18-22 percent of all trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Venture capital funds manage about $257 billion of assets,2 and private equity funds raised about $256 billion last year.3

The securities laws have not kept pace with the growth and market significance of hedge funds and other private funds and, as a result, the Commission has very limited oversight authority over these vehicles. Sponsors of private funds—typically investment advisers—are able to organize their affairs in such a way as to avoid registration under the federal securities laws. The Commission only has authority to conduct compliance examinations of those funds and advisers that are registered under one of the statutes we administer. Consequently, advisers to private funds can “opt out” of Commission oversight.

Moreover, the Commission has incomplete information about the advisers and private funds that are participating in our markets. It is not uncommon that our first contact with a manager of a significant amount of assets is during an investigation by our Enforcement Division. The data that we are often requested to provide members of Congress (including the data we provide above) or other federal regulators are based on industry sources, which have proven over the years to be unreliable and inconsistent because neither the private funds nor their advisers are required to report even basic census-type information.

This presents a significant regulatory gap in need of closing. The Commission tried to close the gap in 2004—at least partially—by adopting a rule requiring all hedge fund advisers to register under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).4 That rulemaking was overturned by an appellate court in the Goldstein decision in 2006.5 Since then, the Commission has continued to bring enforcement actions vigorously against private funds that violate the federal securities laws, and we have continued to conduct compliance examinations of the hedge fund advisers that remain registered under the Advisers Act. But we only see a slice of the private fund industry, and the Commission strongly believes that legislative action is needed at this time to enhance regulation in this area.

The Private Fund Transparency Act of 2009, which Chairman Reed recently introduced, would require advisers to private funds to register under the Advisers Act if they have at least $30 million of assets under management.6 This approach would provide the Commission with needed tools to provide oversight of this important industry in order to protect investors and the securities markets. Today, I wish to discuss how registration of advisers to private funds under the Advisers Act would greatly enhance the Commission’s ability to properly oversee the activities of private funds and their advisers. Although the Commission supports this approach, there are additional approaches available to that also would close the regulatory gap and provide the Commission with tools to better protect both investors and the health of our markets.

II. The Importance and Structure of Private Funds

Private funds are generally considered to be professionally managed pools of assets that are not subject to regulation under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“Investment Company Act”). Private funds include, but are not limited to, hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital funds.

Hedge funds pursue a wide variety of strategies that typically involve the active management of a liquid portfolio, and often utilize short selling and leverage.

Private equity funds generally invest in companies to which their advisers provide management or restructuring assistance and utilize strategies that include leveraged buyouts, mezzanine finance and distressed debt. Venture capital funds typically invest in earlier stage and start-up companies with the goal of either taking the company public or privately selling the company. Each type of private fund plays an important role in the capital markets. Hedge funds are thought to be active traders that contribute to market efficiency and enhance liquidity, while private equity and venture capital funds are seen as helping create new businesses, fostering innovation and assisting businesses in need of restructuring. Moreover, investing in these funds can serve to provide investors with portfolio diversification and returns that may be uncorrelated or less correlated to traditional securities indices.

Any regulatory reform should acknowledge the differences in the business models pursued by different types of private fund advisers and should address in a proportionate manner the risks to investors and the markets raised by each.

III. Current Regulatory Exemptions

Although hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital funds reflect different approaches to investing, legally they are indistinguishable. They are all pools of investment capital organized to take advantage of various exemptions from registration. All but one of these exemptions were designed to achieve some purpose other than permitting private funds to avoid oversight.

A. Securities Act of 1933

Private funds typically avoid registration of their securities under the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) by conducting private placements under section 4(2) and Regulation D.7 As a consequence, these funds are sold primarily to “accredited investors,” the investors typically receive a “private placement memorandum” rather than a statutory prospectus, and the funds do not file periodic reports with the Commission. In other words, they lack the same degree of transparency required of publicly offered issuers.

B. Investment Company Act of 1940

Private funds seek to qualify for one of two exceptions from regulation under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (Investment Company Act). They either limit themselves to 100 total investors (as provided in section 3(c)(1)) or permit only “qualified purchasers” to invest (as provided in section 3(c)(7)).8 As a result, the traditional safeguards designed to protect retail investors in the Investment Company Act are the subject of private contracts for investors in private funds. These safeguards include investor redemption rights, application of auditing standards, asset valuation, portfolio transparency and fund governance. They are typically included in private fund partnership documents, but are not required and vary significantly among funds.

C. Investment Advisers Act of 1940

The investment activities of a private fund are directed by its investment adviser, which is typically the fund’s general partner.9 Investment advisers to private funds often claim an exemption from registration under section 203(b)(3) of the Advisers Act, which is available to an adviser that has fewer than 15 clients and does not hold itself out generally to the public as an investment adviser.

Section 203(b)(3) of the Advisers Act contains a de minimis provision that we believe originally was designed to cover advisers that were too small to warrant federal attention. This exemption now covers advisers with billions of dollars under management because each adviser is permitted to count a single fund as a “client.” The Commission recognized the incongruity of the purpose of the exemption with the counting rule, and adopted a new rule in 2004 that required hedge fund advisers to “look through” the fund to count the number of investors in the fund as clients for purposes of determining whether the adviser met the de minimis exemption. This was the rule overturned by the appellate court in the Goldstein decision. As a consequence, approximately 800 hedge fund advisers that had registered with the Commission under its 2004 rule subsequently withdrew their registration.

All advisers to private funds are subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act, including an anti-fraud rule the Commission adopted in response to the Goldstein decision that prohibits advisers from defrauding investors in pooled investment vehicles.10 Registered advisers, however, are also subject to periodic examination by Commission staff. They are required to submit (and keep current) registration statements providing the Commission with basic information, maintain business records for our examination, and comply with certain rules designed to prevent fraud or overreaching by advisers. For example, registered advisers are required to maintain compliance programs administered by a chief compliance officer.

IV. Options to Address the Private Funds Regulatory Gap11

As discussed below, though there are different regulatory approaches to private funds available to Congress, or a combination of approaches, no type of private fund should be excluded from any new oversight authority any particular type of private fund. The Commission’s 2004 rulemaking was limited to hedge fund advisers. However, since that time, the lines which may have once separated hedge funds from private equity and venture capital funds have blurred, and the distinctions are often unclear. The same adviser often manages funds pursuing different strategies and even individual private funds often defy precise categorization. Moreover, we are concerned that in order to escape Commission oversight, advisers may alter fund investment strategies or investment terms in ways that will create market inefficiencies.

A. Registration of Private Fund Investment Advisers

The Private Funds Transparency Act of 2009 would address the regulatory gap discussed above by eliminating Section 203(b)(3)’s de minimis exemption from the Advisers Act, resulting in investment advisers to private funds being required to register with the Commission. Investment adviser registration would be beneficial to investors and our markets in a several important ways.

1. Accurate, Reliable and Complete Information

Registration of private fund advisers would provide the Commission with the ability to collect data from advisers about their business operations and the private funds they manage. The Commission and Congress would thereby, for the first time have accurate, reliable and complete information about the sizable and important private fund industry which could be used to better protect investors and market integrity. Significantly, the information collected could include systemic risk data, which could then be shared with other regulators.12

2. Enforcement of Fiduciary Responsibilities

Advisers are fiduciaries to their clients. Advisers’ fiduciary duties are enforceable under the anti-fraud provisions of the Advisers Act. They require advisers to avoid conflicts of interest with their clients, or fully disclose the conflicts to their clients. Registration under the Advisers Act gives the Commission authority to conduct on-site compliance examinations of advisers designed, among other things, to identify conflicts of interest and determine whether the adviser has properly disclosed them. In the case of private funds, it gives us an opportunity to determine facts that most investors in private funds cannot discern for themselves. For example, investors often cannot determine whether fund assets are subject to appropriate safekeeping or whether the performance represented to them in an account statement is accurate. In this way, registration may also have a deterrent effect because it would increase an unscrupulous adviser’s risk of being discovered.

A grant of additional authority to obtain information from and perform on-site examinations of private fund advisers should be accompanied with additional resources so that the Commission can bring to bear the appropriate expertise and technological support to be effective.

3. Prevention of Market Abuses

Registration of private fund advisers under the Advisers Act would permit oversight of adviser trading activities to prevent market abuses such as insider trading and market manipulation, including improper short-selling.

4. Compliance Programs

Private fund advisers registered with the Commission are required to develop internal compliance programs administered by a chief compliance officer. Chief compliance officers help advisers manage conflicts of interest the adviser has with private funds. Our examination staff resources are limited, and we cannot be at the office of every adviser at all times. Compliance officers serve as the front-line watch for violations of securities laws, and provide protection against conflicts of interests.

5. Keeping Unfit Persons from Using Private Funds to Perpetrate Frauds

Registration with the Commission permits us to screen individuals associated with the adviser, and to deny registration if they have been convicted of a felony or engaged in securities fraud.

6. Scalable Regulation

In addition, many private fund advisers have small to medium size businesses, so it is important that any regulation take into account the resources available to those types of businesses. Fortunately, the Advisers Act has long been used to regulate both small and large businesses, so the existing rules and regulations already account for those considerations. In fact, roughly 69 percent of the investment advisers registered with the Commission have 10 or fewer employees.

7. Equal Treatment of Advisers Providing Same Services

Under the current law, an investment adviser with 15 or more individual clients and at least $30 million in assets under management must register with the Commission, while an adviser providing the same advisory services to the same individuals through a limited partnership could avoid registering with the Commission. Investment adviser registration in our view is appropriate for any investment adviser managing $30 million regardless of the form of its clients or the types of securities in which they invest.

B. Private Fund Registration

Another option to address the private fund regulatory gap might be to register the funds themselves under the Investment Company Act (in addition to registering their advisers under the Advisers Act). Alternatively, the Commission could be given stand-alone authority to impose requirements on unregistered funds. Through direct regulation of the funds, the Commission could impose, as appropriate, investment restrictions or diversification requirements designed to protect investors. The Commission could also regulate the structure of private funds to protect investors (such as requiring an independent board of directors) and could also regulate investment terms (such as protecting redemption rights).

C. Regulatory Flexibility through Rulemaking Authority

Finally, there is third option that in conjunction with advisers’ registration may be necessary to address the regulatory gap in this area. Because it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict today what rules will be required in the future to protect investors and obtain sufficient transparency, especially in an industry as dynamic and creative as private funds, an additional option might be to provide the Commission with the authority that allows for additional regulatory flexibility to act in this area. This could be done by providing rule-making authority to condition the use by a private fund of the exceptions provided by sections 3(c)(1) and 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act. These conditions could impose those requirements that the Commission believes are necessary or appropriate to protect investors and enhance transparency.13 In many situations, it may be appropriate for these requirements to vary depending upon the type of fund involved. This would enable the Commission to better discharge its responsibilities and adapt to future market conditions without necessarily subjecting private funds to Investment Company Act registration and regulation.

V. Conclusion

The registration and oversight of private fund advisers would provide transparency and enhance Commission oversight of the capital markets. It would give regulators and Congress, for the first time, reliable and complete data about the impact of private funds on our securities markets. It would give the Commission access to information about the operation of hedge funds and other private funds through their advisers. It would permit private funds—which play an important role in our capital markets—to retain the current flexibility in their investment strategies.

The Commission supports the registration of private fund advisers under the Advisers Act. The other legislative options I discussed above, namely registration of private funds under the Investment Company Act and/or providing the Commission with rulemaking authority in the Investment Company Act exemptions on which private funds rely, should also be weighed and considered as the Subcommittee considers approaches to filling the gaps in regulation of pooled investment vehicles.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Endnotes:

1 Commissioner Paredes does not endorse this testimony.

2 The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) estimates that 741 venture capital firms and 1,549 venture capital funds were in existence in 2007, with $257.1 billion in capital under management. NVCA, Yearbook 2008 at 9 (2008). In 2008, venture capital funds raised $28.2 billion down from $35.6 billion in 2007. Thomson Reuters & NVCA, News Release (Apr. 13 2009). In 2007, the average fund size was $166 million and the average firm size was $347 million. Id. at 9.

3 U.S. private equity funds raised $256.9 billion in 2008 (down from $325.2 billion in 2007). Private Equity Analyst, 2008 Review and 2009 Outlook at 9 (2009) (reporting Dow Jones LP Source data.

4 Investment Advisers Act Release No. 2333 (Dec. 2, 2004).

5 See Goldstein v. S.E.C., 451 F.3d 873 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

6 Section 203A(a)(1) of the Act prohibits a state-regulated adviser to register under the Act if it has less than $25 million of assets under management. The Commission has adopted a rule increasing the $25 million threshold to $30 million. See Rule 203A-1 under the Advisers Act. The threshold does not apply to foreign advisers. Section 3 of the Private Fund Transparency Act would establish a parallel registration threshold for foreign advisers, which would prevent numerous smaller foreign advisers that today rely on the de minimis exception, which the Act would repeal, from being required to register with the Commission.

7 Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 provides an exemption from registration for transactions by the issuer of a security not involving a public offering. Rule 506 of Regulation D provides a voluntary “safe harbor” for transactions that are considered to come within the general statutory language of section 4(2).

8 “Qualified purchasers” generally are individuals or family partnerships with at least $5 million in investable assets and companies with at least $25 million. The section 3(c)(7) exception was added in 1996 and specifically anticipated use by private funds.

9 Private funds often are organized as limited partnerships with the fund’s investment adviser serving as the fund’s general partner. The fund’s investors are limited partners of the fund.

10 See Rule 206(4)-8 under the Advisers Act.

11 Commissioner Casey does not endorse the approaches discussed in sections IV. B and C.

12 The Private Fund Transparency Act includes some important although technical amendments to the Advisers Act that are critical to the Commission’s ability to collect information from advisers about private funds, including amendments to Section 204 of the Act permitting the Commission to keep information collected confidential, and amendments to Section 210 preventing advisers from keeping the identity of private fund clients from our examiners.

13 For example, private funds might be required to provide information directly to the Commission. These conditions could be included in an amendment to the Investment Company Act or could be in a separate statute.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Mallon P.C. helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009

Bart Mallon, Esq.
http://www.hedgefundlawblog.com

****UPDATE 10/27/2009****

The House Financial Services Committee voted on October 27, 2009 to pass the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 as H.R. 3818 (full text of bill as passed – please note that it is different from the earlier version of the bill reprinted below).  The bill as passed by the committee required private equity fund managers to register but specifically excludes managers of venture capital funds from the registration requirements.  The House Committee released a press release discussing the bipartisan vote.

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Text of Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009

Today the Obama Administration released its proposed legislation which would require hedge fund managers to register with the SEC (as well as private equity fund and venture capital fund managers). The full text of the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 has been copied below.

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TITLE IV—REGISTRATON OF ADVISERS TO PRIVATE FUNDS

SEC. 401. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009”.

SEC. 402. DEFINITIONS.

Section 202(a) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-2(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(29) The term ‘private fund’ means an investment fund that—

“(A) would be an investment company (as defined in section 3 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a-3)), but for section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a-3(c)(1) or 80a-3(c)(7)); and

“(B) either—

“(i) is organized or otherwise created under the laws of the United States or of a State; or

“(ii) has 10 percent or more of its outstanding securities owned by U.S. persons.

“(30) The term ‘foreign private adviser’ means any investment adviser who—

“(A) has no place of business in the United States;

“(B) during the preceding 12 months has had—

“(i) fewer than 15 clients in the United States; and

“(ii) assets under management attributable to clients in the United States of less than $25,000,000, or such higher amount as the Commission may, by rule, deem appropriate in accordance with the purposes of this title; and

“(C) neither holds itself out generally to the public in the United States as an investment adviser, nor acts as an investment adviser to any investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, or a company which has elected to be a business development company pursuant to section 54 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a-53), and has not withdrawn its election.”.

SEC. 403. ELIMINATION OF PRIVATE ADVISER EXEMPTION; LIMITED EXEMPTION FOR FOREIGN PRIVATE ADVISERS; LIMITED INTRASTATE EXEMPTION.

Section 203(b) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3(b)) is amended—

(a) in paragraph (1), by inserting “, except an investment adviser who acts as an investment adviser to any private fund,” after “investment adviser” the first time it appears;

(b) by amending paragraph (3) to read as follows:

“(3) any investment adviser that is a foreign private adviser;”; and

(c) in paragraph (6)—

(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking “or”;

(2) in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and adding “; or”; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

“(C) a private fund.”

SEC. 404. COLLECTION OF SYSTEMIC RISK DATA; REPORTS; EXAMINATIONS; DISCLOSURES.

Section 204 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-4) is amended—

(a) by redesignating subsections (b) and (c) as subsections (c) and (d); and

(b) by inserting after subsection (a) the following new subsection (b):

“(b) RECORDS AND REPORTS OF PRIVATE FUNDS.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commission is authorized to require any investment adviser registered under this Act to maintain such records of and submit to the Commission such reports regarding private funds advised by the investment adviser as are necessary or appropriate in the public interest and for the assessment of systemic risk by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Financial Services Oversight Council, and to provide or make available to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Financial Services Oversight Council those reports or records or the information contained therein. The records and reports of any private fund would be an investment company, to which any such investment adviser provides investment advice, maintained or filed by an investment adviser registered under this Act shall be deemed to be the records and reports of the investment adviser.

“(2) REQUIRED INFORMATION.—The records and reports required to be filed with the Commission under this subsection shall include but shall not be limited to the following information for each private fund advised by the investment adviser:

“(A) amount of assets under management, use of leverage (including off-balance sheet leverage), counterparty credit risk exposures, trading and

investment positions, and trading practices; and

“(B) such other information as the Commission, in consultation with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines necessary or appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of investors or for the assessment of systemic risk.

“(3) MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS.—An investment adviser registered under this Act is required to maintain and keep such records of private funds advised by the investment adviser for such period or periods as the Commission, by rules and regulations, may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of investors or for the assessment of systemic risk.

“(4) EXAMINATION OF RECORDS.—

“(A) PERIODIC AND SPECIAL EXAMINATIONS.—All records of a private fund maintained by an investment adviser registered under this Act shall be subject at any time and from time to time to such periodic, special, and other examinations by the Commission, or any member or representative thereof, as the Commission may prescribe.

“(B) AVAILABILITY OF RECORDS.—An investment adviser registered under this Act shall make available to the Commission or its representatives any copies or extracts from such records as may be prepared without undue effort, expense or delay as the Commission or its representatives may reasonably request.

“(5) INFORMATION SHARING.— The Commission shall make available to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Financial Services Oversight Council copies of all reports, documents, records and information filed with or provided

to the Commission by an investment adviser under section 204(b) as the Board or the Council may consider necessary for the purpose of assessing the systemic risk of a private fund or assessing whether a private fund should be designated a Tier 1 financial holding company. All such reports, documents, records and information obtained by the Board or the Council from the Commission under this subsection shall be kept confidential.

“(6) DISCLOSURES BY PRIVATE FUND.—An investment adviser registered under this Act shall provide such reports, records and other documents to investors, prospective investors, counterparties, and creditors, of any private fund advised by the investment adviser as the Commission, by rules and regulations, may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of investors or for the assessment of systemic risk.

“(7) CONFIDENTIALITY OF REPORTS.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission shall not be compelled to disclose any supervisory report or information contained therein required to be filed with the Commission under subsection (b). Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the Commission to withhold information from Congress or prevent the Commission from complying with a request for information from any other Federal department or agency or any self-regulatory organization requesting the report or information for purposes within the scope of its jurisdiction, or complying with an order of a court of the United States in an action brought by the United States or the Commission. For purposes of section 552 of title 5, United States Code, this subsection shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3)(B) of such section 552.”.

SEC. 405. DISCLOSURE PROVISION ELIMINATED.

Section 210 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-10) is amended by striking subsection (c).

SEC. 406. CLARIFICATION OF RULEMAKING AUTHORITY.

Section 211 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-11) is amended—

(1) in subsection (a)—

(A) by striking the second sentence; and

(B) by striking the period at the end of the first sentence and inserting the following:

“, including rules and regulations defining technical, trade, and other terms used in this title. For the purposes of its rules and regulations, the Commission may—

“(1) classify persons and matters within its jurisdiction and prescribe different requirements for different classes of persons or matters; and

“(2) ascribe different meanings to terms (including the term ‘client’) used in different sections of this title as the Commission determines necessary to effect the purposes of this title.”; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

“(e) The Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shall, after consultation with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, within 6 months after the date of enactment of the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009, jointly promulgate rules to establish the form and content of the reports required to be filed with the Commission under subsection 204(b) and with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission by investment advisers that are registered both under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b et seq.) and the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1a et seq.).”.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Mallon P.C. helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Private Fund Transparency Act of 2009

Another Bill Introduced in Senate to Regulate Hedge Funds

Congress now has three separate bills regarding hedge fund registration.  The most recent bill is called the Private Fund Transparency Act of 2009 and was introduced by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) on June 16, 2009.

I will continue to update this post over time, but for now I have included the text of a press release from Senator Reed on the proposed bill.

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June 16, 2009
Press Release

Reed Introduces Bill to Regulate Hedge Funds

WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to strengthen financial oversight of hedge funds and other private investment funds, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), today introduced the Private Fund Transparency Act of 2009, which will help protect investors, identify and mitigate systemic risk, and prevent fraud.  This legislation amends the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to require advisers to hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds, and other private investment pools to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“Hedge funds have played an important role in providing liquidity to our financial system and improving the efficiency of capital markets.  But as their role has grown so have the risks they pose.  This bill provides the SEC with long-overdue authority to examine and collect data from this key industry.  It also authorizes the SEC to share this data with other federal agencies in order to create a system-wide approach to identifying and mitigating risks,” said Reed, who chairs the Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment.

Private funds are not currently subject to the same set of standards and regulations as banks and mutual funds, reflecting the traditional view that their investors are more sophisticated and therefore require less protection.  This has enabled private funds to operate largely outside the framework of the financial regulatory system even as they have become increasingly interwoven with the rest of the country’s financial markets.  As a result, there is no data on the number and nature of these firms or ability to calculate the risks they pose to America’s broader economy.

“The financial crisis is a stark reminder that transparency and disclosure are essential in today’s marketplace.  Improving oversight of hedge funds and other private funds is vital to their sustainability and to our economy’s stability.   These statutory changes will help modernize our outdated financial regulatory system, protect investors, and prevent fraud,” concluded Reed.

Specifically, the Private Fund Transparency Act of 2009 will:

  • Require all hedge fund and other investment pool advisers that manage more than $30 million in assets to register as investment advisers with the SEC.  The remaining smaller funds will continue to fall under state oversight.
  • Provide the SEC with the authority to collect information from the hedge fund industry and other investment pools, including the risks they may pose to the financial system.
  • Authorize the SEC to require hedge funds and other investment pools to maintain and share with other federal agencies any information necessary for the calculation of systemic risk.
  • Clarify other aspects of SEC’s authority in order to strengthen its ability to oversee registered investment advisers.

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There have been two other proposed bills:

Additionally, I recommend you read about Obama’s plans for hedge fund regulation.

NASAA Takes Sides on Proposed Hedge Fund Legislation

Endorses House Bill Over the Grassley-Levin Hedge Fund Bill

Last week the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced its support of the Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009, a house bill introduced earlier this year by Representatives Capuano and Castle.  The Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act is one of two bills introduced in Congress which would effectively require many unregistered hedge fund managers to register with the SEC.  The other bill, the Hedge Fund Transparency Act, was introduced into the Senate by Senators Grassley and Levin.  While the Adviser Registration Act would close what some are calling a loophole in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the Transparency Act would create a whole new regime for regulating hedge fund entities (as opposed to the management company).  The Transparency Act also came under fire earlier this year for being poorly drafted.

The NASAA support was announced in the release we have reprinted below.  If you have any questions on this issue, please feel free to contact us.  Related hedge fund registration articles include:

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May 28, 2009

NASAA Supports the Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009 (H.R. 711)

Legislation Would Require Hedge Fund Advisers to Register with SEC

WASHINGTON (May 28, 2009) – The North America Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today endorsed proposed bipartisan legislation that would require hedge fund advisers to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

The Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009 (H.R. 711), sponsored by Reps. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA) and Michael Castle (R-DE), addresses one of NASAA’s Core Principles for Financial Services Regulatory Reform – closing regulatory gaps.

“NASAA appreciates the efforts of Rep. Capuano and Rep. Castle to promote the regulation of hedge fund advisers in a manner that will provide greater transparency to the marketplace while not overburdening the hedge fund industry,” said NASAA President and Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph. “Advisers to hedge funds should be subject to the same standards of examination as other investment advisers.”

Because they qualify for a number of exemptions to federal and state registration and disclosure laws, hedge funds remain largely unregulated today. The SEC has attempted to require hedge fund managers to register as investment advisers, but that effort was overturned by a U.S. Court of Appeals decision. “Given the need for greater oversight and transparency in many corners of the financial services industry in the wake of the market meltdown, Congress should give the SEC explicit statutory authority to regulate hedge fund advisers as investment advisers,” Joseph said.

Joseph noted that the Managed Funds Association, which represents the hedge fund industry, now supports the registration of investment managers – including hedge fund managers – with the SEC. “This is a step in the right direction,” Joseph said. “While hedge funds did not cause the current economic and financial crisis facing the United States, they, along with the rest of the shadow banking industry, played a role. This reason alone is enough to require greater regulation of all parties in question.”

Joseph said NASAA will continue to press Congress for additional reforms of the hedge fund industry, including granting the SEC authority to require hedge funds to disclose their portfolios, including positions, leverage amounts and identities of counterparties, to the appropriate regulators; and appropriating the necessary funds to ensure that the regulators are sufficiently equipped, in terms of personnel and technology, to provide meaningful analysis of this data and to exercise proper oversight over hedge funds.

NASAA is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. Its membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico.

For more information:
Bob Webster, Director of Communications
202-737-0900

Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009

Congressional Bill Proposed in House

In January we gave significant attention to the Hedge Fund Transparency Act of 2009 and we did not focus at all on a similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives.   The Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009, introduced on January 27, would change the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to require those managers with more than $30 million in assets to register as investment advisors with the SEC (for background, please see 203(b)(3) exemption).  The Hedge Fund Transparency Act takes a decidedly different route to regulation – it would require hedge fund managers, under the Investment Company Act of 1940 , to register as investment advisors and it would also require hedge funds to submit certain information to the SEC.

The fate of both of these bills is currently in question.  It seems as though Congress and the SEC are waiting for President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner to develop a plan for a comprehensive regulatory system.  While we remain in this holding pattern it seems likely that any regulatory changes are months and months away.

The full text of the Registration Act are reprinted below along with a press release announcing the proposed measure.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

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Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)

HR 711 IH

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 711

To amend the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to remove the registration exception for certain investment advisors with less than 15 clients.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 27, 2009

Mr. CAPUANO (for himself and Mr. CASTLE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services

A BILL

To amend the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to remove the registration exception for certain investment advisors with less than 15 clients.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Hedge Fund Adviser Registration Act of 2009′.

SEC. 2. REMOVAL OF THE PRIVATE ADVISOR EXEMPTION.

Section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3) is amended by striking subsection (b)(3).

Source

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PRESS RELEASE

Capuano, Castle Bill Would Improve Oversight of Hedge Funds

Requires money managers to register with SEC

January 27, 2009

Washington, DC — Today, Reps. Mike Castle (R-DE) and Mike Capuano (D-MA), introduced bipartisan legislation that is intended to close a loophole created in the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, which exempts hedge fund managers from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if they have less than 15 clients. The Hedge Fund Managers Registration Act, would require anyone who manages hedge funds to register with the SEC, and therefore improves federal oversight of these investments.

“This measure would require all hedge fund managers to register with the SEC so that their actions on behalf of investors are transparent,” said Rep. Capuano. “I have long advocated this simple step as a way to better understand how hedge fund managers are operating, and how they are investing the resources of their clients. In addition to providing us with basic census information on hedge funds, this measure can be used to detect and deter fraudulent practices and risky behavior before it’s too late.”

“Hedge funds are a $1.5 trillion industry that account for roughly 30 percent of U.S. stock trading, but also have tremendous presence in other areas of our markets. Without greater attention and oversight to protect investors from fraud, hedge funds pose systemic risk to our economy,” said Rep. Castle, senior member on the House Financial Services Committee. “As we work to help regain our economic health, I believe we can and should scrutinize money managers more carefully and begin to reclaim some order in equity markets. I am hopeful that this legislation will work as a tool to help protect investors from becoming victims. This is the first in a series of reforms I intend to strongly advocate in the coming months.”

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208
Contact: Stephanie Fitzpatrick (202) 225-4165 (Rep. Castle)